The Yankees are five games out of the second Wild Card spot and there are only 26 games remaining. If this were two years ago, the Yankees would have been long eliminated from a playoff spot, but if they want to barely sneak into the postseason, they’re going to have to start winning games and show emotion as a team.
Yesterday, everyone played like robots that needed their batteries recharged–well, almost everyone. During the fifth inning of the Yankees 9-4 loss to the Red Sox, Brett Gardner was at-bat with bases loaded and two outs. The umpire made bad strike-call after bad strike-call and he ultimately rung up Gardner on a pitch that was clearly off the plate. Gardner turned around, but before he had a chance to even say anything, he was ejected. That was when Gardner showed fire and heart, appearing to be the only player that actually cared about the position the Yankees were in, an at-bat taken out of his hand and the umpire squandering a chance for a Yankees rally.
So, looking back at that game, would Gardner have changed his approach after the strike three call or would he have handled it the same way he did last night?
“The same way,” he said. “As soon as he called it a strike, I was getting thrown out of the game. He threw me out before I even said anything to him. I knew where the ball came across, and I knew it wasn’t close to the plate, and I wasn’t happy about it. … Frustrating game, frustrating loss, and we’ll do it again tomorrow.”
Some may say Gardner acted unprofessional and some may say Gardner getting tossed from the game hurt the Yankees lineup. However, Gardner made it clear last night’s game mattered, but the team didn’t seem to follow his lead. Gardner’s emotion proves he cares about every game and it shows he knows where the Yankees stand in the Wild Card race. In a way, his ejection led to the bigger picture–the rest of the team seems almost ready to have given up and focus on the Derek Jeter Farewell Tour. The Yankees are still in it if they can pull off a run–and Gardner’s ejection hopefully opened eyes for everyone.