Allegany Communications Sports
Thankfully for New York sports fans there was one of the most exciting and entertaining U.S. Opens in recent history to keep them awake. Not much else sports-wise, though, has gone well for the City that Never Sleeps, beginning in late March when the Mets’ lights-out closer Edwin Diaz injured his knee during an on-field team celebration at the World Baseball Classic.
That more or less set the tone for the Summer of Buck, because very little, if anything, has gone right for the Mets as they currently battle the Washington Nationals to avoid last place in the National League East.
It would have been nice to see the Mets have a good season as I have long been a Buck Showalter fan, and particularly given the money owner Steven Cohen spent over the offseason it would have been nice for the Mets fans, who have long been among the most loyal and devoted fans in baseball, having had countless opportunities through the years to switch their allegiances to the cross-town Yankees.
But, of course, New York doesn’t do that. In fact, it is not looked upon kindly at all by New York, as either you’re a Mets fan or you’re a Yankees fan. No in-between and absolutely no switching sides, and that’s for life.
New York is known for stubbornness, devotion and loyalty, but there have been few summers as this one when that devotion has been tested the way it’s been tested this year, as things haven’t been much better for the Yankees.
The Yankees find themselves – no, they put themselves – in last place of the AL East and out of playoff contention for the first time in seven years and are in danger of turning in their first losing season in 21 years.
There is nothing wrong with Yankees pitching, as they likely have the AL Cy Young in Gerrit Cole, and their bullpen is as good as any. What’s wrong is the lineup. The lineup makes no sense and it’s been cause for wonder as to what general manager Brian Cashman had in mind when he assembled this collection of players, which is what the Yankees’ lineup is — an assemblage of players.
The Yankees have what I call a Trumbo lineup, which dates back to the middle and end of the Showalter years in Baltimore. After the Orioles won the AL East in 2014 with a team that had been functional and contenders for three years, general manager Dan Duquette (bleh), in an effort to keep the team in contention, traded off what prospects the Orioles had for one-dimensional veterans such as Mark Trumbo, who did very little else offensively other than hit home runs.
This Yankees lineup reminds me of those Orioles lineups. They don’t do anything other than take turns trying to hit home runs, then settling for doubles. They don’t do anything or feed off of each other; there is little passing of the baton, they don’t run the bases, they don’t move runners and they don’t hit in situations.
This lineup is a non-functioning organism.
Yes, Aaron Judge has been injured twice and has missed a ton of games and, yes, Aaron Boone could be on his last leg as manager, even though the team has been playing better these days. But particularly when a player as valuable as Judge misses the time he has missed, other players on the team are needed to stand in to fill as much of the void as possible. That didn’t happen with this year’s Yankees, because, though some are markedly better players than others, most of them are primarily the same player. Most of them do the same thing.
I would think that is something Cashman, not Boone, should be held accountable for.
Then, just when you think things couldn’t get any worse for the Gotham sports fan, the New York Giants, who haven’t played in New York in 50 years, open their NFL season on Sunday with a 40-0 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
How is that even possible? Teams don’t score 40 points in NFL games anymore. How’d that get into the script? Even worse, teams aren’t shut out in NFL games anymore; but even worse still, teams don’t get shut out in NFL games at the same time they’re giving up 40 points in the same game anymore. That went out with leather helmets. Who’s writing this stuff?
But … just when you really think things couldn’t get any worse for the New York sports fan, fate steps in and totally redeems itself.
Did you stay up late Monday to watch Aaron Rodgers’ debut with the New York Jets, who haven’t played in New York for 40 years? If you didn’t, you could have been in bed by the fifth play of the game anyway, as on the fourth play (on 9/11, no less), the 39-year-old Rodgers suffered a torn Achilles tendon and is now lost for the season.
If I ever gave them a thought, I’d have no love for the Jets for a number of reasons, but what happened to Rodgers and the team’s legitimate Super Bowl hopes came flying straight out of Nightmare Alley.
The Jets still won the game, beating the Buffalo Bills in overtime, but the fourth play of the season? That’s tough. That’s real tough. But so is New York.
New York’s not going anywhere. And with that defense, the Jets might not be either.
Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT