News Flash: team performs worse against good teams than bad ones

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I noticed this kicking around the Twitterverse last night and this morning, but the meme developed fully this afternoon: Oh noes! The Yankees don’t play well against good teams!

That’s the refrain from the New York Times today, which notes:

The Yankees’ struggles against better teams have received little
attention, and it is no wonder why. In recent weeks, the team has played
well over all, and the numbers seem to tell a story of a team that is
among the hottest in baseball . . . But many of those wins have come against bad teams.

I touched on this last week (and totally mangled the facts, but whatever), but the fact remains: bad baseball teams are much easier to beat than good baseball teams, and even championship baseball teams have worse records against the winners than the losers. In fact, a major league source who asked for anonymity because he’s not permitted to share such information revealed that beating good teams is much, much harder than beating bad teams.  It’s true!

But maybe saying stuff like that — or saying the thing that best describes what happened to the Yankees against the Phillies the last two nights (i.e. that the Yankees lost because they just weren’t playing well) is too boring.

It’s much more interesting to create some overarching theme that invokes mental toughness or the lack thereof than to simply chalk it up having trouble with junkballers, the bullpen pitching poorly at the wrong time and simply having the bats go to sleep.