The Yankees are 37-22. After last night that record is comprised of a 10-1 mark against the Orioles, a 4-0 mark against the Indians and a 5-1 record against the Twins. Against everyone else the Bombers are under .500.
I would not be at all surprised to hear New York talk radio fret about this sort of thing at some point because New York talk radio is always looking for something to fret about, but it’s worth remembering that this is not at all uncommon. Indeed, it’s usually the case that the best teams beat the living tar out of the worst ones and basically break even against the better teams (and, I suppose in the case of the Twins, beat up on those good teams whose number one simply seems to have). The Yankees did this last year and managed to win a World Series. They also did this in their previous championship year — 2000 — going 42-43 against .500+ opponents en route to a 87-74 record.
And it’s not just the Yankees. As Darren Everson pointed out in the Wall Street Journal last year, the last time a team won a World Series while doing better than breaking even against .500+ teams was 1995 when the Braves did it. Everson also noted that the Angels frequently kick the snot, relatively speaking, out of good teams and they usually get a first round playoff exit for thier troubles. All the other recent champs have cruised against the pushovers and done no better than hold their own against the toughies.
So while some people may want to see the Yankees play better against the Rays and Red Sox of the word, this pattern is just dandy. At least if you’re not an Orioles or an Indians fan.
Jon Morosi reports that that the Detroit Tigers will make all veterans available via trade if they’re still under .500 by the end of June.
This was the position they entered the offseason with — everyone is available! — but they ended up gearing up for one more push with the core of veterans they currently employ. It was not a bad move, I don’t think. With the exception of the Indians, the AL Central is mostly down, or at least appeared to be over the winter, with the Royals in decline and the Twins and White Sox seemingly a few years away from contention. The Twins, however, have been fantastic and the Tigers have mostly underachieved.
So we’re back to this. Which veterans the Tigers can reasonably unload, however, is an open question. J.D. Martinez is in his walk year, so while tradable, he may not bring back a big return. Guys like Justin Upton, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera either have very large contracts or no-trade protection.
The end of June is still a while from now, of course, and while the Tigers are under .500, they’re only 4.5 games behind the Twins. But they had better turn it around or else it sounds like the front office is going to turn the page.
As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.
The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.
Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.
Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.