Tuesday, October 28, 2014


If you have been a Yankees fan for any length of time, you know the mission of the New York Yankees every single year: win the World Series. It is what drives the team to spend money, acquire top-notch talent, and makes the fan base argue about whom the Yankees should go after first – Max Scherzer or James Shields. We all operate on the assumption that the team with the best players wins the World Series. Do you still really believe that assumption?

The Kansas City Royals have gotten everyone’s attention, primarily because they should not be in the World Series to begin with. Let’s review. They are below the league average in runs per game, OPS, and Fielding Percentage. They are the only team in the American League to fail to hit 100 home runs. They were 4th in ERA, but they beat the teams who came in second (Oakland) and third (Baltimore) to get to the World Series. You might be able to argue that pitching at least gets you to the stage, but it is clearly not enough. Other teams have dominant pitching, and you need a complete team to even get to the postseason, let alone win the Series.

Here is some food for thought. Maybe it is not just about the talent and potential of the members of the roster. Maybe it is the ability to translate that into wins at crunch time. Maybe what they say is true – the baseball is a game of wits, and that those with the mental fortitude to keep pushing until they win are the ones that end up on top. Remember, the Royals came back from being down late and down in extras to win the wildcard elimination game. They won the first 2 games of their ALDS in extra innings, and the first 2 games of the ALCS in the 9th or later, grinding until they pulled out the win.

I don’t want to focus too much on Kansas City, since they don’t have the perennial winning legacy that would legitimize them as the example to follow. Not yet, anyway. But there are some people, players, and teams that just have that mental focus and drive that we haven’t seen on the Yankees in some time. Guys like Terry Francona, who took the Red Sox from the annual tradition of frustrating loss to a legacy that made the Red Sox a feared team year after year. As much as we hate what they did, you have to admire a manager that can keep a team in focus when they’re down 3-0 in a best of 7 and come back to win. When he left the team, they completely collapsed, and he brought the Indians back into contention. Why don’t we have any Terry Francona’s on our team? The last dynasty – in the late 1990’s – had an expectation to win every last game, and they went out and played all nine inning of all 162 games, plus the postseason.

I will leave you with this thought. A week from now, the World Series will be over, everyone will be analyzing how the winning team got it done, and we will all be talking about which players to go after for our team. Some players will leave, others will join, and we will all be pissed off and elated at various points of the winter when it all goes down. The question is, how do you know who is going to bring the fire to the team, the drive to win no matter what the circumstances? Will the front office and management be able to discern between the stars and the duds? Sure, they will be pouring over the stats, the dollars and contract lengths, but I hope someone is watching out for the players and coaches who can find the guys that can carry a team. If you’re like me, you would like to bring back the days of fighting for every baserunner, every run, every win.

--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
Twitter: @KingAgamemnon
My blog is: Shots from Murderer's Row

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