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What If...

By Dustin Racioppi

Here's a fun little game, Yankees fans: It's called "What if?" 

To play it is simple. All you have to do is open up your local newspaper, take a look at the AL East standings, then jog your memory a little bit. OK, you'll see, as of today, the Yanks, having lost only one game out of the All-Star break, are 2.5 games ahead of the Red Sox for first place. Now think back to the first half of the season, and ask yourself, "What if the Yankees actually won a couple games against the Sawks back then? What if the team didn't fold like a cheap Hyundai in those previous series? What kind of lead would the Yankees have today, on July 28 had they not dropped eight straight to a Boston team that wasn't playing all that well at that point in the season? And would that lead be enough to fend off the Sawks and Rays until the end of the season?"

Admittedly, this is a stupid game to play because it doesn't mean anything and there are no winners or losers. But that "What if" question could come back, particularly in October, say, sometime around the ALDS. Here's why: The Yankees, although in first place and owners of the best record in the AL, absolutely CANNOT beat the Sawks or the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim or whatever they're called this year. And at this pace — and also looking at past history and each division — when it comes down to it, the Yankees, Sawks and Angels are going to be in serious October baseball. 

What the Yankees need, for their sake, is to win this division. Otherwise, they'll take the Wild Card and likely have to get through Boston to advance, then on to likely play the Angels. Now, if Boston wins the Wild Card, then they have to play the Angels to move on (By the way, the Sawks own the Angels). In a short playoff series, the order of each team's role could play a huge part in the Yankees' length of their winter vacations. 

So let's hope we don't play the "What if" game come October. 

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