June record is as deceiving as Torre's explanation for it
By Matthew Taylor
Yankee fans will boisterously tell you that the franchise is the best at, well, everything. Modesty does not come in pinstripes.
One thing in particular that the Bronx Bombers are good at is myth making. The organization has more legends - real and imagined - than perhaps any other professional sports team. From announcers to managers to players, myth making in New York is part of the job description.
On Saturday, Joe Torre attempted to add to Roger Clemens' real legend with what, if you're being generous, could be called hype. If you're being realistic, it's called propaganda. Pinstripe propaganda. More myth.
Asked to explain his team's recent run of success during one of Fox baseball's "informative" in-game interviews, Torre used the opportunity to blandish the Rocket. In short, Torre's thinking went, Clemens is the reason the Yankees have turned things around this month. Which, of course, is exactly what Clemens wants people to think. Too bad it's not true.
If Torre were being honest he could've offered a much simpler explanation for the Yankees' 14-6 record in June prior to Saturday's game against the San Francisco Giants: weak competition.
Aside from the Red Sox, whom the Yankees took two of three from to start the month, the combined monthly record for Yankee opponents in June is 46-71, good for a .393 winning percentage. Overall, those teams (the White Sox, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Mets, Rockies, and Giants) are a combined 209-225 for the season, good for a .481 winning percentage. In other words, the teams the Yankees have played during their win streak are either (a) not very good (the White Sox, Pirates, and Giants) or (b) they are slumping (the Mets).
Sure, the Mets are battling for first place in the NL East, but they headed into the Yankees series riding a four-game losing streak and having lost 10 of 12. The Yankees beat a slumping team.
Or consider the Rockies, the one hot team the Yankees have played since ripping off nine straight wins. Colorado came into the Yankees series having won 10 of 15 and continued their winning ways by sweeping the Evil Empire, who had previously won 10 of 12.
The truth is that the Yankees aren't as bad as their early-season run of futility would indicate. But they're also not as good as their June record suggests. And the Rocket is just a small part of it all.
Next up for New York: the Orioles. The trend continues.
Monthly Records of the Yankees' June Opponents (through Friday, June 22)
*Red Sox not included
White Sox: 5-15
29-41 overall, next to last place in the AL Central
31-42 overall, next to last place in NL Central
42-32 overall, tied for second in the NL West
Mets (2 of 3): 5-14
39-32 overall, first place in the NL East
38-36 overall, next to last in the NL West
30-42 overall, last place in the NL West
Combined opponents' records
June: 46-71, .393 winning percentage
Overall: 209-225, .481 winning percentage