Thursday, September 13, 2007

Yankee Mood Swings 2

As the Yankees will be making their way to Boston tomorrow for their final regular season encounter with the Dread Sox, I've been looking for some clever way to characterize what's happened in past two weeks since their last series. Interestingly, the Yanks are at the moment 5.0 games behind the Sox in the standings, exactly the same deficit they had when that team left NY after being swept 3-0 in the series. Today the Yanks have one more game in Toronto, while the Sox are off, so the deficit will change by half a game before they meet. Both teams have in their own way demonstrated a remarkable common trait: they are as hard to kill as Rasputin. The Sox showed this especially in their last two games against the Devil Rays, coming back from substantial deficits to win in dramatic fashion. Tampa Bay apparently has a team, as the Yankees found out in their series; coming off their sweep of the Sox, they lost 2 out of 3 to the Rays at home. After they lost their first game of the series against Seattle, their closest rival in the Wild Card race, some Yankee (and Red Sox) fans may have wondered what was going on with this team. Then NY won the next two, knocking the Mariners back into their tailspin and essentially out of Wild Card contention altogether. For the Yanks, that was the beginning of a 7 game winning streak, during which they've played some outstanding baseball; now, barring a major catastrophe, their Wild Card entry into the playoffs seems fairly assured. Detroit is now their closest rival, a substantial 4.0 games behind. That catastrophe, of course, could conceivably come in the form of getting swept by the Red Sox. Coupled with wins by Detroit, that would make the Wild Card situation once again uncertain.
On the eve of their upcoming series with the Yanquis, pulling the last two games out in Tampa Bay was clearly big for Boston. If they had lost those two games, the spectre of 1978 would loom large over the series. Now, in the unlikely event they get swept by NY, they will clearly be vulnerable to further onslaughts, but will still at least keep the Division lead in hand. The most likely scenario is that the teams split one way or the other, and the impact on the playoff situation will turn out to be minimal. But no one can tell the future, which is one reason why the Fenway is gonna be a crazy place this weekend.

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