Past Franchise Experiences Can Benefit Yankees Now

Yankees ALCS News

Can the Yankees come back in this series?

Players past their prime tend to struggle. If they’re not struggling, they tend to become unhealthy the older they get instead. Franchises generally try to keep as many players as possible on the roster in or around their prime to stay competitive.

One of the few benefits of having an older team like the Yankees do (besides the fact four of their veterans are future Hall of Famers) is being able to draw upon past experiences. Since nothing in the present is a positive for a team struggling to not only hit but make any contact with a baseball, the past may be the only silver lining.

Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte were there. Both times.

In 1996, the Yankees trailed the defending champion Braves in the World Series two games to none just as they trail the Detroit Tigers now. Instead of Joe Girardi’s father passing away, it was Joe Torre’s brother coming off a major heart surgery.

Instead of having a fractured ankle, Derek Jeter was only then just becoming Derek Jeter. New York had just been outscored 16-1 at home, losing both games and having an anemic offense against John Smoltz and Greg Maddux. Game Three awaited in Atlanta against future Hall of Famer and 300 game winner, Tom Glavine.

We know the rest. The Yankees won Game Three, overcame a six run deficit to win Game four, Andy Pettitte pitched the game of his life in Game Five and the aforementioned, Girardi, then a light-hitting catcher, tripled in Game Six.

The Error, The Leyritz Homer, The Pitcher’s Duel and The Triple. The Yankees went into Atlanta and won all three games and then came back and took Game Six at home. It was the start of a dynasty and the beginning of a long line of disappointment for the Braves.

The Yankees surely also remember the other side.

The 2004 ALCS vs the Red Sox. A 3-0 series lead in the middle of three at Fenway. A 19-8 embarrassment the night before. Nobody outside of the clubhouse thinking the Red Sox had a chance. Two ninth inning leads with the greatest closer in the history of the game on the mound and two games waiting just in case at Yankee Stadium.

The Steal, the Bloody Sock, The Bellhorn Blast and The Damon Grand Slam.

The Bronx Bombers know better than anybody a series needs just a few signature moments to turn upside down and if they want to avoid losing in four or five games without their Closer and their Captain, that’s exactly what will need to happen.

It’s very likely Justin Verlander could shut down a lineup which has produced just 20 runs in seven games in the postseason. It’s extremely realistic the Yankees go down 3-0 and turn to CC Sabathia to avoid a sweep which he may or may not do.

But it’s not unprecedented and not unfamiliar, even to some players still on the team (Pettitte comes to mind) that the series is far from over. It takes one miracle victory and then a red-hot ace takes the mound against the Tiger’s weakest link. After that, it’s Pettitte in that same familiar Game Five turning point game he has been in before. Then it’s back to Yankee Stadium with a red-hot Kuroda waiting on full rest.

Have the Yankees earned the benefit of the doubt? Probably not, it’s hard to remember darker days for a team in a Championship Series.

Can the Yankees come back in this series?

It’s a possibility. The saving grace is the pitching has been fantastic. Kevin Millar always said they knew they weren’t out of it because if they found a way to win Game Four they had Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez waiting and then in Game Seven anything could happen.

Surely the Yankees feel the same way about Game Three with the Tigers.