Crazy Yankee Chick: When Will Baseball Stop Using History as Performance Barometer?
After slicing through the Red Sox like they were a middle school softball team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of the greater state of California as part of the United States, Eastern Hemisphere of Earth within the Milky Way, will face the Bronx Bombers in the first game of the ALCS this Friday.
I just lived through my second day of nauseating downtime before my nerves become manhandled by a searing vice grip. It's your classic case of being in hurry-up-and-wait mode--and feeling physically sick every time you think of the closing gap of proximity, and yet still being eager for the day to arrive.
Right now, Yank fans are divided between two schools of thought: those who wanted to face the Sux (and not because they do, in fact, suck, but because of the media hype/excitement/belief that it's not a true series unless we face them)...and those who didn't want to have to hear the world explode with references to "the last time these 2 teams saw each other in the ALCS..."
Me? I'm not sure where stand, but I AM sure that it's immaterial. We're facing the Angels, and they're good. Real good. Just...not as good as the Yankees.
Maybe the hardest part about watching this series, for me, will be the fact that it's just raw baseball. No greatest rivalry ever. No score to settle. No scandalous ill-will between any players. No curse to couch every last element of the game.
Just the two best teams in baseball with the two best line-ups, duking it out. The pitchers' duel of series, so to speak. My sister noted, "I'm actually a lot more nervous than if we were playing the Sux. I mean, with them I know what to expect, I know that they'll do something to piss me off and I'll be angry the whole game. The Angels are now gonna open up cans of worms on my emotions that I didn't know existed."
Yep, it's just plain ol' "good vs good" (or Angels vs Demons, if you're subscribing to the popular opinion, I guess). On Fox. Joe Buck. Tim McCarver. Which would suggest that New York has the edge here, since we'll all be in Hell.
HOWEVAH, our cohorts at OC Weekly seem to have a different opinion on the matter, citing 13 reasons why they're feeling "confident" about the match-up.
I beg to differ.
Some of the Reasons To Believe include:
- NY lost to the Angels in 2002 and 2005
- The Angels are the only AL team with a winning record against the Yanks under the Torre reign
- The Angels' BA is .285 to the Yanks' .284
- Jeter sucks on defense
- Lackey/Kazmir have dominating history against Yanks
Point #3 is, uh, not exactly something I'd hang my hat on. It'd be like me saying, "We got this shit locked up. Can you motherf-rs count? 663 walks to your 547? It's almost SINFUL."
Actually that point probably is more compelling than the first one made, which accurately notes the Angels' success against the Torre Yankees. Things that rival this fact in terms of "relevance" and "bearing on current series at hand" include, but are not limited to, Oliver Perez's off-season recovery, and corn.
Points #1, #2, and #5 are immaterial. And frankly, I'm surprised Angels fans would use historical achievement to substantiate their confidence. Didn't Anaheim have a bit of trouble faring against Boston in postseasons past? As in, they've been sent packing 3 times in the last 5 seasons thanks to the Sox. As in, they were swept in '04 and '07 and could only muster up 1 win in '08.
This year? This Sox never knew what hit 'em.
As for Lackey/Kazmir owning the property deed to the Yankees' ass, well, I can think of a few times when the pitcher's stats failed him miserably in the playoffs. Like, say you hadn't let up a run in 26 innings of playoffs. And then you let up 3 to lose the game.
As for those drinking the "Jeter sucking defensively" Kool-Aid...go kick rocks.
So maybe we make a cooperative decision to stop trotting out historical patterns and trends and W-L records to fluff the odds. Because if anything, when I hear a team hasn't beat another team yet, my money's on the overfeated. You never know when they'll have their day.
In the words of Gary Sinise in "Ransom":
From this day on, every time you leave L.A., go on the road, go to play, see a friend...or buy a f'ing comic book, you're gonna have to ask yourself, "Is TODAY New York Yankees Day?"
Coming up tomorrow...why playing the Yankees should inspire more discomfort and trepidation than a "we need to talk" text message.