CLEVELAND – In this coronavirus shortened season, dubbed by many a 60-game sprint, the New York Yankees are playing the long game.
Although they were used to popping champagne – the 27 times the World Cup is the winning baseball franchise – in 2019, they ended a calendar decade without appearing in a world series, an eternity for Yankees fans.
When the Yankees’ playoff run ended in Game 6 of the 2019 American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros, the same stage where they were eliminated three years ago, All-Star player Aaron Judge called the season a failure. After the 6-4 loss to the Astros last October, the referee said unequivocally, “No matter how many games we won in the regular season, or whatever else we did, this season is a failure.”
The Yankees’ focus is on the bigger picture rather than the immediate result.
“No question,” manager Aaron Boone said Thursday about their approach. “One of the things I told the guys was how proud of the show I was, and how many great individual efforts there were last night, and how many big-time games were made by big-time. players in this series. But tempered with, ‘We haven’t done anything yet.’ “
Stanton offered a similar perspective. The left fielder and designated hitter has yet to be fully embraced by Yankees fans, but his work against Cleveland may begin to change that. Two games in these playoffs Stanton is 2-for-7 – his hits are solo homers in games 1 and 2 – with two walks, three strikes and three RBIs.
“You can’t get too excited; you can’t get too excited about victories,” Stanton said. “Be grateful, know what it took, give credit where credit is due, but know that the ultimate goal … we are not even close to there. Our mindset is that we have not done anything yet. Same as going into last night, even though we won the night before, we did not do anything today, so delete it and let’s get it done. “
Boone added: “We have very high goals. When we came to spring training, we had high goals when we came back to summer camp that did not change. When we got into the season, it did not change when we We have reviewed the ups and downs of the season, the goal has not changed.We want to win a championship.And this team has been through a lot and these guys have been knocked a lot on the door and hopefully this is the year where we can kick it in . “
The inconsistent Yankees, who after a 10-game winning streak lost six of their last eight games of the regular season, limped into the playoffs as the fifth seed and swept Cleveland in the first round. The prize for their efforts? Facing AL East champion Tampa Bay Rays, the top-seeded team in this unique expanded playoff format. The Yankees were not only 2-8 against the Rays this season, they were outscored 47-34 in those games, which included bench-clearing arguments and tangible tension between teams with obvious hostility toward each other.
“We’re definitely underdog now. They’s the big, bad seed number 1 in AL East,” Boone said. “I do not think it will be very difficult for our guys to really focus on [the fact] that we will win. We want to win and move on, and this is where our focus lies. There are things coming up that are likely to be a bit controversial within the series, but I’m convinced our guys will do a good job of keeping their blinds on. We understand what is at stake. … I am convinced that this is where our focus will be. “
“Who would have thought we would play against Tampa Bay in San Diego when this year started?” Added Stanton. “It’s good. We know what they got and we know it’s going to be a match and we have to play our best. We [are] ready, we ready. It will be fun. It’s going to be a good fight to take this east coast fight out to the west coast now. “