Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
On Twitter: PostSports  |  Facebook  |  E-mail alerts: Redskins and Sports  |  RSS

Are the Yankees playing to win division, or just to get into playoffs?

For all practical purposes, the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays have already clinched playoff berths, so wide are the gaps between the two best teams in baseball and the teams chasing them with less than three weeks remaining in the season. All that's left to decide is playoff seeding.

But after digesting last night's sublime opener to a three-game series between the AL East rivals -- a game that featured a fabulous pitching duel between New York's CC Sabathia and Tampa Bay's David Price, before the Rays pulled out a 1-0 win in 11 innings -- it was hard not to come away with one overriding thought: The Rays look like they are playing to win the division, but the Yankees do not.

How else to explain why, in a game in which the leads for both the division title and race for home-field advantage in the playoffs were at stake, the Yankees had mop-up man Segio Mitre on the mound for the decisive sequence in the 11th inning, while closer Mariano Rivera and the more trusted set-up men David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain went unused?

Actually, the Yankees did try to explain it, but the explanations fell flat. Robertson and Chamberlain were "unavailable," Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said after the game, because of overuse issues -- even though Chamberlain had not pitched since Friday and had pitched just twice in the past eight days. (Robertson, on the other hand, had thrown 36 pitches on Saturday, the second of back-to-back appearances.) As for Rivera's non-usage, the Yankees said they didn't want to bring him into a tie game on the road -- preferring to hold him back for a potential save situation -- even though they did exactly that Friday night in Texas.

The Rays, meantime, left no doubt they were playing to win, backing up Price's brilliant start with closer Rafael Soriano and top set-up men Joaquim Benoit and Grant Balfour.

If the Yankees are content to back into the playoffs as the AL wild card, it makes some sense on at least one level. As the AL East champ, as things stand now, they would be matched against the Texas Rangers in the Division Series -- the same Texas team that just swept the Yankees over the weekend. As the wild card, however, the Yankees would face the Minnesota Twins, whom they swept in the first round last October and against whom they are 4-2 this season.

The Yankees will never admit they are playing simply to hold onto a playoff spot -- the Steinbrenner ethic demands a singleminded focus on championships -- but their actions are doing it for them.

By Dave Sheinin  |  September 14, 2010; 10:44 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Video: Sheinin and Svrluga discuss Clemens
Next: 2011 MLB schedule influenced by past weather issues, future possibilities


I think the Yankees know what it takes to win championships. No team does it better or more often.

Posted by: ShovelPlease | September 14, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

By doing it "better" if you mean spending a gazillion more dollars than the 2nd biggest spender, I agree with you. More often? Last year was their first title since 2000.
I think the Yankees know what it takes to win championships. No team does it better or more often.

Posted by: PastBoy | September 14, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

"No team does it better or more often."

That statement is most certainly not true if we are looking merely at the past decade.

Posted by: agl132 | September 14, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

The Yankees spend a lot of money cause they MAKE a lot of money. It's a foreign concept to D.C. where empty stands and last place are a nearly century-old tradition.

Posted by: loux24 | September 14, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse you have any clue? Obviously not so why write about it.

Posted by: Carlpaguy | September 14, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

god, i hate myself for doing this: but clearly the yankees know how to put together a championship squad. No team has won it more in the last decade than the Yankees (2 vs boston's 2) and they have what, 28 rings under their belts (I am not googling that number, so please forgive me if I am off by one or two).

Other teams throw money at players (see Chicago Cubs) and don't get 1/10th of the result.

I am not defending the yankees or their vast resources. Just saying over the past decade or over any baseball timeframe they are the winningest team in terms of championships by any measure.

Posted by: pehb5 | September 14, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Is this the NY Post or the Washington Post??? Who the heck cares about the Yunks!!! You have a baseball team here. It's a National League team BTW. So if you're talking about other teams then you've got the Phils and Atlanta who are locked in a tight race. Not the Yunks!!! This will always be a second rate town when it comes to baseball.

Posted by: Dog-1 | September 15, 2010 6:55 AM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company