Forecasting the AL East
I get asked who will win the AL East almost every day. People like to complain that we focus too much on the Yankees and Red Sox, but I get asked about them all the time when I'm in New York, Boston and even in Connecticut. I always tell people the same thing: don't bet against the Yankees. If the Yankees could, they would go 162-0 every year. I don't think that's true of other teams because other teams don't have the desire that the Yankees do, and baseball is all about desire.
The Red Sox like the underdog mentality. They are "The Idiots," as they like to say, and I don't think real champions think of themselves as idiots. Real champions think of themselves as champions. So I don't think the Red Sox have the desire to win 162 games; they have the desire to win 90 and the Wild Card. It says something that the year they finally break the Curse they do it as the Wild Card team. They didn't really want to win. They just wanted to get by, to do just enough so that their fans didn't turn against them. Real champions don't just get by.
You can see the different mentalities of the Yankees and Red Sox on the field. When Manny Ramirez goes to get a fly ball he loafs to catch it. When Tony Womack goes to get a fly ball he hustles. Now neither player is going to catch every ball hit their way, but Womack's hustle plays add up to a lot of hustle every year. And so that's a difference that you see. Another is that when David Ortiz hits one of his home runs he lollygags out of the box. But when Derek Jeter hits a home run he sprints out of the box and hustles around the bases. The way you get out of the box is part of your follow-through on your swing, and so if you hustle out you will hit more home runs. Little things like that really add up.
I know that the Yankees have had a hard time so far this year. They haven't been the team that we've seen win 26 championships. But part of that is that when teams see the Yankees on their schedule they circle those dates and decide that they're going to have a lot of desire for those games. And so they manage to steal a few. The Yankees don't need to circle any dates on their calendar because they are the champs and champs don't need to circle any dates. And that's why the Yankees will win the AL East again.