October 10, 2005
I must say, the way the Yankees were playing last month as they overtook the Red Sox, just like their old champion selves again, I thought they were going to find a way to win tonight. The collision between Gary Sheffield and Bubba Crosby at the wall in right field in the second inning was a bad sign, as the Angels went ahead 3-2, but the Yankees kept getting hits in later innings, and eventually some of them would have to score. A bad call by the ump in the fifth inning was the second momentum-killer. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how Robinson Cano was called out for allegedly stepping outside the base path, after catcher Bengie Molina dropped the third strike. Even to the announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, it was clear that Cano ran straight down the baseline, and the dubious call put an end to a rally. Derek Jeter's seventh-inning homer closed the gap to two runs, and when he came up again in the ninth, I was certain the Yankees' best players were going to stage a comeback. Inded, Jeter led off with a single, but A-Rod grounded into a double play. (He looked safe at first to me.) With the Yankees hanging by their fingernails, the next two batters managed to get hits, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield, but Hideki Matsui was just barely thrown out at first on a grounder, and that was it. Given their lousy first two months, it was good that the Yankees came this close to the ALCS, but by their standards, not good enough.
One thing is certain: All four teams in the league championship series are of excellent quality, and deserve to be there. Without either the Yankees or Red Sox playing for the rest of this postseason, however, it will be hard to maintain television viewership. Having had three days' rest, while the Angels battled with the Yankees, the White Sox now have a perfect opportunity to redefine themselves as winners after so many frustrating decades. The last time they played in the World Series (1959), it was in Los Angeles -- in Memorial Coliseum, in fact. White Sox in six. Meanwhile, the NLCS is the same matchup as last year, though with a few new players on both teams. Houston has great hitting, and (now that Andy Petitte is healthy) pitching, but St. Louis matches them in every category, and has the postseason experience to know how to win. Cardinals in five.