At the end of July, Boston Red Sox manager was talking about the chances that his team could still make the 2012 MLB Playoffs. At the time, Boston was in last place in the American League East, and the New York Yankees were well ahead of the rest of the division in first place. It seemed a foregone conclusion that New York would clinch a postseason berth, as well as likely the division title, much sooner rather than later.
Then, Valentine uttered something that made reporters laugh when they asked him if the Red Sox could play well enough to snap out of their season long slump and make a push for the playoffs. He also felt the need to predict what would happen to the leaders in the division in regards to their postseason chances.
“Maybe they [Yankees] won’t get in it,” said Valentine. “Who knows? Crazy things happen in this game.”
Many people thought that Valentine was just being his typical self, trying to diffuse a tense situation in his own dugout while taking some of the attention away from his struggling team on the field.
Who knew that he may have been a bit prophetic in his statement?
The Yankees were 60-40 at the time. Less than a month later, New York sits at 72-52.
For those who don’t know math, that means that the Yankees have gone just 12-12 since Valentine came out with his statement. Their lead in the East is now down to just three games over the Tampa Bay Rays, and five games over the Baltimore Orioles.
Simply put, New York is no lock for the postseason, as strange as that may sound to say.
The Rays have gotten healthy. Evan Longoria is back and the team is on fire. They currently lead the race for the top wild card spot in the league.
The Orioles are not going away, to the contrary opinion of many baseball experts. Baltimore has had a huge turnaround from last season, and they just recently fell out of the second wild card lead, sitting just a half game behind the Oakland Athletics. Still, they seem to be in this for the long haul.
That means that if New York does not turn things around – and turn them around fairly soon – they could actually be in danger of not making the postseason. Sure, it would take an almost epic collapse for the Yankees to not be playing in October, but if anyone knows how that can happen, it is the Red Sox.
So, while Valentine was not correct in stating that the Red Sox still had time to win the division [they sit 13 games back of the Yankees in the East entering play today and 8.5 games out in the wild card chase], he may not have been quite as far off of his rocker as we all thought when assessing whether or not the Yankees would be playing this postseason.
We will find out just how prophetic Valentine is over the final five or six weeks of the regular season.
As for the Yankees, they have been put on notice.