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The Yankees are abusing Baltimore. And That's OK

Jun 10, 2010, 9:57 AM EST

The Yankees are 37-22.  After last night that record is comprised of a 10-1 mark against the Orioles, a 4-0 mark against the Indians and a 5-1 record against the Twins.  Against everyone else the Bombers are under .500.

I would not be at all surprised to hear New York talk radio fret about this sort of thing at some point because New York talk radio is always looking for something to fret about, but it’s worth remembering that this is not at all uncommon.  Indeed, it’s usually the case that the best teams beat the living tar out of the worst ones and basically break even against the better teams (and, I suppose in the case of the Twins, beat up on those good teams whose number one simply seems to have).  The Yankees did this last year and managed to win a World Series. They also did this in their previous championship year — 2000 — going 42-43 against .500+ opponents en route to a 87-74 record.

And it’s not just the Yankees. As Darren Everson pointed out in the Wall Street Journal last year, the last time a team won a World Series while doing better than breaking even against .500+ teams was 1995 when the Braves did it.  Everson also noted that the Angels frequently kick the snot, relatively speaking, out of good teams and they usually get a first round playoff exit for thier troubles.  All the other recent champs have cruised against the pushovers and done no better than hold their own against the toughies.

So while some people may want to see the Yankees play better against the Rays and Red Sox of the word, this pattern is just dandy. At least if you’re not an Orioles or an Indians fan.

  1. Matt - Jun 10, 2010 at 10:04 AM

    False. Yanks are above .500 against the Red Sox.

  2. Matt - Jun 10, 2010 at 10:07 AM

    Terrible post. Yanks took series from Rangers, White Sox, Red Sox, Oakland in addition to the above teams.

  3. Math Wizzz - Jun 10, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    Prolly means everyone else, collectively.

  4. Craig Calcaterra - Jun 10, 2010 at 10:11 AM

    Yes, I mean collectively. They are 19-2 against those three teams. They are 18-20 against everyone else.
    Either way, the general point I’m making is that championship teams routinely beat up on the have-nots and break even, more or less against the haves.

  5. Jonathan - Jun 10, 2010 at 10:15 AM

    Yankees are 4-2 against the Twins, not 5-1.

  6. The Common Man - Jun 10, 2010 at 10:16 AM

    As a Twins fan, I feel compelled to point out that the Yanks are 4-2 versus the Twins. That extra game makes us feel much better about ourselves. Carry on.

  7. Simon DelMonte - Jun 10, 2010 at 10:18 AM

    Just for comparison’s sake, how are the Rays and Bosox doing against the O-fers? For that matter, how are the Twins and Tigers doing against the Royals?

  8. Bill - Jun 10, 2010 at 10:26 AM

    Yankees are 5 and 0 in Baltimore this year. The Red Sox are 2 and 4. The Yankees have a three game lead on the Red Sox and that’s your reason.
    Myth: Good teams have to win the big games. Fact: Every game counts the same. The little games count as much as the big games.

  9. Ray Knight Looks Like Tip O'Neill - What Happened? - Jun 10, 2010 at 10:48 AM

    The 1998 Yankees weren’t over .500 against over-500 teams? I find that hard to believe.

  10. YankeesfanLen - Jun 10, 2010 at 10:56 AM

    By August 15th, we’ll have 8 games against the Royals, 7 vs Mariners, and 4 more vs Indians, not counting this weekend with the Stros set (God forbid that the Ching Ming Wang ghosts don’t come back). Maybe 18-4, or 19-3? Kinda sweet, you have to get the 105 wins from somewhere.
    Tigers can beat us, but not Twins where we do well. Tigers can’t beat KC, we cruise. Bosox beat Angels, we have problems. At least it comes down to a good ending.

  11. NS - Jun 10, 2010 at 10:56 AM

    The Yanks are 3-1 against the Tribe, not 4-0.

  12. tom Pajewski - Jun 10, 2010 at 10:59 AM

    obviously Darren Everson had his head in a dark place looking inside his own colon in 1998. there was only 1 team in baseball that had a winning record against them and that was Anaheim at 5-6.
    You don’t win more games in a season than any other team in the history of ther game without beating the good teams too. What can I say Wall street journal. Substandard rag they call a newspaper.

  13. ckleiman - Jun 10, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    That’s right and don’t forget the Indians staged a huge rally to come from behind and win 13-11 after the starting pitcher was hit in the head by ARod’s double and had to leave the game.

  14. Grant - Jun 10, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    At this point, as an Orioles fan, that’s probably OK with me too. I’ve completely checked out. Bring on the #1 overall pick two (and one) years too late!

    Keith Law says next year’s draft is sick nasty, though.

  15. ckleiman - Jun 10, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    That’s right and don’t forget the Indians staged a huge rally to come from behind and win 13-11 after the starting pitcher was hit in the head by ARod’s double and had to leave the game.

