Well, last night sure was a fun one, wasn’t it? I’d say so. It’s so easy to say this now because the Yankees aren’t involved, but it’s true: the Wild Card Games rule. I’ve done a complete 180 on them in recent years. I was once a curmudgeon crank whining about fairness, but as Friend of the Blog™ Drew Fairservice wrote before last year’s affairs (when I was in no mood to appreciate his argument, thank you very much), they Wild Card Games may not be fair–but they rarely disappoint.
May tonight be filled with another wild game and may the Oakland A’s emerge victorious, because I could do without the Rays. Couldn’t you?
Anyway, the YES Network shared some news about this day in Yankee history:
I was not around then, but this clip–and the stories about 1978–get me fired up anyway. That probably has something to do with the fact that I grew up in Massachusetts and, let me tell you, Bucky Dent’s middle name certainly stuck. Sports are great. In any event, here’s the news 48 hours in advance of Game 1 of the ALDS.
A real injury update! How nice. And even nicer is the fact that all of our pinstriped friends are doing well in their mini-rehab stints between the games. Anthony Reiber of Newsday reports that Edwin Encarnación is “feeling 100%” and “swung at 100% today”, which is really great to hear. The Yankees are a lot deeper with Edwin in the lineup, and–forgive me for saying this–but he gives off a real “David Ortiz in October” vibe to me in that I don’t think the opposition ever wants to see him up in a big spot. I know I wouldn’t if I were them.
Here is some video of the Parrot taking some live swings off Jordan Montgomery:
Aaron Boone reports that Edwin hit a home run in yesterday’s sim game. Good stuff. Looking forward to Friday already.
Gio Urshela is also good to go, per Kristie Ackert of the Daily News. No surprises there. Completely tracks with what we’ve heard all week. She also notes that Gary Sánchez took some swings in the sim games today too to try to continue to find his timing after returning from injury last weekend. Good stuff again.
Finally, George King of the Post reports that the Yankees have given Mike Ford Clint Frazier’s old locker:
In any normal universe, this wouldn’t even be news, but instead, it’s attracting a lot of tea leaf reading because of Frazier and Voit. Not from me! Frazier has no chance of playing in October barring a major catastrophe and is probably returning to Tampa for workouts. Ford, who I am convinced will not make the roster (I’ll get into this more in the coming days), is the backup 1B. With Encarnación banged up and Voit slumping and dealing with hernia rehab of his own, it makes sense that Ford will be around the team and traveling with them as a reserve even if he doesn’t suit up. Nothing more than that, in my opinion.
Aaron Boone Profiles
Some well-deserved Aaron Boone love is floating out there these days, and I am happy to see it. I was really tough on Boone last year–I thought his decision-making was spotty at best fairly often and was bad in the playoffs–but he has been extremely impressive in 2019. At least to me. It feels like he took a real step forward, and I’ve been continually impressed by his answers to tough questions and his overall demeanor. Not to mention the whole “results” thing. Not that it matters at all what I think. It doesn’t.
But anyway, Jeff Passan has a nice piece on the Yankee skipper here. It was great and you should check it out. After that, you should also check out Bryan Hoch’s piece on Boone here. Both are worth your time. Also worth considering: Boone should probably be the AL Manager of the Year. The Yankees always get short-changed in these conversations because they’re the Yankees, but with their injuries and all the obstacles they’ve had to overcome, I think Boone has a real shot to take it home. That would be nice.
James Wagner of the New York Times has the story of the day, in my opinion. He goes over one of the coolest and easily missable newest Yankee tradition: a “yearbook” of sorts. There’s a wall in the clubhouse that every player who suits up for the Yankees signs, and the goal is for every living Yankee to sign it. Personally, I loved how everyone from Mike King to Luke Voit to Mariano Rivera to Yogi Berra get a mention. A really cool story and perfect for the off day.
All in all, it was a really cool and unique dive into the Yankees and their culture and I cannot recommend it more. Check it out. You won’t regret it.
AZFL Player of the Week
Not to step on Steven’s toes here, but Brandon Wagner of the Trenton Thunder was named Arizona Fall League Player of the Week this week thanks to a pair of grand slams off the same pitcher in two different games. Baseball is such a wild sport, isn’t it? The 24-year-old struggled with Trenton this year but had himself a nice week down in sunny Arizona, so a hearty congratulations to him.
Mike Petriello of MLB.com and Statcast wrote a cool piece last week about how home runs are crucial to a team’s success in October. Of course, we’ve covered that here, and it was great to see YES’ James Smyth–whose research was critical to my own piece, which wouldn’t have happened without it–get a well-deserved shout out here. Just more evidence that the “HR-reliant teams don’t win in the playoffs” thing is complete and utter crap, in case you needed it.
AL Wild Card Updates
It’s Wild Card night! The Rays and Athletics will meet tonight at 8:09 pm EST over on ESPN. That’s the regular broadcast, anyway. For the second year in a row, ESPN will have a Statcast broadcast–which was well-received last year–on ESPN 2, so check that out if it’s your thing. I usually go back and forth. As any reader of this site knows, I do use Statcast a lot so it’s always good to hear some actual experts weigh in.
Again, for actual game preview content, I point you over to FanGraphs, where this time the great Eric Longenhagen has you covered here. Charlie Morton will be taking on Sean Manaea as the A’s try to have a better result this year. I hope that they do. I bet you do too. Enjoy the game, everyone.