I don’t think I could have written up a more perfect script for the postseason, as a Yankee fan. First, they took three straight from the Twins in the Divisional Playoffs. No surprise there. Minnesota didn’t even deserve to be in the tournament. They only squeaked in because the Tigers folded down the stretch. I was there in person for Game 2, a fantastic extra inning affair ended by a long ball from Mark Texeira, my first game at the new Stadium, and my first postseason baseball game. I’ll never forget it. Then it was on to the ALCS, where the Yanks had to contend with the Angels, a team they’d had a notoriously difficult time handling in clutch situations. The Yanks wanted payback, and they got it, knocking out the Angels in six, with some impressive heroics along the way. But then it was time to separate the men from the boys, and the defending champions stood in the way of the Bombers hoisting number twenty-seven. The Phils are tough, undoubtedly the best in the National League. I had every reason to think the Yanks could be in trouble, and I had my doubts, especially after they lost Game 1 at the stadium to Cliff Lee. But since then, the Yanks have come roaring back, winning three in a row, and now they are on the cusp of ending it, tonight. Jimmy Rollins said the Phils would win it in five. He’s like Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson (or Ocho Cinco, if you’d like), of the Bengals. They should just keep their mouth shut and play the game. Babe Ruth was the only one who ever proved himself a truly successful sports prognosticator, boys, and what do you know, he was a Yankee.
What better way, to, than for the go-ahead RBI last night to come from the lonely Yankee, Alex Rodriguez, who got the Yanks ahead again in the 9th, snapping a 4-4 tie when Joba Chamberlain gave up a crucial home run in the bottom of the 8th. Joba looked dejected, and I can’t say I blame him, but I had a feeling it was going to be okay. The Yanks have had so many come from behind wins and clutch hits this past season that it’s become their stock-in-trade. But A-Rod delivering the goods was the icing on the cake. I haven’t been a fan of this guy, I admit. Not because of the steroids, but because he hasn’t come through on the biggest stage, when the Yanks have needed him most. Not so this year. He’s been in the midst of the action, in each round of the playoffs, and now, he’s on the verge of getting himself some jewelery. If it happens, in my opinion, it’s well deserved. This guy is making me a fan, winning me over with his actions on the field, and he’s doing more than that: he’s becoming a Yankee and earning his pinstripes right before my eyes. This city never forgets its postseason heroes, and I’ll be pleased and proud when Alex becomes one of them.
Of course, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Yanks still need to win that crucial fourth game, if not tonight, then either Wednesday or Thursday when the series comes back to the Bronx. But frankly, I don’t think there is a Game 6. I think it ends tonight, in Philly. Cliff Lee is a great pitcher, but I don’t think that’s going to matter. The Yanks will find a way. I had some doubts earlier in the postseason, even earlier in the Series. No more. The momentum the Yankees have is championship momentum. The Phils have run into a buzz saw, and no offense to Philly fans, but it just looks like the Yankees want it more. Why wouldn’t they? This is probably the last year you’ll see Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui in pinstripes, maybe Andy Pettite too. A-Rod, Jeter, and Posada are getting older. How many more chances will this core group have?
The bottom line is, this feels like a team of destiny, the team that brings back number 27 to the city. I can’t wait for it all. The pageantry, the elation, the parade, buying the championship gear and sporting it to other cities so I can get booed. It’s all part of the fun. And it’s yet another affirmation that I’m here to stay, in the city of my dreams. This championship, if I can be blatantly selfish for a moment, is about the fans, the players, the city, and the team, but it’s also about me. It’s a welcoming present that I can cherish and remember for years to come. So let’s hear it, now, everybody, one time for me! Let’s go Yankees, clap-clap, clap-clap-clap!