By Sweeny Murti
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I know why you are panicking, Yankees fans. But why do you want the players to act like they are?
The lead in the AL East is down to one game. Never mind that it’s been cut by nine games since July 19. It’s been sliced by three games since just last Thursday!
There is good reason for the Yankees fan to hit the panic button. There is good reason to feel like the playoffs, once a certainty, are no longer guaranteed. But if the desired outcome is for the Yankees to turn things around, panic is the last thing the men in uniform need to do.
Here is the Captain, Derek Jeter, after Monday’s loss to Tampa Bay:
Do not equate the outcome of the game to lack of preparation or desire. The Yankees are playing bad baseball because they are undermanned and under-performing. It’s not as simple as calling them “gutless” and “heartless” as I see on my Twitter feed each night.
Right now the Yankees aren’t very good. It’s a bad time of year to be playing like this. But they come to work each day believing it will turn in their favor, and that is what you want. Trust me, you do not want the team to be in panic mode. The team that is in panic mode has already lost.
Injuries hurt—no doubt about it. The team everyone is complaining about, the team that can’t hit or score runs with any frequency over the last week is not the team that is supposed to be on the field. They are slowly getting healthy with A-Rod back after being out for six weeks and Mark Teixeira hoping to come back from his calf strain this weekend. Part of being a good team is picking up the pieces, but sometimes they can become too much.
One veteran on this team told me last week, “At some point the injuries catch up to you.” That’s not concession or panic, that’s just reality. As they start to heal, the hope is that it’s not too late.
The lead in the AL East might be gone by the time the Yankees hit Baltimore on Thursday. They might find themselves chasing the Orioles when they get to Camden Yards for a four-game series. It might get frustrating listening to the players talk about having control of their situation, but they are frustrated too. And they aren’t doing themselves any favors by pointing fingers and throwing tantrums. That’s what happens with teams that are already sunk.
The Yankees know they aren’t in as good a position as they were a few weeks ago or even a few days ago. But while everyone around them wants to believe the ship is sinking, the Yankees will tell you that they haven’t hit the iceberg yet. They are still in first place. We can all see the iceberg in front of them, but panic will sink this ship faster than you can say Bobby V.
I keep hearing how terrible a job Joe Girardi has done this year. In a year in which Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Ivan Nova, David Robertson, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, and Brett Gardner have all missed varying lengths of time to injuries, the Yankees have passed the Labor Day marker still in first place. Somebody deserves credit for that, don’t they?
The Yankees will not make the playoffs if they don’t play better over the last 28 games. This is true. Feel free to hit the panic button. Just don’t expect the Yankees to do it, because they are the ones who can’t afford to if they want to keep this ship afloat.
Yankees fans, are you in a full-on panic? How confident are you that they’ll hang on? Be heard in the comments below!