Friday, February 6, 2009

Fast start a key for these Yankees

It's been raining in Los Angeles for the past two days, a weird development for a place that sees approximately 345 days of sunshine per year. Weirder still is to observe how the locals react to these low pressure systems.

My house overlooks the 101 -- a freeway that cuts through Hollywood -- and at 3 p.m. yesterday the roadway was swamped with bumper-to-bumper traffic. My current theory is that people here don't know how to accurately deal with windshield wipers, creating a mini-hysteria in a large percentage of cars. Then there's the malaise that falls over the general public. It's kind of like how people acted before they killed themselves in that brutal M. Night Shyamalan movie from last year. Blank faces, deliberate movements. The lights are on, but ain't nobody home.

So yeah, as you can guess, the rain has southern Californians holed up like Jessica Simpson in a gingerbread house. Thus, it's me and a cold beer on at Friday night writing about the Yankees. And you know what? Life could be worse.

Looking over the past few Aprils, the Yankees have bared a scary resemblance to zombified Californians. (That's called a Low Grade Transition Sentence, by the way.) The Yankees went nuts in their pennant-winning season of 2003, jumping out to a 21-6 start. Since then, the early returns have vacillated between mediocre and disastrous. Take a look:

14-15, .483, 3 GB

9-14, .391, 6.5 GB

13-10, .565, tied for 1st

10-14, .417, 6.5 GB

12-11, .522, 4 GB

Not exactly impressive stuff. Of course, excluding the 2008 club, each of these teams went on to qualify for the postseason, so we shouldn't get busy carving those pinstriped tombstones if the Yanks stumble early. That said, this may be the most anticipated version of the Yankees in the 2000s. With great expectations comes great pressure, and for the newbies -- Sabathia, Burnett and Teixeira -- this pressure to perform early will amplified ten fold. A slow start could put Joe Girardi firmly on the hotseat as well.

So yeah, it would behoove the Yankees to play well early on. If the Yanks play to their capabilities -- and let's face it, this team is very capable -- there is nothing stopping them from a 2003-like April. Here's a breakdown of the slate.

April 6-9 @ Baltimore
April 10-12 @ Kansas City
April 13-15 @ Tampa Bay
April 16-19 vs. Cleveland
April 20-22 vs. Oakland
April 24-26 @ Boston
April 27-29 @ Detroit
April 30 vs. Los Angeles Angels

Right off the top I'd like to thank Major League Baseball for hitting the Yanks with a nine-game road swing to start the season. Way to earn that $18 million, Bud! The Rays and Red Sox jump out at you naturally, but otherwise the schedule is highly favorable for the season's first 23 games.

This is the part of the post where I feel obligated to mention that Sabathia, Burnett, the Wanger and Joba will likely start about 20 of these games. It may be pouring outside, but the sun is shining in this Yankee fan's heart.

1 comment:

Howie said...

I hate the Yankees