A brief discourse on the 1965 Yankees:
From 1949 to 1964, the Yankees missed the playoffs three times and were indisputably the greatest dynasty in baseball history. Sure, the Braves made 14 consecutive postseasons from 1991-2005 and the current Yankees have been in the playoffs in 17 of the last 18 years (dating back to 1995, the Bombers have the missed the playoffs just once, in 2008). But the Truman-Eisenhower-JFK-LBJ dynasty existed when only one team from each league made the playoffs, and the World Series was postseason enough.
So the Yanks had won 13 pennants and nine World Series titles in 16 seasons going into 1965. But the Bombers had been living on borrowed time, relying too heavily on the fading bats of Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra** and the aging skills of Whitey Ford. By ’65, Berra was retired, Ford was relying on guile and the Mick had the knees of a 50-year-old man. Even Elston Howard was 36 and at the tail end of his career. Of the team’s top players, only ace Mel Stottlemyre was in his prime.
**Things you learn while rifling through BaseballReference.com: Yogi Berra finished in the top four in the AL MVP voting SEVEN YEARS IN A ROW. Including three firsts and two seconds! Yogi might the all-time case of a player’s outsized personality overshadowing a historically good career (though Clyde Frazier might topple him once he’s done stylin’ and profilin’).
The ’65 Yankees were weak on paper and equally weak on the field. After winning 99 games in 1964, they went a dismal 77-85 the next season, beginning a drought of 12 years between playoff appearances. The average age of the starting lineup was 30 years old, and no regular had a better line than Tom Tresh’s .279/.348/.477. I haven’t seen an inning of game footage from that year, but the numbers say that the ’65 Yankees were a formerly great team on a slow road to the bottom.
Posted by jfs360 on March 7, 2013
Crucible (kroo-suh-buhl): A severe, searching test or trial.
As recently as three weeks ago, it didn’t seem like the Yankees would have a “severe, searching test or trial” moment during the regular season. Their lead over the second-place Baltimore Orioles was a full 10 games on July 18, a comfortable margin even without a healthy Andy Pettitte or Brett Gardner. Since then, the Bombers have gone 10-13, lost A-Rod until late September, had Sabathia go back to the DL a second time, seen their lead dwindle to 4.5 games, recovered to their current 5.5-game lead, and come to grips with a five-man rotation that currently includes Freddy Garcia and David Phelps.
This week brings the AL-leading Texas Rangers for a four-game set, followed by three games against the Red Sox, who are aggressively mediocre this year but always dangerous against the Yankees. The Yanks are catching a break in avoiding Texas ace Yu Darvish and may actually benefit from facing a de-clawed John Lester (6-10, 5.20 ERA) and Josh Beckett (5-9, 4.97 ERA). On the other hand, David Phelps may be starting twice this week, and one of the many things we’ve learned about the Yankees this year is that Phelps is not a major league starter, not yet.
The Yankees moved to shore up their increasingly short-staffed rotation by signing veteran Derek Lowe to a major league contract. The team’s brass said Lowe will pitch out of the bullpen, but I’m not buying it. Since 2002, Lowe has appeared in 357 games and started 355 of them. A Saturday start in Phelps’ place is not out of the question.
Tampa Bay has seven road games against the Mariners and Angels this week, the team’s last West Coast road trip of the season and a potential bump in the road. Baltimore, meanwhile, hosts Boston for three games and then will play a three-game weekend set in Detroit, which is fighting for a playoff berth of its own. The Yankees could be two games up at the end of this week; they could also be nine up. Either way, it’s gut-check time in the Bronx.
The big week kicks off tonight, with Phelps opposing Texas’s Ryan Dempster (recently acquired from the Cubs, of the 33-inning scoreless streak fame). Check back here every day for a Crucible Week recap and a live-tweeting session from the Stadium on Wednesday night.
Posted by jfs360 on August 13, 2012
Recaps of both the Yankees’ 11-5 loss to the Orioles on Tuesday night (which I had the misfortune of witnessing live), and Wednesday’s 12-3 streak-busting, Cano-grand-slam-hitting win coming tomorrow. Today, though, I suggest you take nine minutes out of your busy schedules and watch the finale from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly“, Sergio Leone’s epic 1966 spaghetti Western that starred a young Clint Eastwood. For present-day Yankees purposes, the Good was Wednesday’s blowout win. The Bad was Tuesday’s come-from-ahead blowout loss. And the Ugly was Ivan Nova — who squandered a 5-0 lead on his way to allowing nine earned runs in five innings Tuesday — telling reporters after the game that he had his best stuff and was just the victim of bad baseball luck. (I was there. That better not be Nova’s best stuff.) Until tomorrow.
Posted by jfs360 on August 1, 2012
You never know where you’ll find wisdom next in this town. Especially when it comes to the Yankees’ World Series prospects.
Posted by jfs360 on April 13, 2012