In an interview with the Associated Press today Hank Steinbrenner actually sympathized with the current Yankees team, citing injuries as a reason for the teams struggles.
"I think it's very simple, we've been devastated by injuries," Steinbrenner said. "No team I've ever seen in baseball has been decimated like this. It would kill any team. Imagine the Red Sox without [Josh] Beckett and [Jon] Lester. Pitching is 70 percent of the game. Wang won 19 games two straight years. Chamberlain became the most dominating pitcher in baseball. You can't lose two guys like that." (Source: http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080812&content_id=3297917&vkey=news_nyy&fext=.jsp&c_id=nyy)
Although he did state that he is not "writing off the season", this is the closest thing we have seen to a white flag out of the Steinbrenner family since they took over. As someone who watches every game, I have also witnessed the plight of the team as they have plodded along this season. And, don't get me wrong, I understand that injuries have a lot to do with their current standing. But what is this world coming to? Since when do the Yankees, more specifically the Steinbrenners, empathize with mediocrity?
Still only a handful of games out of the Wild Card race, the Yankees are still in the thick of a postseason run. Call me crazy, but I am still of the mindset that a $200 million+ payroll should equate to a team that is devoid of excuses. The Red Sox have had injury problems. The Ex Rays are dealing with potentially crippling injuries right now.
At the end of the day, a lack of performance has done this team in. Derek Jeter is a shell of his former self. Melky Cabrera is not a good baseball player. The Kennedy-Hughes experiment has been a bust. The team has not hit with runners in scoring position. Still, with all of these issues, this team is still only four games out of a playoff spot. Although injuries may be enough to convince Hank that an early offseason is acceptable, this writer finds it a little harder to swallow.