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Who’s in first?! AL East is no joke

With all due respect to Abbott and Costello, there aren’t too many people laughing in the Yankee Universe right now. After the Bombers dropped the series opener to Detroit, and Tampa Bay rallied to beat the Rangers on Monday, the two teams find themselves tied at .610 atop baseball’s equivalent to the “Group of Death.”

Boston is still not completely out of it at 5.5 games back, but I think this is a two-horse race. Kudos go to the Rays, who were once the laughing stock of the league and not in a funny way. They’ve built a strong team and didn’t jettison their talent once they started winning, a la their buddies to the south, the Marlins, way back when.

Even Baltimore has picked up the pace at the bottom of the pack since hiring Buck Showalter (excellent move, btw). The Orioles have gone 6-4 in their last 10 games. Striking, since they had only won 36 games prior.

So what’s next? Well, the Yankees have to get/remain healthy. Andy Pettitte sitting on the DL is no help to them, certainly, but they have to make sure he’s ready to pitch in the post-season where he shines. I’m still so-so on their latest acquisitions – Lance Berkman looked as though he couldn’t hit his way out of a paper bag when he first came over and now he’s injured, Kerry Wood’s best days are behind him, although he has some good experience behind him in the pen, and Austin Kearns isn’t exactly setting anyone’s hair on fire. I don’t see any of these guys coming up big in October. What they can do, if they perform, is give the regulars an opportunity to rest up for showtime.

I don’t think the AL East race will be settled for a long time. Thanks to the scheduling gurus, the Yankees and Rays have seven games against each other in mid to late September. Add to that a three-game Yankees-Red Sox set in the penultimate regular season series, capped by three series against the Blue Jays, and the Bombers have their work cut out for them.

The Rays don’t have an easy road ahead of them, either, so it should be a fight to the finish. They have a younger roster than the Yankees do, so that will work to Tampa Bay’s advantage.

I think the Yankees will win the AL East, but not by much. Tampa will be the Wild Card. Red Sox fans will all turn their attention to football and the playoffs should result in a Yankees-Tampa Bay matchup for the AL Title. Of course, it’s only still August.

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In response to “Who’s in first?! AL East is no joke”

  1. Christopher Rowe Aug 17 20103:03 pm


    You may feel free to root for your team, but even people in the “Yankees Universe” have to admit that they are spoiled fans of winning as much as they are fans of baseball. This article is a valentine to the Yankees, basically congratulating “the Yankee Way” of buying up as much talent as possible and forcing their way to the playoffs like an elementary schoolyard bully with everyone else’s lunch money. 2009 marked the 27th World Championship in 110 years for this franchise but if the Yankees don’t dominate every stinking year the fanbase loses their minds and can’t handle it. 30 teams, 8 postseason qualifiers but the Yankees feel that only 7 of those spots are really up for grabs!

    You complain that Pettite is on the DL but haven’t even looked at the Red Sox, whose entire team is virtually hurt. You scoff at Toronto and Baltimore despite the fact that these two moribund teams will serve as talent fodder when the Yankees need deadline deals or offseason free agents in years to come. Gather ye your Lance Berkmans, Scott Brosius, Wade Boggs and Reggie Jacksons and call them “honored sons” but the Yankees are responsible for driving the “free” agent market to the point where at least 20 teams simply can’t compete and most who can simply know it is futile.

    What’s wrong with the business of baseball? The Yankees. They build a huge stadium, charge fans a month’s mortgage payment for seats and then scoff at Tampa Bay for their stadium and attendance issues! Stop driving up proces so that normal fans can attend ballgames and maybe you’ll realize the purpose of the sport is to enjoy competition among all teams! Stop squashing down the smaller markets and squandering the talent pool so that the Bronx sports the most overpaid bench in Creation!

    Who else misses the days when the Yanks were cellar-dwellers in the late 1980s and early 1990s?

    1. Stephanie Geosits Aug 17 20103:35 pm


      First off – thanks for your comment. There’s a lot in there.

