The 2022 Yankees won 99 games and the American League East. The 2023 Yankees, entering Wednesday, are 40-33 and 9 1/2 games out of first place. Through 77 games last season, the Yankees were 56-21, so they are 16 games behind that pace at the same point in the season.
The Yankees fanbase is one of the most demanding -- if not the most demanding, and the fans wear that as a badge of honor -- so given all this, it isn't surprising that said fans are pretty angry about how things are going right now. Especially given the context behind the record, the fanbase being collectively angry is highly predictable. The Yankees were 19-10 in May and looked great. So far in June, they are 6-9 and went 1-5 against the hated Red Sox in back-to-back weekend series.
Yankees chairman Hal Steinbrenner, though, is "confused" about the anger from the fan base. He said as much on a radio appearance Wednesday with Yankees play-by-play man Michael Kay.
"They are upset," he said of Yankees fans. "I'm a little confused, this year, being the third week of June, why they're so upset, but they're upset and that's gonna get my attention, of course.
"Everybody just needs to know that we're working hard on all fronts to get this back on the rails and start playing the way we were for a couple week period there in May."
Had the Yankees kept playing the way they did in May, there wouldn't be many fans angry. Certainly, the injury to 2022 AL MVP Aaron Judge didn't help. The Yankees went 15-8 with Judge between his IL stints. Also, bear in mind that the other big offseason signing was left-handed starting pitcher Carlos Rodón and he's been out with injury all season. (He did make a minor-league rehab appearance on Tuesday and struck out five while allowing one run on one hit in three innings for Double-A Somerset.)
"Health is gonna be a part of it," Steinbrenner said. "We gotta get Aaron back. Rodón had a rehab outing and felt great afterwards, 42 pitches, I believe. We gotta get them back in the mix.
If the Yankees get Judge and Rodón back and both are able to remain 100%, obviously that makes them a much more formidable foe than they've looked these last few weeks. That's a big if.
Overall, though, it's confusing that Steinbrenner is confused. The Yankees are one of the most successful franchises in the history of American sports and their fans expect success on an annual basis. They get angry when the team looks bad in stretches. That comes with the territory. Hal's father, George, was at the front of the line anytime there was even perceived under-performance from his Yankees. Obviously, it's OK for a son to operate differently than his father; it's just weird that he doesn't expect a large portion of the fan base to be as emotional as George would have been.