(Next Media Animation, 9/13/2012)
Last year the Boston Red Sox suffered an epic meltdown, dropping 20 of 27 September games and losing out on a Wild Card berth to the Tampa Bay Rays, who they led by nine games on Sept. 4, 2011. This year the New York Yankees may suffer a similar fate. The Yankees led the American League East by 10 games in June but have gone 33-32 since July and are now tied with the baltimore Orioles at the top of the AL East, with Tampa Bay only three games out.
If the season ended today, Baltimore would win the division based on a tie-breaker and the Yankees would play the Oakland A's in the Wild Card round. But there's still 20 games of baseball left for the Yankees, Orioles and Rays — and that's bad news for the Yanks.
The Yankees are old, hobbled by injuries and spoiled by the largest payroll in baseball. The O's are a scrappy young team that has gone 26-13 since August. The Rays have the best rotation out of the three and have gone 23-15 since August.
If the Yankees don't win the AL East, they may not even make the playoffs. The Los Angeles Angels and Detroit Tigers are only a few games behind the Yankees in the race for the final Wild Card spot.