This isn’t a perfect metaphor but here goes: if you’ve ever been in a play, or know someone who has, you know that what goes on behind the scenes can often be entirely different than what the public sees at large. I’m on a theatre kick, but to a large degree, this reminds me a bit of following the 2012 Yankees.

Don’t get me wrong, following the team as a fan is inherently different than those who really are behind the scenes (ownership, front office, even, to a certain extent, the credentialed media), but when you follow a team for 162+ games a year and do so year after year, you can’t help but feel that you know them—their stories, their warts, their good, and their bad—a little better than those who are fans of other teams or aren’t baseball fans at all.

I say this because a few days ago I had a twitter exchange with the wonderful @matthewhleach.

Yet, as a fan, I still see the warts. I see a team that’s missed their starting left fielder for most of the season, a team that’s gone without the man who should have been their number two starter for all of it, and a team that’s lost it’s hall-of-fame closer. This is a team that’s missed it’s starting third baseman, starting first baseman, and ace starter all for extended lengths of time. Even when the Red Sox have a down year and there’s an extra wild card slot, most teams can’t whether a storm like this. There’s no reason, really, the Yankees should be any different.

Still, somehow, the Yankees have 90 wins and trail only the Texas Rangers by one game for the best record in the American League. Yes, being only a game-and-a-half behind the Orioles on September 27th invokes a weird feeling, but that has more to do with how well the Orioles have played (or, perhaps more accurately, how lucky they’ve been) than the Yankees.

I’m trying to see this from the perspective of an outsider, like my friend Matt, and try to see the Yankees as the 90+ win team that they are, and perhaps because in the past I’ve written so much about the faults of the team, I’m not seeing the greater whole. A lot of baseball can depend on luck going one way or the other, but no team (not even the Orioles) gets to 90 wins if they are bad.

This doesn’t necessarily have any bearing on the postseason (heck, the 2000 Yankees won the whole thing with just 87 wins, so perhaps we should know better than most that all that matters is getting to October in the first place), but it should still mean something, as much as regular season baseball standings can mean anything.

I still won’t say I see the Yankees going all the way because I can’t say with 100% certitude that the Yankees are the best team in the Majors (unlike, say, in 2009 when it wasn’t close), but the cool thing about baseball is that you really don’t know what’s going to happen. What I do know, though, is that this year’s Yankees have thus far exceeded the expectations that I had at the beginning of the year, and I’m not sure if that’s worth anything to anyone else, but for me, it’s enough.