Home sweet home
Last October, the Yankees forced a decisive Game 5 against the Angels in the first round, but they had to travel 3,000 miles to play it. Things didn’t turn out so well for the Bombers, who turned right back around after the Division Series loss, making for what was surely one of the longest flights of their lives.
This October, New York will be in a better situation, having secured home-field advantage throughout the postseason on Friday night. Now, as Joe Torre pointed out, it won’t mean anything if they don’t get past the first round, but knowing that they will kick off next week’s playoffs at home — and every subsequent round as well — has to be a good feeling for the guys in that clubhouse.
Considering everything this team went through this year, to have the league’s best record is a pretty impressive feat. I don’t have to remind you of the obstacles, but from Matsui to Sheffield to Cano to Rivera, they have had plenty of them.
Now, with the postseason set to start in four days, a new obstacle has presented itself to the Yankees: Randy Johnson’s back.
Despite some reports being printed and broadcast, the Yankees don’t know whether the Big Unit will be able to take the ball for Game 3 next Friday. Some media outlets are reporting the story as though Johnson has no chance to make his start, but I think that’s jumping the gun.
Sunday will be a big day for the Yankees, who will watch Johnson throw a side session and make a decision as to his availability. Just as many people are saying that the Mets should be able to get by the first round — and possibly to the World Series — without Pedro Martinez, I would say the same thing about the Yankees and Johnson.
Yes, it will certainly be a bumpier road if the Yankees have to throw Jaret Wright and Cory Lidle in Games 3 and 4, but hardly an impossible one. The Twins, who are the Yanks’ likely opponents, will be throwing Carlos Silva and either Matt Garza or Boof Bonser — both rookies — in those two games. Are you telling me the Yankees can’t outslug the Twins in those matchups? Please.
The guess here is that Johnson takes the mound next Friday at the Metrodome. Who knows how effective he’ll be, but things have a way of working out sometimes.