The Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton (left), Aaron Judge (center), and Aaron Hicks celebrate after their game against the Nationals on June 18, 2018, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

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Keidel: Yankees On Road To Becoming Baseball's Warriors

Already Scary Good, They Just Need Another Pitcher

Jason Keidel
June 19, 2018 - 3:03 pm
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The Yankees lost a series to the Texas Rangers May 21-23.

Why does that matter? It's the only series they've lost since April 12, when they lost two of three to the Boston Red Sox. 

Whether you adore or abhor the Yankees, there's no denying they are, to quote Red Barber, in the catbird seat. They aren't just good. They're really good. They aren't just really good. They're bubbling over with young, wildly gifted players, a conveyer belt of prospects spawned by perhaps the most fertile farm system in the sport. Fans need shades just to look into their blindingly good future.  

Not only did they come within a whisker of reaching the World Series in 2017, they added the National League MVP, Giancarlo Stanton, and his 59 homers, to the club. As WFAN's Jerry Recco and Gregg Giannotti pointed out Tuesday morning, it doesn't matter if Player X is in a funk because Player Y will pick him up. Or if they're toiling in slumps, Player A, B or C will pick them up. They are, as Gio said, bad-streak proof.

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It's kind of like an NBA team winning 73 regular-season games, falling a hair short of the NBA title, then adding a recent league MVP. 

Indeed, if the Yankees find one more front-line starting pitcher, a copilot of the staff to complement Luis Severino, they will be unfairly dominant. Kind of like the MLB version of the current NBA champs, the Golden State Warriors. 

Sure, it's tough to compare squads from different sports. But just as the Warriors had no holes in their lineup once they plucked Kevin Durant from the Hamptons, the Yankees are one pitcher from being virtually unbeatable. Unlike basketball, the best baseball team doesn't always win the World Series. But surely the Yankees, who are already the talk of baseball, would also be the chalk of baseball. 

The Bronx Bombers are so much the envy of the sport that Bryce Harper shaved his fully grown, perfectly contoured beard when the Yanks came to Washington, D.C., to play the Nationals. Coincidence? Maybe. Or perhaps Harper, who wants LeBron James money once he hits free agency this winter, was offering his best grooming audition for the pinstriped standard of the sport. Baseball fans have long known the Yanks frown upon the caveman contours of facial hair that has become the cultural template in America and America's pastime.  

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Harper also has flawless hair on his head and loves to flip his wet mane every time he jerks his head back following a home run. But he knows the Yankees want a cleaner, more corporate look. NBA players are taking less money to play with the Warriors. Harper isn't looking to give anyone a discount. But even Harper, who, along with Mike Trout, is in the discussion for being the best baseball player on the planet, is looking with some sense of admiration at the most iconic franchise in the history of team sports. 

Yet unlike their approach for the last 40 years, when the Yanks spent every winter poaching their opponents' star players, they don't need Bryce Harper. In fact, they probably don't even want him, at least not at the biblical price he will demand. As if to highlight this point, the Yankees drilled Harper with two wayward pitches during a game in the Bronx last week. After the second time he was bruised by a pitch, he checked himself out halfway during his trot to first base, as if to surrender. 

Surely the two pitches were accidentally bad, and the Bombers didn't intend to bomb Harper with fastballs. But the symbolism was flawless, perfectly executed and stated. Without saying a word, the Yankees told Harper they were just fine without his considerable services. When you have the conga line of young studs in or heading toward River Avenue, you let players pitch you, not the reverse. 

Just as the Warriors won't breathlessly chase LeBron or Kawhi Leonard, they certainly would entertain offers. But they don't need them. It's a rather rare yet rather nice position to be in -- to be the singular envy of your sport. The Yankees need a starting pitcher. They don't need Harper or Trout or just about any other position player. Must be nice, even if no one else can relate to it, or them.

To quote Mel Brooks, it's good to be the king. 

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel