Nets, Bad Plans, and the AL East

The scene at Yankee Stadium yesterday of a small girl being cradled in her grandfather’s arms and rushed to medical attention was sickening. I saw Matt Holiday visibly shedding tears. Todd Frazier looked devastated. It was awful. And completely unnecessary because a net would have prevented it from happening. I’ve written about this before and reviewed a HBO sports special on it. I never knew until today that a fan has actually died from a foul ball into the stands. His name was Alan Fish, he was 14 and attending a Dodgers game. It happened 47 years ago, and we still don’t have nets. I just don’t understand how that is possible and we are still waiting for nets.

I wrote the other day about the strategy the Yankees were employing skipping Severino for the Twins series. They reversed themselves shortly after that and pitched him yesterday because it would allow him to make three starts over the final weeks of the season, and not two. It was dumb, almost as dumb as moving Sonny Grey’s start up to Sunday, and it backfired just like that had. The Yankees still walked away with a sweep, but their coaches should have thought this out more.

Start with the simple math in the AL East. Entering Tuesday’s game, the Red Sox had a three-game lead with 12 to play. It doesn’t sound like much, but if Boston merely finished 6-6, the Yankees would have to go 9-3 to tie them. The Yankees could have noticed that they had gone 9-3 over the previous 12 games and picked up exactly 1/2 a game over Boston. That doesn’t mean the results would follow the same pattern this time around, but it also illustrates how big a lead 3 games is when you have only 12 to play.

They could have also looked at the schedule. Boston played Baltimore two more times, the same team the Yankees turned into road kill over the weekend. They then head to Cincinnati of all places, one of the worst teams in the NL. Then it’s back home to face Toronto, the same team the Yankees will play this weekend, before finishing the season against Houston. And here’s the key to that. Houston has already clinched a playoff spot as a division winner. They are also 5-1/2 games ahead of Boston for the right to host the ALDS when it starts October 5th. Are they really going to play their hearts out in a four-game set against the team they are likely to face when the games really count the following week? I doubt it. In fact I bet that both teams turn that series into an almost spring training like atmosphere. Pitchers will be hidden and starters will play a half game at most. The only way that doesn’t happen is if Boston still needs to wrap up the AL East, but once they do, forget it. I don’t understand why the Yankees didn’t think about that.

But they should have plenty of time to sort things out again. They need to win three games to wrap up not only the wild card, but guarantee that they will host it. Once they’ve accomplished that expect the shuffling of pitchers and players to begin.