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Wednesday, July 17, 2013
First Pitch: Boring Bombers?

By Mike Mazzeo

They’re in fourth place in their division. They have a negative run differential. Half their payroll is on the disabled list. Their attendance is down. So are their TV ratings.

As we enter the second half of the season, we are left to wonder: what has become of the New York Yankees?

Have they become boring?

With 67 games remaining, the Yankees (51-44) trail the Red Sox (58-39) by six games in the American League East standings, and their playoff hopes appear remote.

With Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira all basically sidelined for the entire season, their anemic offense is averaging 3.9 runs per game.

They’re tied for 20th in home runs and 23rd in batting average.

Pitching-wise, though, they rank ninth in ERA (3.74) and tied for 17th in quality starts.

Overall, they have scored 373 runs and given up 375.

Against the top six teams in the AL (by winning percentage), the Yankees are 15-25.

This season, excitement has been hard to come by. Mariano Rivera has been sensational in his final year, Robinson Cano is on pace to cash in in free agency and Zoilo Almonte was a fun story for about a week.

Travis Hafner, Lyle Overbay and Vernon Wells have all had their moments, but have all since come back to life.

Seriously, it sort of feels like the Yankees are sleep-walking through the 2013 campaign, forcing their fans to sleep-walk right with them.

What would the Boss think of all this? The $189 million payroll mandate; Cano possibly leaving town with Jay-Z; the A-Rod Biogenesis investigation.

None of it is fun. None of it gives fans who are willing to pay an arm and a leg for tickets a reason to be excited about this team.

There are no Matt Harveys, Zack Wheelers, Mike Trouts, Bryce Harpers, Yusiel Puigs. Not here.

Yep, it’s pretty hard to be optimistic about the 2013 Yankees.

Maybe they’ll turn it on in the second half, get healthy and become the feared, loved and hated team they’ve always been. Or maybe they’ll play the same way they’ve been playing, leading fans to turn their attention elsewhere.

Question: Have the Yankees become boring?

UP NOW:
Andrew Marchand has stories on Mariano Rivera, who pitched in his last All-Star Game, and Robinson Cano, who suffered a right quadriceps contusion after being struck by a Matt Harvey fastball in the first inning, but hopes to play on Friday in Boston.

ON DECK: The Yankees are off, but ESPN NewYork.com is not. Wallace Matthews’s first-half grades will be unveiled Wednesday.