Kentucky Win Leads to Thoughts of the World Series

Kentucky wins bode well for the Yankees, who have a more dangerous minefield to cross

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    CC and company will have to push for the full 162 this time around.

    The Yankees got the result they wanted on Monday night.

    John Calipari's collection of future lottery picks did the expected and rolled past Kansas to win the NCAA tournament. While you might think the Yankees would see more of themselves in Mike Krzyzewski and Duke than in the scandal-plagued pair of Calipari and Kentucky, this is exactly the outcome they were hoping for when the tournament got underway.

    This is the eighth time that the Wildcats have been the last team standing and their wins have usually predicted a winning end for the Yankees. The last six times that Kentucky has won the NCAA Tournament (1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996, 1998), the Yankees have gone on to win the World Series. 

    There's not much reason to think one has anything to do with the other. Just ask the Indians, who shared a winning year with Kentucky in 1948 and haven't won a thing outside of Major League since that year.

    It's a fun little stat, though, and it is one that segues us perfectly from the end of the college basketball season to the start of baseball. This is one of the best sports weeks of the year -- throw the Masters and the end of the NHL regular season in for good measure -- and it is one that naturally has us looking ahead to how the Yankees will fare this season.

    As usual, it looks like it is going to take some kind of monumental disaster for the Yankees to avoid winning 90 games. Unlike past years, though, those 90-plus wins aren't going to guarantee them anything more than what Norfolk State, Lehigh and other low seeds in the NCAA Tournament got this year.

    The addition of a second Wild Card to the playoff mix means that not winning the division leaves you with a one-and-done game to advance in the playoffs for a shot at the World Series. This is a better system for baseball in general because it makes winning the division a much bigger priority, but it is a much more daunting task for the individual teams.

    In the past, you could survey the scene come Sept. 15 and make a choice not to go whole hog for the division so that you could set yourself up for the playoffs. That's not an option anymore, which is dangerous for an older team like the Yankees.

    Resting Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and others down the stretch won't be possible if the Rays are two games up with a week left in the season. Nor will it be possible to juggle the rotation so CC Sabathia is lined up for October if the Yankees are the team with a slim lead.

    The alternative is hoping that you don't get a bad start, a baserunning blunder or any of the myriad things that can lose you a single baseball game. Over 162 games, good teams separate from the pack but in one game anything can and will happen.

    In other words, the Yankees might like it that Kentucky won it all this year but they don't much want to be in a position to follow their path to a title of their own. 

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.