Doc Watson, who rose to prominence during the folk music revival of the 1960s and is considered one of the most influential bluegrass and country artists of all time, released an album in 1974 entitled Two Days in November. Clocking in at just a tick over 25 minutes in length, the songs on this album engulf the listener, and for a short time, life’s concerns are pushed aside. The listener can’t help but to simply enjoy the music.
Over the last two nights at Yankee Stadium, a similar feeling of contentment washed over the Bronx. Alfonso Soriano, who is somewhat of a prodigal son at this point, put on an historic offensive display as he slugged four home runs and tallied 13 RBI. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Soriano’s two-game RBI binge is the second highest two-game total in Yankee history, trailing only Tony Lazzeri (who had 15 RBI in 1936).
Perhaps more stunning than Soriano’s output (he is a streaky player and has previously hit four home runs over a two-game span) is the fact that Soriano was not alone as his teammates also decided to get into the act. The rest of the squad chipped in with an additional 20 hits en route to scoring a total of 25 runs over the two games. Even Vernon Wells, who hit a home run on Tuesday, and Chris Stewart, who collected two hits and two RBI last night, participated in the onslaught. This type of offensive output was reminiscent of the 2006-2007 Yankee teams, where the team averaged over 5.7 runs-per-game.
The fans and players alike certainly appeared to enjoy the moment. The crowd at the Stadium seemed recharged, and the Yankee players could not hide their delight and, to some extent, relief. There were smiles, laughter, and hugs exchanged on the Yankee bench throughout the last two nights. Even the normally pessimistic and snarky realm known as Twitter was filled with happiness and adulation for this 2013 Yankee team.
Just like Doc Watson’s music allows listeners to escape reality for a while, the last two days have provided the same type of respite for Yankee fans.
For two days in August, the fans were allowed to just enjoy the moment. All the handwringing and consternation about the ineptitude of the Yankee offense was forgotten. The Biogenesis scandal. Alex Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension and appeal. Joe Girardi’s decision-making. The Steinbrenners' edict to trim payroll. Brian Cashman telling A-Rod to shut up. The many injuries. Mariano’s three blown saves. CC Sabathia’s drop in velocity. Rodriguez accusing the Yankees and MLB of conspiring against him.
For two days in August, all of these issues were irrelevant. Even notable feats, such as Robinson Cano passing Phil Rizzuto for fifteenth place on the all-time Yankee hits list or another quality start from Ivan Nova, were merely footnotes to the last two games.
Unavoidably, today has arrived and with it returns all of the questions surrounding this team. Have the Yankees turned a corner? Can this team generate enough offense to win? Is there even enough time to make the playoffs? All morning, overzealous sports talk radio hosts have noted that if the Yankees win today and sweep the Red Sox this weekend, the team could be back in a position to win the American League East.
However, the reality is that this team is still averaging 3.92 runs-per-game (which is the lowest total since 1990). The Yankees have had winning streaks of four games or more five other times this season and have previously scored twenty-five runs during a two game series against the Cleveland Indians (albeit in April). Thus, this two game outburst could just be an outlier, the result of catching an Angels team at its lowest point in a thoroughly disappointing season. After last night’s game, even Soriano conceded that games like these are "not going to happen often."
On the other hand, these two games may be an indicator that the offense (with the return of Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson and the addition of Alfonso Soriano) has finally found an identity. Even with a Yankee loss today (which appears likely with Phil Hughes toeing the rubber), the Yankees will have won the last two series against the Angels and the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers. There is no question that the Yankees are going to have to keep playing this type of inspired baseball over the remaining forty-three games if there is any hope of leapfrogging the multiple teams that stand between them and a playoff berth. Given the standings, it is likely that the fate of the Yankees’ season hinges on the outcome of this weekend’s matchup with the Boston Red Sox. This series will determine whether the previous two days in August end up being the high point in an otherwise mediocre season or the catalyst for an unlikely playoff push.
As they approach the formidable task ahead of them, the Yankees must heed the words of Doc Watson’s song "Walk On Boy" and strive to turn Two Days in August into Several Weeks in October:
Walk on, boy
Walk on down the road
Ain’t nobody in this whole wide world
Gonna help you carry your load