Monday, June 20, 2005

It's Not Getting Any Easier...

It figures that just as I pen a (very abbreviated) series on what’s wrong with the Yanks, they go and rattle off six straight with four against the dismal D-Rays in the coming days. But who is to say they’ve solved these problems? From my vantage point, the Yanks are just suffering from another bout with inconsistency.

What does this current winning streak mean if the Yanks go and hit another 3-9 slide? They’d be at the same impasse as last week except this time a) they’d be much further out of contention in the division and b) they wouldn’t have nearly as many games to make it up.

So basically, for the Yanks to be taken seriously this year, the losing streaks need to be out of their system. This isn’t to say that they need to be hitting six in a row and 14 of 16 for the rest of the season, but any more four-plus game losing streaks are going to kill any playoff hopes, as I don’t foresee Boston and Baltimore playing this flat for much longer.

Actually, it’s not like either team is playing very flat right now anyway. While the Yanks have been busy trying to propel themselves back into the race, Baltimore and Boston each went 5-1 last week, meaning that the Yanks have only gained a game on each. Whoopee.

The road to the All-Star game is rocky at best for the Yanks. After the D-Rays this week – whom we should thoroughly rough up for revenge’s sake, the “struggling doesn’t quite define how they’re doing now” Mets are on tap for the weekend. If the Yanks play to the level they have over the past week, there is no reason why the winning streak shouldn’t be extended to 13 games. At this juncture in the season, against such lousy teams, there is no excuse for losing more than one of the next seven.

But then we hit some turbulence during a mini-road trip that takes the team to Camden Yards and Comerica Park. The series next week against the Orioles will be a defining series in the year, since it will not only gauge the progress the team has made since last facing the Orioles (dropping five of six), but it will begin the process of separating the division.

Then to Detroit, where I don’t think we’ll find the same results as last time against the Tigers. Sure, a sweep is a possibility, especially if the Yanks are really rolling at this point. But the team has hit roadblocks against far lesser teams than the Tigers.

The pre-All-Star game schedule wraps up with a home stand, but I don’t think anyone is really looking forward to clashing with the O’s for two and then the Injuns, who have just rattled off nine straight of their own.

I guess my pessimism is apparent throughout this piece, but I don’t think it’s unwarranted. The team has done very little to prove themselves worthy this year, and at times it seems like the negatives are outweighing the positives. Inconsistency has been the plague, and the only cure – stellar pitching – isn’t as potent as it once was.

The optimist’s view of the road ahead is that this is a chance for the Yanks to prove themselves, to show that they’re not just a bunch of playground bullies who knock around the little guys. Then again, analogizing them to bullies may not be the best way to put things, unless the Royals are Booger to the Yanks’ Stan Gable.

In summation, the Yanks had better get these easy wins while they can, because as the season unfolds and we get past the All-Star break, their schedule isn’t getting any easier. Just after the break, they face the Red Sox, the Angels, the Twins, the Angels again, Cleveland, Toronto, the greater of the two Chicago teams, and Texas again before they get a break with the D-Rays, only to head back to Chicago for another bout with the Sox. Do you see any 10-game winning streaks forming in the midst of that schedule? Neither do I.