I’m in a New York state of mind.
Maybe it’s because watching the Yankees lose to the Rays last weekend was more enjoyable than watching the Red Sox roll the hapless Rangers (nine straight losses!).
Maybe it’s because the Yanks saw their AL East lead go from 15½ games to just three in the loss column earlier this week. The Yankees have a million players on the injured list, and Aaron Judge is the only guy who’s still hitting. A full el foldo is not out of the question.
It’s the same with the crosstown Mets. The Amazins have been in first place in the NL East for the entire season. They had a 10½-game lead over everybody in June, but just lost three straight to the lowly Nationals and Pirates, and were caught by the Braves Tuesday night. New York and Atlanta had identical records going into Wednesday’s play.
Two baseball teams. Two collapses?
Too good to be true.
Keeping an eye on all things New York is part of the New England fan experience. We are raised to root against all Gotham teams. In this spirit, I make the old-guy trek into Oak Square every morning to pick up print editions of the New York Post, New York Daily News, and New York Times. They’re worth every penny.
The back page of Wednesday’s Post featured the headline “PITT OF DESPAIR” with a photo of Met Eduardo Escobar walking back to the dugout after striking out against the Pirates.
The free-falling Yankees will be at Fenway next Tuesday and Wednesday, and I can’t wait. With the annoying Red Sox (an embarrassing 18-38 vs. the AL East) riding their laundry cart in the cellar, it’ll be good to see if they can make us feel better by adding to Yankee woes.
In early August, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer called and asked, “Is it too early to start talking about the Yankees in comparison with the 1978 Red Sox?”
Yes, too early, I submitted. But then the New York lead kept shrinking, Don Zimmer-style.
Here in the hardball Hub, we know about blowing leads. Boston old-timers lived through ‘78 (the capo di tutti capi of collapses) when the Sox led the fourth-place Yankees by 14 games on July 20 but somehow managed to fall 3½ behind them in September. Most of you remember 2011 when the Red Sox went 7-20 in the final month, blowing the biggest September lead in baseball history and failing to make the playoffs.
Post columnist Mike Vaccaro Sunday cited the worst collapses in Apple history and came up with the 2004 Yanks (remember them?), the 2007 Mets, the 1986 Jets, the 1992 Knicks, and the 1951 Dodgers. Only the 2004 Apple chokers compare with the ‘78 Sox or the chicken-and-beer 2011 team.
This year’s Yankees started 64-28. Since then, they are 17-26 (going into Wednesday’s doubleheader).
There’s another reason to follow the Bronx Bombers, and that’s Judge, a 6-foot-7-inch, 282-pound Bronx hero of Ruthian proportion. Judge had homered in six of the Yankees’ last eight games.
Love or hate the Yankees, it’s impossible to take your eyes off Judge. He had 55homers in his team’s first 136 games, which has been done by only one non-cheater: the great Bambino. The true record for homers in a 162-game season is Roger Maris’s 61 in 1961 — 61 years ago. Ruth hit 60 in a 154-game season in 1927.
The rest of the records (Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa) were set in the cartoonish steroid era when baseball was not testing for PEDs. Judge at Fenway will be a must-watch.
Our obsession with New York sports doesn’t stop with baseball. The NFL kicks off its season Thursday, and no matter how shaky things look in Foxborough, we take comfort knowing the Jets and Giants will be worse. Both finished last in 2021 and both are projected to land in the basement again this year.
The Jets are an NFL punch line, and Robert Saleh is their seventh head coach since Bill Belichick took over the Patriots. The Giants are 22-59 over the last five seasons and have won only one of their last 12 season openers. Here’s the headline above the Giants story in Tuesday’s Post: “Weak 1 — Season-opening loss a Big Blue rite of passage.”
I could also mention that the Knicks have won only one playoff series since 2000.
This schadenfreude regarding New York teams makes us pathetic, but with the Sox in last place and the Patriots shrouded in doubt, allow us the cold comfort that comes with a little Big Apple pain.