While you were distracted by Brett Favre’s lap-running (celebrities: They’re just like us!), Michael Phelps’s gold-medal-winning crotch huggers, and a major golf tournament that didn’t involve Tiger Woods, you might have missed the most noteworthy New York sports event of the weekend: The Yankees look like they’re going to miss the playoffs for the first time since there were no playoffs.
The culprits were the longtime tormenting Angels, who swept the Yankees right out of Anaheim/Los Angeles/California in dominating fashion, winning Friday and Saturday by a combined 21-9 score and then, worst of all, beating Mariano Rivera in a walk-off yesterday. We only have 44 games left in the regular season — and only 19 left at Yankee Stadium — and the Yankees are in serious trouble.
They’re eight and a half games behind the Devil Rays in the American League East and, perhaps more ominous, not only four games behind the Red Sox in the wild card, but also two and a half behind the Twins. That extra team makes a lot of difference; even if they’re able to chase down the Sox, the AL Central runner-up, either the Twins or the White Sox will be fighting for that same slot. And those teams don’t have half the rotation on the disabled list and a frustrated manager who confesses that he’s not quite sure what to do.
Baseball Prospectus’ Playoff Odds Report, checked daily by baseball diehards this time of year, lists the Yankees with just a 8.87 percent chance of reaching the postseason and a 1.20 percent chance at winning the division. That’s far lower than the Mets’ chances (43.1 percent) and those of long shots like the Cardinals and Marlins. Put it this way: The Rockies, who are fourteen games under .500, have a better chance of winning their division than the Yankees. Or, in other terms, according to bookmaker Paddy Power, the odds of the Yankees winning the American League East are nearly equal to those of John Edwards being picked by Barack Obama as his vice-president.
To put it bluntly: The Yankees are in SERIOUS trouble. It’s becoming more apparent than ever that the last game in Yankee Stadium will not be in October; it will be Sunday, September 19, 8:05 p.m. against the Baltimore Orioles. The cheapest seats on StubHub are $336. Better hurry. And if you’re having difficulty coming to terms with a Yankees-less October … hey, look over there! It’s Brett Favre! —Will Leitch