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It’s very hard to be a Yankees fan right now

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The Yankees have won 17 of 18 games — playing some of the toughest competition they’ll face all year, by the way — and in the space of 20 days they have turned a 7.5-game division deficit into a one-game lead. They ripped the heart out of the Red Sox last night, coming from behind to beat Craig Kimbrel with Brett freakin’ Gardner of all people playing the hero. Yes, things are going spectacularly for the Yankees. Baseball’s most successful and storied franchise is enjoying what, even for them, is some of the best baseball they’ve ever played.

Which, actually, is sort of a problem, because what do you complain about if you’re a Yankees fan?

Every fan base complains, obviously. Sports fandom has a huge subjective and emotional component to it, so not all of those complaints are logical. If you’re an Orioles fan, fine, you are 100% objectively justified in complaining about the product you’re seeing these days, but there were likely Orioles fans complaining in the late 60s and early 70s when they won all the dang time. Such is the nature of sports complaints. They’re not always logical or justified. But, just as you’re entitled to boo and cheer anything you’d like, you’re allowed to pick nits too.

Based on my experience of reading the comments of this blog, people get a bit more upset when Yankees fans pick nits. Mostly because the Yankees have such a history of winning. The particularities of (how shall I put this?) a certain sort of New York personality and its differences with a certain sort of non-New York personality enrich this mix to some degree as well. People like to give crap to what they perceive to be arrogant and entitled Yankees fans and Yankees fans, God bless them, love to not give even the slightest crap about what those people think. It’s all rather glorious, honestly.

Between the recent winning and that dynamic, I’ve noticed a few comments here of late from Yankees fans which underscore the existential crisis of those souls. They have at least been prefaced by an acknowledgment that the fan in question was entitled and unreasonable, but the nits were still picked:

Kevin is a longtime commenter, well-liked by this site’s commentariat and seems like a good guy to boot, but no one was really buying what he was selling. If, for no other reason, than the Pirates turned down a straight-up Cole-for-Frazier deal, but we’ll let that go for now.

Today another one:

There may be more substance to this complaint — Green has been heavily used and it is just May — but “our setup guy who is better than a lot of team’s closers has pitched too much during this blitzkrieg through the AL East because our other lights-out relievers have been temporarily unavailable” is still something of a high class problem to have. It’s early yet, but I’m guessing Boone’s Farm won’t find a ton of shoulders on which to cry.

Either way, I’m reasonably certain that these minor quibbles will make way for real problems as the season wears on. Remember last year when the Dodgers were rampaging their way through baseball, only to then go on a horrible skid in August and September? The baseball season is long and, even if you don’t suffer injuries (note: everyone suffers injuries) bad stretches happen to everyone eventually. Come July, the Yankees may be in genuine turmoil for reasons we cannot now anticipate.

But part of me worries that won’t happen. Part of me worries that they’ll just keep winning and winning and winning to the point that they make legitimate history. This doesn’t worry me because I don’t want the Yankee to win. They’re a neat team and history is always fun to witness. No, I’m wondering what, if that occurs, Yankees fans will complain about. I’m worried that they may become desperate.

It’s late October and Aroldis Chapman has just struck out, I dunno, Anthony Rizzo with a 102 m.p.h. fastball for strike three, completing the Yankees’ World Series sweep, in which they’ve outscored the Cubs 52-2. That came after going 7-0 in the AL playoffs which came after a 120-win season. It comes just a couple of weeks before Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius tie for the AL MVP Award, Luis Severino wins the Cy Young, Gleyber Torres wins the Rookie of the Year Award and Aaron Boone takes top managerial honors. Two days after that, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado agree to sign with the Yankees with massive amounts of deferred salary because, and I quote, “we could not imagine accomplishing anything in baseball that wouldn’t feel better accomplishing it in Yankee pinstripes.” As they say that, a bald eagle cries, soars around Yankee Stadium twice and lands on the shoulder of Joe DiMaggio’s ghost, who nods approvingly.

What then, I ask? WHAT THEN?!

Jake’s joking there. But someone won’t be.

UPDATE: I guess I’m not the only one with this idea this morning.

Dodgers clinch NL’s top seed, West title with win over A’s

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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Wrapping up an NL West title has become routine for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but in a year in which no one was sure three months ago if there would be a baseball season, manager Dave Roberts wanted his team to still savor the moment.

