Baseball is better with the Yankees in the playoffs and having a competitive Yankees club – instead of one on life support – makes the playoffs that much more enjoyable.
We all know New York spends a lot for their success, but the Tigers were not shy this past offseason when they signed Prince Fielder and made him the highest-paid roster player at $23 million. Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander are not struggling financially either, making $21 and $20 million, respectively.
Prior to spring training, all of Detroit and most of baseball experts were drinking the championship Kool-Aid before a pitch had been thrown. Detroit struggled throughout most of the regular season – not possessing first place in the AL Central much of the time – and got in the postseason with a Chicago White Sox September collapse. But as they say in all of sports, just get in.
They escaped a near scare in the American League Division Series as the Oakland Athletics put up a hell of a fight than (more than the Yankees did) despite their payroll being 29th in Major League Baseball.
Now, the team from the American League with the worst winning percentage is ready to square-off with what appears will be the St. Louis Cardinals—a team with an identical record who finished second in the NL Wild Card.
I won’t take up any time with a game-by-game recap, because watching the games was painful enough that I don’t want to put my readers, or myself, through that nightmare again. All I will say is that nobody on the Yankees roster – Raul Ibanez the exception – played the way one is supposed to or represented the franchise the way they pride themselves when playing October baseball.
Through nine postseason games, here are your New York Yankees folks, the best baseball can buy: Robinson Cano (.075, 3-for-40), Curtis Granderson (.100, 3-for-30, 16 K’s), Alex Rodriguez (.120, 3-for-25, 12 K’s) and CC Sabathia’s Game 4 ALCS outing (3 2/3 inning, 11 hits, six runs, two two-run home runs on 93 pitches). That is not how your horse and No. 1 starter is supposed to perform on the road in a playoff elimination game. Simply put, the Yankees did not play to what their contracts claim they’re worth.
Or, maybe the Tigers are just better and it took them 150 games to get where everyone thought they’d be from the opening pitch of the season. Even with Fielder and Cabrera not performing as great as they should with the paycheck they receive, the rest of the lineup picked up the load, as is evident by the play of ALCS MVP Delmon Young, who batted .353 (6-for-17) with two home runs and six RBI.
Verlander was spectacular again, going 8 1/3 of three-hit ball with his only mistake being a solo home run in the ninth of game three. I’m still disappointed that there was no Verlander and Sabathia matchup, which I was highly anticipating.
For whatever reason though, we keep overlooking the teams that sneak in on the last day of the regular season and again and again they seem to be the ones that win it all. The Tigers were never going to have home field advantage this postseason, yet they are four games from a championship. And their opponent may once again be a Wild Card team who still has their never-say-die attitude from last year’s run.
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