Thoughts from Terrence Mann
“The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again”, Terrence Mann, Field of Dreams.
And it will be again. It’s Opening Day for Major League Baseball–America’s pastime and my favorite sport since I was a child. There’s a new commissioner who is open to change. As with every new season, there are rookies and young players hoping to become stars. There are also well paid veterans expecting to perform and some long in the tooth veterans (alas some on my Yankees) hoping to recapture former glory.
And with the start of every season almost every team has hope for a playoff run. Realistically I think that only 5 teams have virtually no hope for October baseball—Texas and Minnesota in the AL, and the Phillies, D-Backs and Rockies in the NL. Nothing short of a miracle will get them to October.
So that leaves 25 teams for 10 playoff slots. Lots of teams with lots of “ifs”. The more ifs, the less likely they’ll play in October, and the less ifs the more likely.
As Strumings readers know, I am a lifelong Yankees fan from my childhood. 1960 was the first season I remember crisply. I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen many Yankee greats over the years and also fortunate to watch my team play in 15 World Series and win 9 of them over the last 55 years, a record of excellence far exceeding any other franchise. Lest I be seen as a “frontrunner”, I suffered through years of bad Yankees baseball (late 60s/early 70s, and early 90s). I understand and respect that no one sheds tears for the Yankees and every Yankees team since 1993 has had a winning record. That could end in 2015, but may not. Experts project the Yankees at 80-82 wins in 2015, a .500 team. They may be right. In the past 20 years it was relatively easy to see that there was at least a good chance of success for each forthcoming season. This year’s team does have upside, and October baseball and a 28th World Championship is a possibility, but a 70 win season could be equally as likely. The “range of outcomes” is far broader for this team than virtually any Yankees team I can recall.
It’s based on many, many, many “ifs”
1. Will Tanaka stay injury free?
2. Will Pineda make 30 starts?
3. Will CC be a solid #3 starter?
4. Will Teixeira and Beltran have solid bounce back years relatively injury free?
5. Will Betances become a stud closer?
6. Will Ellsbury and Gardner have good years, hit well and be among the league leaders in steals?
7. Will Didi and Drew be at least average hitters?
8. Will the #4 & 5 starters not be a disaster?
9. Will the Yankees score some runs?
By the way none of the “ifs” include A-Rod. He did have a decent spring training though I suspect he will get off to a miserable start and, if so, the Yankees could eat his contract and release him by July 4. I have virtually no expectations of upside from him. He may surprise, but I suspect not, so I don’t even inlcude him in the “ifs”.
Will all the 9 ifs listed above break the Yankees way? Not a chance. If most of them happen, the Yankees will have a good season, maybe even a championship one. If only a few happen, a losing season could be straight ahead.
But for the first time in years, I can see that younger future Yankee stars bubbling under in the minors which will make the Yankees championship contenders again soon. However, Yankees management (and fans) seek a winner every year. The Yankees may deliver again in 2015. But then again they may not. That’s why they play the games. I’m excited.