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

champions.

“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

franchise history.

The

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

Yankees.

Cliff Lee has proven in this postseason that he can pitch

against this

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

swept the

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

amazing.”

ALCS

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