There was a lot of harrumphing last night as Joe Girardi used the bullpen’s second string in extra innings against the Rays. That harrumphing led to claims this morning that the Yankees really don’t care about the division and are just playing for the wild card. I kind of doubt that they’re actually planning on that — baseball teams are always trying to win — it just may be that health and fatigue concerns are making such a course the likely one.
Latest example: A-Rod, who was gimpy on the basepaths last night. Buster Olney suspects that this will lead to a lot of days off for him down the stretch. May be the same for Nick Swisher, actually, as he looked practically crippled trying to run out a ground ball. He’s having an MRI today.
The Yankees aren’t young. And they haven’t been terribly healthy this year. They are still talented, of course, and will likely prove dangerous in the postseason. But only if they can get back into better shape. Doing things like resting the stars and spelling the pen when necessary will help them do that.
And if it forces them to the wild card, well, so be it. And that’s even if the tabloids go crazy.
Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.
It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.
Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:
He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.
“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”
The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.