Thursday, August 03, 2006

Down for the Count


I read an article today in the Daily News which basically proclaimed that the race for the AL East is all but over. According to the article it's a forgone conclusion that the Yankees will win it. The knee jerk reactions of sports writers continues to amaze me on a daily basis. The Yankees are playing very well right now and they did make a couple of good trades at the deadline, but to declare the race over is asinine. The Red Sox and Yankees have played to a virtual stand still over the past 3 years. Their head to head record is practically dead even (I think a game separates them) and they both have to deal with injuries and various question marks going forward. I think it's fairly safe to say that neither team is going to get a jump on the other.

The Yankees did get stronger at the trade deadline, but that doesn't mean that the race is over. Currently the teams are in a virtual tie for first (the yankees lead by a couple of percentage points), and they both have the toughest parts of their schedule upcoming. They still have nine games against each other and if you've been paying attention over the past three years, then you know realize that those games are probably going to decide the division. Nothing has been decided because the Yankees added a couple of players. If history has shown us anything, it's that these two teams are joined at the hip. They finished with the exact same record last year (the Yankees won the division by a tie breaker). At this point in the season they have almost the exact same record.

Curt Schilling said earlier in the season that the Red Sox needed to take advantage of the Yankees injuries and put some distance between the two teams. That didn't happen of course, but Curt Schilling is an idiot, so his comments generally don't mean anything. It's not really possible for these teams to put much distance between each other. They are just very evenly matched. I wish that the Yankees could put some distance between themselves and the Red Sox, but unless there's an injury to either Schilling or Beckett then it simply isn't going to happen. Beckett has been a mystery this year. He has 13 wins, which is good for second in the league, but his road ERA is over 6. He's also given up 28 home runs this year. Schilling has 12 wins but he's given up 22 home runs this year. They do continue to win however and Paplebon has been amazing out of the pen. He leads the league in saves and has an ERA of about 0.50, which is otherworldly at this point. David Ortiz seems to come up with a game winning hit every night and Manny is just being Manny, which for the most part, is exceptional.

The Yankees have question marks as well. Arod has not produced up to his normal standards, although he seems to have gotten past his defensive problems for the moment. Randy Johnson has been somewhat inconsistent. He seems to be at about a 3-1 ratio for good to bad starts. His bad starts are truly awful, however. He usually does not give the Yankees any chance to win in those games. Robinson Cano has taken about 10 years to come back from a strained hamstring and Matsui and Sheffield are still out with wrist injuries. On the plus side Wang and Mussina have been steady and spectacular at times. Jeter is having an MVP type season and has a real shot at winning the batting title (he has been denied twice by Red Sox players in the past and is currently 10 points behind the league leader). And Rivera has been, well, Rivera.

There are still almost 60 games to go and I'm fairly sure that the story of this season in the AL East won't be told until the majority of those games are done. The Yankees VS. the Red Sox is the best soap opera in sports. I'm not sure why anyone would want to call this one before the final bell. You can trust me when I say that It'll be a dog fight until the end.

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