As this game was coming to a close this evening, all I could think about was how much things have changed this season.
When the year started, I would watch the games thinking that the Yankees would win, and they didn’t. After a while, I started watching games hoping that they would win, and sometimes they would – but, sometimes they would lose too.
But, now, I watch the Yankees play and I expect them to win, and, they do – just about every time – regardless if they sputter with the bats in the early innings, or give up runs in the middle of the game, or have pitchers allow runners to reach late in the game. It doesn’t seem to matter. They just win. It’s incredible.
Lately, it’s like watching a movie where you know the hero is going to get the girl, save the day, and be shining at the film’s close – it’s just that you don’t know what’s going to happen in between the start and the expected end. And, that’s the point to watching the movie – just to see the currents of the story. But, no matter what you see in that “in between” time, it’s pure and clear to you all along that the good guy wins at the end – and he does.
How sweet would it be if the Yankees kept this up for 10 more games and into the post-season? It would be like “having just thirty dollars to your name and then winning the Lotto” sweet.
And, in a way, what makes it that sweet is how they are doing it now (in this time of winning).
Of course, if the Yankees manage to win it all this year, people are going to point to their payroll. But, it’s not that “payroll” which is entirely responsible for what’s happening now – as some large chucks of that (like Brown amd Pavano) have not been contributing to this effort. It’s been the Smalls, Wangs, and Chacóns, etc., who have been a bigger part of this turnaround. And, in the grand scheme of things, they’re in the “take a penny, leave a penny” dish in terms of the total payroll picture.
To the game today, it was nice to see Mussina shine – although I thought he was going to kill Lawton in the 6th when that ball dropped for a cheap hit. (How has Lawton survived all these years in the bigs being such a butcher with the glove?) And, Posada has been smokin’ the last three weeks with the bat. Also, it’s good for the scouts to see Sheffield drive the ball (like he did tonight). On the downside, Leiter could have done better – and may have hurt his chance to make a post-season roster.
In the end, while it’s obvious that every win is important now, this one was nice for me – because it gives the Yankees a full game lead. As I stated earlier today, it’s very important to have a 2-game lead heading into the final weekend of the season. And, before you can have a 2-game lead, you need a one-game lead.
Now, all the Yankees need to do is win one more game than the Red Sox over the next week and they will have that two-game lead heading into that important series in Fenway.
The Yankees magic number is now 10. Any combination of Boston losses and Yankees wins that equal 10 means the Yankees will win the A.L. East. And, there are 10 games to go.
It’s hard to believe that on the morning of July 2nd of this year that the Yankees were in 4th place in the A.L. East, with a record of 39-39, six games behind the first place Red Sox. Less than 12 weeks later, here are the Yankees – with a magic number just outside single digits. It’s some story, huh? And, as a Yankees fan, it’s an even better feeling.