      Some Yankees fans were around for the 80s and early 90s (myself included) and do not miss them at all. Others are band-wagon jumpers and couldn’t tell you who Paul Zuvella was if he smacked them over the head with his Wikipedia bio.

      Are the Red Sox dealing with ridiculous injuries? Absolutely. It happens. Yankees fans are not shedding any tears for them as I’m sure Red Sox Nation wasn’t lamenting any recent Yankees’ absences from the post-season.

      As for the O’s and the Jays – the former once had a tradition-rich franchise until the owners just gave up. Not a wise decision, especially when the Nationals started up. I think Buck Showalter is probably the only person in baseball capable of turning them around if he’s allowed to do so.

      I wouldn’t weep for Toronto,either. The Blue Jays are owned by a huge cable conglomerate (Rogers) and could spend more if they wished. They haven’t made their team a real priority in the grand scheme of things.

      Are ticket prices at the new Yankee Stadium outrageous? Absolutely. Are people going there in droves? Not really. And it is a shame. It’s a shame that former season ticket holders (like my mom) got priced out of their packages in the new place. It’s awful that people can’t bring their families as they once did. If the Yankees are smart, they will drop prices to bring in more diverse fans but for right now they are milking every dollar to be had.

      Tampa Bay has an excellent team and no one goes. Why? Some say it has to do with location and a closed-dome stadium in Florida. Their fan base hasn’t really responded to improved team performance, that’s for sure.

      Major League Baseball is a business, not a charity – even though the Yankees paid $26.9 million in luxury taxes last year (you’re welcome, Milwaukee et al). The Yankees are in the business of winning and to rest the ills of every other franchise at their feet is a bit unrealistic.

      1. Christopher Rowe Aug 17 20104:13 pm


        I love debate as much as the next guy and twice as much as the next writer. My own Phillies were a “loser” franchise for years (first team in professional sports to reach 10,000 losses) and have experienced a true Renaissance from 2007-2010, equaled only by the period of 1976-1983. What changed? A sudden influx of unexpected talent? Nope. Money. They build a gorgrous new stadium and start to invest money in some free agents (Thome, Millwood) before they realized they’d be better served investing in developed young talent (Howard, Hamels, Utley, Rollins). Now their payroll has swelled to top $150 M but look at the MLB franchise values vs. teams who are competitive.

        Agreed that baseball is a business. Also agreed is that winning leads to financial success. Most of the higher value teams are split between competitive and also-rans. Below are current standings with revenue rankings to the left and wins on the season to the right. Notice anything?

        American League
        East W
        1  New York 72
        26  Tampa Bay 72
        3  Boston 67
        23  Toronto 63
        17  Baltimore 42
        Central W
        22  Minnesota 68
        10  Chicago 65
        21  Detroit 58
        18  Cleveland 49
        28  Kansas City 49
        West W
        15  Texas 67
        6  Los Angeles 60
        27  Oakland 57
        13  Seattle 46
        National League

        East W
        11  Atlanta 69
        7  Philadelphia 66
        2  New York 59
        30  Florida 57
        14  Washington 51
        Central W
        25  Cincinnati 67
        8  St. Louis 65
        24  Milwaukee 55
        12  Houston 51
        5  Chicago 50
        29  Pittsburgh 40
        West W
        16  San Diego 70
        9  San Francisco 67
        20  Colorado 61
        4  Los Angeles 60
        19  Arizona 47

        1. Stephanie Geosits Aug 17 20104:36 pm


          Financial management is such an important factor. I’ll also add that building a strong minor league system is vital, but if you don’t bother keeping/paying the players whom you developed, you lose out twice. You let them get away AND you allow your competitors an edge. People can complain all they want about the Yankees’ free agents, but they’ve kept the cream of the crop from their own system, too.

