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ALCS Game 4: Imposters

October 19, 2012

Cano disappears into the offseason (AP)

The Tigers are proving to be our achilles heel in the playoffs.  They dispatched us in 4 games in the 2006 ALDS, in 5 games in the 2011 ALDS, and in a 4-game sweep in this year’s ALCS, becoming the first team to ever take 3 straight postseason series from us.

This year felt different, though.  We’ve been ousted before because of bad luck, underachievement, losing to a great team, but I have never seen us lose like this.  We never had a lead in the series.  In 4 games we scored a total of 6 runs, 2 if you exclude the 9th inning of game 1.  We had 36 strikeouts in the series and 22 hits. Our series batting average was .157.  Our heavy hitters Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez were a combined 8 for 65 at the plate (a .123 average) with 1 RBI.  1.  All of this contributed to our first playoff sweep since 1980 and only our 4th in 51 postseasons (1922, 1963, and 1976 being the other 3).

I won’t downplay how terrible a loss this was.  It was awful.  It was a slow torture.  In the last few innings of game 4 it even looked like the Yanks just wanted the beating to be over.  I just wanted to see some fight, something to show me they cared as much as I did, but it was the first time I ever felt like they didn’t.  I’d have been happy to see A-Rod curse a blue streak after striking out for the umpteenth time, or to see Cano slam his bat down, anything to show me they weren’t already resigned to failure.  But A-Rod chomped his gum and Cano spat his seeds with perfect nonchalance and we quietly eased into the postseason with barely a whimper.  They looked like imposters up there, or like a group of tiny aliens robbed them of their talent, a la Space Jam.  I don’t think I’ll ever understand what we watched over the last week.

Alright, that was my vent.  I got it out of my system.

I tend to be an optimist, so to me moments like these just make victorious ones all the sweeter.  I am also optimistic because the Yankees don’t handle postseason failure very well.  Every time the Yanks have been swept out of the playoffs they’ve come back the next year to win the pennant, and twice win the World Series.  The New York media usually  helps that process along–the front page of today’s New York Post read, “Dear Yankees, we don’t date losers!  Signed, New Yorkers.”  Knowing Jeter, he’ll work harder than he ever has during this offseason to be ready for opening day, and I hope the other guys follow suit.  If they are not motivated by such a humiliating defeat, I’m not sure if anything else will do it.

Finally, enough about blowing this team up.  They won the AL East, fighting off the tenacious Orioles for the last month of the season.  Despite injuries to nearly every vital player on the squad, they secured the best record in the American League.  Yeah, it was an ugly ALCS and yeah, our bats were quiet for nearly the entire postseason, but this team has enough to be successful.  We don’t need to jettison A-Rod to Siberia.  We don’t need to pump Swish full of Adderall and teach him how to field.  We just need to learn how to win without the home run, and maybe how to bunt when teams shift on us.  It was an ugly end to a great year, and it’s going to be a long offseason, but let’s not overreact.

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