Despising the Yankees is achieved with more ease than being bored in Vancouver; it simply comes with the territory. Discrediting them is more difficult, however. They have made the playoffs every year since 1995, first with a decidedly unglamorous yet wildly successful band of journeymen; then with a big-budget, Michael Bayseball cacophony of hate. They were a force of nature, and it brought us all to tears.
Things are different now. They still write huge checks, and if that goes south they write an even bigger check to compensate. But they come into this spring looking nothing short of vulnerable. Question marks now precede dollar signs when I think of the Yankees. But that doesn't seem to matter to most prognosticators, who just pencil the Yankees into 2nd place and go back to their Warcraft guild, where experience points make them important, not jaded.
Note: nothing about Warcraft is important.
Let's change the setting, just a for a moment. A team (the Iowa Wheatchiefs, let's say) have a lineup that, while potent, features 1 guy under the age of 32. The rotation features two washed up guys, two kids that are complete unknowns, and one "top of the rotation" guy that isn't even considered the ace by the man who signs the paychecks! The team is visibly old and deeply mired in the Witchell Rehunt and associated scandals. Almost all their major contributors have missed time in each of the last few seasons, and they are laughable thin at all positions. They play in the same division as the defending World Series champions, everyones' (well the same people that default the Yankees to 90 wins) darkhorse/sexy pick Tampa, and a Jay team with 4 top line starters and an emergent offense. Do you give this team of hoary bastards 90 wins without a second thought?
Does this seem like a team you can pencil in for 88-90 wins just like that? What kind of confidence does Phil Hughes instill that Dustin McGowan does not? Who the fuck is Ian Kennedy? When in his entire life has Mike Mussina ever won anything? When did Chein-Mein Wang become better than Roy fucking Halladay?
Some of the zzzzzzZiPS projections floating around put the Yankees on or around 93 wins. I call shenanigans. This is it. This is the year it all comes crashing down in the Bronx. I just hope a team with solid pitching, defense and a patient yet explosive offense is around to take advantage.