Thursday, August 14, 2008


HANK STEINBRENNER is ready to throw in the towel on the 2008 season – and it seems most of the New York Yankees players are too.

“Wait ’til next year,” says Hank. Did you ever think you would hear a member of the Steinbrenner family saying that with more than 40 games still to go?

These are the New York Yankees, 26-time world champions and the most celebrated franchise in the history of American sports.

No matter how many injury problems they have during the course of the season, it’s a given that even if they don’t win the pennant, they will at least make the play-offs.

They have done so every year since 1993. But the prospect of that proud record being extended is receding with every day.

After losing five of their last six games, the Yanks are now nine games out in the American League East and six out in the wild card standings.

As Yogi Berra would say, it’s getting late early. And after a three-game homestand against the Kansas City Royals, they’re back on the road again.

One statistic will tell you exactly why the Yanks are in dire straits. They have scored two runs or less in 39 of their 121 games.

Yanks score two runs or less in one out of three games

That’s very nearly 33% – a shocking statistic for a team projected to score more than 900 runs.

Bad starting pitching puts immediate pressure on the batters. But for all their pitching problems, the plain truth is that the star-studded New York Yankees can’t hit, either in the clutch, or out of it.

Yesterday’s 4-2 loss in Minnesota was just another example. What more could they expect from Darrell Rasner? As manager Joe Girardi said afterwards: “You don’t win too many games when you only score two runs.” Not even with Johan Santana or CC Sabathia on the mound.

Robinson Canó, Melky Cabrera, Jason Giambi. Even Alex Rodriguez. They seem to have spent most of the season in a slump and when they have got hot, it hasn’t lasted long. Kevin Long, in his second season as Yankees' hitting coach, must be a man under pressure.

But for beating up on the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics (11-1), the Yanks would be under .500. They are just one game over .500 against teams in their own division.

It will take a phenomenal effort just to make their last three games of the season – against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park – meaningful.

That’s why some would agree with Hank Steinbrenner that the Yanks would be better off planning for 2009.

There’s no point in rushing back Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes – even Carl Pavano – when the battle has already been lost.

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