At this point, you don’t even need to hear the words or listen to the explanations – and what are they going to say, anyway? How are the Yankees going to describe what happened to this season that was so dreamy just 15 minutes ago? How to explain the inexplicable?
No. All you have to do is look at the eyes. Look at the faces. Look at the Yankees in the dugout these days, looking tortured, looking troubled, looking completely bewitched and bewildered by what is happening to them. They lost again Saturday night to Tampa Bay, 2-1. Their lead in the AL East is reduced to four games. It’s three in the loss column.
It’s no longer an abstract notion that the Yankees could fall apart.
They collapse. Their eyes tell you a lot. Their body language tells you a lot. And if any of the Yankees were given some truth serum, maybe what they would do is channel an old Red Sox shortstop named Rick (Rooster) Burleson who after Game 4 of the Boston Massacre he 44 years ago shook his head and gave one of the most honest quotes in the history of quotes.
“Every day,” Burleson said, “you sit in front of your locker and ask God, ‘What’s going on? ”
What the hell is happening?
Shit, that’s what’s happening. Baseball hell. The Yankees are in such collective funk that it actually looked like a positive consolation prize when Aaron Judge slammed a home run – No. 52 – in the ninth inning on Saturday, ending a 21-inning drought for the Yankees. .
The Yankees live under such a dark cloud that it doesn’t matter that the Rays did their best to give them a freebie, making some terrible mistakes early on, missing out on what should have been a seventh inning. with insurance races. It didn’t matter. No matter. The Yankees are in such bad shape that they don’t even accept freebies.
None of this makes sense. Not even a little. The Yankees are consistently the best team on paper in just about every game they play. But they also show skin as thin as paper. A five-game winning streak from Aug. 21-26 that seemed to shut down all the negative mojo feels like it happened months ago.
And every day they sit in the canoe, sit in front of their lockers, and wear a look that distinctly asks, “What’s going on?”
Or, as manager Aaron Boone said, “If we don’t dig ourselves in, you’ll have a great story.”
Great, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. The Yankees don’t want any part of that story. Yankees fans don’t want to be part of this story. Yet every day is a new chapter. Every day is a case study in a team stuck in its own head. Every game is a thesis on how easy it is to lose baseball games once you hit the slippery slope.
“There’s got to be some level of a bit of relaxation,” Boone said. “Walking that fine line in a game that fails. We must be hard-headed right now.
Boone talks about picking up small wins now, winning at bats, scoring at work, stacking quality sticks. It’s a solid strategy, of course, that makes perfect sense in the calm of a post-game manager’s office. And one that can sometimes be difficult to translate into a game
Right now, it’s like the Yankees are trying to translate the Dead Sea Scrolls.
“We are not where we want to be,” said Giancarlo Stanton, “but we still have a great opportunity.”
Said Boone: “It’s right there. We have the same conversation every day. We have to find a way, we have to score. We have something here to grab and take and we are still in control of that.
For much of August, that’s what sustained the Yankees: As bad as they were playing, they had built such a cushion that they should be able to straighten up and not have to sweat for a moment. But they are sure to sweat now.
They look puzzled in the dugout and in the post-match club, trying to explain one loss after another, trying to figure out how 15 and a half games became four. No need to wonder if the Yankees can fall apart. They collapse. There are still 29 games to play, still plenty of time to right the ship.
And still plenty of time to sink it.