The MLB standings are changing every day, much like the weather. There is no month during the season that has a greater impact on those who play and follow these MLB standings than that of September. September has broken hearts, shattered dreams and put cities on suicide watch for many years.
The New York Yankees have had the luxury of watching the arch rival Boston Red Sox lose commanding positions on numerous occasions. The 2011 Red Sox completed an epic collapse. If you read the MLB standings on Sept. 3 a year ago, you would have seen that the Red Sox had a 99 percent chance of making the playoffs. That was before the Sox went on to lose 18 of their final 24 games and plummeted down the standings.
While epic, the 2011 slide pales in Yankee folklore when you consider what happened in 1978 to the Red Sox at the hands of the Bronx Bombers. These were the days before Wild Cards. You either won your division or you were out. The July MLB standings showed the Red Sox with a whopping 14.5 game lead over the defending World Series Champions.
This lead continued to shrink and was immortalized in early September when the Yankees visited Fenway Park for a four-game showdown that became known in the hallows of baseball as the Boston Massacre when the Yankees took all four games. The MLB standings changed every day throughout September and led to a one-game playoff that the Yankees won. They completed the Red Sox collapse by being the one to jab the spike into their windpipe and capture another championship.
In the war of the New York back pages, the Yankees have also seen their cross-town rival New York Mets collapse in September under the weight of the MLB standings. Their 2007 skid was considered the worse since The Phold of 1964, when the Philadelphia Phillies blew a 6.5 game lead with 12 games left in the season. The Mets lost to bad teams at home to relinquish their divisional lead. As if 2007 was not enough, the Mets managed to fold yet again in September 2008 as they lost on the last day of the season again to the Florida Marlins. The 2008 implosion was one that squandered a 3.5 games lead as late as Sept. 10.
It should come as no surprise that disgruntled Sox and Metropolitan fans have a long term memory and are scoreboard watching every night hoping, praying, that the mighty Yankees continue to fall and to fall hard. The team is currently in a slide that has seen them drop 10 of 14 games, including two out of three to the Baltimore Orioles (tied for first) and now two in a row the Tampa Bay Rays (1.5 GB).
While the team is suffering through some major injuries and dealing with ineffective players, these are not acceptable excuses. The Yankee fans would not hear these same excuses during the Red Sox and the Mets’ September failures. It is what it is. Deal with it. This is no one-way street.
It’s true that September is in its infancy, but this has all the ear marks of a collapse. The “Bombers” have scored a combined 13 runs in the last five games. You do the math because I am afraid to do it myself. The lead that was 10 games on July 18 and six games on Aug. 17 has disappeared just like the Yankee bats. Today’s MLB standings put Yankees in a place they have not been in more than five months: out of sole possession of first place atop the AL East.
Does this mean October will have Derek Jeter and the Yankees as spectators? Of course not. But, when you consider their injuries, their poor pitching and their insane inability to get a big hit, you have to think that the odds are against them. Teams going down this fast this late in any sport rarely recover. This alone will tickle the fancy of their rivals on Yawkey and in Flushing, who will watch the MLB standings every day till the end even though they have been planning on 2013 since July. It’s just what we fanatics do.