My Homer Editor Assigned Me This Blog On How Good The Yankees Are
12:42 PM EDT on June 16, 2022
The irresistible juggernaut that is the baseball department of Yankee Global Enterprises LLC is showing signs of losing its grip on its most famous product, as the Yankees only won their last daily game over the Tampa Bay Rays by a single run. Worse yet, Aaron Judge hit only one home run, and most horrifying of all, closer Clay Holmes allowed a hit in the ninth inning, even as his earned run average was lowered ever slightly from 0.30 to 0.29.
Yes, times look grim for the best team in baseball as it enjoys being the best team in baseball for the first time since they were the best team in baseball in 2009, and before that in 2000, the last successful year of the dynasty. You see, while the Yankee name still implies power, majesty, and obnoxious success, it's been more than two decades since they were That Thing, and based on these early returns it is looking more and more like That Thing is morphing into This Thing.
With only 100 games left before the season actually starts, they are 30 games over .500, the ninth-fastest start in modern history (since 1901, which is baseball's idea of modern), and on a pace to be the first team ever to win 120 games. They have already hit 100 homers, and Judge, who is looking like the putative MVP in every sport just on general principle, has 25 of them by himself. Moreover, they have players whose names are just fun to say, like Kiner-Falefa and Florial and Higashioka and LeMahieu and Rizzo and Gallo if you don't mind the reminder of the psychopathic 1970s mobster of the same name. And other than Josh Donaldson, they are largely … well, not uniformly unlikeable. It is early in the season, and when people start to realize that it's the Yankees that are doing all this relentless winning, their detestability quotient (DQ, in case our analytics editor Kathryn Xu has a new blog in her) will surely rise.
But the pitching, which was supposed to be the thing that kept them groundbound, has been the grandest surprise. They are among the top six in every major and most minor team categories including FIP and WHIP, which is just fun to say, and you probably only know one of their five starters (Gerrit Cole) and none of their healthy relievers, even though we gave you the Holmes hint. The other pitcher you do know, Aroldis Chapman, has Achilles tendinitis in his landing leg, and with Holmes allowing opponents to hit .163 in his 29 appearances, there will be no real rush for Chapman to return.
We tell you all these things because, first of all, the Yankees are better and more brute-force entertaining in every way than the next best team in baseball, the New York Metropolitans. They have hit 40 more homers and allowed 73 more runs. The Mets’ run differential is a paltry +62, and their surnames seem clunkier: Canha and Nido and Nimmo and Lugo and Mazeika. Sounds like what your hear when you polish off a broken-glass-and-motor-oil aperitif. Plus they have Buck Showalter as their manager, which while it doesn't make Yankee manager Aaron Boone any more glamorous, it does make them seem less, well, 1997. Mere Mets excellence seems so ordinary when compared to, "Board up the windows and head for the cellar; the Yankees are coming."
In a season dominated blissfully by Tommy Pham and Tony La Russa and whatever the Los Angeles Angels are trying to accomplish in their campaign of wasting Mike Trout's career, the Yankees have been at their very Yankee-est. Their only loss in the last two weeks came in between two 10-run games, and they are winning at a rate that would give them the third-largest run differential (+339) since baseball was populated by Maroons, Browns, and Beaneaters. They are, in sum, ridiculously good, scoring runs in bulk in a year in which nobody scores runs of any kind, and they are showing no signs of not remaining ridiculously good for the foreseeable future. Frankly, you may want to start reassembling your dislike soon because you're going to need extra time to find something other than their historical arrogance to find offensive.
So maybe there's this: The name listed atop the organizational chart is still George Steinbrenner, who died in 2010, and his son Hank, who died two years ago, is listed third, making it seem more like a royal family than most pro sports organizational charts, which limit themselves to alive executives. Not even the Las Vegas Raiders, who cling frantically to Al Davis's ghost until something better (like the playoffs) comes along, ever did that.
But that as the reason for your ire may be kind of a stretch, DQ-wise. Maybe your haste to hate the new Yankees might be better placed in abeyance awhile—say, until they get to the all-star break a month from now, at which point they'll be 68-24 and leading the league by 14 games, and Aaron Judge will have 37 homers, and Clay Holmes's ERA will be minus-1.38, and you'll know the names of the rest of their starting rotation. That's how good they look now, with all due respect to the other team in New York.
Author's note: Barry Petchesky, our Shameless Yankees Honk editor, chose not to do this blog himself because he would look like, well, a shameless honk, but also because he has already mapped the parade route from his apartment to the office through David Roth's living room. For him, it is never too early to act like a Yankees fan.