Sunday, June 26, 2022

Mike Lupica: How good are these Yankees? we’ll find out in the next month

Things are always more interesting here when the Yankees look like the Yankees again, which means they have a chance to be great again. It hasn’t been in a while, perhaps not since the 2019 American League Championship Series, an Astros won with that buzzer-beating walk-off homer from our old friend, Jose Altuve.

They’re definitely looking great so far, as almost everything possible has been broken down to perfect for them. They are performed by Aaron Judge and his second starting forward, Giancarlo Stanton, both in his pitching, starting and relief. Judge and Stanton, of course, are the only two people with a 50-home run season playing for the Yankees at the same time, as Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris were those guys in their 60s.

They have been remarkably healthy until Chad Green, one of the horses in Aaron Boone’s bullpen, arrived in Baltimore the other day with a sore throat. You add it all up, and there are many reasons why, as we move onto Memorial Day weekend and one of the first significant marking periods, they not only have the best record, but they look like the best team.

And if we feel the same way about them a month from now, maybe we have a special Yankee team on our hands. We don’t know yet, as much as some of his fans would like to think this could happen.

For now, we need to put the brakes on a journey to the Canyon of Heroes, and an imaginary ride with the ’98 Yankees. They are far from there. and having He,

Of course, you can only play what you play in the game. But, undoubtedly, the Yankees have benefited from what has become a dream schedule, one that looks as if they have prepared themselves. Through Thursday’s games, the only team to hold this weekend’s winning record was the Blue Jays, against whom they are 6-3. Considering the fact that Blue Jays were just about everyone’s loved ones coming into season, this is what matters. So it does: The 20-18 Jays are really the best team the Yankees have faced.

Compared to the rest of the schedule, the Yankees arrive at 22-7 on the weekend. This was a record that compiled a combined 33 games against teams under .500. Seven of those victories were against the Orioles, who somehow made their way back to Yankee Stadium this coming week like a welcome wagon.

So the Yankees are again feasting on poor/average teams, something they didn’t do last season, something they cost them in the standings, and mightily, as they got another win against the Red Sox. Had to play my wild card game. Playground. So they are beating the teams they have to beat, which is something that teams that win the division need to do. It’s another pleasant surprise in this pleasant surprise of Yankee season.

So far, so good. Which could prove to be very good for these Yankees. And turn into a great October.

Still: We’re going to have a much clearer and much quicker understanding of how much of the game really is, and how sustainable it is, in the season starting Memorial Day weekend against the Rays – an opponent for them. Has a much longer past of a few years than the Red Sox – and then extends to the next month.

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That month he would play 10 matches against the Rays. They will play five against the Astros, another bloody opponent for reasons that have now become too exhausting to watch again. Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout and three other games against an Angels team that has been another pleasant surprise of the ’22 season. Three against the Jays in Toronto.

“It was all about the Blue Jays coming into season,” one very smart Yankee fan I know was saying on Friday. “And it was as if everyone easily forgot that it is our friends from St. Petersburg who have won one title after another in the past, something my team hasn’t been able to do in a decade.”

None of this detracts from what really is this season’s ’98-like start and the excitement that came with it for Yankee fans. Judge has become a big star in every way as in the game, slugging like this is his rookie season, when he broke the all-time rookie home run record (until Pete Alonso broke it) and MVP. In the voting, old friends came second to Altuve. In the first quarter of this season, the judges were second to none, not even Stanton, who has been as sluggish in April and May as it was for the Yankees in October.

For the past month, Gerrit Cole has been the kind of ace the Yankees paid him $324 million to be, unlike the one he was in the wild card game when he couldn’t get out of the third inning at Fenway Park, the game. It felt like it was over by the time he reached the audience clubhouse. Nestor Cortes, who brought up his quick 1.35 earned run average over the weekend, has probably been the biggest surprise of this astonishing season. Gleber Toure has shown glimpses of baseball stardom again, even though his batting average was .241 through the Orioles series.

And yet:

And yet, two of the front office’s darlings, Aaron Hicks and Joey Gallo, were still batting averages below the Mendoza line when the Yankees returned to Yankee Stadium on Friday night. DJ LeMahieu still doesn’t look close to being a hitter in his first season with the Yankees, at least not yet.

Not all of that slowed him down his way to 28-10. Another reason is that the Yankees have been blessed with surprisingly good health at a time when the Mets didn’t have Jacob deGrom at all and there won’t be Max Scherzer for two months and Trevor May is a key setup man and his own. Surprise lost starter in Tyler Magill and just starling Marte missed the Cardinals series on mourning leave. And somehow, with all that said, the Mets have lost a series total since Opening Day and came into the weekend with a bigger lead in the NL East than the Yankees had in the AL East.

Buck Showalter’s Mets have already escaped a gauntlet. We’ll see how long this lasts without the degrom and shaver. That’s as we’re about to see how the Yankees will survive between the last game of their Astros series and the last game of their schedule at the end of June. If they survive, and keep moving forward, it’s worth talking about them to give them a chance to make it a regular reason to remember. When they finally start playing with the good teams we will know if they are as good as they have seen against the bad guys. We don’t know that yet.

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Before the first quarter of Game 7 in Phoenix ended, Luca looked like he was playing five guys in the Y.

Well, it turns out that the polar bear in the pan didn’t flash, am I right?

Even with all those 9th innings coming back for the Mets this season, the biggest win of the season so far was the last game of the Cardinals series.

It was in the shadow of Scherzer’s oblique injury and the Mets badly needed to win, perhaps more than anything else for their collective psyche.

Then Mr Alonso drove it.

JJ Reddick must apologize for insulting 93-year-old Bob Cousy, saying that one of the most creative players in NBA history and one of sports history’s gentlemen, was guarded by firemen and plumbers in his time.

I love Radic’s work on ESPN.

But what he knows about the NBA of the 50s and 60s can fit inside a shot glass.

It seems like there’s a good, healthy dialogue going on between Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher.

From the first night he played Rafael Barba on “Law & Order: SVU,” through Thursday night’s season finale, Ral Esparza has consistently delivered one of the best performances in recent network TV history.

Sidney Crosby is right: if a man can’t play without a helmet, damn it if he gets off.

Alan Shipnk’s book on Phil Mickelson is a really fun read, if not about a particularly fun topic these days.

The All-England Club’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from Wimbledon is one that should be reversed.

and will not.

Why?

Because they are Wimbledon, damn it, that’s why.

Bill de Blasio says he is running for Congress and my first reaction, there is nothing I can do to stop it, was this:

Who asked him?

After those three homers the other night, Trevor Story seems to like old Fenway a lot better.

And Old Fenway is liking them quite a bit.

By the way, you know what are the two most beautiful words in the English language for the Red Sox these days?

wild card.

Or should it be a word I’m not entirely sure of?

You have to love Aaron Judge, says my friend Barry Stanton, who cites his irritation with load management for another big day at the plate.

We’re going to find out over the next two weeks whether Carlos Alcaraz, the most exciting kid to come into men’s tennis since having Fed and Rafa and the Joker, is ready to win his first Major at Roland Garros.

Who’s been doing Greg Norman’s PR lately, Judge Alito?

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Nation World News Desk
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