Sunday, October 7, 2012

A 162-Game Bender

The Yankees 2012 season was certainly a 162-game mind-bender.  To really understand and appreciate this year's team, one would have had to devoutly follow them all year and get a flavor for the failures and accomplishments.  Undoubtedly, there were many variables to chew:  the season hinging on an aging club, injuries and the lack of production as a side-effect.  The harsh 200 million dollar payroll and only one World Series win in the last eleven years - eventhough the Yankees have played October baseball in ten of those eleven.  To the naked eye, a degree of stubbornness was obvious with their approach at the plate, with almost no effort to make any adjustments.  Although, this philosophy yielded many happy endings - 95 wins to be exact.  

To comprehend what defines this year's team, a closer analysis must be done to understand how the 162-game schedule played an immense part in the team's equation. The wear and tear of the long season was a test in fortitude. In this part, the closest analog for me would be blogging.  It has helped me understand the game better and a chance to feel the pulse of the game.  Like anything else, having a reasonable basis about what's written is essential.  Of course, there are principles in writing and there must be general correctness to these principles.  But, we don't have to follow them uncompromisingly - as they can be pliable.  To have success at blogging, the effort must be sustained for a long period, as is with production in baseball.  The Yankees stood the test of time and displayed perseverance to win the AL East division on the final day of the season.  Albeit, not before the tenuous times comprised of hot streaks and plenty of struggles.  This season not only frustrated many of us and in even infuriated, however it also afforded us prosperity. 

Injuries affect the stability and success of a team and the Yankees were not immune to them:  losing Mariano Rivera for the season, and having Andy Pettitte, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez spend time on the disable list.  These are huge loses for any team to instantly recover from.  Even for the Yankees, who led the American League in home runs, and at times struggled with the four baggers.  The lack of success with bases occupied denoted a different Yankee team from years past. The middle of the lineup struggled mightily in clutch situations, especially with the bases loaded. Early on the Yankees were hitting a mere .151 as a team with bases juiced and slightly north of the "Mendoza Line, " with runners in scoring position (.220).  Not a pretty sight, in fact downright wearisome.  Some of the major lineup components were not providing us with any hope with the bases loaded:  Curtis Granderson .143, Derek Jeter .143 and Alex Rodriguez .111.  The only thought infiltrating my mind was small-ball.  Can the team play small-ball until the bats return to standard form? Just one measly hit?  As inauspicious as those early numbers appeared, some benefit of the doubt had to be given to the team - since the same veteran core of players succeeded before and proved it by powering their way to lead the majors in home runs and the best record going into the All-Star break (52-33).  At that point, the Yankees were well on their way to a division crown and a taste of bubbly.  

Every year is different, but let's consider that the last two seasons with basically same lineup, the "The Bronx Bombers," were an imposing team with the bases loaded:  In 2010, the team amassed 10 Grand Slams with 187 RBIs while batting .344/.396/.559, and in 2011 - 10 GRSL and 142 RBIs (.337/.354/.601).  The Yankees again struggled after the All-Star break and their 10-game lead almost dissipated by the first week of September. Once again, the team displayed a championship character and commitment to making the playoffs by finishing with the best record in the American League (95-67).  Also, leading the MLB with most home runs and obtaining home-field advantage throughout the first two rounds of the playoffs.  This was the antithesis to last year were the urgency to have the comfort of playing at home alongside the support of the fans wasn't at hand.  

Congratulations to the 2012 New York Yankees. 

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Geo Ginrosge