Calling All Ghosts from Championships Past…
It’s a different team now…
Mark J. Terrill/AP
So says Derek Jeter when asked to compare the 2009 Yankees to the 2004 team that lost the ALCS to the Boston Red Sox. Yankee confidence seems to be very high based on the comments that I’ve read by a number of players. Of course, the confidence on the other side is equally high despite the 3-2 series advantage for the Yanks. Torii Hunter, in particular, intends to “shock the world”. Nevertheless, tonight’s game should be a classic regardless of the outcome.
I have felt all along that this series would go the full seven games. There is a reason that the Angels are one of the best teams in the American League and they certainly showed it in their elimination of the Boston Red Sox in quick order. Hi Julia, how are you doing? ;)
There seems to be significant criticism of manager Joe Girardi and his pitching decisions late in games. Some have even called for his head if the Yankees lose the ALCS. While I do not agree with the decision to use the ineffective Damaso Marte to relieve A.J. Burnett in Game 5 or some of the other moves involving Alfredo Aceves or even why Burnett was even brought back into the game after the Yankees dropped 6 runs on the Angels the other night, I am not ready to say that he should lose his job if he doesn’t advance to or win the World Series.
I still remember 1980 when the Yankees fired the late Dick Howser after he had won 103 games in the regular season but lost the ALCS to the Kansas City Royals. That was one of the worst decisions of the George Steinbrenner era, and Howser went on to enjoy a highly successful managerial career with the Royals before his untimely demise. I do not expect Hal Steinbrenner to follow his father’s decision-making pattern, and I am convinced that Joe will be the manager of the 2010 Yankees.
I think the decision to leave Eric Hinske off the ALCS roster was a mistake. The team opted for the speed of Freddy Guzman, but I think a pinch hit appearance by Hinske in the 9th inning of Game 5 with the bases loaded could have yielded a different outcome than allowing the ice cold Nick Swisher to hit (or lack thereof!).
If the team is able to advance to the World Series, I am hopeful that they’ll add Hinske for some pop off the bench.
It’s crazy to think that Pedro Martinez will be a potential Game 3 starter in the World Series for the defending champion Phillies. Of course, the staff is led by Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, and includes the impressive young J.A. Happ. But Martinez has revitalized his career and is now in position to significantly contribute for another championship.
I was surprised it took so long for anyone to sign Martinez this year, but the Phillies did a great job in solidifying both the front and back ends of the rotation with the acquisitions of Martinez and ace Cliff Lee. At the time, I thought that Martinez would have made a great #5 starter for the Yanks but they were never players for his services.
So, should the Yankees advance, they’ll be facing a former foe who was one of those players responsible for the end of the Curse in Boston. If the Angels advance to the Series, I’ll root for Martinez…despite the past history…and the Phillies.
Harry How/Getty Images
The Yankees should have ended the ALCS in Anaheim, but of course, the celebration would have been muted. So, maybe it was meant to be for the series to return to the Bronx. We’re home…we’re ready…and it’s time to succeed! Let’s Go Yankees!
Richard Perry/NY Times