Longtime New York scribe Wallace Matthews raised a great point on his New York New York Baseball Podcast few weeks ago. He mentioned the Yankees’ young stars such as Luis Severino, Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge have never had that big moment under pressure.
His point was this is the year where everything is magnified in a season where it’s championship or bust for the Yankees. He wants to know more about these guys now that there is pressure on them to perform like it was for the Yankees’ Core Four of Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Bernie Williams during the dynasty years in the 90s.
Last year was easy since no one had expectations on the Yankees. Not only did Yankees fans not expect championship No. 28, but they did not think playoffs were a possibility. The idea was to let the kids play and let the contracts off the books, so that the Yankees could be in a position to create a new dynasty starting in 2019.
All the Yankees’ young players had to do was play baseball, and they shined last season. Judge was a MVP candidate in the making, Bird showed he can be like Tino Martinez when it comes to timely hitting, Sanchez resembled the play of Posada and Severino pitched like he can be an ace. They all played a role in the Yankees’ run to the American League Championship Series.
That resulted to high expectations from the Yankees management and their fans this season. They have done okay, but in this past weekend’s series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, Andujar, Torres, Severino and Bird came up small. Sanchez and Judge did not play since they are on the disabled list, though the Yankees catcher hasn’t exactly been great all season long.
The Red Sox stars outplayed the Yankees stars this weekend, so there should be questions about the Baby Bombers who are trying to create a brand like the Core Four.
Sample size or not, questions about their ability to rise under pressure won’t go away until they actually do it in October. That will be the true test then. It seems we have already crowned the Baby Bombers, even though they haven’t earned their Yankeeography moment. It’s not the good numbers that they will be judged. It will be the moments that they shine through in October that will matter more than anything.
They can’t do anything about it in the dog days of summer and in September. No one is going to care what they do in the regular season games. In Yankeeland, regular season games are nothing more than exhibition games to tune up. The Yankees season starts in October starting with the one-game playoff, which is likely where the Yankees playoff journey starts.
So far, no one has criticized the Baby Bombers. It’s hard to rip them when they haven’t had a chance to do anything yet. Things are going to change in a New York minute come October.
Yankees fans haven’t had much fun following their team this season. The Yankees stars haven’t played with reckless abandon this season knowing every play will be scrutinized. That’s the way it goes when expectations are high. This season will not be successful without championship No. 28.
It’s an unfair position for these players to be in, but that’s the way it goes when it comes to playing in New York and for playing for such a brand like the Yankees. The Core Four did not have it easy, either. Even when they did good, they were mildly criticized.
How they handle it will determine how good they can be as Yankees and as Major League ballplayers. From watching them, they seem to be even keel. They are not too high or too low. Maybe it suits them well, but what was great about the Core Four was they always take losing seriously and they always seem to take it personally if they don’t perform. Maybe playing with some vinegar can be a good thing for these guys.
From watching the present Yankees, it seems Judge has that assertive personality where he can lead whether it’s through example and being vocal. He is a guy who can take things personality.
Maybe Sanchez, Torres, Andujar and Severino can grow into that role as they become established players, but time will tell if it happens.
It’s going to be interesting how the new Yankees stars do in the next few months.
What they do will determine their legacy as Yankees.