Is this the year the Yankees are finally cooked?
We've been down this road before, which is what makes me skeptical. Stepping away from the questions about their rotation, their bullpen, Bobby Abreu, Robinson Cano, Johnny Damon et al, let's take a look at the Yankees' conundrum from a historical perspective. After all, as recently as two years ago, New York appeared to be floundering right around now, and still came back to win the AL East. So how bad is this start of theirs?
Well, it's pretty bad. As of May 18, the Yankees were 18-21, 9.5 games behind the Red Sox. Some perusal of baseball-reference.com gives up some pretty intriguing numbers, such as: the Yankees haven't been this far out of first place on May 18 since 1984 (which, you'll recall, was the year the Detroit Tigers started the year 30-5). New York hasn't had a losing record on May 18 since 1991. That's pretty bad.
Then again, two years ago the Yankees had a losing record as late as June 14; that's the latest they've ever been below .500 since 1995. (That same year they were also as low as .500 on July 1.) In '05, the Yanks turned it around and went on to win 95 games, which allowed them to take the AL East by virtue of a tiebreaker, so a rebound isn't even close to unprecedented, and it's happened recently. Heck, even in 2000, New York was just two games over .500 on June 30, and they won the World Series. So everything can still be peachy for the Bombers, right?
Not so fast, my friend. Sure, New York was able to come back from late struggles in 2000 and 2005, but in neither case was one of their division rivals setting the world on fire. In 2000, while they were floundering on the last day of June, they were still only three games behind division-leading Toronto. And in 2005, as they struggled at just .500 the first day of July, they were six back of division-leading Boston. Nine-and-a-half games? That's a lot.
Maybe there are two or three more Roger Clemenses they can sign?
The Preakness is coming up Saturday. Will Street Sense be an overwhelming favorite for this race? Do you think he's got a legit shot at capturing the first two legs of the Triple Crown? Where will the public's money be on this race?
Bodog Bookmakers, Bodog.com: In the last 10 years there has been six attempts at a Triple Crown. Street Sense is as good if not better than a number of these horses. There is no doubt he'll be the overwhelming favorite at race time. The public has been putting their money behind the favorite and the #3 horse Circular Quay.
Do you think the Milwaukee Brewers are for real? Will they win the NL Central? And where would you put the odds that they're in the World Series this fall?
BDB, Bodog.com: The Brewers are a complete team with great young hitters, namely Prince Fielder, who is coming into his own; with the fire and passion he's showing, he'll be a star big-leaguer for a longtime. Their pitching staff doesn't have a star, but all five starters could be a #2 or #3 starter on almost every other team in the league. Francisco Cordero has been lights-out this year closing the games out. The biggest factor in terms of a potential Brewers World Series appearance are the additions of veterans Craig Counsell and Jeff Suppan, both of whom have won World Series rings and will provide leadership to the youngsters. Currently, we have the Brewers 4/1 to win the National League pennant and 15/2 to win the World Series.
We don't know who Utah will play in the Western Conference Finals yet, but do you give them a legitimate shot to get to the NBA Finals? Can you remember back what the odds were that Utah would even get to this point? Are they the biggest upset participant in the final four in recent memory?
BDB, Bodog.com: The Suns and Spurs series is being considered by many as the real NBA finals. But the intense emotion and energy these teams are showing on the court could leave them spent for the conference finals. We saw a big let down from Golden State after they beat the top-seeded Mavs. If the Jazz make the finals, it'll be because they played the right teams at the right times. The Jazz opened the season at 40/1 to win the West, but after their great start moved to 4/1 and then back to 20/1 when the playoffs started. They have surprised a lot of people, but they still had 51 wins and were the #4 seed in the West. They may have been overlooked simply due to the fact the top three teams were so dominant in the regular season that everyone looked past seeds #4 through #8. While the Jazz were unexpected, they don't match the '99 Knicks in terms of the Cinderella factor.
It's premature for sure, but who would you favor in an Ottawa vs. Detroit Stanley Cup Final? Why?
BDB, Bodog.com: Those two teams would definitely give us an entertaining final. The old guard in Detroit vs. Ottawa's three-headed monster: Heatley, Spezza and Alfredsson. Ottawa has been the hottest team in the playoffs, rolling through every series. They're winning the high scoring games as well as the defensive battles, so I'd favor them.