• 1988 – What Might Have Been In Yankeeland

    Posted by on January 31st, 2010 · Comments (6)

    I was just looking at the final A.L. East Standings for 1988:

    Team       W   L  W-L%  GB 
    Red Sox    89 73  .549  -- 
    Tigers     88 74  .543  1.0 
    Brewers    87 75  .537  2.0 
    Blue Jays  87 75  .537  2.0 
    Yankees    85 76  .528  3.5 
    Indians    78 84  .481 11.0 
    Orioles    54 107 .335 34.5 

    Close race, huh? Five teams all bunched up at the top with just 3 1/2 games between them.

    You know, at the close of business on September 15th that season, the Yankees were in 2nd place – just 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox (who New York beat that day albeit facing Roger Clemens). And, the Yankees were all set up – as they had six games left with the Red Sox and seven games left with the Orioles (who stunk that year) in their next 13 games to play. So, what happened?

    Well, in those seven games with the O’s, they got it done – going 6-1. But, in those six games against the Red Sox, the Yankees went 1-5. And, once that 13-game run was over, the Yankees were 3 1/2 games back with three games left to play in the season. So, it was over.

    But, really, it was over just three games into that 13-game period. After the Yankees beat the Red Sox, in Fenway, on September 15th, New York lost the next three games in Boston – and then found themselves 6 1/2 games back of the Red Sox (with 13 games left to the season). Granted, getting fat against the O’s after that allowed the Yankees to get within 3 1/2 games again. But, those three losses in a row were a killer for them. Here’s what happened in each of those:

    September 16th: Al Leiter and Steve Shields don’t get the job done.
    September 17th: Charlie Hudson is left in too long. The Yankees protested the game, for some reason, but it was not allowed.
    September 18th: Ron Guidry got battered around and then some.

    I was 25-years old during the 1988 season. Why I don’t remember more of it, I dunno? I was probably too busy working during the week and then running around down at the Jersey Shore on the weekends. Either that, or, because of the whole Boston-thing, I decided to redact the whole tank job from my memory. Plus, don’t forget, the Mets were rocking in 1988. So, that might have played into it too…with it just being a bad time to be a Yankees fan.

    Then, of course, 1989 through 1992 was just a terrible time to be living in Yankeeland. In the end, perhaps, the missed chance 1988 was the match that set the whole thing off?

    Oh, what might have been…

    Comments on 1988 – What Might Have Been In Yankeeland

    1. Corey
      January 31st, 2010 | 12:40 pm

      Anyone know why Leiter only threw an inning+? Sure it wasn’t pretty, but the runs he gave up were let up by Shields. Did he just have nothing in the tank?

    2. Raf
      January 31st, 2010 | 1:04 pm

      It wasn’t so much the missed chance, it was a series of poor moves that were made, as well as a few injuries. Remember, the AL East was pretty weak back then.

      In 1988 the Yanks were in the race despite having guys like Hudson, Guidry and John in the rotation.

      I’d be willing to wager that in 89, had Clark not been traded, Winfield had not gone down for the season, and Rickey had played up to his potential (among other things, but those 3 things stand out years later), things would’ve turned out different, maybe for the better.

    3. Raf
      January 31st, 2010 | 1:07 pm

      @ Corey:
      From the NYT report

      Al Leiter, their starter, was bothered by a muscle spasm in the left side of his upper back and did not get an out in the second. Steve Shields, his replacement, wobbled through a five-run fifth when the Red Sox sent 11 batters to the plate.

      ”It’s not a small thing, but it’s not catastrophic to a pitcher, either,” the rookie said. ”I still want to pitch. I’m going to go out there as long as I can and throw as hard as I can.”

      That’s all the Yankees wanted. But after a scoreless first, Leiter failed to get an out in the second. He left with the bases loaded after giving up a single and a walk and hitting Jim Rice with a pitch.

    4. Corey
      January 31st, 2010 | 1:29 pm

      @ Raf:
      Ah, cool thanks!

    5. 77yankees
      January 31st, 2010 | 1:43 pm

      Those teams in 1985, 87, & 88 just didn’t have the pitching depth and fell apart in August or September.

      Though I remember a September four game sweep in ’88 against the Tigers at the Stadium where the Yanks had three game-ending HR, and Claudell Washington had two of them – the last one being in the bottom of the 18th in a game that ended at around 8:00 that Sunday night.

    6. February 1st, 2010 | 9:14 am

      Memories of ’88, Bo Jackson hitting one into right field and Bobby Meacham’s last two errors as a player. Oh happy days.

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