Okay Yankee fans. If I asked you at the beginning of the season, or last November, for that matter, to design your least comfortable playoff match-ups for the 2007 post-season, what would you have said? I have to believe the vast majority of you would have though about it for a second, come up with your teams, then thought for another second, and then put it in order. And after about two-and-a-half minutes, you would have said exactly what I would have said. And my guess would be that it would look like this:
First round – Angels. For starters, the Yankees have never won a playoff series against them. Second, they are the only team in the Joe Torre era with a winning record against the Yankees. And they just seem to be in the Yankees heads. As I’ve said many times, every Superman has his kryptonite. And you could probably stop there. But here’s another reason to fear this opponent. Mojo aside, this is not a good match-up for the Yankees. The Yankees do not do well with this style of opponent, the super-aggressive, always-running, hyperactive, Dennis-the-Menace type of team. The Yankee pitchers do not hold runners on well, at least one of their outfield arms is garbage (Damon), and if you’ve got Giambi at first, they will test him until his glove bleeds. And for some reason, their rabbits, Chone Figgins and Orlando Cabrera, seem to run their on-base-percentages up to about .700 when they’re playing the Yanks. They can’t get them out, and it always causes them major problems. Then you’ve got guys like Garrett Anderson, who channels Edgar Martinez in that he always seems to be about two or three swings away from retiring until the Yanks come in, at which point he looks like the love child of Roy Hobbs and Dottie Hinsen. Okay, maybe “looks like” isn’t right….but definitely “plays like”…. And lastly, the team plays halfway across the stratosphere. Not good. You could argue that the starters aren’t too deep, but all the more reason why you don’t want them in a short series. Awful first-round match-up.
Second round – Red Sox. On the surface, this is a lot better match-up for the Yanks. The Sox don’t do a ton of running, they don’t take a ton of extra bases, and they’re old. They just want to slug it out with you, and that’s not usually a problem for them, except when they have to play the Yankees. The Yankees actually match up very well. And you can tell yourself that all day long, and this would still be the last team you want to face. Why? One word. Emotion. This series will go seven, and it will be filled with twists and turns, gut wrenching moments, some extra innings, five-hour games, and media attention from Taiwan to Venezuela by way of Siberia with a left turn at Portugal, and everyplace in between. Even of you get past it, you run the risk of staggering so badly out of the ALCS that you get run in the Series by a clown car like….let me think of a good one….I don’t know…the Marlins? Now, the Sox carry a lot of baggage into this as well, but they have one thing in their favor. They’re the Red Sox, and the Yankees are the Yankees. After Harlem Globetrotters versus Washington Generals, this might be the most one-sided rivalry in sports. It would be like the old Tom and Jerry cartoons, except that it would be Tom the big bad cat who was constantly kicking Jerry the mouse’s a*ss. So the problem with that is that there’s nowhere to go but down if you’re the Yanks. It becomes a no-win situation. If you win, well, of course you won, you’re the Yankees. And by the way, you’re mean. But if you lose, it’s the most colossal world event since the Battle of Hastings. This is a lot to have hanging over your head. And the fact that this will drag out for seven games is why you don’t want this match-up in the ALCS. But that’s where you would get it. So all of this equals, for me, stop eating and stop talking to people for about ten days while it plays out. Same for Acc, except replace “stop eating” with “add meals”…..
World Series – Mets. The National League, in and of itself, is a joke funnier than all of Ellen DeGeneres’ put together. But the Mets can hit. Their pitching is in a bit of a shambles, with the linchpin being our favorite son, a man who has thrown about four games since having the most major of all pitching surgeries. And after that just a ton of question marks. There isn’t a lot to like about the bullpen either. But they’ve got one key thing that makes them a bad match-up for the Yankees on the field. Rabbits. Namely Jose Reyes and Luis Castillo. Not what the Yankees handle well. And add to that the other albatross. Again, emotion. And again, media overload. Although this time it gets concentrated into the New York metro area, and somewhat beyond, even though everyone around the rest of the country pretends that they are completely disinterested in New York vs. New York. Really? How interested were you in Detroit vs. St. Louis? The TV ratings said, “not very.” And you’ve got a similar dynamic with the Mets that you have with the Sox. If you win, it’s because you were supposed to win. If you lose, it’s bigger than the second coming. Except instead of 90 years of their own baggage, the Mets have to carry around 90 years of baggage left over from the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants.
So what will we get? Anybody’s guess. But my money says it will look something like the above….