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Our Long Nightmare Has Finally Begun

If the Yankees lose, Joe Mauer looms. (AP)

With the help of the their ORP (Only Reliable Pitcher) CC Sabathia, the Yankees finally confirmed that they would indeed be participating in this year’s postseason and we can now stop anticipating a 2007 Mets-like defenestration into the Doubleday Memorial Slough of Despond, the bog where dwell franchises in crisis. And thank goodness that that is over, because now we can get on to some real worrying.

With the Yankees finally getting their ticket punched, the American League playoff field is set. We know that some combination of the Yankees, Rays, Twins, and Rangers will be playing on October 6. What we don’t know is who will be playing who and where. The only thing we can be certain of is that the Yankees will not be playing the Rays, as it is against the rules for a division winner and wild card team to meet in the first round if they come out of the same division. Normally, the team with the best overall record plays the wild card. That can’t happen here, so whichever of the two AL East teams wins the division would play the third seed, the Rangers, while the wild card winner would play the Twins… Unless the Twins abort their five-game losing streak and somehow pass the Yankees and the Rays, in which case they would be the first seed, and then home-field advantage would be determined by consulting the entrails of slaughtered pigeons… My head is swimming. Suffice it to say for now that winning the AL East and finishing with a record superior to the Twins would confer upon them an extra game at Yankee Stadium in each round, and that can’t hurt. The wild card doesn’t get home field advantage. To borrow from Weird Al Yankovich, it doesn’t even get a lousy copy of the home-game.

So, who would make for the most stress-free first round, Minnesota or Texas? The Yankees went 4-2 against the Twins, but outscored them only 24-21. They split with the Rangers, going 4-4, and outscored them 39-33. You can throw out all of those numbers. You might recall that the Mets went 10-1 against the Dodgers in 1988, outscoring them 49-18, but it was the Dodgers who represented the National League in the World Series. The more important issue is how the talent matches up. Over the next couple of days, Jay, Cliff, Stephani, and myself will try to make our case for the most favorable first-round playoff. I’ve gone back and forth on this, but right now I’m thinking the easier path lies through Arlington. I’ll explain why in my next post.