The Yankees’ problem? Lack of “killer instinct”


That’s Bob Klapisch’s view in his column this morning anyway. A-Rod and the Yankees couldn’t get a key hit against Joaquin Benoit or Max Scherzer last Thursday because, well, they just couldn’t will it to be so:

The past-era Yankees had a ferocious trait that couldn’t be quantified. It was an intangible expectation of victory – even if that very term now is politically incorrect among baseball’s intelligentsia. Girardi, who was part of the championship run from 1996-2000, is so brainwashed he suggested those four rings were influenced, in part, by luck. Try running that by Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill and David Cone.

But that’s how the present-day Yankee family is making peace with their collapse against the Tigers – it was the wrong time, the wrong set of circumstances, just the wrong karma.

He blames the 2011 Yankees’ failure to make it out of the first round on “a killer instinct that never was honed.”

Just once — once! — I’d like to see someone identify a killer instinct before the end of a team’s season rather than after it.  Because until that happens I’m going to believe something very shocking: that stuff like this is all ex-post-facto narrative building, not baseball analysis that is useful in the slightest.

Not that anyone would ever cop to that.  Because to do so leaves us in this world, and that would make everyone who claims to be an expert about such matters feel less important and wise.

Clayton Kershaw completes spring training with a 0.00 ERA

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Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.

In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.

The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.

The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.