In an earlier post, I noted how on August 25th 2001 the Red Sox lost an excruciatingly painful 18-inning game in Arlington, Texas. That game signalled the unofficial end of the 2001 Red Sox. For the rest of the season, they were an embarrassing bunch of losers, who somehow managed to look like the biggest assholes in sports during a supposed time of national mourning. It was ugly.
While the Yankees have had embarrassments and a long era of losing (1984-1994). Their recent season downfalls have been rather quick, and at the very end of their season. In the last decade, there just doesn't seem to have been an ugly, regular season game we can point to and say that the Yankees were unofficially "done" for that year.
Just take these recent examples.
September 3rd, 2004. The Yankees lose a close one to Baltimore 3-1. Their AL East lead over the Red Sox shrinks to 2.5 games. Pitcher Kevin Brown throws a tantrum and breaks his left (non-pitching) hand when he punches the dugout wall. That should have signaled that the Yankees were not going to win the AL east that year. But they did anyway.
June 23rd, 2007. The Yankees lose a game that is almost as painful as the Sox loss in Texas in 2004. They lose in San Francisco, to a soft Giants team, 6-5 in 13 innings. The Yankees use 7 pitchers, including Roger Clemens who pitched in relief. They ware humbled. They looked finished. But they weren't.
And now we have August 24th 2007. Apparently it is not a day that will live in infamy. We know better now, right? Mediocre Yankee reliever, Sean Henn, was one strike away from getting out of a bottom of the 11th inning jam. But Carlos Guillen hit a 3-run, game-winning home run in dramatic fashion. Oh, and it happened at 03:30, local time Saturday. This is because the game was delayed 4 hours by rain. Amazingly, the officials decided to start the game at 11pm, rather than schedule a doubleheader for Saturday. Usually, when the Yankees are playing, they are treated well by the league. But even I have to say the Yankees were not treated well last night. They were forced to play a heartbreaker of a game in the wee hours, in damp Detroit.
The loss was huge. Except, it wasn't.
It would have destroyed any other team. But these are the Yankees.
The way I see it, there are only two scenarios that must happen before we can declare the 2007 Yankees are "finished."
1. The Red Sox sweep their remaining six games against the Yankees. Even though this has no direct effect on the AL Wild Card chase between the Yankees, Mariners, and Tigers, six losses to Boston should finish-off the Yankees. This is unlikely to happen.
2. The more likely scenario is the only scenario that works: The 2007 Yankees will only be finished when they lose a series in October. The only way to surely finish them off is in the post-season.
That would be the end of this monster movie. Until the next chapter...