Ten days ago, I thought that the Yankees had little chance of catching the first place Red Sox in the AL East standings.
Now, as this is being penned, New York sits just three games back of Boston – with each team having 41 games left to play. If I were to maintain at this junction that the Yankees have no chance of catching the Sox, today, I would be a moron. Therefore, I have to say, right now, that the AL East is indeed up for grabs.
Of course, anything can happen – and it can happen quickly.
The last time that the Yankees were this close to first place on August 20th of a season, when they were not in first place, was 1993 – when New York trailed Toronto by 1 game. In fact, just a week later, the Yankees caught the Blue Jays are were tied for first on August 27, 1993. However, September 1993 was not a good month for the Yankees – including a killer 5-game losing streak from 9/19 through 9/25. And, in the end, the Yankees finished second in 1993 – seven games behind Toronto.
Further, if memory serves correct, the last time that the Yankees were not in first on August 20th of a season and then went on to finish first was 1978. And, the time that it happened before that was 1964. (At least, this is what I recall. Maybe I missed something? But, I doubt it.)
So, there’s not a lot of history to call upon here – even for a franchise as old as the Yankees. In the last half-century there have not been many times where the Yankees made a charge at first during late August and finished first. Therefore, if it were to happen this year, it would be something to cherish.
In any event, for Yankees fans, the important thing is that, for today, you have every reasonable right to have hope. Yes, it might be gone in a matter of days. But, until that becomes reality – this reality is the only one that matters: The reality that the New York Yankees, today, warts and all, are contenders for first place in the AL East.