NEW YORK, NY – The Yankees have been playing some great baseball of late. They’ve gone 14-5 so far in the month of September. Aaron Judge’s bat has woken up after a prolonged post-All Star break hibernation. But the Bombers just can’t seem to gain ground on the Boston Red Sox. The Bosox have matched the Yankees win-for-win in September and don’t seem to have any desire to relinquish their lead in the American League East.
The Yanks head to Toronto for a weekend set with the last-place Blue Jays. This could be a trap series for the Bombers. They’re coming off of a sweep of their Wild Card rival, Minnesota Twins. The BJ’s have nothing to play for but pride and contracts. Joe Girardi will insist that his squad is trying to win the division until they’re mathematically eliminated. But the Bombers should be realistic and start setting up the rotation so Severino will be well-rested to pitch in the Wild Card game. Currently, the Yanks would face the Twins, who they just swept. If they win that game, the Bombers would play the Cleveland Indians in the Division series. The Tribe is on a mission and they’ve owned the Pinstripers this season. With ten games left the Yanks are three games behind the Red Sox -who don’t lose – and seven up on the Twins for the first Wild Card slot. If they don’t gain any ground this weekend, they should start resting players and gearing up for the Wild Card.
The NHL is finally back.
The Rangers won their first two preseason games in overtime against the Islanders and Devils. 18-year old Rangers first round draft pick Filip Chytil scored the game-winner Wednesday night with three seconds left in overtime. The Rangers’ other first round pick, Lias Anderson, has also played well, setting up the overtime game-winner against the Islanders Monday night.
There is hope for the Rangers coming into the season. On paper, they’ve solidified the defensive core, bringing in Kevin Shattenkirk and jettisoning perennial liability Dan Girardi. They also made smart draft picks, taking two centres (Canadian spelling) in the first round after sending Derek Stepan to the desert. I don’t think Chytil will be ready to play a big part this season, but Lias Andersson could definitely see a lot of playing time. He’s a two-way centre and could slot in on the third or fourth line.
One thing to take away from the early preseason games is that the new “aggressive enforcement” of the faceoff rules is going to ruin hockey. It seems like there is a penalty on every faceoff. Most of the time the infractions are imperceptible. All of these calls slow the game down and destroy the flow that makes hockey one of the most watchable sports. The players aren’t happy. The fans aren’t happy. We’ll see if they call things this tightly in the regular season. I don’t think they can. People would stop watching. The league is trying to do the right thing the wrong way. Let’s hope they fix it by the time the games count.
That’s it for me today. Come back tomorrow for Hubit Chacockoff.