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Yankees notes: Rivera is still the best

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Here are a few stories to help you pass the time as you wait our New York Yankees to open the ALCS Friday night against the Anaheim Angels.

  • We all know how special Mariano Rivera is. Steve Politi looks at the meltdowns of big-name closers in the first round of the playoffs and reminds us that Rivera is still the closer you want on the mound to polish off a playoff game.

    "He’s been so good for so long, and when he gets here he gets a little better, which is kind of scary, but it’s true," said Joba Chamberlain, his newest setup man. "It’s amazing to watch."
  • Whaa, whaa, whaa! I get so tired of the kind of whining about the Yankees exhibited in this column by Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle.

    If your team has a pretty face, be it Kate Hudson or Mark Teixeira or CC Sabathia or Jason Giambi or Reggie Jackson, you know that face eventually will leave you for the Yankees.

    Yankees fans would have you believe the team's magnetic attraction for great players is due to the organization's charisma, charm and superior intelligence. And Hugh Hefner is popular because chicks dig the meerschaum.

    The Yankees aren't a ball team - they are an ATM.

    The Yankees have more money than Donald Duck's Uncle Scrooge and they spend it faster than Popeye on shore leave.

    Love the Yankees if you must, but spare us the argument that the Yankees win season after season because Brian Cashman is a genius and the Steinbrenners have a pure burning passion to win.

    George S. is out of the picture now, but for decades he was the face of Yankee imperiousness. If the team performed well, it was because Steinbrenner was George Patton, slapping courage into the cheeks of his trembling troops. If they lost, it was because the players lacked the owner's guts and grit.

    What hogwash. The Yankees win because they collect the best players.

    Yankees supporters point out that many Yankees stars (Jeter, Posada, etc.) are home-grown, discovered and nurtured by the great Yankees system.

    What the supporters fail to note is that other teams also find and develop great players, but can't afford to hang on to them when the Yankees knock on the door with a bouquet of flowers and a box of candy.

  • Brian Cashman deserves a ton of credit for putting this Yankee team together. The GM's track record with pitching decisions, though, is unquestionably spotty. That makes this note from Buster Olney very intriguing.

    Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has long been friends with Kevin Towers, who was recently released from his duties as GM of the Padres, and given that relationship, there would appear to be excellent odds that Towers will land with the Yankees as a special assistant sometime in the months ahead. Towers could serve as an evaluator for Cashman, taking on responsibilities like looking for pitching -- which is considered to be Towers' specialty -- or scouting minor leaguers, or helping to prepare the Yankees as they consider options before the trade deadline.

    Personally, I hope that comes to pass. I have thought for a long time that Cashman needed someone he trusted to advise him on pitching moves.
  • Forget the Red Sox. When it comes to the Yankees and the playoffs, somehow it always seems to be about the Angels.

    Truth is, for as much as the Yankees and Red Sox may be the biggest rivalry in sports, it is the Angels - and that Rally Monkey - that have been the Yankees' toughest opponent in recent years. The Angels were the only team to have a winning record against the Yankees during the Joe Torre era, and they knocked the Yankees out of the playoffs in the division series in 2002 and 2005. After the Angels won seven of 10 games between the teams a year ago, the Yankees managed a split of the 10 this season.

    Now, as they get set for the ALCS that begins Friday in the Bronx, the questions about whether the Angels have some kind of hex over the Yankees are running rampant. Even Mark Teixeira, who played the final two months of last season with the Angels, admitted that there is an incredible confidence in the Angels' clubhouse when it comes to the Yankees.

    "I think maybe they just thought they had the Yankees' number," Teixeira said Wednesday.

    You can understand why. While some of the names have changed on the Angels over the years - no more Francisco Rodriguez or Garret Anderson - the philosophy of manager Mike Scioscia's teams has stayed constant ... and constantly effective against the Yankees.

    Let's just hope this Yankee team has the anecdote.