Ours not to reason why, ours is but to do and die...
It's the final countdown! Dah-nah-nah! Da! Dah-nah-nah-da-dah!
Okay, let's get this out of the way ... I preview the Bronx Bombers every year for Da Box, because I am the roster's/editorial staff's designated (and reviled?) Yankee fan. Since 2004, every year, I have pretty much picked them to win the AL East and to win the World Series. Lots of times, I am right, or at least half-right. Sometimes, I am wrong, evil triumphs and those mudblood Red Sox inexplicably wear rings, which is a fashion (I still think of as) out of style, really, since about 1918.
These various previews have varied in length and style and approach, but I really have found the best and most interesting thing to do is to analyze the Yankee roster through a game of "Better Get to Know the New York Yankees" through use of the brilliant, brilliant "Similarity Scores" indexing on the greatness of BaseballReference.com.
So let's get on with this groundbreaking edition of Better Know the 2012 Yankees ...
Ten years, ten winning records for the Red Sox. The difference this year is that for the first time in ten years Theo Epstein is no longer at the helm. Of course, that won't make much of a difference for this year's version, which was mostly assembled by Epstein, and I'm not trying to suggest the Sox' fate will necessarily change for the worse with Ben Cherington at the helm, especially since Cherington has actually been with the organization since before Epstein arrived and has had plenty of experience observing one of the best decision-makers in the game (and probably contributing positively towards many of the Sox' moves over the years), but it will certainly be interesting to see what direction the new front office takes when it comes time to make some big decisions.
Regardless of the future, though, the 2012 team is very good. Let's dive in.
Right back in there again, toe-to-toe with the Yankees and Red Sox.
Interesting game in the Bronx tonight, as the hometowned pinstriped lads dropped another game to the defending AL champion Rangers. [Box Score]
You might recall the Rangers won
that AL flag last year partly in New Yankee Stadium.
What was so interesting about the game? Was it Adrian Beltre starting to hit a little bit? Was it Mike Young passing Pudge Rodriguez for most doubles (353) in Rangers' franchise history? Was it Yankee rookie Lance Pendleton making a stunning nine-Rangers-up, nine-Rangers-down MLB debut? Was it the fact that six Ranger hiiters each faced at least 18 pitches, while only one Yankee saw as many as 16?
All those things were nice. But the headline in New York was the pitcher's (3-0 lefty Matty Harrison's) best friend, as ...
Back in the spring of 2006, I prevailed upon Liam, my bright and handsome son and heir, to contribute a Season Preview. His initial subject was the 2006 Detroit Tigers, who had gone 71-91 the year before. They promptly improved by 25 games and went to the World Series. Where they lost.
One year later, Liam examined the Colorado Rockies, who had gone 76-86 in 2006, finishing fourth. They improved by 14 games, and went to the World Series. Where they lost.
In 2008, Liam fixed his pre-season scrutiny on a good team, the Philadelphia Phillies. In 2007, the Phillies had won 89 games and lost the first round of the playoffs. They improved by just three games in 2008, but not only did they go the World Series - they won the damn thing.
As you can imagine, I've been trying to get Liam to do a Blue Jays preview ever since. And at last, at long last... he's bringing the mojo home.
Take it away, Liam. Make us proud...
I've written the Yankees preview for Batter's Box every year since 2005, the first year we started doing team/dkvision previews here on Canada's Baseball Leader. And every year, I pick them to win the division and usually to win the World Series.
And why not? Every year since 1993, except for an aberrant third place disappointment in 2008, the Pinstriped Wonders have finished either first or second, and have made the playoffs every year but '08 since 1995. In that relatively short time, they've appeared in seven World Series and have won six titles. (Pretty good, even by NYY standards!) So why should this year be any different?
Why? Because, unlike past years, the Yankee pitching suu-uuucks. Cliff Lee signing with the Phillies might prove to hurt the Yankees more than the Rangers, and could ultimately decide the fate of three 2010 playoff teams -- the Yanks, Rangers and Phils -- in the coming season.
It hurts me to write this. And I hope I am wrong -- way wrong. But to start with the big news, to avoid burying the lead, let's be up front with it ... the 2011 Yankees are a team that looks like it could well finish ...
Last year the Red Sox endured a multitude of injuries and won 89 games anyway. Now, one should be careful when predicting a bounce-back after an injury-plagued year, because the thing about injuries is that they come back, but the nature of the 2010 Sox' specific ailments is such that I don't expect much recurrence. And by adding a couple of superstars to an already potent and now-healthy line-up, the Sox have assembled an absolutely fantastic team.
Now, I don't claim to be an expert on the Baltimore Orioles, but I should warn you that I've been watching Homicide: Life on the Street on DVD and I'm almost at the end of Season 4.
Let's be clear. The Yankees are going to win a lot of baseball games this year. Why? Because the Yankees always win a lot of games, whether they're winning the World Series (as they did last year and have done five times since 1996) or even when they're not making the playoffs (as they didn't in 2008, for the first time since 1993 -- years in which they won 89 and 88 games, respectively).
So they'll win a lot of games. Will they win the franchise's 28th (twenty-eighth!) ring? Let's examine the makeup of Bronx Zoo '10 from a slightly different historical angle ...
Between 1910 and 1919, Boston played .579 ball, only finished under .500 once, and went 4/4 in their World Series appearances. A century later, are the Red Sox poised for another "Boston Teen Party"?
This is my third year penning previews at Batter's Box and my third year
musing about the Orioles. It hasn't been fun, folks- but I feel as
though I'm growing up with this team- one crappy season after another.
But there may be hope yet.
It must be Data Table time.
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