As playoffs begin, Yankees know the score


A post-season of high hopes -- and higher expectations -- begins a 6:07 this evening when CC Sabathia of our New York Yankees fires his first pitch to the Minnesota Twins.

New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica says the Bombers need World Series title to christen new Yankee Stadium a winner.

There will be pressure on them to deliver over the next month, even if it isn't Boss Steinbrenner pressure out of the old Stadium, and the past. There will be pressure on the old guard, Mo Rivera and Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte, who were big winners under Torre the way Jeter was, and have waited a long time to once again win it all.

The old guys will try to win the way they used to and the new guys will try to win for the first time. This is the chance for all of them to show that more than history has made the trip across 161st St.

These Yankees were the best team in baseball over the regular season, and just blew everybody away the second half, the Red Sox especially. They are big favorites in the first round, will be favorites to win the American League Championship Series if they get there, will be the favorites to win the World Series if they make it all the way back there.

George Vescey of the New York Times puts it this way.

By virtue of their 103 victories, the most in the majors, they have raised the specter of the old days, when they used to win the World Series in early October or late October.

Are the Yankees truly back? Depends on the definition. These are not the Twins, who are measured by their gritty trek into the postseason with the 12-inning victory over the Tigers on Tuesday. These are not the Diamondbacks or Angels or Marlins or Red Sox or White Sox or Cardinals or Phillies, who have had their special moments in the gloom and drizzle and midnight drudgery the World Series has become. These are the Yankees. They used to own this month, or at least act like they did.

My take: Strange things happen in the playoffs, so you never know how things will turn out. The best team does not always win in October. That said, I believe this is the best Yankee team of this decade and there should be disappointment if this team does not at least get to the World Series.

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  • Molina to catch A.J. Burnett: Everybody knew this was coming. The most interesting reaction I found came in Rob Neyer's blog, where the headline referred to Posada as a Hall of Famer. Filip Bondy of the Daily News rips Burnett for hurting the Yankee lineup with his inability to adjust to Posada. My take: All I can say is Burnett better be lights out when he pitches.
  • New York Yankees' return to postseason likely a good thing for baseball
    "I think having the Yankees back in the playoffs is good for MLB," said Maury Brown, founder of the sports business Web site bizofbaseball.com. "Whether it is good for baseball is a subjective undertaking.

    "In that, I mean a $200 million-plus payroll says, 'We're buying our way back in,' but it could also be read as the return of compelling story lines. Unless the weather throws a wrench in the mix, I imagine we'll see much better ratings for games this postseason."

  • The biggest problem for the Yankees tonight might be the fact that Brian Duensing, one of those pitchers you have probably never heard of, will be on the mound for Minnesota. No-name pitchers have often been the Yankees' Kryptonite.
  • CC Sabathia has a lot to prove to NY Yankees in the playoffs

    Steve Politi looks at the post-season history of the Yankee ace.

    CC Sabathia is 2-3 in the playoffs with a 7.92 ERA. Dismiss them, if you like, because he was worn down from just getting inferior teams into the postseason. Point to his body of work this season, his late-summer dominance, his Cy Young Award candidacy and everything else.

    All of that is true. But there is no denying this: For his reputation and his nine-figure contract, so far in his career, the Yankees’ Game 1 starter has been nearly as bad as Alex Rodriguez in the playoffs.

    Blasphemy? He even sounds a bit like you-know-who.

    "I think just trying to go out and do too much," Sabathia said Tuesday, an A-Rodian response if there ever was one, when asked about his previous Octobers. "Trying to go out and throw shutouts and throw no-hitters and things like that instead of doing the same things I’ve done during the season."


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