That Twins-Tigers playoff was terrific, a true instant classic. And so of course I want to examine it from what is, IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘m sure youĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ll all agree, the only angle that matters: What does this mean for the Yankees?
The Twins have long been my second-favorite AL team, and I was pulling for them until just a few hours ago. But I think it’s hard to argue that the Yankees aren’t the stronger team overall – especially since, after last night’s game, I imagine the Twins had to scrape the remnants of their bullpen into Tupperware and carry it on the plane to New York.
Everyone knows that anything can happen in a short series, though, and New York has had a rough time of it in the playoffs in the last few years, ever since something happened in the fall of 2004… some sort of incident, the details of which seemed to have escaped my memory for the moment. Since then theyĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ve lost a variety pack of playoff series, and naturally, IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘m now wondering which of those methods of defeat might apply this year. Everyone talks about how arrogant New York fans are, but many of us are also quite neurotic!
LetĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s go year by year.
This was a pretty pedestrian playoff loss, really Ă˘â‚¬â€ś the Angels were just a little better that year, particularly their pitching staff. And if this year’s Angels or Red Sox were to knock the Yankees out of the ALCS later in the month, it would probably be in this style; but for the Twins to win the Division Series, there’d probably have to be something else going on. Which brings us toĂ˘â‚¬Â¦
2006: Curse of the Failed Ex-Yankee Pitcher
It would be a massive oversimplification to say the Yankees lost in 2006 just because Kenny Rogers all of a sudden decided that, oh hey, he could pitch well in New York after all. But thatĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s never stopped me before and wonĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t now.
ItĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s the potential for this kind of loss that scares me most about the Twins matchup, because: Carl Pavano. The ne plus ultra of failed Yankee pitchers. If Pavano were to start Game 2, he could be lined up for Game 5 at the Stadium; and within moments of the TwinsĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ win last night, before the champagne corks had even been popped, I was gripped by a horrifying vision of Carl Pavano eliminating the Yankees from the playoffs. The team would probably have to build a whole new New Stadium, just to get the taste out of everyone’s mouth.
Now, I think some of the Pavano criticism in New York was a little unfair Ă˘â‚¬â€ś after all, his injuries were diagnosed by doctors; you canĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t fake, say, surgical bone chip removal. Whether or not he worked as hard as he could to come back as quickly as possible, I have no idea, though clearly some of his teammates didnĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t think so. But IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ve always felt that PavanoĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s public image would be significantly better today if the Yankees had referred to his spring 2006 injury as, say, Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“lower back strainĂ˘â‚¬Âť instead of Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“bruised buttocks.Ă˘â‚¬Âť
Be that as it may, Pavano stands out as by far the worst of the YankeesĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ many unsuccessful pitching acquisitions of the last decade – Jeff Weaver, Javier Vazquez, Jared Wright, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens: 2 Fast 2 Furious, all of them. And yet heĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s got a 2.70 ERA in two starts against the Yankees this season. This is going to keep me up nights.
2007: The Bloodthirsty Revenge of an Angry Planet
Again, it wouldnĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t be accurate to claim that the Indians beat the Yankees only (or even largely) due to the freakish swarm of midges that descended on Joba Chamberlain one fateful inning. But hey, when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.
Because of the Metrodome, a repeat gnat-attack or a wildlife incident of any kind is highly improbable, at least on the road. I remember thinking during that Indians series that the Yankees ought to be able to get some help from New York CityĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s own fauna Ă˘â‚¬â€ś it would only be fair – and it may not be too late. Does anybody know how long it takes to train pigeons to attack? How about rats; arenĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t they supposed to be pretty smart? Potentially, we have the resources to make a biblical insect cloud look like a walk in the damn park.
So what might it be this year? Most likely, something I never saw coming; perhaps a landshark (the cleverest species of them all). IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ll check back in later in the week, by which point I expect Carl Pavano will have pitched a shutout while a swarm of cockroaches surrounded Mark Teixeira and carried him off to the sewers.