When I think about the Yankees and the Indians in the postseason, I think about about the 1997 ALDS series, and Sandy Alomar’s heroic homerun off Mariano Rivera in his could-do-no-wrong season that sparked the Indians to a World Series Run. I think about the 1998 ALCS and the improbable series lead for just a split second only to watch it get away from us. Watching the games in the fall with my buddy Justin–leaving early from our Homecoming Dance to catch the end of the game, fingers crossed as we hoped for this team to get by the mighty Yankees and get to a World Series. I think about John Mellencamp and hearing “Small Town” on the radio as Tom Hamilton said “And the Indians….have gone to the World Series!”
I think about the down years and watching this team fade away. The years when nothing but leaves russled in a hollowed out Jacobs Field, and only memories of the crowd that formerly filled the stands could fill Indian’s fans with what was missing for their postseason fix.
Tomorrow evening, that’s all over. The 6 year absence will end with the first pitch that Charles Sabathia delivers to the Bronx Bomber’s leadoff man. It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that we were here, but so much in the world has changed since the Yankees and Indians last had a tilt during the postseason.
The Indians no longer have that team that relies on the 3-run homerun from the heart of the order. They now have a lineup that evenly distributes power and wins with pitching and timely hitting. This isn’t your father’s Indians. This is the new and improved team that defies everything the baseball world has become. This roster has been strung together with a lower payroll but they have locked up their young players to long term contracts in hopes of making a run that would last for several years, as the mid to late 90’s Tribe teams did. This time, they’ve got the top of the rotation pitching to hopefully deliver a title in that run. The players have delivered for manager Eric Wedge for the first time, getting themselves into position where experts like Buster Olney, Peter Gammons, and myself pick them to defeat the mighty Yanks in this playoff series. Olney actually picks the Indians to win the World Series, as he did back in April before the season began.
The Yankees have those old faces as well. Jeter, Torre, Posada, Rivera, and those bleacher creatures that live in right field.
The Indians fended off the World Champion Detroit Tigers to arrive here. The Yankees fought off early season slumps, drama, and the usual bringings of the Bronx Zoo to make yet another postseason appearance.
The Yankees best player is Alex Rodriguez, coming off a season of nearly 60 HR and 150+ RBI. The Indians best player is Grady Sizemore, making his first postseason appearance and coming off his worst season in his fine young major league career.
No matter what happens, this is the crown jewell of the MLB playoffs. Enjoy it. It will be one to remember.
One time for your city so starved of victory, Tribe. One time.
Indians in 5.