COMMENTARY | The New York Yankees were well on their way to losing for the fifth straight time and further deflating their chances to reach the postseason. Things were getting uglier by the inning Sept. 18 as the Bombers seemed ready to be handed a second straight shutout defeat against the last place Toronto Blue Jays.
But, as they've done so many times this season, they came back. The team has taken its lumps through injuries and inconsistent play throughout the year. But, this is a resilient bunch. A team which refuses to quit.
Many Yankees fans were lambasting the team on Twitter during the Sept. 18 tilt. They were complaining that the Yankees lacked drive and energy. Indeed the team looked sluggish and downtrodden, but then came a terrific four-run rally in the top of the eighth inning. The comeback was sealed by a four-out save from Mariano Rivera and the Yankees inched to within 2.5 games (three on the loss side) of the Texas Rangers for the second wild-card spot in the American League.
Prior to the barrage, the Yankees had been held scoreless over their previous 16 innings. They had scored just seven runs since the beginning of their previous series against the AL East leading Boston Red Sox. Scoring just seven runs over the course of 45 innings can be deflating. The four runs in the eighth inning came during the span of five pitches and just as quickly the Yankees appeared full of energy. That's baseball.
Look, baseball players go through periods when things just aren't clicking. This doesn't mean that the individual or group of teammates doesn't care. When things are going well everyone looks to be enjoying themselves. Winning brings about fun. Conversely when losses pile up the expressions on a players' faces seem lifeless. There is a difference between uneven play and the desire to win. I expect the Yankees will look different when they take the field Sept. 19, but I will not subscribe to the notion that they want to win more now than they did during the losing streak.
Each of these players wants to raise their hands in victory. Losing does nothing for them as individuals. Players on losing teams, or those like the Yankees, who have suffered serious setbacks all season, receive little benefit from shutting down. Each individual must work harder and present themselves as a player who can fight through adversity. So, for fans to complain that the Yankees don't have a yearning to win is foolish.
Players will be remembered for the moments they fought through difficulties and overcame obstacles. This Yankees team is filled with such players. Collectively they may be tired, but they do not lack desire. Performing poorly rarely coincides with players giving up.
Sometimes leaving it all out on the field is enough and the wins mount. Other times, teams simply run into a better squad (Red Sox) or pitcher (R.A. Dickey on Sept. 17). None of it has to do with energy or the will to win. The want for victory is something I believe a majority of players possess day in and day out over the course of the 162-game season.
Being a part of a winning team and/or portraying oneself as a winner feeds players in a literal and figurative sense. I'd venture to guess after the money, the will to win was high atop many players' wish list when they decided to pursue lives as professional athletes.
So, to the fans of the New York Yankees, I say be patient with your team. There is nothing they would like more than to win and reach the postseason. They would love to go on a tear and carry it through to a World Series title. Losing is not an option for them and they've proven time and again that they will not quit. The Yankees may not reach the playoffs this year, but it won't be because they lack the desire to win.
Chris Carelli is a freelance baseball writer/editor. He is a New York Yankees contributor published on Yahoo Sports. He has previously written and edited content for several online publications. Chris is also the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo. For more baseball commentary you can follow Chris on Twitter.
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