Herrmann has covered the Mets and Yankees since 1988, and has been Newsday’s national golf writer since 2002.
Right off the bat, the Blue Jays are a success. By beating the Yankees Friday night and Saturday, they did more than just assure themselves of winning the series. They ensured that they did not get their spirits crushed, which a few other American League teams have been unable to avoid lately.
The Blue Jays are an overnight sensation in another way, too. They have changed the heart and identity of their team on the fly -- hey, they are in hockey country -- and have come out way ahead.
The Jays have been scalding since they restocked their roster with stars Troy Tulowitzki and David Price, outfielder Ben Revere and relievers LaTroy Hawkins and Mark Lowe before the non-waiver trading deadline. In games Tulowitzki has started at shortstop, they are 10-0. In games that Price has started on the mound, including Saturday, they are 2-0. And they have looked darn impressive.
This is an awfully small sample size, and the real results might not arrive for years, when we all see the development of the prospects they gave up. But for sheer brass, they have out-Yankeed the Yankees.
Over the years, of course, the Yankees have turned the midseason or late-season acquisition into an art form. It is a rare and relatively unsung tradition, adding the likes of Johnny Mize, Dale Long, Pedro Ramos, Alex Johnson, Dave Kingman, Bobby Murcer (the second time around), David Cone, Darryl Strawberry, Cecil Fielder and David Justice.
Sometimes a contending club just needs a pick-me-up. This summer, the Blue Jays chose a nuclear-powered hydraulic lift. Even during Saturday's game, they added another player -- and please, can we not call someone a "piece?'' -- in veteran infielder Cliff Pennington from the Diamondbacks.
The Yankees never have tried a late overhaul like this. The only thing similar in local memory was the trading binge by the 1994 New York Rangers late in their run to the Stanley Cup. But they didn't add profiles as high as those of Tulowitzki, who homered Saturday, and Price, who threw the first seven innings in a 6-0 victory.
"I've noticed something different, no doubt about it,'' Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We've always been a confident group, but I sense something different.''
Price said he felt positive pressure inheriting a six-game winning streak. To him, it felt more intense than going to the mound with a six-game losing streak.
"You don't want to be the guy who starts that losing streak or that skid or 'this is where our season kind of had a downfall,' '' he said. "For me, it's tougher to pitch when you're playing well.''
So far, the added skill and swagger have kept the Yankees from doing what they have done repeatedly this season. The Red Sox felt resurgent in early July before the Yankees went into Fenway Park and won two of three. The Orioles had aspirations of making a move on first place until the Yankees swept them at the Stadium. The White Sox mistakenly saw themselves as contenders -- eschewing the "sell'' option at the deadline -- before the Yankees beat them down with a pair of double-digit-run games. None of those clubs has been the same.
The Blue Jays knew it was risky, changing their look so much in a rush for a postseason appearance that might last only one game. Besides, how do so many big names fit in?
"I don't know, they do,'' incumbent star Jose Bautista said. "Everybody is getting along, man. I don't know what to say. It hasn't been forced, either.''
Maybe this will not work out in the long run. Maybe the Yankees had the better idea, standing pat, as they pretty much did in 1998 and 2009. But at the moment, the Blue Jays like their formula, which Price described this way: "Just go win. Win today, don't worry about tomorrow.''