9:42 am Sep. 24, 2012
The 2012 New York Yankees aren't collapsing after all.
After they lost the 10-game lead they had over the Baltimore Orioles in late July, the Yankees shaping to be this year's version of the 2011 Atlanta Braves, the 2011 Boston Red Sox, or even the 2007 New York Mets.
But of course the Yankees are pretty good, after all.
They won two of three games against the Oakland Athletics this weekend, and have won seven in a row prior to Sunday's 5-4 loss. The Orioles lost Sunday, too, but only after winning six in a row themselves. They are just a game back.
The difference between winning the division, with automatic entry into the American League Divisional Series, and a wild card berth, which only guarantees a single playoff game with the other wild card team, is significant. And it will largely come down to which of the two teams can beat also-rans better; the Orioles face the Blue Jays, the Red Sox, and finish against the Rays, who appear to be coming up short in their playoff pursuit. The Yankees face the Twins, the Blue Jays, and end their regular season by hosting the Red Sox.
That loss to the Athletics Sunday did keep the Yankees from taking a four-game lead over the Athletics for that final wild card spot. That's significant because the team with the better record will host a one-game playoff. Had the Yankees won, they'd hold the tiebreaker for home field in that one game playoff. Now, because the two teams tied head-to-head this year, the tiebreaker likely falls to the Athletics, who have the better record excluding interleague play.
Still, all three teams hold a significant edge over the Rays and Angels, meaning that barring a complete collapse by any of them, the three teams in the American League playoffs alongside the Texas Rangers and whichever winner comes out of the American League Central (White Sox or Tigers) will be the Yankees, the Orioles and the Athletics.
Exactly how easy the Yankees' playoff path is remains to be determined, but they've pulled out of their dive, which now simply looks like the kind of aberrant month than many good teams go through.
Elsewhere in New York sports:
The Mets swept the Marlins by winning 3-2 onSunday. They now hold a commanding 3.5 game lead over the Marlins in the battle for fourth place in the National League East.
Mychel Thompson has a legitimate shot to make the Knicks, says the New York Post.
Taking the veteran strategy to a logical extreme, the Knicks worked out Rasheed Wallace last week.
The Jets beat the Dolphins in overtime, 23-20, but Darrelle Revis got hurt.
Following a 35-26 win over Arkansas on Saturday, 4-0 Rutgers entered the A.P. Top 25 for the first time since 2009, and in just the sixth season ever.