After riding a relative high coming off the series with the Astros–despite the loss on Sunday–the Yankees had a shot (yet another) to right things in 2021, to get the season back on track. And then they reminded us that we’re still in the midst of a pandemic. Jonathan Loaisiga, Wandy Peralta, (Nasty) Nestor Cortes, Aaron Judge, Kyle Higashioka, and Gio Urshela find themselves in COVID protocol, with manager Aaron Boone anticipating they’ll all miss the full ten days. Given the importance of the next two series, this could well tank the season.
Of course, we must remember that the health and safety of the players is the most important thing. I’d rather the Yankees lose every game and those six guys be completely fine than the Yankees win and one or more of them suffer greatly from COVID. Putting that aside, since it should be obvious, the ramifications of these losses were felt immediately on Friday night.
The Yankees ran out a lineup that was positively 2013-esque, one that would’ve been more in place in Tampa in February than the Bronx in July. Not surprisingly, they were shut out and mustered just three hits against Eduardo Rodriguez and the Red Sox. That put them a full nine games back of the division-leading Red Sox and 5.5 back of the second wildcard leading A’s (with three teams in front of them in Cleveland, Toronto, and Seattle). Things aren’t over (talk to me, Yogi), but they’re feeling fairly bleak. Just a few days ago, we were talking about the Yankees as potential buyers at the trade deadline. Now…
As I’ve stated multiple times and multiple places–here, the Views’ Twitter account, my personal account–I don’t think the Yankees should sell at the trade deadline. There really isn’t anything to sell. This isn’t like 2016 when the Yankees had three expiring contracts attached to good players who could help out a stretch run. The most tradeable players on this roster with the best contracts–Aaron Hicks and Luis Severino–are injured. The guys who might be desirable–Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez–are players you should build around, not trade away, especially if you’re the Yankees. And, of course, they’re not trading Gerrit Cole, Giancarlo Stanton, or DJ LeMahieu without taking considerable hits financially, reputationally, and on the field.
The entire organization is stuck in the middle. The team sports an incredibly talented roster…that also has easily exploitable flaws. The front office runs a tight ship and has been unarguably successful…yet there’s been no title in eleven-plus years and there seems to be rigidity in thought fomenting.
At this point, I’m almost at a loss for words. Almost. But one that certainly comes to mind is angry. I’m not necessarily angry at the play the Yankees have demonstrated on the field, however warranted. Sometimes, it’s just not your year and stuff happens. But I am angry that at least one player on the team has forgone getting vaccinated. Personal choice, blah, blah, blah. How a player on this team, from this city could watch how COVID ravaged the city and not get vaccinated is beyond me. Even on a baseball level, knowing that COVID could derail a season, like it’s doing right now, and not getting vaccinated seems selfish. This situation was completely avoidable, yet thanks to a selfish choice, here we are, potentially watching the last days of truly competitive Yankee baseball.
Maybe a funny thing will happen. Maybe baseball will be its unpredictable self and the Yankees will come out of this ten day stretch in better shape than they went into it. But, like many things related to this pandemic, it didn’t have to be this way. Yet it is.