The Dodgers clinched the NL’s top postseason seed and eighth straight division title Tuesday night with a 7-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics. They are third team to win at least eight straight division titles, joining the Atlanta Braves (14 straight from 1991-2005) and New York Yankees (nine straight from 1998-2006).

“To fast forward a couple months and be crowned NL West champs is a credit to everyone. It should never be taken for granted,” Roberts said. “Truth be told a lot of guys didn’t know we could clinch. We were responsible but I let it know that it has to be appreciated.”

The Dodgers, who own the best record in the majors at 39-16, were the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff berth on Sept. 16. They will open postseason play on Sept. 30 by hosting every game in a best-of-three series against the No. 8 seed.

Los Angeles came into the day with a magic number of two and got help with the Angels’ 4-2 victory over the San Diego Padres.

Instead of a wild celebration on the mound after Jake McGee struck out Sean Murphy for the final out, players briskly walked out of the dugout to celebrate with teammates. Everyone grabbed a division clinching shirt and cap before heading to the mound for a group photo.

The clubhouse celebration was also muted. Champagne was still involved, but it was players toasting each other with a glass instead of being showered in it.

“We talked about it instead of dumping stuff on people. It’s a moment you need to celebrate and we did,” said Corey Seager, who had three hits and one of Los Angeles’ four home runs, “It stinks not being able to do champagne and beer showers because some of the younger guys haven’t been able to experience that.”

Max Muncy, Chris Taylor and AJ Pollock also went deep for Los Angeles, which leads the majors with 104 home runs.

“This whole year has been weird. There’s no other way to describe it,” Muncy said. “It’s sad not to be celebrate as usual but we know there is a lot more at stake.”

Dustin May (2-1) went five innings and allowed two runs on three hits. The 22-year-old red-headed righty set a team record by not allowing more than three earned runs in his first 13 career starts, which include 10 this season.

Robbie Grossman homered for Oakland, which clinched its first AL West crown in seven years on Monday during a day off. The Athletics, in the postseason for the third straight year, currently are the AL’s No. 3 seed.

Mark Canha had two of Oakland’s five hits.

Seager tied it at 1 in the first with an RBI single and then led off the fifth with a drive to center off T.J. McFarland to extend LA’s lead to 6-2.

Muncy gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead in the third inning with a two-run homer. Taylor and Pollock extended it with solo shots in the fourth off Oakland starter Frankie Montas (3-5).

Grossman quickly gave Oakland a 1-0 lead when he homered off the left-field pole in the first inning. Sean Murphy briefly gave the Athletics a 2-1 advantage when he led off the third with a walk and scored on a wild pitch by May with two outs.

Montas, who allowed only four home runs in his first seven starts, has given up six in his past three. The right-hander went four innings and yielded five runs on seven hits with a walk and three strikeouts.

“They’re a pretty good team that when you make mistakes, they make you pay,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “They’re pretty good laying off and making you throw it over the plate. They made Montas pay, unfortunately.”

Cody Bellinger added two hits for the Dodgers, including an RBI single with the bases loaded in the seventh.

ATHLETICS ADVANCE

The A’s have a team text thread they used to celebrate clinching their first AL West title since 2013 during their off day Monday, when the Mariners beat Houston.

“We didn’t really celebrate too much yet. It’s exciting,” Chad Pinder said. “We wanted to do it on our own terms. We still won the division and that was our goal. It’s nice to know we’ll be playing home for the series.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Athletics: INF/OF Pinder (strained right hamstring) planned to run at Dodger Stadium and test his leg with hopes of still playing before the conclusion of the regular season. …. RHP Daniel Mengden has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Las Vegas. He was designated for assignment after being medically cleared and reinstated from the COVID-19 injured list following a positive test from Aug. 28.

Dodgers: 3B Justin Turner was scratched from the lineup less than an hour before first pitch due to left hamstring discomfort He came off the injured list on Sept. 15 and has not played in the field since Aug. 28. … Joc Pederson was in the lineup at DH after missing five games while on the family emergency medical list. Roberts said before the game that he wasn’t sure if Pederson will remain with the team during the entire postseason.

UP NEXT

Athletics: LHP Sean Manaea (4-3, 4.50) is 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA over his last five starts dating to Aug. 20.

Dodgers: LHP Julio Urias (3-0, 3.49) will make his team-leading 11th start.

AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this story.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports