Bob Raissman: After lousy season, Yankees face pressure-packed start to new campaign

NEW YORK — Steve Cohen and David Stearns have already attached the “Viewer Beware” sign to the 2024 edition of the Mets. That’s what happens when your strategy is all about lowering expectations.

There is no such “luxury” in the Bronx. Despite the irrational ravings of Gasbags, the Yankee mission statement never changes. For those who pretend to have forgotten (or deny its existence), it’s: World Series or Bust!

Since 2009, “bust” is all this storied franchise, fans and the media covering the team, has known. The mantra is the same this season, which begins March 28 in Houston. But after missing the playoffs in 2023, the first time since 2016, the level of anticipation is even higher.

Will pinstriped eyeballs tune into the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network in record numbers to see if the Bombers can turn things around? Or will viewers bail if the Yankees don’t get off to a fast start turning YES into a must avoid?

Brian Cashman has fortified YES’ product with star power by acquiring a must-see-TV attraction, Juan Soto, to pair with another ratings magnet, captain Aaron Judge. And on the nights he (eventually) pitches, Gerrit Cole brings plenty of hardcore and casual eyeballs to TV sets expecting to see the Cy Young winner do something special.

Unfortunately, reality has a way of showing up to deliver uncertainty.

Cole was diagnosed with nerve inflammation in his elbow and edema (swelling caused by too much fluid trapped in the body’s tissues), speculation mounted that Judge is not 100%, and DJ LeMahieu goes down with a bone bruise. Then there’s health issues that invariably surround Giancarlo Stanton.

If anything, injuries, or just the perception of them, reveal how physically vulnerable the Yankees are.

Yet a negative vibe can’t lower expectations. And Bombers brass is hoping Soto gets off to a lot faster start than he did in San Diego last season. If, for whatever reason, the Yankees start slowly, the seat under Aaron Boone is going to start getting warm. After last season’s failure the Yankees won’t have much wiggle room.

This will create another type storyline and a different type of anticipation.

With so much at stake YES voices won’t be able to ignore any pressure surrounding the Yankees manager or general manager. See, after last season they know how quickly a road, paved with optimism can turn into a dead-end street.