One night a few weeks ago, some friends and I were sitting around before heading out to the bars watching a Yankee game when discussion began about the Bronx Bombers' playoff chances. It was then that I put more faith in pinstripes than I have in quite some time.
When you think about it, the days of New York dominance are fading away, and have been for several seasons now, and even the Yankee of our generation, Derek Jeter, is starting to show signs of decline. Still, though, these Yanks remain pesky and always find a way to turn on the jets come August and find their way into the playoffs. For this reason, there I was on a weekend night re-investing myself into the baseball season and the city's obsession with all things Yankee by placing two separate bets that will dictate much of my fandom through September.
First, Graham began talking up the suddenly-mighty Rays, who are currently a game ahead of the Red Sox for first place in the AL East. I had to jump on this opportunity since I am of the belief that while the Rays are definitely talented, their time is not quite here yet. They remain a year away from the postseason, if you ask me. So I told Graham I thought the Yankees would make the playoffs and the Rays wouldn't, and I was willing to place money on it. The terms were set, and if neither or both make the playoffs the bet is null and void.
Hearing this, Chachi decided to jump on my risky venture into pinstripe land and bet that the St. Louis Cardinals were more likely to make the playoffs over the Yanks. It was a guarantee from my friend that I once again could not ignore. I also bet him. So now I have a lot invested in this Yankee team.
And what do you know? We're winding down to the end of July and the Yankees are surging thanks to some quality pitching (Joba and Moose), as well as a rejuvenated bullpen that has out of nowhere turned from a bunch of ragtags featuring Mo Rivera into a real weapon on opponents. The hope for Joe Girardi's squad is that Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada come back at some point, and coupled with the acquisition of Xavier Nady, will again resemble the potent lineups of years past.
I think it's only a matter of time before the Rays start a late summer swoon. With the temperature swelling, there's always that one younger team that just inexplicably runs out of gas a bit too early. It was the Brewers a year ago, and Detroit the year before that (although they barely held onto the wild card spot and ended up getting to the World Series). They've had a nice run, though, and the day of dominance in Tampa is fast approaching.
Atleast that's what I'm hoping for (sorry Greg).