Day by day, we get closer to the opening of the 2023 season for the New York Yankees. There seems to be less buzz about this year’s Yankees team than in years past. Which is odd, isn’t it?
Yankees fans are usually buzzing this time of year. Anticipation mounts with each spring training game. Sports radio is usually lit up with calls about the Yankees. Opening Day is a New York event. I can’t tell you how many personal days I’ve used for Opening Day.
It’s different for me this year. I’m just not as excited as I usually am. Why is that?
I love baseball. I love the Yankees. Even in the recent down years of 2013 – 2016, it was a daily countdown to the first pitch of the season.
Even as I envision the first pitch of 2023, I’m excited … but I’m not excited.
The Yankees project to be the second best team in the American League. With a little bit of luck, the season could break in our favor. There is reason for excitement.
I don’t think it’s just me. I haven’t heard nearly as many sports radio call-ins. I don’t think I’ve seen nearly as many Yankees articles on the major New York publications.
Us bloggers and independent Yankees reporters are still kicking butt though.
Why is it different this year?
The obvious reason is a different set of expectations. It’s been World Series Championship or bust for five straight seasons, including the 2020 shortened season.
This team needs to win. Fans have had it. Enough excuses, just go out and win the damn thing.
Yet here we are with a “World Series or Bust” mentality, yet we aren’t even the favorites to win the American League, fughetabout the World Series.
At least last season we had Aaron Judge’s 62 HR season. Aaron Judge’s performance was a great distraction that kept the World Series worries at bay. Do we expect that again?
Maybe that is part of the problem. This season is shaping up to be a let down. How likely is it for Aaron Judge or even Giancarlo Stanton make a run at 60+ HRs? What are the odds at 50+? The daily excitement of “is he going to hit one today?” is gone. It was such a great ride, but now it’s over. Even if the next ride is really good, it’s still the next ride after one of the greatest rides ever.
More often than not, Yankee seasons begin with an exciting new acquisition. That’s always something to look forward to.
That’s a great segue into the mounting injuries.
Injuries are unnecessarily smothering any embers of excitement for a potential upcoming World Series. The Yankees’ big acquisition of Carlos Rodon is already worrisome. Rodon is potentially looking at an April return, avoiding surgery. That could be good news. I personally will be hanging on every pitch his throws, wondering if that’s the pitch that is going to lead to the inevitable.
It’s not just Rodon either. We Yankees fans were getting pumped up to see what Harrison Bader could do for a full season. He was an electric presence at the end of the season and into the playoffs. As you already know, Bader is dealing with an oblique injury. An injury fresh in our minds, as we recently saw Aaron Judge pretty much lose a season to an oblique injury. Great.
Frankie Montas, Tommy Kahnle, Lou Trevino, Scott Effross (remember him?). How many combined games are we going to see them pitch this season? I’ll set the over/under at 19.5. We all know what Luke is going to take, and he’s probably right.
Then there is the Houston problem. The only team in the American League that made moves that made them better than the Yankees in the offseason was Houston. The team we are chasing, the team we already weren’t better than.
Now what? Where do we go from here?
This is a team that isn’t even going to give us some rookies to watch to open the season. Does anyone really think Anthony Volpe is the starting shortstop on Opening Day? Oswald Peraza didn’t light it up in spring training, so I doubt he’s starting over Kiner-Falefa. Even with all the mounting arm injuries, we aren’t seeing Deivi Garcia or Jhony Brito anytime soon, if ever.
Players we hate, absolutely hate, like Aaron Hicks and Josh Donaldson are going to be in the lineup every day. Despite being oft injured throughout their careers, you just know they are going to manage to stay healthy all season
To borrow a phrase from my good friend and fellow Yankee fan contributor, Barnes, don’t hear what I’m not saying. I am excited for Yankees baseball. I’m still going to be watching every pitch I possibly can. I’m still going to be locked in.
But this is shaping up to be a year of hoping for the best, while prepare for the worst.