OK, so it turned out one out of three was good enough.
The Yanks clinched Saturday, which took most of them (but not the Captain, Derek Jeter) by surprise. Turned out that since the Indians didn't keep up the pressure they'd put on in the second half, the Yanks won the AL East by virtue of having a tiebreaker in the season series.
Confusing, ain't it?
With a fractional chance to deliver the knockout punch today, the Yanks whiffed, losing 10-1 to the Sox behind Curt Schilling. Turned out that the Red Sox victory wasn't necessary, since the Indians finished their late collapse with a 3-1 loss to the White Sox. So the Sox are once again the second place team in the division, despite finishing with the exact same record as the Bronx Bombers. Like last year, Red Sox are also the AL's Wild Card team. Which means that the Yanks and Sox are a couple of ALDS victories away from reprising--again!--the ALCS drama of 2003 and 2004.
Standing in the Yankees' way will be the Los Anaheim Angels of Angeles (the title would get even more exciting if Peter Angelos bought the team). I'm sure Cliff Corcoran will be dishing the statistical skinny on the Halos at Bronx Banter, and it looks like the inimitable Chris Karhl will be previewing the series at Baseball Prospectus. However, the quick and dirty summary has these two teams as Yankees and Anti-Yankees. The Bombers have suspect pitching (8th in the AL in ERA), and a thin bullpen, carried by a monstrous offense (2nd in runs). The Angels have excellent pitching (2nd in ERA) with a deep pen married to a mediocre offense (7th in runs). The Yanks scored 131 more runs than the Angels this season, and allowed nearly a full run of ERA more.
So the question is, does good pitching beat good hitting? Can't help but recall that this resembled last year's ALDS matchup with the Twins.
The Yanks beat the Twins last year, but then ran into the Red Sox killing machine. This time out, the Sox have to contend with...the Sox, of the White variety. The matchup once again mirrors the Yankees, since the Chicagoans depend on run prevention.
A few months ago this sort of thing would have carried Clash of the Titans type implications. But the "Small Ball" White Sox lost a lot of their mystique in allowing the Indians to draw so close at the end of the season.
Exciting times. More tomorrow.