THE POWER OF NUMBERS Is this Yankees season doomed before it begins?
By Luis Vazquez
As the good feelings around the Yankees and the optimism for the 2014 season which coincided with the free agent additions of Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Masahiro Tanaka from Japan, may go to naught if the numbers hold as they have since the turn of the century.
What am I referring to? A little known fact that all Yankee seasons ending in four since the turn of the 19th century has shown no success and tough moments to swallow. Although the Yankees have won 27 World Championships and 40 pennants, when it comes to four, outside of the core four, it’s a Yankee curse.
Let’s start in 1904, as the New York Highlanders, then in its second season, since its move from Baltimore to provide a rival to John McGraw’s NL New York Giants. The franchise, residing in Hilltop Park, rode ace pitcher Jack Chesbro’s 41 win season to a final two game series, trailing the Boston Pilgrims (Red Sox) , the defending AL and World Champion by half a game. The announcement that the NL Giants would not play the 1094 series against the AL entrant, made this series to watch. In the first game of the doubleheader, however, a Chesbro wild pitch scored the run that held up and clinched the AL pennant for the second straight year in Boston.
Its 1914 and World War I is underway, and the “Yankees” were in the middle of a series of losing seasons, pre-Ruth. They finished 70-84.
In 1924, one year removed from a move to their own stadium and first World Championship, the Yankees fought tooth and nail but were nipped for the AL flag by two games to the Washington Senators. They finished 89-63.
1934 was two years removed from the Yankees 1932 series win over the Chicago Cubs and Ruth’s called shot homer. The New York outfit was 94-60 but the Detroit Tigers were two games better.
1944 was in the midst of World War II. The reduced rosters did not stop the Yankees and St. Louis from splitting two series in 1942 and 1943. But the Yankees were not up to the task as they finished 83-71, three games out as they witnessed an all S. Louis series between the AL Browns and the NL Cardinals.
1954 was the year the Yankees were looking for their sixth consecutive World championship. After posting 97, 98, 98, 95 and 99 wins, they outdid themselves and won 103. But it was not enough as the Cleveland Indians broke the all-time best record to that point with 111 wins.
In 1964, The Yankees actually made the postseason. After going 99-63 they fought the St Louis Cardinals to the limit, but fell in the seventh game. They would not appear in the fall classic for 12 years.
1974 was Steinbrenner in his second year of ownership. An average season it appeared as New York went 80-82 and 17 games out of first. It didn’t help that they were also playing the first of two seasons in Shea Stadium as their stadium was being renovated. Yet the silver lining was that they were on their back and two years later would win the AL pennant. But not in a year ending in four.
Yogi Berra in 1984 took a young core of players and finished at 87-75. However, Steinbrenner lack of patience saw him discard most of his young talent for veterans.
In 1994, with George suspended, Gene Michael and manager Buck Showalter, rebuilt the farm and in 94 was 70-43 and in first place when the strike ended the season. It would be two years before the Yankees ended their 18 year championship drought.
And 2004, The Yankees blew a 3-0 in the ALCS to the Boston Red Sox. Enough said.
Now as they take the field in 2014, the Yankees are looking to bounce back from a playoff- less season that saw them suffer a ton of injuries despite winning 90 games. If they are to take heart one can go back to this list at 1904 and go back ten more years to 1894.
The Yankees were in Baltimore and known as the Orioles. In 1894 this team with players such as Wee Willie Keeler and John McGraw, won their first NL pennant. They played a post season series with the NL Giants called the Temple Cup. They lost in four straight. On second thought maybe it was best not to mention that. Do the numbers lie? We shall see this October of 2014.
Contact LuisVazquez: @Newyorksportsexaminer.com