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Time for Yanks to dominate divisional play

Leslie Monteiro



The Yankees have received hosannas from their fawning fans and the New York media for their 11-7 start. One would think this would be 1996 all over again with the way that team is described. That seems to be the case whenever they win in any season.

Never mind it’s 18 games in the season. Everyone is ready to crown the Yankees despite beating the mediocre Rays, struggling Cardinals and the awful White Sox in their homestand.

Sorry if I am not joining the choir. There are standards that the Yankees should be judged on. It’s about beating up great teams and winning championships, not celebrating a 11-7 record and beating teams below their level. No one would have celebrated them being 11-7 during their dynasty years. To celebrate what they are doing is patronizing.


Thankfully, the Bronx Bombers have a test in the next two weeks. It should be a good barometer to how good they really are. They will be playing the Red Sox for a three-game series at Fenway Park starting Tuesday, and then they start a six-game homestand against the AL East-leading Orioles and Blue Jays.

Here’s the challenge for the Yankees: Go 7-2 by the time they go to Wrigley Field next weekend. Anything short of that should not make anyone take them seriously as a contender.

In recent years, the Red Sox, Orioles and Blue Jays had their way with the Yankees whether it’s at Yankee Stadium or on the road. That was not the case during the Yankees’ dynasty years. It used to be those AL East teams would be scared to face them. It was a psychological advantage that Joe Torre’s Yankees used to enjoy.

It’s time to get to back to those days again. For the Yankees to be taken seriously, they need to beat up the teams in their division every year. The fear factor needs to be imposed to those teams when they come to the Bronx or when the Yankees come to their respective towns. There has to be hatred coming from them and vice versa. It seems the Yankees don’t get their teams lathered up like they used to be.

There’s no time like the present. This should be viewed as an opportunity to show those teams they have arrived and they are not going away for the foreseeable future. It’s time for guys like Aaron Judge, Greg Bird and several other young players to impose their will.

Don’t say it’s too soon for the Pinstripes to have a test. It’s about time they started beating teams in their division. It’s been too long since that happened, which is why they haven’t played in the postseason in several years. A good start could set the tone to what’s ahead when they meet their rivals in divisional play the rest of the season. It could also provide a legitimate reason to believe in them this summer. If nothing else, it would make the season interesting.

There’s no incentive to watch the Yankees if they are going to roll over against the AL East teams. This team does not have much star power to get a causal fan interested. Bird, Judge, Gary Sanchez and Jordan Montgomery are interesting to watch, but other than that, that team does not give any reason for a fan to waste his or her night to watch them.

Winning gets people to watch, not watching players learn on the job. There’s no point watching the Yankees’ young players if they are losing games. It does not make their games any fun or interesting. If fans want to watch the young players, they can watch YouTube clips of them anytime they want.

Yankees fans desperately want to see their team get back to the glory days. It has not been fun since they last won a championship in 2009. They have been a mediocre team at best, which should not be a compliment for a team that is used to contending for championships. Not only just that, but they have been boring to watch.

These next two weeks should be a referendum for the Yankees. It’s time this team answers the challenge instead of shying away from it. If they want to be taken seriously again in Major League Baseball, they have to dominate the Red Sox, Orioles and Blue Jays.

The Yankees can hit, but whether or not they can pitch against those three powerhouse teams in their division remains to be seen. It would be nice to see CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Luis Severino and Montgomery throw strikes after strikes instead of giving up home runs like free candy. Masahiro Tanaka is reliable, but the other starters need to do better than they have showed.

There are no orange slices if the Yankees play them tough and still lose. It’s about winning, and that’s it. The way it should be when they were held to a championship standard by the late George Steinbrenner and their fans. Rebuilding or not, the objective is to win each and every game as possible. That’s when you know they are back.

It’s not unreasonable to demand more from the Bronx Bombers. It’s about time they had expectations. Even if it’s April, these are meaningful games for them. It’s a chance to see why we should be excited about them now and in the future. Enough of waiting for next year or the year after that.

If people want to get excited about the Yankees’ good start, then it’s not too much to ask for the Yankees to see what they got starting now.

Leslie Monteiro is a syndicated sports columnist who writes about the Tri-State area teams for the Upstate Courier. He is based in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and can be reached on Twitter @MongoGoesInSane.