Are the Yankees that good?
From here on in, they don’t have to be
Good morning, all. I hope your week is off to a great start and welcome to Flag Day, today, in the United States.
We have passed the one-third mark of the Major League Baseball season and the New York Yankees have the best record in the game at 44-16. The club’s starting rotation has been better than expected - even though you don’t know what you are going to get when overpaid Gerrit Cole takes to the mound - the bullpen has been lights out and the everyday line up has been productive.
There is no question trading Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela to Minnesota in exchange for infielders Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and catcher Ben Rortvedt (Rortvedt has been injured) has tightened the defense. The addition of catcher Jose Trevino from the Texas Rangers has been huge, as has role player Matt Carpenter, the former St. Louis Cardinals All-Star.
Manager Aaron Boone, it seems, is pressing all the right buttons and so is GM Brian Cashman with his trades. Will this translate to the club’s first World Series title since 2009 and MLB record 28th in franchise history? Only time will tell.
I thought the Yankees were a fourth place club, entering the season. And before I am listed as a Yankees hater, I grew up a Yankees fan, going back to the days of Mantle, Maris and Berra and living through the lean years when the infield after Boyer-Kubek-Richardson-Skowron was followed by Smith-Amaro-Clarke-Mantle. Heck, I was even at the last game of the old Yankee Stadium in 1973 and the first game at the renovated Yankee Stadium in 1976. So quiz me on Yankees history and I like my chances.
The next two weeks ought to be interesting, as the Yankees have 13 games against Tampa Bay, Toronto and Houston, all contenders. But here’s the bottom line and why getting off to a hot start is so important for a club. The Yankees have 102 games remaining and do not have to be extraordinary the rest of the way. If they go 51-51, a mediocre .500, that will give them 95 victories, a lock for the post season and probably their division title.
I’m not saying the Yankees are going to purposely not strive for the best record in all of baseball. But their near-record start over the first 60 games has given them enough of a cushion to think longterm and place their marbles in line for the big prize, a World Series title. In other words, under MLB’s current system, you don’t have to be the best, you just have to position yourself to be the best come October. Just ask the Atlanta Braves.
So are the Yankees the best team in baseball? For 60 games they have been and that .733 winning percentage has positioned them to be the best team come autumn, when it matters the most.
Cubs should be ashamed
After the Yankees annhilated the Chicago Cubs over three games at Yankee Stadium this weekend, I sent out a Tweet critical of the Cubs’ ownership and how fans should demand a refund.
The fact is, whether you are the Chicago Cubs, Oakland Athletics, Cincinnati Reds or pick your losing club, there is no excuse for clubs tearing down their roster and going into a full-fledged rebuild. That doesn’t mean clubs should overspend to the point where they are charged a luxury tax. But the fact is, these MLB clubs now have numerous revenue streams, enabling them to field competitive ballclubs, rather than going into complete teardown mode, while at the same time charging premium prices for fans to view their product.
I know the MLBPA made this an issue, during last spring’s contentious labor negotiations, but it wasn’t made enough of an issue, as proven by the play of the Cubs, Athletics and others.
One fan wrote me that no one was forcing people to go to Wrigley Field or subscribe to the Cubs’ Marquee regional sports network. True. And until such time as fans start to realize the power they have, they can expect more of the status quo.
And speaking of revenue streams
Is it me or don’t you find it interesting at all the additional television revenue streams MLB is developing this season at the expense of their fan base. As an example, if you are a fan of the Yankees, you pay so much per month to watch their games on the YES network. (Usually, this channel is packaged with other sports networks, so you cannot subscribe ala carte.) Except, as your subscription price goes up, the number of Yankees games on YES is going down.
MLB is undermining its fan base by taking more games away from a club’s regional sports network, without reducing the subscription cost. In other words, if the Yankees’ Sunday game is on NBC’s Peacock Network, that means no Yankees game on YES that day. Or, if their Friday night game is on Apple-TV, that means no Friday night game on YES. And if they are not on Apple-TV, then more than likely on Friday night they are on Amazon’s Prime, with YES customers again being shortchanged. You want to watch the Yanks on Peacock or Amazon-Prime, you have to pay, in addition to what you are paying YES. And soon, Apple-TV will start charging for its Friday night MLB package.
It is somewhat comparable to our shopping experience in these days of shrinkflation, with food being placed in smaller packages without a concurrent price reduction. Again the fans have the power to change this. My hunch is, they won’t.
Oh well, enough ranting for today. As always, thank you for your support and have a terrific week.