BOSTON — The extra time goes on — and it’s been 20 years now — the extra outstanding the accomplishments of the 1998 Yankees develop into. It’s one factor to win an epic quantity of baseball video games in a season. Each few years, a group emerges that does that.
It’s ending the entire thing off that’s the spectacular half.
The ’98 Yankees — 114 regular-season wins — did. The 2018 Purple Sox — 76 wins of their first 110 video games — could have that burden staring them within the face regardless of what number of wins they add to that gaudy complete. And just like the 2001 Mariners (116 wins) and 2017 Dodgers (104 wins after taking part in many of the yr at a 117-win tempo), they may quickly uncover simply how steep that burden is.
“There’s at all times strain concerned if you’re competing for a championship,” Joe Torre stated in 2001, “however when everybody within the sport is aware of all you’ve accomplished is win, they need to knock you off that pedestal within the worst manner. It’s a particular form of pedestal.”
Torre was speaking earlier than the 2001 ALCS, wherein the Yanks have been paired with the Mariners, who had dominated the game in exactly the identical manner the Yankees had accomplished three years earlier. They’d been given a little bit of a scare by the Indians within the first spherical, and supervisor Lou Piniella might already sense that the load of historical past was beginning to weigh closely on his gamers’ shoulders.
“We’ve gained 119 video games [including playoffs], and never certainly one of them goes to assist us in opposition to the Yankees or, if we’re lucky sufficient to advance, within the World Collection,” Candy Lou stated, maybe a bit too presciently.
That is a part of the factor that ought to ease the Yankees’ stress degree as they negotiate their manner by way of the rest of the schedule. Sure, it’s preferable to win the division and keep away from the one-game monster gauntlet of the play-in sport. Sure, the perks that associate with which can be bountiful.
However for many of baseball historical past, there was another.
And it wasn’t a very good one.
Leo Durocher’s 1942 Dodgers gained 104 video games and by no means even acquired a playoff out of it as a result of the Cardinals gained 106. The one time Casey Stengel gained greater than 100 video games as Yankees supervisor was 1954 — certainly one of solely two years in his 13-year tenure he didn’t handle within the World Collection as a result of the Indians’ 111 wins have been eight video games higher than his group managed. And, after all, there have been the 103-win Giants, who went house within the final yr earlier than the appearance of the wild card as a result of the Braves gained 104.
However that isn’t the one cause the Yankees ought to be ok with themselves, no matter the place they sit at weekend’s finish. For each dominant wire-to-wire group that has honored their regular-season dominance — the ’27, ’61 and ’98 Yankees, the ’75 and ‘76 Reds, the ’86 Mets — there are many regular-season heroes who died fizzling deaths in October.
There are final yr’s Dodgers, for starters. Overlook the truth that they have been effectively forward of even the Purple Sox’s tempo after 110 video games final yr (78-32 to 76-34). The Dodgers truly gained 13 of their subsequent 17 to get to an astonishing 91-36 … then promptly misplaced 16 of their subsequent 18 and half of their 20-game lead within the NL West. And whereas they did make the World Collection, with 104 wins, they have been bested by Houston in Sport 7, and that’s what they may endlessly be remembered for.
Similar with Piniella’s ’01 Mariners, who solely managed one win within the ALCS off the ageing remnants of the proud Yankees dynasty and thus grew to become the second group to win 116 regular-season video games (the 1906 Cubs being the opposite) but to not win the world championship. Whether or not they (and their historic kin, the ’54 Indians) misplaced due to the strain of their regular-season success or not, they’re all linked by the identical doubtful reality, which Piniella co-opted.
Not a kind of wins helped in any respect in October.