With the conclusion of the Super Bowl, it is now officially baseball season in the eyes of many. And what a Super Bowl it was! Pat Mahomes and Jalen Hurts put on a show unlike most of the championship games we’ve witnessed in previous seasons. In honor of the spectacle, and despite the fact that non-WBC pitchers and catchers report to spring training tomorrow, I would like to pay one last tribute to the Big Game by wondering what lessons the Yankees can take away from the Chiefs’ thrilling victory.
Offense wins championships, not defense
For all that we heard about the vaunted Eagles defense, it was the two teams’ offenses that ruled the contest. At the end of the day, the better offense won out — a scenario that the Yankees are very familiar with over the last handful of postseasons. New York made a concerted effort to prioritize defense this past season, and their bats were clearly overmatched when they got swept by the Astros in the ALCS. Defense is all well and good until you find yourself unable to score runs in a season-deciding series.
Superstars decide games
The Chiefs had the best quarterback and the best tight end in the league, and the pair played outsized roles in their team’s victory. It goes to show that star talent can turn the tide between two otherwise evenly-matched teams. We saw the way that Bryce Harper’s historic postseason performance carried the Phillies to the World Series. And while the Yankees certainly have their own superstar in Aaron Judge, the Chiefs’ victory is a vote in favor of supplementing him with more star talent as insurance for the odd series when he hits a cold stretch.
Play the youngsters
The Chiefs were not shy about giving their young players a chance to impact games this season. Isiah Pacheco, Nick Bolton, and Trent McDuffie were all huge players for the Chiefs during the regular season, all having been drafted over the last two years. The trio were integral in Kansas City’s Super Bowl victory, repaying the team’s trust despite their relative lack of experience. The Astros reaped a similar reward from the faith they put in rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña, and the Yankees find themselves in a similar situation at shortstop entering the 2023 season. While I’m not advocating for New York to hand over the reins to Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe without giving it a second thought, I hope the team gives the pair a fair chance to earn spots on the MLB roster if not the starting lineup.
Good coaches make a difference
Andy Reid, Eric Bieniemy, and Steve Spagnuolo are regarded as some of the best coaches in their respective roles across the entire league. Good coaching — whether that be extracting the most talent out of their players on a daily basis, putting their players in the best possible situation to succeed, or maintaining effective communication with the team — can go a long way to creating an environment that fosters success.
The Yankees overhauled their pitching department a few years back, bringing in coaches like Matt Blake, Sam Briend, and Desi Druschel, and lo and behold they are widely considered around the industry to be at or near the top of the league in pitching development. The hitting department on the other hand has seen significant upheaval in the last two years and many like to question whether they have the right coaches for the job.
Ride the hot hand
The Yankees have caught a lot of flak in recent seasons for giving players days off right when it seems that they are playing their hottest baseball. There is a contingent of fans that will never agree with the somewhat rigid rest schedules baked into the Yankees’ day-to-day personnel decisions, preferring New York to take a more fluid approach to filling out the lineup card to account for players building positive momentum.
The Chiefs on the other hand rode their hot hands to a second title in four seasons. Journeyman Jerick McKinnon essentially replaced Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the starting lineup and scored nine touchdowns in the final six regular season contests to launch the Chiefs on the right trajectory into the playoffs. Andrew Wylie faced heavy criticism during the regular season but hit his stride at the perfect moment and shut down Haason Reddick, who finished with the second-most sacks in the league.