LEGENDS OF THE FALL – DARLING: YANKS’ OCTOBER SUCCESS IS JUST ‘EERIE’
Ron Darling gets just an October glimpse of the
Yankees, but it’s enough to leave
the former Mets pitcher in awe of the defending World Series
“From someone who won only one World Series, this is eerie,”
said Darling, who was an analyst for TBS during the
Yankees-Twins ALDS and will be again
for the ALCS that starts tonight.
“They find a way to get it done in October to the point where
the manager is able to change his number,” he said. “And for
someone who used to play, it’s admirable to watch how they prepare,
get ready and produce during the postseason.” Joe Girardi changed
his number from 27 to 28 to indicate the
Yankees’ goal of winning their 28th
World Series. Their ALCS opponent, meanwhile, is just finding out
what postseason success tastes like. The Rangers beat the Rays
3-games-to-2 in their ALDS for the first postseason series win in
Yankees swept the Twins in an event
that seems as common to October as Halloween.
“The biggest challenge is behind [Texas] already – winning a
postseason series,” Darling said. “So I think there will be a
collective sigh of relief for the entire organization and they will
pretty loose playing the
Cliff Lee has proven in this postseason that he can pitch
Yankees team.” But making the
Rangers’ road more difficult is the fact they needed Lee to pitch
them to the ALCS in a deciding Game 5 after blowing two
opportunities to close out the Rays at home. Now Lee – who beat the
Yankees twice in the World Series
for the Phillies last season – will not start against the
Yankees until the series shifts
back to The Bronx for Game 3 on Monday. Still, the Rangers, who
Yankees in early September in
Arlington, are a tougher challenge than the snake-bitten Twins.
“One of the great things about the
Yankees is they know exactly what’s
going to happen,” said Darling, who is analyst on Mets games for
SNY during the regular season. “The level of play gets ratcheted up
from round to round. They played against a team they dominated for
whatever reason. But I don’t think that’s going to make the
Yankees overconfident. It just
reaffirms the kind of team they are.
“The next level you have to prove you can handle the pressure.
And in the World Series you have to show you are a great team.
They’ve been there many times before. They have fallen a couple of
times, but they usually end up on top.” It was tough to imagine
ending up there again heading into the postseason. The
Yankees had a flaw in a rotation
that fell off severely after Game 1 starter CC Sabathia. Andy
Pettitte had made three starts since late July when he strained his
groin, and Phil Hughes would be making his first postseason start
following a mediocre second half. But both came through with
sterling performances against Minnesota.
“The way Pettitte pitched puts them in position to repeat,
whereas a week prior there was a lot of talk whether they had
enough,” Darling said. “Watching them against Minnesota, they
certainly have enough to make another run, which to me is
Yankees vs. Rangers
Game 1 Tonight, 8 p.m.
Game 2 Tomorrow, 4 p.m.
Game 3 Monday, 8 p.m.
Game 4 Tuesday, 8 p.m.
Game 5 Wednesday, 4 p.m. (if nrecessary)
All games on TBS