Ah, the 2013 MLB playoffs. In a very real sense, it doesn't matter at all -- the baseball season officially ended when Andy Pettitte stepped off that mound in Houston, am I right? But the postseason is still technically happening, and since the Yankees are the only team that matters, I thought I'd take a Yankee-centric look at the match-ups, starting with tonight's AL Wild Card Game.
Both the Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays have a history with the Yankees, though where Cleveland is concerned, we'll have to go back a ways. The Tribe was one of the few American league teams with a winning postseason record against Joe Torre's Yankees, besting the Yankees in the 1997 and 2007 ALDS. In fact, that 2007 ALDS marked the end of Torre's historic 12-year run as Yankees manager. (Trivia question: Can you name the only Yankee pitcher to get a win in that series? Here's a hint: he pitched for the Yankees in 2013, and you probably hate him.) Of course, that series happened so long ago that there were more members of that 2007 Indians club playing for the Yankees (CC Sabathia, Travis Hafner) than for Cleveland (Asdrubal Cabrera) this season. If anything, those dastardly Cleveland midges may have done us a favor, exposing Joba Chamberlain as the fat sack of crap that he is.
As for the Rays, they beat the Yankees in Mariano Rivera's final game -- a crime that will eventually land them in the seventh circle of Dante's Inferno. Screw that.
Shelley Duncan (20 games) -- I'm happy he's still getting work. Good for you, big guy!
Jose Molina -- In every time he played against the Yankees this year I must have jumped out of my seat at least three times and screamed, "You see? That is what a real defensive catcher looks like!"
Clay Rapada (4 games) -- Make that paper, Clay.
Zach McAllister -- Never actually pitched for New York, but I'm sure long-time prospect hounds remember him from his years in the Yankees farm system. He turned into a perfectly average big-league starter this year (100 ERA+), which means the Yankees could have used him.
Nick Swisher -- Anybody else calling a big game for Swish tonight? Russell Martin got the party started last night for all the perfectly useful 2012 Yankees that weren't resigned because the front office (and many fans) became obsessed with their flaws and never seemed to consider the fact that the team had no good replacements. Now it's Swisher's turn!
Jason Giambi -- Look, the Tribe has virtually no chance of winning the World Series. Still, there is no single player in the league I want to win a championship more than the Giambino.
Why Yankees fans should hate them?
I got nothing.
Ummm...let's see. There's the Mariano thing, the way the media fawns all over Joe Maddon, Joe Maddon's stupid glasses, Joe Maddon's stupid face, everything about Joe Maddon, the anti-Semitic ramblings of Delmon Young, Josh "no means no" Lueke, the fact that the Rays starting rotation leads the league in douche-iest MLB Gameday head shots...
At least one PSB honcho who shall remain nameless -- *cough* Tanya *cough* -- hates Tampa with the kind of rage she usually saves only for Joba. It's hard to blame her.
So who should Yankees fans root for tonight?
This one seems like a no-brainer, right? Well hold on a second. We cannot ignore the fact that the winner of this series will go on to play the Red Sox. As far as I'm concerned, this postseason, like 2008, has become an anyone-but-Boston affair, which means that I must root for whichever team has a better chance of knocking off the Red Sox in the ALDS.
That team, sadly, is the Rays. Cliff Corcoran points out that the Indians made the playoffs on the strength of a superb record against sub-.500 teams. The flip-side of that equation is that the Tribe won barely 30% of their games against playoff teams. Anybody who watched the Yankees dominate Cleveland during the regular season could tell that this is not the team to take on the Red Sox. Tampa had a losing record against Boston, but they have the talent to take out the Red Sox in a five-game series.
Does it make me uneasy, rooting for Tampa? Of course. But then I imagine another Red Sox World Series, and the non-stop barrage of ESPN documentaries to follow. I sure as hell didn't come back to America to suffer through another winter of that.
What do you think? Take the poll below, and leave a comment.