Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Too Early to Bury the Yanks

It's tempting, and history says 6 games is usually enough by Memorial Day, but I'm not yet comfortable with our lead over the Yankees. 12 games in the loss in column over Baltimore and Toronto feels like enough. 13 games in the loss column over the Yankees ought to be enough ... but 'ought to' and 'are' are very different things.

Here's why I'm still worried about the Yankees:
  1. They can still score a ton of runs on any given day. Their RS and RA numbers would make you think they'd be ahead of Toronto and Baltimore right now, so I think as the season progresses things'll even out and we'll see them move well ahead of those teams.
  2. Clemens is coming. He's not going to make that much of a difference, but he will make a difference, and given that I think the numbers say their record could be better than it is, and that will start to balance out, the fact that Clemens probably pushes that RA rate down a little looks like accelerant on top of the natural corrective process.
  3. The Big Trade. The Yankees have a way (money, lots of money) to bring in impact players, even it means paying millions well beyond that player's prime. They come in, make an impact, then get moved out later. Eg., Sheffield, David Justice, and now possibly Giambi?
  4. The Red Sox have been injury free to this point and seem to be in great shape with Lester on the way. But one key injury could throw them off the rails. On the plus side, I don't think Manny will slump all year. J.D. Drew and Lugo also figure to bring their averages up a little. But the pitching has been even better than expected and it's hard to see all those guys pitching out of their minds all year. If the pitching comes back to earth and the injury bug bites, suddenly the objects in mirror are closer than they appear.
  5. Finally, and I hate to mention this, but the Sox had a 14 game lead over the 4th place Yankees on July 19, 1978. It was the summer after 2nd grade. Playing ball down in the Pit, I mimicked Yaz's stance. Jim Rice was simply awesome. That summer, into the fall, at the tender age of 7, I learned what it means to be a Sox fan. It wouldn't have been so bad if it had been the Brewers with Yount, Sal Bando, Don Money, (former Red Sox) Cecil Cooper and company. They were likeable. The Yankees on the other hand were thoroughly unlikeable. Billy Martin managing most of that year, Reggie (although I did like his round candy bar), Munson (I despised being called "Munson" on account of my last name), Guidry and Gossage. Couldn't stand those guys. It wasn't until the 163rd game that I had an opinion about their light-hitting shortstop, He Who Shouldn't Be Named.
So yeah, even with a double digit lead on the rest of the division, I'm nervous.
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