I know the Wild Card game wasn’t what we had hoped for, or even expected, coming into 2018. After coming within one win of the World Series and adding Giancarlo Stanton, nearly everyone picked the Yankees to win the AL East. But they didn’t. The Red Sox were the better team this year, hands-down. The Sox only won the season series by a game at 10-9, but the main thing they did was take care of business against the bad teams, namely the Baltimore Orioles. Throw in the dagger that was the four-game sweep at Fenway in early August, and the Red Sox are your AL East champs.
But all things considered, this Yankee team overcame a lot to reach 100 wins, besting last year’s total of 91 by nine. Their best player, Aaron Judge, missed nearly two months with a broken wrist. Gary Sanchez followed up his stellar first two seasons in the bigs with one of the most disappointing seasons for an athlete I have ever seen, batting just .186. Stanton went through huge slumps, hearing boos from the Bronx crowd during his first homestand in Pinstripes. Didi Gregorius missed a month with injury, and had a dreadful month of May. Luis Severino had an underwhelming second half. Aroldis Chapman missed time with injury. Jordan Montgomery was out for the year. Sonny Gray pitched his way out of the rotation. We started two rookies in the infield. Greg Bird forgot how to hit a baseball. Brett Gardner finally showed his age. And yet, this team still won 100 games.
Miguel Andujar emerged as not only baseball’s best rookie, but one of the best hitters in the game in the second half. Gleyber Torres showed he could be a star in this league for years to come. Luke Voit burst onto the scene to become a fixture in this lineup. Stanton carried us for periods of time. J.A. Happ pitched better than we could ever ask for after being acquired at the trade deadline. Neil Walker was the best hitter on the team for a short stretch. Masahiro Tanaka pitched like the ace we know he can be down the stretch. Didi Gregorius had another career year. Aaron Hicks continues to quietly become one of the best outfielders in the league. And maybe, just maybe, this team is finally healthy together for the first time all year.
Am I trying to say this team is a success because they won 100 games even with a lot of injuries and underperformance? Absolutely not. But they have shown the ability to overcome adversity for sure. Finishing eight games behind the Red Sox is not a success. But even if we were the ones finishing with 108 wins and the AL East crown, that is not a success either. Ever since the Yankees were eliminated last year, it was clear the 2018 Yanks are World Series or bust. Anything short of a parade down the Canyon of Heroes, and the season is a failure.
Not winning the division and having to play yet another Wild Card game is a huge obstacle on the way to that goal. In just one night, a season’s worth of work can come to an end. But anything is possible. No one thought we would beat the Indians last year. We gave away Game 2 to fall behind 2-0, and still won the series. We looked lifeless in Houston, only to win three in the Bronx and then come up just short. All I’m saying is, anything can happen in October. This train is still rolling, and you better believe anything short of a title is a failure. Let’s go Yanks baby.