As the Yankees arrive at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York for a three-game showdown with the Blue Jays and what could be a defining trait of their season, manager Aaron Boone acknowledged that he is “very concerned” about his club’s place in the standings.
“As the attack goes on, that’s where we gain a lot of our bravado,” Boone said. “It takes all of us to create it. I think we all know that when we wear this uniform, we should win. We have to pick it up in the biggest way possible. “
The Yankees will start playing on Tuesday with a record of 33-32 in the American League East, their slowest start since 2016 – although they are certainly not the first Bombers team to face tough times. Here are five examples of clubs in franchise history that corrected the spin and made it into the postseason:
The ’78 Bronx Zoo Yankees were famous for 14 games behind the Red Sox on July 19, with a record 48-42. A turning point appeared to have occurred two days earlier in an extra-inning match against the Royals. Thurman Munson opened the tenth inning with a single and Reggie Jackson was tasked with bunt.
Manager Billy Martin changed his mind after a pitch, removing the bunt mark. Jackson told third baseman Dick Howser that he was still going to bunt; Jackson missed strike two, then bunted catcher Darrell Porter’s glove. The Yankees lost the game and Martin, so furious that he threw a clock radio and a bottle of beer across the clubhouse, suspended Jackson for five games.
Within a week, a relaxed Jackson had returned from a vacation to California and Martin had stepped down as manager of the Yankees (after airing both Jackson and George M. Steinbrenner on a different subject). Under Bob Lemon’s calm touch, the Yanks went 47-20 to equalize the Red Sox for the division title, setting up Bucky Dent’s homer in a match tiebreak at Fenway Park.
Buck Showalter’s team was still hovering under .500 when August moved into September, with a record of 57-59 at the game’s conclusion on August 8. 31, but there was a dangling carrot in the Wild Card – his freshman year as part of the landscape and how Don Mattingly would have enjoyed the only postseason appearance of his career.
Jack McDowell, Andy Pettitte, David Cone, Scott Kamieniecki and John Wetteland threw a hard ball as autumn approached, while Bernie Williams, Wade Boggs, Randy Velarde, Mattingly and Paul O’Neill all boosted the attack for a 21 -6 September.
This led New York to the AL Division Series, an epic and heartbreaking battle against the Mariners that laid the foundation for a dynasty.
We remember the Yankees of ’98 as one of the great giants of baseball, with Joe Torre leading the club to 114 wins and a World Series win by the Padres. But they were apparently in trouble early on, losing four of their first five games and necessitating a team match after the Angels, Athletics and the Mariners had overtaken them, 36-15.
With stewed Steinbrenner, Torre chewed up the players in the visitors’ clubhouse in what was then known as Safeco Field. The Yankees responded by winning 14 of the next 15 games, including a savage 17-13 win over the Athletics in the home opener. The Yankees took the top spot on April 30 and never let go.
“Joe let us talk,” Jorge Posada said in 2018. “He said, ‘Anyone want to talk?’ Then O’Neill spoke, Cone spoke, most of the veterans spoke, we kind of caught each other, kind of like a pointing finger … We remembered what kind of team we had.
It had been more than a decade since the Yankees had been absent from the game after the season, but as they went through what would be Tower’s last season as their manager, that streak seemed to be in jeopardy as they slipped into the All-Star break with a 43 -43 record, 9 and a half games behind the Red Sox the AL East.
The second half of the ’07 season saw a cameo from Roger Clemens, who hadn’t retired to increase rotation. It also marked the arrival of flamethrower prospect Joba Chamberlain and a few giant homers hit by Alex Rodriguez, who became the youngest member of baseball’s 500-homer club.
The Bombers finished 94-68 before meeting their match in the AL Division Series: a swarm of Lake Erie midges that attacked Chamberlain and his teammates during Game 2. Torre has often stated that one of his biggest regrets is not. He was to take his team from the diamond. Derek Jeter noted: “Just when you think you’ve seen everything. This is the home advantage. “
The Yankees have lost two of three games to the Marlins in Miami, a mid-June streak in which some of their regulars seemed distracted after spending the night in South Beach. General manager Brian Cashman booked a commercial flight to meet the team in Atlanta, where he watched from the press stand as his club dropped to 38-32, sidelined by rookie Tommy Hanson.
Cashman gathered the batters in the clubhouse before the next game, never raising his voice from a cheerful monotone, but making it clear, “You’re better than that. Try it. “The Yankees were sidelined for five innings, prompting Cashman to wonder if he was wasting time.
Joe Girardi was sent off by Bill Welke after Brett Gardner was eliminated at first base in the sixth inning, which may have been the spark they needed. Francisco Cervelli threw a draw homer and the Yankees scored an 8-4 win, finishing the year 65-27. Girardi later admitted in the book “Mission 27” that was trying to be launched.
“He let me fight forever,” said Girardi. “I’m thinking, ‘Would you kick me out so I can leave?’ Finally I said, “I’m not leaving until you throw me out.” And he threw me out. It seemed to me that we needed something. Try something different. “