HISTORY IN THE MAKING – YANKEES-RANGERS IS ALL ABOUT NOW
ARLINGTON, Texas — This time, there will be very little history
tugging at the
Yankees, or at the opponent.
Eighty-six years’ worth of ghosts? Not this time. Intramural
tensions from a tight division race? Nope. The Rays took that home
with them. For this American League Championship Series, it all
will be about the precious present.
Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia, a pair of bedazzling aces.
Josh Hamilton and Alex Rodriguez, two of the game’s brightest
Joe Girardi and Ron Washington, one postseason veteran and one
newbie, one straight-arrow chalupa salesman and one man whose past
personal demons add a breath of humanity to his team’s improbable
Yankees and the Rangers, one team
with 48 postseason series victories, one with one. One with 27
world championships. One with none.
We aren’t used to a series like this, an important
Yankees series with virtually no
important links of passion, emotion, anger or history.
But even though the
Yankees and the Rangers have met in
three past postseasons — with the
Yankees winning nine of those 10
games, the last nine in a row — there isn’t a lasting memory from
any of it.
What does it tell you that the most remarkable moment in this
relationship of these franchises was the result of a forfeit? That
was Sept. 30, 1971. A week or so before, the owner of the
Washington Senators, Bob Short, had announced that he was moving
the team to suburban Dallas, meaning that for the first time in the
history of the modern game, there would be no team representing the
And the nation’s capital wasn’t happy about it. On the last day
of that 1971 season, at old RFK Stadium, the Senators were leading
Yankees, 7-5, and there were two
outs in the top of the ninth inning. Joe Grzenda had just induced
Bobby Murcer to ground out to first, and Horace Clark was stepping
to the plate.
And it was then that the crowd of 14,460 decided that there
would be no official end to the Senators’ long and mostly
forgettable history in DC.
They stormed the field. They wouldn’t leave. They started
cutting up swaths of grass, stealing bases. The
Yankees’ bat boy had his cap
stolen. And that was that. The umpires ordered the players off the
field, declared a forfeit, and baseball would disappear from
Washington for 34 years.
That’s it. Yes, there was a memorable near-Biblical thunderstorm
during Game 3 of the ’98 ALDS, a game the
Yankees would win to wrap up the
series before gathering in their clubhouse to offer a televised
salute to Darryl Strawberry, who days earlier had been diagnosed
In ’99, with Strawberry back in the fold, they enjoyed a sweep
again after a Game 3 win, this time with a champagne-free
celebration honoring Strawberry’s struggle with sobriety that was
something of a distant cousin to the ginger-ale bath Hamilton’s
teammates provided him after beating the Rays Tuesday night.
These are snapshots, not sentiments, and so when the
Yankees and the Rangers take the
field for Game 1 they do so without the pull of the past. The only
storylines that matter will be the ones created across the next 10
Can Hamilton add another chapter to his beyond-belief tale,
adding a playoff win over the
Yankees to his epic home-run derby
performance at the Old Stadium?
Yankees continue to mow over teams
that used to be known as the Washington Senators (they’re now 12-2
against the Twins in the postseason to go with 9-1 over the
Can Texas get a split out of the first two games at Rangers
Ballpark in Arlington? Because if it can, the
Yankees have the unenviable task of
then facing Lee in Game 3 and throwing Burnett in Game 4 … or
whatever audible they
have to call in order to avoid that.
The history that comes with the Red Sox is nice, the rivalry
that comes with the Angels and the Rays is fun. But the
Yankees and Rangers get to invent
their own unique relationship now, starting in Game 1. It’s
something different. And ought to be fun.
RANGER THAN FICTION
Some facts and figures about the
Yankees’ ALCS opponent:
* The Rangers have had six 100-loss seasons since their
inception as the new Washington Senators in 1961. Only the Mets
have lost 100 games as often. The
Yankees have lost 100 games twice
since 1901. The last time was 1912 (50-102).
* With the Rangers/ Senators finally winning a postseason
series, every team in MLB has won at least one.
* Newly elected Hall of Famer Whitey Herzog was 200 games over
.500 as a manager with the Angels, Royals and Cardinals. He was
47-91 in 138 games with the 1973 Rangers.
* The managers who led the three greatest first-season
turnarounds in Rangers history all are familiar to New York fans.
1. Billy Martin (27 more wins in 1974); 2. Bobby Valentine (25 more
wins in 1986); 3. Ted Williams (21 more wins in 1969).
– Mike Vaccaro
Yankees vs. Rangers
Game 1 Tonight at Rangers 8:07 p.m.
Game 2 Tomorrow at Rangers 4:07 p.m.
Game 3 Monday at
Yankees 8:07 p.m.
Game 4 Tuesday at
Yankees 8:07 p.m.
Game 5* Wednesday at
Yankees 4:07 p.m.
Game 6* Fri., Oct. 22 at Rangers 8:07 p.m.
Game 7* Sat., Oct. 23 at Rangers 8:07 p.m.
TV: TBS Radio: WCBS (880 AM), ESPN (1050 AM)