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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Yankee fans, reject the wild card.

Today the Yankees start a home series against the Houston Astros.  The Yankees are 7.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles in the American Conference (AC) East Division in the Major Baseball League (MBL).  The Yankees are unlikely to finish first in their division.

The Yankees can, however, qualify for the play-in game as the second wild card that was added two years ago.  Currently the Angels have moved into first place in the AC West, making Oakland the number one wild card team.  The Yankees are six games behind Oakland.

The Yankees are 3 games behind both Detroit and Seattle for wild card number two.  The Yankee record is 63-59.  The Yankees are mediocre.

As I immediately wrote when the extra wild card team was announced two years ago, the MBL had  inadvertently stumbled into a big improvement in its tournament.  The change gave a huge advantage to the number one seed, i.e., the division winner with the best record in the conference and a huge disadvantage to the wild card team, especially if it is wild card number two.  That team loses home field advantage in every round except the finals, which is absurdly determined by the winner of the All Star game.  I do not expect a number two wild card team to reach the finals, much less win it.  Ever.

So the Yankees are promoting their long shot hope of securing the number two wild card spot, the bottom seed.  That's sucker stuff.  Last season I felt bad for the fans of the two Ohio teams who were drawn into that.  I felt from the start of this new tournament format that within 3 to 5 years fans of teams on the bubble would develop fatigue from the rush of optimism in qualifying to the quick exit, either in the play-in game or in round one against the better and rested one seed.

That's all that Yankee fans have this season.  Whether they deserve better is debatable.  Their Hall of Fame managers were not faced with this indignity: Miller Huggins, Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel or Joe Torre.  Torre managed the Yankees from 1996 through 2007 when the old tournament had three division winners and one wild card from each conference.  The Yankees qualified every season that Torre managed them, twice as the wild card: 1997 (lost LDS 3-2) and 2007 (lost LDS 3-1).  Even Torre could not overcome that and the seeding was not nearly such a disadvantage.  The Torre Yankees won the tournament in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000.

The 2014 Yankees have only three every day players who were with the team in 2013: Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner and Mark Teixeira.  Even if the Yankees secure wild card number two, why should Yankee fans care about a bunch of strangers who aren't very good and won't be with the team very long?

Send a message.  Reject the wild card.  Stay home for the rest of the regular season.  Don't attend the first round series in the unlikely event that these Yankees both qualify for the tournament and then travel from Boston, where they end the regular season, to either Anaheim or Oakland California and win that do-or-die game.  And what of the ignominy of the Yankees desperately trying to beat the Red Sox on the road to get that bottom seed and failing?  Holy Bucky Dent!

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