Wednesday, October 03, 2007

It Begins

I'm feeling a real mix of emotions on the night before the Yankees take the field in Cleveland. For the last few days I've fluctuated between confidence and doubt.

I'm confident that the Yankees have what it takes to win the whole thing this season, where they've fallen short every season since 2000. The club had the best record in the sport over the last 3 months or so, and when you think about it the Yankees played 12 games better than the Red Sox over that same period. Had we been tied, or a
game or two back, we would have won the division by 10 games.

On the other hand, I don't feel like we have the kind of dominating pitching that shuts teams down. Wang is superb, but when he's not inducing ground balls he's league average. Fortunately, he usually induces ground balls. More simply, ball is up Wang goes down. Pettitte is good, but he's not the lock down type pitcher in his mid-30's that he was in his late 20's. Clemens is a mystery. He earns his paycheck by throwing up goose eggs in the post-season, so all eyes will be on him. Sabathia and Carmona will have an opportunity to put the Yankees in a huge hole, and both have ERA+ numbers that would make most grown men blush. The question will be, is the Yankees' offense THAT good this season? We saw what is possible last year when we couldn't buy a hit.

My gut tells me, though, that this team is a little different. This team feels different and they aren't swaggering into the playoffs with the sport's best record this season. They clawed and scratched to get in, and I think they learned something along the way. They learned the kind of dedication and focus that it takes to win every night. Every night was important, and every night was a fight. That's playoff mentality, and the Bombers feel they've been locked into that mentality for months.

For the hell of it, I will post a complete playoff prediction here, just for fun. I'm going to pick the Yankees to win it all, (1) because I believe they will, and (2) if I didn't what's the point in being a fan? Here goes:

NL
Phillies vs. Rockies (Phillies in 5)
Cubs vs. D'Backs (Cubs in 3)

Phillies vs. Cubs (Phillies in 7)

AL
Red Sox vs. Angels (Red Sox in 4)
Yankees vs. Indians (Yankees in 5)

Red Sox vs. Yankees (Yankees in 6)

World Series
Yankees vs. Phillies (Yankees in 5)