  16. PinstripedHippie - Jun 10, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    yes, terrible post. Not mentioning 5-3 against the Sox is just bad reporting.

  17. Allan Koodray - Jun 10, 2010 at 11:40 AM

    The 1998 Yankees had a winning record against +.500 teams in total. The only team they had a losing record against was the Angels (5-6) and split the season against the Jays (6-6). All other teams had alosing record against the Yanks.

  18. Joey B - Jun 10, 2010 at 11:51 AM

    “And it’s not just the Yankees. As Darren Everson pointed out in the Wall Street Journal last year, the last time a team won a World Series while doing better than breaking even against .500+ teams was 1995 when the Braves did it.”
    Craig, you’ve gone nuts. I know there is a prohibition against polluting our kids’ minds with math, but how could that sound even remotely close to being correct? The 2007 and 2004 were well above .500 against the above-.500 teams. It is really difficult to win 96 games without beating good teams. Just as an example, for the NYY 114-win team to play .500 teams has to be a gazillion-1.

  19. dp - Jun 10, 2010 at 12:08 PM

    Not to be disrespectful to anyone that counts stats , but it’s not going to make any difference once they start clicking on all cylinders . They’re not hitting like they can , and the pitching is going to get better. Somewhere along the line they will make a move to strengthen themselves , and will most likely run away with the AL east .

  20. JBerardi - Jun 10, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    Here’s what the original WSJ actually says:

    “Not since the 1995 Braves has the team with the best record against .500-or-better competition won the World Series that same season.”

    The ’03 Marlins, ’04 and ’07 Red Sox, and ’05 White Sox all had winning records against better than .500 competition. I’m thinking the ’09 Yankees probably did too, but I’m not sure where to check that.

    The article itself is pretty poor as well. For instance: In recent years, winning the World Series has had nothing to do with being good against good competition. Five of the nine champions this decade posted losing regular-season records against opponents that were .500 or better, including the 2008 Phillies (43-46). Conversely, teams that excel against tough opponents tend to flop in the postseason”. Really, guy? Five of nine isn’t exactly a huge majority, or a particularly compelling sample size. The author is jumping to a bunch of very bold conclusions based on what appears to be about five minutes worth of research. The article just grabs me as some sort of Freakenomics-style “why genocide is good for real estate values” contrarian garbage.

  21. char in miami - Jun 10, 2010 at 1:13 PM

    i am a cynic as well as a realist. and i had to laugh at your quote re “genocideZ”.
    it’s like saying wars are good for unemployment.
    i’ll add that it is amazing the lengths some of the booth talking heads go to in reading out a batter’s or pitcher’s statistics. now statistics are given for almost anything conneacted with baseball. i’m sorry, but i’m not really interested in knowing a batter’s average if he is facing a lhp and already has two strikes on him. or a pitcher’s era if he hasn’t pitched any games in the rain yet this year. give me a break.

  22. Joey B - Jun 10, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    “”Not since the 1995 Braves has the team with the best record against .500-or-better competition won the World Series that same season.”
    That’s about 100% different than what Craig posted. What Craig posted was that 14 times in a row, the WSC couldn’t beat >.500 teams. That’s near impossible.
    The chances of having the best record against >.500 teams starts off at 1:30, if everyone was equal. Assuming that all teams >.500 have an equal chance of having the best record against teams >.500, then you’re chances are 1:15. That’s not a huge shock. That study is relatively worthless.

  23. JBerardi - Jun 10, 2010 at 1:56 PM

    “That’s about 100% different than what Craig posted. What Craig posted was that 14 times in a row, the WSC couldn’t beat >.500 teams. That’s near impossible.”

    I know. I was pointing out that Craig apparently misinterpreted that part.

    I think “relatively worthless” is generous on your part. Observation: five of the last nine WS champs have been under .500 against teams over .500. Conclusion: losing to good teams is the mark of a champion. Every math teacher that dude ever had just cried a little bit, even though they’re not really sure why…

  24. Mike - Jun 10, 2010 at 2:49 PM

    No offense Craig, but you need a fact checker moreso than most politicians. You are correct that the Yanks are 10-1 against the Orioles, but they are 4-2 (not 5-1) against the Twins, and 3-1 (not 4-0) against the Indians. Therefore, they are actually above 500 (20-18) against everyone else.
    And the only under 500 teams the Yankees have played this season are the Orioles (10-1), the Indians (3-1) and the White Sox (2-1). So the Yankees are actually above 500 (22-19) against teams that are above 500.

  25. jimbeetle - Jun 10, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    “Either way, the general point I’m making is that championship teams routinely beat up on the have-nots and break even, more or less against the haves.”
    Really not sure what point you’re trying to make, Craig.
    Right now, against +500 teams, the Yankees are 22-19; against under 500 teams they’re 15-3.
    Kind of makes sense: Good teams beat bad teams more often than they beat other good teams. I think that holds true for most any sport.

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