There have been a lot of things the Yankees have accomplished this year that got a lot more attention, and that’s as it should be. They are on a 108-win pace, after all. They are on a collision course with the sport’s other behemoths, the Astros and Dodgers, in the fight to win a 28th championship for the most decorated of all franchises.
Still, when the Yankees beat the Indians on Friday night, it was their 82nd win of the season. And that means that for a 27th straight year, the Yankees will post a winning record. Now, as with most things the Yankees do when measured against their vast history, that actually isn’t all that impressive.
The 1925 Yankees — hurt by Babe Ruth’s various gastrointestinal (and other) issues, finished 69-85. The 1965 Yankees, who rather famously all got old at the same time, checked in at 77-85. And in the 39 seasons connecting those two years, the Yankees posted winning records in every single one.
It seems like winning more games than you lose ought to be a fairly modest goal every year. Then you look around at other teams and see that it’s not all that easy at all, especially to do it year after year. Look at the other teams in town, and their all-time records for consecutive winning seasons:
Team Yrs. Start End
Devils 18 1991-92 2009-10
Islanders 14 1974-75 1987-88
Rangers 12 2005-06 2016-17
Giants 10 1954 1963
Knicks 10 1991-92 2000-01
Mets 7 1984 1990
Nets 5 2001-02 2005-06
Jets 3 1967 1969, 2000-2002, 2008, 2010
The thing is, since the Yankees last tasted losing seasons — a four-year stretch from 1989-92 that saw them go 74-87, 67-95, 71-91 and 76-86 under four different managers (Dallas Green, Bucky Dent, Stump Merrill and Buck Showalter) — the Yankees haven’t come especially close to dipping under .500, twice going 84-78 under Joe Girardi in 2014 and 2016.
(Not to belabor the point, but if the Mets were to finish 84-78 this year, that would be their 18th-best record since 1962. In that time, 84-78 is tied for 40th best for the Yankees. And will become 41st sometime this week.)
This is a good time to reflect on what the Yankees have become, because it was exactly 30 years ago Sunday that George Steinbrenner had his fill of Green’s lip and fired him, replacing him with Dent. It was the 15th time in Steinbrenner’s first 16 years owning the team that he’d changed managers, and of course there would be a few more before Showalter stabilized things in 1992.
And then, of course, the Yankees shockingly became the Pittsburgh Steelers of Major League Baseball. The Steelers, rather famously, have had three coaches — three! — in the past 50 years. The Yankees have had three managers since 1996. There were two different years in Steinbrenner’s salad days when the Yankees had that many managers in a season.
“One of these days, the man upstairs will take a look at what he’s done to his baseball team and he’ll realize you can’t keep shaking things up like you’re trying to spray a damned bottle of champagne,” Green said a few days after Steinbrenner exiled him. “Until then it’s going to be more of the same.”
Green wasn’t much of a manager for the Yankees, but he was quite the soothsayer. The streak is now 27 years and counting, and doesn’t seem close to ending anytime soon. They make it look so easy around here. Ask everyone else in town. It isn’t.
I’m a Long Island kid at heart, even if I’m a Jersey guy by residence now, so one of the great joys of my life has been befriending Newsday’s Steven Marcus and Mark Herrmann, both of whose work I once admired from afar and whose work ethic and craftsmanship I was able to observe and admire from up close once I joined them in the press box. Here’s to a couple of long and terrific runs, gentlemen.
You forgot how much fun it is to watch Mickey Callaway manage meaningful baseball games, didn’t you?
Welcome back to the booth, Michael Kay. The soundtrack of summer is back in tune again.
Save the date: Maybe you saw this as I made my long-awaited Page Six debut Friday, but I’ll be taking part in a 1969 Mets round-table discussion at the Paley Center Sept. 19 at 6:30 p.m. alongside Ron Swoboda, Art Shamsky, Ed Kranepool and moderator Gary Apple. Tickets are available now: http://www.paleycenter.org/2019-mets
Whack Back at Vac
Peter Drago: My wife wanted to travel up to see what was happening at Woodstock, and I told her that no one would ever remember some dumb music festival but they would always remember the first Giants-Jets game. Because of traffic jams, we were still just outside the stadium when we heard the crowd roar for the Homer Jones miss. We had end-zone seats, and I can still see the back of Mike Battle making that leap.
Vac: You missed sleeping in the mud and starving for three days and walking miles and miles to and from your car and trying to avoid the brown acid for that? Why, I’d call that a win, and not just for the Jets!
Ron Cole: I’ve been following the Larry Rothschild Road to Ruin this season. Where are Luis Severino and Dellin Betances? Will we see CC again? Let’s see if Paxton/Tanaka and Happ can last more than five innings. Sounds like a soap opera that needs to be cancelled.
Vac: I am trying to envision the dystopian outlook in a world where the Yankees aren’t on a 108-win pace.
@metjetisle2: The Mets need to spruce up their bench. Why Aaron Altherr? Tell me there is no other option available?
@MikeVacc: Altherr has been such an automatic out I wondered if Kansas City’s Ned Yost pondered walking Amed Rosario up three with the bases loaded in order to pitch to him Friday night. Probably not, but Altherr has struggled that much.
Richard Siegelman: In regard to Golden Tate: If my school district had ever given me a $37.5 million teaching contract — with the proviso that I never ingest certain substances — I’d have been sure to check the ingredients of every drug I took before ingestion.
Vac: I do that anyway. It shouldn’t be that hard, right?