          1. Christopher Rowe Aug 18 20109:03 am

            They kept Rivera, Posada, Cano and Jeter…at one time they kept Bernie Williams…they let Andy Petite leave and then come back… they never gave Soriano much of a chance… at one time they kept Ron Guidry, Don Mattingly and Thurman Munson (may he rest in peace)… but come on, this team has always been a cavalcade of free agents poached from other teams! Ever since free agency began there have been Graig Nettles and Bucky Dent and Tommy John and Reggie Jackson not to mention millions of others (even in bad years) like Rickey Henderson, Dave Winfield, Goose Gossage, Mickey Rivers, Paul O’Neil, John Wettelenad, A-ROID, Sabathia, Burnett and really most of their current team. Homegrowns that I can identify include Petite (second tour of duty), Rivera, Posada, Cano, Jeter, Hughes, Gardner and their backup catcher (Cervelli). The Yankees barter away their farm prospects so fast that getting drafted to the Yankees is a business class ticket to Milwaukee or Houston within a year!

            You still have not made any kind of convincing argument save that the Yankees are continually driving up the price of free agents, poaching talent from other teams who cannot compete with Yankee-nomics and taking the game farther away from the fans and closer to the laps of their corporate sponsors. They’ve won 2 championships this decade and have been to the Series 3 times. Nearly as successful this decade are the Red Sox, Cardinals, Phillies and you can go back in history to find other examples. Money creates dynasties. Go back to the old days (say 1927-1964) when the Yanks would usually meet the Giants or Dodgers every year (sporadically the Cardinals or Pirates) because they had the most money, overpaid their scouts to muscle talent from other teams, etc. Parity never existed in those days and only because of expansion, free agents and the evolution of the talent management system have other teams had a fighting chance. Now just in the past 10 years The Bombers have overspent on all their free agents and when they are a bust they just overspend some more. No other team can do that. If KC (Jose Guillen) or Tampa Bay (Burrell) does that once they pay for it for years – literally! The Yankees are the only reason to impose a salary cap (a concept I’m not really in favor of Yankee-nomics aside), the reason that revenue sharing is required to keep other teams afloat. Basically the reason that baseball’s competitive balance is so horribly askew is Yankee-nomics!

            I will grant you throwing money at hordes of players does not a championship team make (see Yankees 2002-2008) but having virtually unlimited resources sure as heck makes it easier to mop up on the free agent market! That’s what the Yankees do. They view the other 29 teams as Yankee farm teams or proving grounds. If you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em! They scour the soon-to-be free agents at the Trading Deadline and simply decide who they want because they can afford to rent a player for 2 months at exorbitant pricing (Roger Clemens comes to mind as does Randy Johnson and a cavalcade of others).

            I have not seen convincing evidence to disprove the concept than Yankee-nomics is the scourge of doing business in baseball and I defy any knowledgeable baseball fan who is not blinded by the acts of the allegedly flawless, faultless Yankee Brainwashing Victims, INC. to provide such. I’ve been to both Yankee stadiums over the past 20 years and have been subject to poor treatment as a visiting fan. Basically the Yankees believe in Yankeeology and nothing else. As a former NYC resident, I’m embarassed by the actions of NY sports fans at all venues (Shea, Citi, Giants Stadium, US Open, etc.) but nowhere is the rampantly biased ego and hubris so pronounced as in the hallowed halls of the Shrine in the Bronx.

  2. Stephanie Geosits Aug 18 20109:52 am


    Well, Christopher, I believe we disagree.

    You can add to your list of homegrown Yankees Ramiro Pena, David Robinson, and Joba of course, but other than Pedroia and Papelbon, who exactly on the Red Sox roster came up through their system? And whoever said that signing free agents was bad for baseball? I’m sure the players who got drafted by teams who never invest in their on-field product and have no interest in winning a championship are eternally grateful for the right to shop their talents to the highest bidder. It’s no different in the rest of the market, why should it be in baseball? I never agreed that parity was a good thing. In fact, I think it breeds complacency. If everyone has to be equal why try very hard? The former USSR had a failed experiment with this a number of years ago.

    And your argument about New York sports venues and treatment of fans is completely baseless considering how some people conduct themselves in the City of Brotherly Love. I’ve never seen a car set on fire at any New York-based venue. I can’t say the same for Philly, that’s for sure!

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