Tough Sell of the Week: The Yankees As Underdogs

The pity card is a tough one for the Yankees to play

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Spring training has long been a time for players to make ridiculous statements about their condition, their chances for the season to come and anything else that comes to mind.

    Those statements tend to be on the overly optimistic side. Give Mark Teixeira points for taking the glass is half empty view of things, then. The Yankees first baseman stepped into fantasyland to paint a picture of a baseball landscape that simply does not exist anywhere outside his own head. 

    "We're the underdogs this year," Teixeira said. "I love it. No one is picking us right now. Everyone in here should be looking forward to winning a championship. When you put on the pinstripes that is exactly what your goal should be every year. I think everyone understands that just because the public may not be picking us it doesn't mean we don't believe it in here."

    Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi both sounded similar notes over the weekend, leading us to ask exactly what they're smoking in the Yankee clubhouse and where can we get some?

    Are the Red Sox getting all of the love after adding Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez during the offseason? Absolutely and if you want to define underdog simply as the team that appears to have less chance to win on paper between the Red Sox and Yankees, go right ahead. If you want to be somewhat realistic, though, you'll just laugh at Teixeira's silly attempt to redraw reality to his own design. 

    The Yankees are short on starting pitching. They are otherwise loaded. Their lineup is full of offensive might, their bullpen has depth and talent and the minor leagues are stocked with prospects to team with financial resources to turn the one weakness into an area of strength. That's not an underdog, that's a sleeping giant.

    The Yankees can never be an underdog, something Hank Steinbrenner reminded us of on Monday when he railed against socialism, er, revenue sharing in baseball. You don't get to do that if you're an underdog any more than you get to bank hundreds of millions in salary before claiming you're persecuted by a tax system that's stacked against you.

    There are 162 games to be played this season, a season that could well join countless others in the annals as one where the eventual victor did not look like the chalk pick in February. The Yankees have a very good chance of being that eventual champion and only a fool would suggest otherwise.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.