I don’t know about you, but I like to keep my expectations fairly low to avoid disappointments. Last year, I expected the Yankees to be a garbage team. So did just about everyone else. I was so certain that they wouldn’t make the playoffs that I planned a trip to Europe in early October. While it was kind of exciting to follow the ALDS via Gameday on my phone at 3 AM as I silently reacted to everything to avoid waking anyone up, I don’t think I’ll be planning another trip during the postseason any time soon.
It was ultimately sad to see the Yankees fall to the Astros in the ALCS, but they had an unbelievably good run. This year, expectations were different. They added a shiny new Giancarlo Stanton to the lineup over the offseason, after all. The rest of the team remained more or less unchanged, so surely the 2018 squad improved over last year’s, right? Most people expected this team to make a playoff run.
I admittedly allowed myself to be swept up imagining it, too. Like any baseball fan, I just want to watch my favorite team play for the World Series. While the Yankees are by no means in a drought, last year was the first time that they had advanced beyond the Wild Card Game in my five years writing for the site. It was fun to daydream about them winning it all, especially during May.
Aside from a rocky few weeks at the start of the season, the Yankees looked incredible for a while there. They were able to keep winning despite injuries, plus the kids came up and tore the cover off the ball. The extended winning streaks were exciting, and they even caught back up to the Red Sox in the division at one point. It was neck and neck. Until it wasn’t.
The Yankees have played .500 baseball since the last week of June. A lot has gone wrong since then, including a three-game sweep at the hands of the Rays, plus injuries to Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, and Aaron Judge. Oh, and Luis Severino is bad now! The four-game sweep by the Red Sox felt like the icing on the cake—a half-eaten, five-day old red velvet cake that a rat pulled out of a dumpster.
They rebounded against the White Sox and Rangers, but this most recent series with the Rays was just more of the same. It highlighted the fact that the Yankees have inexplicably failed to beat up on weaker teams this year. Yesterday’s game also shined a light on the blackholes in the lineup. It is bad enough to be without Judge and Sanchez, but Torres hasn’t been the same since his injury, Greg Bird is slumping hard, and the Yankees have been forced to trot Shane Robinson out there five times a week.
If the Yankees continue to play like this, it’s not difficult to imagine them failing to make the playoffs entirely. They only have a three game lead on the Athletics at the moment, and Seattle isn’t too far behind them. It isn’t lost on me that they are the second best team in baseball, but they simply haven’t been playing like it.
So, is it time for us to take injuries and ineffectiveness into account and adjust our expectations for this team? Maybe, but I can’t help but feeling that this season will have been a let down if the Yankees don’t make a playoff run.
How is everyone else feeling about this recent slide? What has to happen for you to be pleased with the Yankees’ season as a whole? Are you a World Series-or-bust kind of person? Let us know in the comments.