MLB Playoffs: Could New York Yankees' Hitters be Dealing with a Case of the Yips?

By Steve Palumbo
Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Rain, rain go away and come again another day; that is unless you are the New York Yankees. The rain out of game four of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers only helped to postpone the Bombers stay of execution just a wee bit longer.

The weight of an 0-3 series deficit has to be weighing on the Yankees, like a 1,ooo lbs. of dirt ready to be tossed onto a waiting coffin. There are so many different angles one could come from when analyzing what the potential repercussions of Major League Baseball‘s decision to cancel game four.  Of course there is the pitching situation and how it could effect possible match-ups.

The Yanks will stick with CC Sabathia because he’s been lights out for them. And just like Princess Leia said to Obi Wan Kenobi, he is their only hope. The Tigers on the other hand, may opt to skip over Max Scherzer and go for the much more dependable Doug Fister. Detroit pitched Fister in game one of the series and he posted six shutout innings of work. He ended up getting a no-decision because the Yanks teased us with a four-run rally in the ninth to send the game to extra innings. Shame on them.

But, this has already been discussed by 100 other writers. The way I see things, when a team is slumping as bad as New York is at the plate, it has to be mental. A hitter can tweak his swing, make adjustments and take extra batting practice to try and find his groove at the plate. That’s all fine and good, but with the Yankees they have moved way beyond that.

Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher are in their own heads. After ever hapless at-bat they can be seen shaking their heads and mumbling to themselves. It is almost sad to watch. All the rain out has done is give them another day to psych themselves out even more.

I thought about this after game two and came to the conclusion that the majority of the Yankees line-up is suffering from a baseball version of the yips. The yips are commonly associated with golfers, just ask Charles Barkley. Essentially the yips are nervousness or tension that causes an athlete to fail to perform effectively, usually like missing a putt. But, it can effect a hitters ability to make contact with the ball. Can we say, “New York Yankees?”  This is the only way to explain how such a dynamic offensive team could look so bad on almost every pitch thrown to them. The extra day off will only make this worse.

The only reason I am holding out hope for a win in game four is Sabathia. He will have to pitch a complete game though, because the Yanks don’t usually score until the ninth inning. All five runs New York has mustered up came in the ninth inning and four of those were in game one.

Needless to say, I won’t be holding my breath for any miraculous comebacks. The only real question is Tigers in four or five games?

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