The Yankees offense is waiting for the fever to break, while Detroit is halfway to the World Series.
The tableau in the Yankees’ clubhouse after ALCS Game Two was telling: in a room packed with high-profile players, the greatest gaggle of reporters was gathered around the team’s hitting coach, Kevin Long. They had just filed in from the interview room, where Girardi had said, “We have to make adjustments.” Now they wanted to know what those adjustments would be. Standing just in front of Derek Jeter’s loudly vacant locker, Long fielded questions about why the Yankees haven’t hit over the first two games of this series or the last four games of the ALDS, and what they planned to do about it. At times, the exchange grew testy.
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Two preseason favorites match up, but there are plenty of surprises about how they got there. Undoubtedly, there are surprises to come.
After all that funny business, the American League ultimately settled into a scenario quite easily predicted all along: the Tigers against the Yankees in the ALCS. Not that there aren’t still surprises, even with the A’s and Orioles eliminated. The Tigers, for instance, aren’t the 1,000-run Tigers, but a club built on starting pitching good enough to win even when the offense is scoring only three runs per game. And the Yankees are, by choice, fielding an A-Rod-less team in the most crucial moments. There will be plenty of narratives in this series: The inevitability of Justin Verlander; the Triple Crown winner trying to punctuate the end of his season; the Yankees’ first postseason without Mariano Rivera; slumping veteran stars on the Yankees; the many overachieving adjectives about Derek Jeter; and, as always, Alex Rodriguez. They’re fine narratives, even if they’re not the ones we underdog-lovers were rooting for.
A rundown of the highs and lows of Game Two of the World Series, told by a man sitting in the bleacher seats.
My season came full circle on Thursday night. Back on April 3, I got my first look at the new Yankee Stadium via the park's unofficial opener, a Friday night exhibition against the Cubs for which I was in the right field bleachers. Having spent last fall detailing my mixedemotions regarding the old ballpark's passing, and the winter kvetching about the way me and my crew were being treated, it was with more ambivalence than excitement that I watched that game and beheld the billion-dollar boondoggle. "It feels as though the team put some idealized hybrid of Yankee Stadiums I and II on a steroid regimen, then stuck it in the middle of Times Square," I wrote, "Pure sensory overload-bright flashing lights with sound surrounding you from every angle, and a ginormous scoreboard video dominating the action on the field."
The Game One showdown between star southpaws, and tonight's matchup features a recently phoaled Phillie.
In yesterday's chat, Bronx Banter's Alex Belth asked me, "Is there any particular pitching matchup that you are looking forward to in the series?" I responded that the matchup I was most looking forward to was between CC Sabathia and Ryan Howard, particularly given the prospect of the big man pitching three times for the Yankees in a seven-game series, and the slugger's less-than-sterling reputation against southpaws. "I think that matchup will tell us something about what's going to happen over the next four to seven games," I wrote.
An early retirement leads to questions about performance levels and an instructive comparison to Jack Morris.
It was something of a surprise that Mike Mussina retired last week. Mussina, famously coming off of the first 20-win season of his career, seemed to have a lot of innings left in his arm. He was one of the ten best starters in the AL last season, and had established a new approach to his craft that could have allowed him to be an effective pitcher with a diminished fastball. ESPN's Keith Law had him at 29th on his free-agent list, which would seem to have portended an eight-figure salary for two seasons, at least.
A team of destiny, or the team that just didn't know any better? Either way, the Rays are in the World Series.
ST. PETERSBURG-Joe Maddon is undoubtedly the coolest cat managing in the major leagues today. He never panicked when his upstart Rays appeared on the verge of gagging away the American League Championship Series and threatened to write an unhappy ending to what had been one of the great fairy tales in baseball history. Thrust into the national spotlight for the first time in his three-year managerial career, Maddon has captivated the national media by having an anecdote about everything and giving philosophical answers to questions about strategy.
ST. PETERSBURG-The wave of media had finally departed the Red Sox clubhouse, so Kevin Youkilis dropped his guard and smiled at the lone reporter standing at his locker. "This is really amazing," the third baseman said with a twinkle in his eye. "To think where we were just a few days ago. I mean, it was close to being all over for us. Our chances were pretty slim of living to see another day. Now, we've lived to see a couple of more days and we're going to Game Seven. It's a heckuva story."
With both League Championship Series at 3-1, what are the chances, and how often has it happened?
With both the Dodgers and Red Sox facing 3-1 deficits in their respective League Championship Series, the inevitable question being asked by advertisers and network executives desperate for a marquee World Series matchup-not to mention any fan who's decided they'd like to hear Tim McCarver, Joe Buck, and a chorus of moralizing pundits tell us even more about the Manny Ramirez saga-is, "Can they come back?" The answer is, probably not, as just 11 teams have come from down 3-1 to win a seven-game post-season series. Still, the legendary comebacks and heartbreaking collapses in those 11 series have stocked baseball lore with a memorable cast of heroes and villains, including Mickey Lolich, Willie Stargell, Don Denkinger, Donnie Moore, Steve Bartman, and Dave Roberts.
Musings and meanderings during a playoff game in Fenway.
A week ago, Christina began an article, "Forgive me a second, as I doff the analyst's cap." From there she went on to share her experiences at ALDS Game Three, Rays versus White Sox, from something of a fan's perspective. I'll do something similar, having attended Monday afternoon's ALCS Game Three at Fenway Park, not as a reporter, but as a paying customer (albeit one who brought along a digital voice recorder and notepad). Unlike Christina's fine bit, I'll spend relatively little time talking about the game itself, which was, to put it mildly, among the least compelling of this year's post-season affairs. Instead, using a diary format, I'll intersperse my own musings with quotes from people I interacted with at the ballpark.
2:40: I arrive at Fenway Park and am surprised to have my ticket ripped, rather than scanned, but for some reason I don't ask why. I attended numerous games as a fan this season, and this is the first time my entry isn't verified electronically. It seems somewhat... old-fashioned?
Carl Crawford was not to be denied his team's first post-season experience.
BOSTON-Carl Crawford has long been the face of the franchise for the Rays, normally a good thing for a talented young player. That wasn't necessarily such a good thing until very recently, however, since the team had been the laughingstock of baseball since playing their first game as an expansion team in 1998.