It is sort of cliche to talk about “October baseball drama” and “playoff storylines” because at the end, they are playing a baseball game, and the 25 players on the team need to collectively pitch, hit and field well in order to win. But boy oh boy, the Yankees sure know how to create a buzz in a city where nobody needs help creating a buzz.
Tonight’s starting lineup for the Yankees in Game 5 of the American League Division Series:
Missing from the list is the most expensive man in baseball history, Alex “$30M/yr” Rodriguez. In a vacuum, this doesnt seem like huge news; A-Rod has been struggling more than mightily. He took his last opportunity to make a mark Thursday night in Game 4, and promptly went 0-3 with 2 strikeouts before being pulled for the second straight game. Now he is starting the game on the bench for the first time, other than a scheduled day off for his health, for the first time as a Yankee (If I recall correctly). This is no small deal.
Rodriguez no longer has the luxury of getting a chance….he needs to be given a chance if he wants to prove anything. If he doesnt receive that chance, or he does and blows it, a Yankee loss could mean a terrible offseason and a lasting negative impact on Alex’s career. In the right situation, this move could mean the end of A-Rod.
Of course, I’m likely exaggerating; Alex is a professional and he will take the move in stride. He will probably rebound either later this postseason or in the worst case, next season, and finish out his huge contract and retire. But this is a guy that has never been in the position where his team does not have the confidence in him. We just do not know what can happen in this unprecedented situation.
Anyway, tonight I have the home teams winning, the Yankees and Nationals. I believe in the home field advantage working its magic tonight, especially in the Bronx with Jim Johnson melting down twice in this series already. Good luck to your team tonight, hopefully they win.
Both Yankees or Orioles fans should have a lump in their throat though: I watched the entire Tigers-A’s game last night, and I feel for anyone who’s favorite team has to deal with the Tigers and Justin Verlander. Verlander is a guy who gets better as the game goes on, and its clear that he is getting better as the season and postseason progress. He tossed a shutout last night with the Tigers’ backs against the wall, proving he is capable of handling any situation. The Tigers are the most talented and most dangerous team moving forward, in my opinion.
But it’s baseball, and anything can happen in baseball.