The Season From Hell
September 09, 2020

The New York Yankees might be the saddest team of the pandemic

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Bryan M. Bennett

Digest the following piece of information and try not to laugh...or, if you're a Yankee fan, cry: Yankees G.M. Brian Cashman flew to Buffalo in an attempt to give moral support to his struggling team, watched them blow a four-run lead by giving up TEN RUNS to the Blue Jays in a single inning, held a team meeting the next day in an attempt to inspire them with self-helpy language, and then watched them lose again.

It's all bad, but something about the fact that it went down in Buffalo, the temporary home of the Blue Jays and one of America's most forlorn cities, makes everything sadder. Following Tuesday's loss to the Blue Jays, the Yankees are now 21-21 and occupying the eighth and final playoff spot in the American League. That might seem fine on the surface, until you realize that they started the year 16-6 and seemed poised to cruise through the short season. The bullpen was great, Aaron Judge was doing Aaron Judge things, Gerrit Cole was the ace that had been missing, and even the minor league call-ups were raking.

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Then it all collapsed. If you're a fan, like me, you expected the rash of injuries that ensued, since it's the same exact thing that's happened for the last five years. At last count, ten players have missed significant action so far, including most of the best hitters: Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres. In their absence, everyone else stopped hitting, to the extent that the team—the entire $%*$* team—is barely above the Mendoza line in the last 20 games, batting just .204. No surprise, then, that the team's record in that stretch is 5-15.

The low point definitely came Monday, when the bullpen turned a 6-2 lead into a 12-6 deficit in the space of a single inning. That pen, which has been the pride of the team for years, has now blown leads in seven of the last 12 Yankee losses, imploded in spectacular fashion. Here's how the nightmare ended:

The godawful pen, the lack of hitting, the injuries, the potential to miss the playoffs despite the league giving extra spots, the failed pep talk in Buffalo...all of it gives the Yankees a great argument for being the saddest team of the Pandemic Era. The only real competition, at least as I see it, are the Milwaukee Bucks, who went into the NBA stoppage as the best team in basketball, and came to the bubble as a dumpster fire. But at least they made the playoffs and won a series before the Heat decimated them. For the Yankees to start out as the best team in baseball, with a staggering amount of talent and payroll at their disposal, only to drop to .500 and risk missing the playoffs in a 60-game season...well, that's abysmal. At this rate, we may never hear Sinatra again.