Yankees are in an unusual position

A look at the Major League Baseball standings shows the New York Yankees in second place in the American League East. No big surprise, considering Boston is the hottest team in baseball. The standings also tell you, though, that the Yankees are 91⁄2 games out of first place and already 51⁄2 back of Detroit in the wild-card race. Time to panic? Bob Klapisch of The Record in Hackensack N.J. thinks so:

For more than a decade, Joe Torre has graced the Yankees with a professionalism that’ll someday land him in the Hall of Fame. Thanks to him, the Yankees have had an unprecedented golden era.

But the empire is in crisis today, if not in outright chaos. The Red Sox are pulling away in the East and the wild card will soon be a long shot, too. Torre’s teams were like Hemingway heroes, displaying grace under pressure. At least it used to be that way.

This is the Bombers’ playoff season right now. We’ll know soon whether there’s any hope for October. We’ll know whether Roger Clemens’ return will be rendered moot. Most significantly, we’ll know if Torre himself will be a casualty of his team’s lethargy.

Yankee executives won’t say whether the manager’s job is in jeopardy, but no one’s issuing any votes of confidence, either. It would be pointless, anyway, since the decision is solely George Steinbrenner’s. But there are telltale signs of trouble for Torre, starting with general manager Brian Cashman’s stark admission that the season is indeed slipping away.


But there’s no sign of recovery on the horizon. The expression on Torre’s face during postgame interviews has been a cocktail of weariness and helplessness, which is understandable considering how loaded his roster is with on-paper talent.

But that’s the problem, isn’t it? The Yankees look great, but in reality they’re old and fragile.


The Yankees’ struggles may surprise some, but Mike Downey of the Chicago Tribune could see it coming, and he’s having fun with it:

I am feeling a tad smug about my preseason baseball predictions. In particular, the one that has the Yankees not being a party to the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

I assume the Yankees could use a good laugh. Therefore, to lighten their mood, I humbly submit a 2007 New York Yankees quick quiz.

It is stipulated in newly acquired pitcher Roger Clemens’ contract that he:

(A) Makes $10,000 per strike and $9,000 per ball; (B) May pitch in a bathrobe and flip-flops; (C) Must be spoon-fed his postgame meal by catcher Jorge Posada; (D) Never needs to pitch after 10 p.m.


Alex Rodriguez got off to an amazing start this season because he:

(A) Spent up to half of his salary on bribes to opposing pitchers; (B) Took Yogi Berra’s advice to "only swing at the pitches they throw to you." (C) Decided that baseball needs a human being with a personality to pass Barry Bonds; (D) Began to obey Steinbrenner’s orders to hit a game-winning home run every time up.

Mariano Rivera has struggled a bit so far because he:

(A) Is actually older than both Julio Franco and Joe Torre; (B) Cannot save a game until the Yankees actually lead one; (C) Secretly longs to be a Tampa Bay Devil Ray, but knows it is too late; (D) Did not get the same deal Clemens got, to get all of April off; (E) Injured himself trying to pronounce "Doug Mientkiewicz."

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