Here’s what Jayson Stark had to say on May 31 about the Yankees’ chances of winning the AL East this season:
One thing we know, however, is this: They’re not catching the Red Sox. No team in history ever has been 14½ games out before June and come back to finish first. And only the Miracle Braves were that far back at any point and wound up playing in October.
Hey Jayson, you still so sure? The Sox are now only six games ahead of the Bombers and the teams play each other six more times this season.
Sure, a Yankees AL East championship would rank among the greatest comebacks of all time (and a Sox second place finish would qualify as one of the great collapses). But at this point in the game, with the Yanks bolstered by the return of Phil Hughes and some young bullpen arms, and the Sox struggling to get production out of a hobbled Big Papi and a lackluster Julio Lugo, would you really be surprised to see the Yanks end up in first?
Ok, it would be pretty surprising. But it could happen. According to Baseball Library, the 1914 Boston Braves sat in last place at 33-43, 15-½ games behind the first place Giants on July 19th, but won 51 of their final 67 games to in the pennant.
Then there were the 1964 Phillies. They held a 6½-game lead on the Cincinnati Reds with 12 games remaining in the season, but collapsed down the stretch, losing 10 in a row (the first seven played at home) to finish the season in second place.
So it’s been done. The Yanks could continue their hot play and overtake the Sox. Or the Sox could absolutely bite it during the next 1.5 months. Or some combination of that.
Here’s what I think: The Yanks-Sox rivalry defies logic and history. If the Sox can win the 2004 ALCS after being down 3-0 to the Yanks, then the Yanks can win the 2007 AL East pennant — even after trailing the Sox by 12 games in June.
And then wouldn’t Jayson Stark’s face be red?