So, yes, I wrote recently that I do not think the New York Yankees will hoist the World Series trophy for the 28th time this October.
Go back and re-read my reasons if you want, I am not going to rehash them. I just know as I sit here and wait for tonight’s 8:37 p.m. ET first pitch by Minnesota’s Francisco Liriano I hope I was wrong.
Beginning tonight, the Yankees and Twins meet in the American League Division Series for the fourth time since 2003. The Yankees have used the Twins as whipping posts each time, winning in four games in ’03 and ’04, then ripping through a three-game sweep last October en route to the championship.
Seriously, it’s no wonder there is hatred for the Yankees in Minnesota.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse says the Yankees have actually been torturing this franchise since way back in 1920, long before the team moved from Washington to Minnesota.
History will mean nothing tonight, however, when Minnesota’s Liriano (14-10) faces Yankee ace CC Sabathia (21-7). Can the Yankees, the AL wild-card team, once again knock off the AL Central Division champion Twins?
Bill Madden of the New York Daily News, one of the foremost experts on Yankee baseball, thinks the Twins are going to reverse history this time and end the Yankees’ bid for World Series title No. 28.
Everything – past form, experience, firepower, Rivera – tells you that the Yankees should continue their postseason domination (9-2 in three series in the last seven years, including last year’s 3-0 sweep) against Gardenhire’s always-feisty Twins. But we’re going to throw out form and substitute vibes here. The Yankees’ 29-30 play since July 30, and 9-17 record since Sept. 5, combined with Girardi’s erratic managing and the uncertainty of their starting rotation, gives us a bad feeling. By contrast, the Twins’ best-in-the-AL 53-28 record at Target Field, along with their inspired play in August and early September runaway of the AL Central, gives us good vibes about them. Like the Yankees last season and the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006, a new ballpark gives the Twins the feel that this is finally going to be their year.
If the Yankees are going to win the series and advance to the ALCS then Sabathia had better win tonight. Beyond the 21-game winner are only question marks. The Yankees will go with a three-man rotation, but there are questions about Andy Pettitte’s readiness and Phil Hughes’ weariness as the playoffs arrive.
There are other questions, as well.
The Yankees have to wonder if Mariano Rivera, who looked ordinary over the past month of the season with a 3.50 ERA, can again morph into the dominant postseason Mo.
Can Derek Jeter morph back into playoff Jeter, or will we see the geriatric Jeter who hit a career-worst .270 this season?
Can the Yankees keep jittery Joe Girardi, who has managed in a halter-skelter style in recent weeks, from over-thinking and costing them playoff games?
How many Yankee fans will hurl things at their television, or break other items, if Minnesota’s Carl Pavano actually beats the Yankees in a playoff game?
Can Minnesota’s Matt Capps, the replacement for the injured Joe Nathan, close out playoff games?
How will Minnesota’s new home, the outdoor Target Field, impact postseason play?
We begin getting the answers to these and all of our Yankee-related postseason question at 8:37 p.m. ET.