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I feel stupid and contagious: Phillies vs. Yankees series preview

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Two teams with COVID issues will face off in the Bronx

MLB: New York Yankees at Philadelphia Phillies
The Yankees didn’t do so well the last time they played the Phillies
Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies will visit Yankee Stadium for a two-game series this week. This is probably a good time to visit the Yankees since they’ll be missing some players due to a COVID-19 outbreak, while the Phillies’ COVID crew seems to be trickling back to action.

New York Yankees

Record: 48-44 (Fourth place in American League East)

The last time they met

The Yankees came to Philadelphia last month for two games, and left town having not added to their win total. The Phillies even had to win the first game of the series twice, because they did one of those blown save things that they seem to love so much.

Since then?

The Yankees have gone 15-12 since the last meeting, which sounds nice, but isn’t nearly enough if they’re serious about making up ground in the stacked AL East.

Yeah, it sucks for the Yankees that they’re in a tough division, when their current record would have them near the top of the National League East. But please remember, that if there is one group of people on this planet who do not deserve any sympathy, it is Yankees fans.

Or maybe those were actually Phillies fans in disguise? Yeah, that’s probably what happened.

Not the offensive powerhouse we were promised

Heading into the season, the Yankees were seen as favorites to win the East because of their offense which led the league in runs scored in 2020. This season, their rank in that category has fallen to a much less impressive 12th. A combination of injuries and underperformance by their best hitters has turned a great offense into a weak one.

Come, Mr. DJ

Some of the offensive drop offs should have been anticipated. For instance, there’s infielder D.J. LeMahieu. He’s long since established himself as a good player, and his 2021 season has been solid enough - he’s currently in the midst of a streak of 29 consecutive games on base.

The problem is, that’s a far cry from 2020 when he led the AL in OPS. In hindsight, that was likely short-season wackiness, and was not a sign that LeMahieu had blossomed into an offensive powerhouse. But its just one of the many reasons why the Yankee offense is not blowing everyone away like it did last year.

Least valuable player

After putting up an OPS of .905 in 2020, the Yankees thought that outfielder Clint Frazier was a rising star. He ‘s currently batting .186 with five home runs, which isn’t ideal production from a corner outfielder. (Especially one who isn’t good on defense.)

In case you were worried that writing this would provide a reverse jinx, don’t be. Frazier is currently on the Injured List with a vision problem. (Which might go a long way towards explaining why he’s having a bad year.)

On the bright side, Frazier was recently engaged, so his year hasn’t been all that bad.

COVID vs. COVID

The Yankees suffered an outbreak of COVID in their clubhouse, despite having one of the better vaccination rates in baseball. Anti-vaxxers will use this as proof that it really doesn’t matter if you get vaccinated, since the players who got the shot got the virus and had to miss time anyway.

This is bad logic for more reasons than I want to get into here, but for those who genuinely don’t understand and want to learn more, here is a video clip of a doctor discussing the Yankees’ situation:

In comparing the Yankees to the Phillies, it’s important to note that Aaron Nola and some of the others on the Phillies who had to miss time never actually had COVID. They were only forced to sit out because they were in close contact with someone who had it, and had they been vaccinated, would have been able to play.

Trivia

Last series’ answer: Mike Lowell hit three home runs against the Phillies in a single game in 2004. EbbyCalvinLaLoosh got it right.

This series’ question: Who was the first Phillies player to hit a home run against the Yankees in a regular season game?

What to expect

  • Aaron Nola has done well against the Yankees (and he’s well rested), so he’ll probably have a good start.
  • Playing in front of his former fans for the first time, Didi Gregorius will hit a home run. (And hopefully avoid any errors while he’s at it.)
  • Hopefully, the Yankees fans can restrain themselves from throwing anything at Phillies players this series. Because if they somehow hurt my man Travis Jankowski, I might have to pull a Chris Jones and go fight people in a parking lot.

Concluding thought that may or may not be relevant to the series

Warning: Mild Space Jam: A New Legacy spoilers ahead

I watched Spam Jam: A New Legacy over the weekend, and while I wouldn’t call it a cinematic masterpiece by any means, I don’t understand the immense amount of hate it is receiving.

First off, if you’re an adult, are you sure you’re the target audience? Yes, there are some references put in there for your benefit. But this is a movie where LeBron James gets sucked into a computer and has to team up with Bugs Bunny in a basketball game where one of the opponents is a hybrid of Diana Taurasi and a snake. (Now there are some words I never thought I’d type.) Not to mention it’s a sequel to a movie that was basically a full-length version of a shoe commercial. This ain’t supposed to be high brow.

Besides, LeBron, his son, and Bugs Bunny all had solid character arcs, and I thought the way isolation from his friends caused Bugs to go a little insane was spot on, if a little dark for a kids’ movie. Plus, Don Cheadle was clearly having a lot of fun, and the bit with Michael Jordan was funny.

Was the Warner intellectual property showcase a tad gratuitous? It sure was. But hey, the “King Kong’s got nothing on me!” line was clever, so let’s call it a wash. Would I have wanted to pay money to see it in the theater? Nope. But was I happy enough watching at home on HBO Max? I sure was.