Joe Perez: The Yankees are going to win the World Series
The New York Yankees are going to win the World Series.
I know, I know, I know. I said this all a year ago. But what fan in his or her right mind wouldn’t have such undying commitment to their team as the postseason begins?
If I were to tell you that all I care is that the Red Sox lose would be off the mark. I would also start sounding like a Sox fan — paranoia and all.
Honestly, I want a Yanks-Sox American League Championship Series. Why? Wouldn’t it hurt the Sox and their rogue nation if they were steamrolled by the Yanks en route to the World Series?
Sure, there are reasons to believe the Yankees won’t even make it out of the ALCS, nevermind the Series. But unless the California Angels of Anaheim of Edison Field of Orange County of whatever show up, I’m not about to break a sweat. And why should I or any other Yankees fan? But this year’s team has a lot of the feel of the 1996 Yankees’ championship team with the blend of cagey vets and sparkplug newbies.
The Red Sox? Ha! They barely were able to hold onto a 14 1/2-game lead built upon battering the Trenton Thunder’s pitching staff. And that Eric Gagne trade looks better every day. I’ll take Joba Chamberlain.
Cleveland? The Indians didn’t beat the Yankees once this season. Maybe I should put it this way: Fausto Carmona, Cleveland’s surprising pitching ace, lost to the Yanks while Kei Igawa inexplicably managed a win over the Tribe. OK, here’s where I acknowledge the big, white elephant in the room. Yes, the Halos give me reason to pause. Maybe it’s a bad flashback to seeing Francisco Rodriguez trot out of the bullpen to stymie the Yanks in 2002.
If the Yankees can avoid facing the Angels, I am going to be a much more confident man. If they happen to come head-to-head, there are some demons that need to be put to rest.
The last two seasons have seen the Yankees produce some quality players from their farm system, a criticism of the franchise for much of the last decade. There’s been Chien-Ming Wang, Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera who arrived a year ago and, despite what anyone says, Andy Phillips’ contribution this
year can’t be forgotten.
But for all the talk justifiably celebrating Chamberlain’s impact on the pennant race, he isn’t the Yankees rookie who may leave the greatest mark on this year’s postseason.
That would be Phil Hughes.
While Hughes, who arrived in the Bronx far more heralded than Chamberlain, isn’t striking out two out of every three batters he faces, look at his numbers in September as he continued to get his legs back under him after a hamstring injury.
Here’s where Hughes’ value surpasses Chamberlain. If Roger Clemens is unable to pitch, who do you think takes his spot in the rotation? Not Igawa. And if the Rocket launches, Hughes becomes a quality arm in the bullpen to help Chamberlain and Rivera.
In the discussion of who will reign supreme in the American League, let’s also not forget who’s been the best team in baseball since the last day of May.
Hint: It ain’t the Red Sox, Angels, Indians or anyone not playing it’s home games in the Bronx. And there’s no place better than the Bronx in October.
Reach Joe Perez of The Norwich (Conn.) Bulletin at 860-425-4257 or email@example.com.