Thursday, May 4, 2017


(May 1, 2017 - Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America)    
A key aspect of this rebuilding Yankee team  I was looking forward to watching most this season were its dual dimensions of a team playing with nothing to lose coupled with the unexpected contributions that would surely come from a sea change in composition and chemistry.

A dangerous combination. And they haven't disappointed.

Sure, there's some young members of this team that have been slow to get started who will eventually come around. And there's definitely one member of the old guard who shall remain nameless (but tops the payroll in salary this year)  who should plan on retiring immediately following the conclusion of Game 162 whether the team makes the postseason or not.

But it seems like for the most part the veterans have played like  the backs of their  most collectible baseball cards while the benchers with no cards in their past and likely no place in the team's future plans have played three feet over their caps and potentially ignited new careers for thmselves.

So all in all, so far it's been about what I expected:  An almost complete surprise from one day to the next. One hell of a ride.

Another unexpected surprise: A bonafide bandwagon.

It feels like years since our last one. I almost forgot what that felt like; when it seems like everyone in the world is scopelocked on our guys and even our most casual fans start paying close attention and  our doubters start believing and our believers start talking in tongues to one another. And the haters -- they just shut the heck up.

It always takes me by surprise when it happens because I'm always the guy rally-capping and calling for a dink, a doink and a dinger when we're down late. You don't look behind you when you're that guy  because there's usually either just empty seats or people looking at you and shaking their heads like you're deluded.

But then that moment arrives when  you suddenly realize you and your small band of hardcore fanatics are not alone. It can be quite a shock.

Photo: Getty Images
I sensed that moment may have arrived for this Yankees team Wednesday night shortly after Judge's history-making (aren't they all now?) 13th bomb into the Monument Park netting when Chris Carter awkwardly fought off an inside pitch to bloop an RBI single over the heads of a drawn-in infield and tied the game 6-6.

Photo: Getty Images
Chris friggin' Carter. The $3.5 million home run king they love to hate. The walking whiff  who just days ago nobody wanted to replace a kid hitting .100.  The  Stephen Drew rental for a new generation.  Came through with a dying quail that didn't even reach the outfield grass. And the reaction?

No more cracks. No more sarcasm, live or online. Just wild applause and appreciation. And acceptance. Heck, he's even hitting over the Mendoza line.

For better or worse,  Carter's a Yankee now.

Another sign of the bandwagon's arrival? When pundits who made bad bets elsewhere start liking your chances.

Photo of Ken Davidoff /Twitter
After the game, in an article titled "Blue Jays’ trash may lead to Yankees’ playoff treasure," the Post's Ken Davidoff  performed a mea culpa and post-mortem on his preseason prediction the Bue Jays would win the AL pennant; then went on to explain the Yankees's suddenly plausible path to the division title.

"The second-most astounding statistic to result from this game? The Blue Jays, widely regarded as a serious contender before the season started (that Davidoff guy from The Post has them making the World Series), dropped to 9-19 — the worst record in the majors — after blowing 4-0 and 6-3 advantages."

Davidoff's change of heart toward the pinstripes  wasn't the first I've seen, but it was the first I've seen that acknowledged a legit shot at the division  -- which got me wondering about something.

With the mass layoffs over at the worldwide leader  in Bristol, Connecticut recently, how many picked the Yankees to take the division?

I dug up ESPN's big baseball preview and, out of 35 in-house baseball experts, whaddayaknow?

Just one --  Steve Wulf --   picked the Yankees to take the Beast this year.

When asked why, he replied: "A nice blend of youth and experience, speed and power. And then there's the DNA -- the last time the Yankees went four years without finishing first was 1993."

More than 100 people have been given the boot at ESPN, but Wulf's still got his job.

Why am I not surprised?

 --Barry Millman
BYB Writer
Twitter: @nyyankeefanfore

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