COMMENTARY | With 10 games left to play, the New York Yankees have three teams in front of them in the Wild Card race and are tied with a fourth. They have a 3.4 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to Baseball Prospectus, and fans are quickly coming to grips with the fact that there will be no October baseball in the Bronx this year.
Thursday, the Yankees announced that the team's final home game - on September 26, versus the Tampa Bay Rays - has sold out. One can safely assume the reason behind the sell-out is that fans know it will be Mariano Rivera's final home game - not because they anticipate a seven-game winning streak going into the Thursday night game.
The fact that the Yankees are even in the postseason conversation this late in the season is a testament to manager Joe Girardi and Rivera. New York has a 28-15 record in one-run games and has a negative-16 run differential. Compare that to the Boston Red Sox, who have scored 179 more runs than they've allowed. Actually, don't. It's too depressing.
Deep down, most Yankees fans have known that this year's team was not playoff-bound well before Curtis Granderson was injured in his first spring training at-bat or Alex Rodriguez walked into the Hospital for Special Surgery. Compared to last season, attendance at Yankee Stadium is down 8 percent - about 3,500 fewer fans per game - and team brass can't blame the economy anymore.
Like AMC, the Yankees know how to put on a good show, except the Bronx Bombers' version of The Walking Dead has involved the walking wounded - Granderson, Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Kevin Youkilis, et. al. Worse yet, the New York-based series has seemingly been renewed for next season, with flesh-eating zombies having been replaced by aging payroll-hungry veterans:
- Rodriguez (age 37) - $25 million
- C.C. Sabathia (age 32) - $23 million
- Teixeira (age 33) - $22.5 million
- Alfonso Soriano (age 37) - $18 million ($13 million covered by the Chicago Cubs)
- Vernon Wells (age 34) - $21 million ($18.6 million covered by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)
- Ichiro Suzuki (age 39) - $6.5 million
- Jeter (age 39) - expected to exercise an $8 million player option
That's more than $92 million on the books for seven past-their-prime ballplayers… and that's before the [insert insane dollar amount here] that Robinson Cano is expected to fetch.
At the Yankees' current pace, it won't be long before the team takes a page from another AMC show and breaks bad, perhaps not even reaching the .500 mark next season.
Howard Z. Unger is a freelance journalist in Brooklyn, New York. For the past 15 years, he has written about sports, media, and popular culture. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, New York Post, and New York Times.
- Sports & Recreation
- New York Yankees
- Alex Rodriguez
- Mariano Rivera
- Curtis Granderson
- New York
- Tampa Bay Rays