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I've always thought of myself as a realist, though I'm inclined to push in favor of whichever argument seems to be neglected. In Yankee Land, that often means that I'm an optimist.

But I can't quite muster it tonight.

It's not that we just lost a game in extra innings to the first-place Tampa Bay Rays (think about that for a minute), and it's not that the bats have been stifled at the Trop, that Kei Igawa made a start, or that the young guns have struggled.

I'm concerned because I don't see the statistical evidence that this team can turn things around like last year's team.

This time last year, the Yanks were 17-19, two games under .500 and 8 games out of first place. At the moment, the Yanks stand 19-21, two games under .500 and 5 losses in back of the Rays.

Long term readers will remember that I spent most of last season pointing to the Yanks' Pythag record to show that they had been more unlucky than bad. While they didn't make up the unlucky games they lost early in the season, they eventually played to their potential. I felt vindicated for my optimism.

This season, we would only expect the Yankees to weigh in at 20-20, which means that so far, their record matches the quality of their performance. This is far from a death sentence for the season; but we need to see genuine improvement from the offense and the pitching. And we need to see it soon.

I'm not hitting the panic button yet- but I want to let you know that I've been eying it.