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Five Keys To The Yankees Postseason, And Week 5 NFL Picks
October 9, 2009 - John Whittaker
Did you know that Alex Rodriguez and C.C. Sabathia have struggled in the postseason?
Have you heard that the Yankees haven't won a World Series since 2000 or haven't won a postseason series since 2004?
If you're a Yankees fan, this is the quality of postseason baseball analysis you've been getting for the last couple of weeks. You'd think outlets like ESPN or Sports Illustrated could come up with better, but they never do. It's the same old crap every postseason.
Well, the Whitless Wonder thinks you deserve better. Without further ado, here are five keys to the Yankees postseason nobody's talking about.
1. Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera.
It's a 10 on the no crap-o-meter that Alex Rodriguez and Mark Texeira need to hit, but the real key to the series is how the bottom of the order keeps pressure on opposing pitchers. Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon aren't a concern for me, but you can't let pitchers be able to let up against the bottom of the order. If Cabrera and Swisher are on base a lot, that's what will end up hurting the Twins. They weren't needed much in Game 1 of the ALDS, but Swisher, Cabrera and even Robinson Cano have to be an offensive presence for the Yankees to be effective in October. They can't be making first-pitch outs, try to pull everything or fail to advance runners and expect the Yankees to win games.
2. Can the New Yankee Stadium match the Metrodome?
This feels weird to write, but there is no baseball home field advantage quite like the Metrodome, which took two collectively flawed Twins teams to World Series championships against much better teams in 1987 and 1991. Not only is the place a pain for opposing teams to play in, but it really seems like the fans play a bigger role in the game than in any other park. Old Yankee Stadium, when the Yankees got rolling, was a similar place. The fans were so loud and so into the game they almost made other teams make mistakes. Earlier in the season, crowds in the new stadium sounded like they were at a golf tournament. It will be interesting, as the playoffs go on, to see if the new stadium has that quality. For one night, it did.
3. Jorge Posada.
Forget the 1 for 4 performance at the plate in Game 1. Jorge needs to be much better defensively in Game 3 (Jose Molina will get the start in Game 2) and stop being such a whiner. I love Jorge as much as the next Yankees fan, but there's no excuse for being crossed up twice in a ballgame, especially when the first one had the potential to put the Twins ahead in the first inning. A.J. Burnett isn't the only Yankees pitcher to struggle with Jorge this year, just the most publicized. For the Yankees to win, they need Jorge to provide punch at the bottom of the batting order, but he can't cost them runs behind the plate, either.
4. Corner outfield defense.
I will be the first to laud everything Nick Swisher has brought to the Yankees this year, but he makes routine plays an adventure in right field. I have no more good jokes left to make about Johnny Damon's throwing arm, but he's had some ugly plays on balls hit to him this year, too. It's one thing to make those mistakes against Tampa Bay or Baltimore, but they can't happen in the postseason. Swisher needs to throw to the right base, hit the cut-off man and stop drinking scotch in the clubhouse before the game. Damon has to stop looking at the blonde in the 10th row and thinking about her naked.
5. Do the little things.
Chicks dig the long ball, but championship baseball teams know how to use the little things to win. Sometimes, you have to manufacture runs. There are times you have to bunt runners over to second base. You have to advance runners with sacrifice fly balls and a ground ball to second base sometimes. With a runner on third base and less than two outs, you CANNOT strike out. To win series, you have to have two-out hitting. Good teams move runners over, get runners in with sacrifice flies and once in a while come through with two-out hits.
And, before I forget, pitchers have to keep momentum on the Yankees side. When the Yankees score, they can't come out in the next inning and give up runs. They can't let little things snowball into a 5-run inning. They can't walk the leadoff man or give up hits with an 0-2 count or forget to pay attention to baserunners.
In the regular season, you can get away with home runs and late rallies against crappy relief pitchers. In the postseason, runs are at a premium, and winning is as much about preventing the other team from scoring as it is about putting up runs offensively. Just watch any 1996 Yankees playoff game, and you'll see what I mean.
On to the week's NFL picks.
Pittsburgh at Detroit: Can I just say that I pick Pittsburgh? Is that acceptable?
Oakland at NY Giants: Once again, how in the world did the Giants get such an easy schedule? Does Tom Coughlin have pictures of Roger Goodell doing naughty things with a donkey? Here are the first five games on the Giants schedule - Washington (Cat Poop), Dallas (stinky dog fart), Tampa Bay (putrid), Kansas City (baby poop) and now Oakland (Al Davis poop). Seriously, they'd get better games in the Big 10. At the very least, they'd face better quarterbacks (in other words, Jamarcus Russell sucks).
Cleveland at Buffalo: Congratulations Buffalo -- you're the Cat Poop Salad Game of the Week, proudly sponsored by the News Cat, who will spend Sunday sleeping through this game, interrupted only to lick himself. The Browns have just traded their one offensive weapon and their head coach looks like his next job will be unclogging a drain or parking cars - not a recipe to beat anyone, not even a Bills team that has no idea how to get the ball to its playmakers and whose defense gets used like a test bench in a plunger factory. I'm picking Buffalo, but the News Wife and I might be watching Season 1 of Beverly Hills 90210.
By the way, in addition to costing the Patriots a playoff spot last year, here's another reason Dick Jauron needs to get canned -- at what point in a 31-10 pasting at the hands of a team your fans hate do you go postal on your team? The best Dick could come up with was standing on the sidelines, dutifully taking down Alex Van Pelt's Burger King order through his headset and picking his butt. If ever there was a justified time for a temper tantrum, or pulling out a gun and waving it around like a bad guy from Die Hard, Sunday's game was it. Instead, Jauron was a walking advertisement for Ritalin. Nice job, butthead.
Dallas at Kansas City: I'd love to know what Tony Romo's score was on the Wonderlic test, because it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know you don't throw the ball at Champ Bailey in crunch time. Romo's lucky the Chiefs don't have anyone nearly as good as Bailey, because the Cowboys are as close to a must-win game as you can have in mid-October. Romo might want to send Jessica Simpson some flowers and buy her new album (it'd be the only copy sold so far) and ask her to take him back. I'm picking Dallas.
Minnesota at St. Louis: Minnesota wins another easy game as the Brett Favre Popsicle Sucking Tour continues. After Monday's game, when Favre made such a spectacle of how much he loves Minnesota while never once acknowledging the fans who bled Cheese Whiz rooting for him when he was a nobody, what type of reaction does he get in Lambeau later this season? That won't be cheese they're throwing Brett. In fact, it might be diapers filled with baby poop.
Cincinnati at Baltimore: The smart money says a ticked off Ray Lewis doesn't lose this game, or, at least, that a Ray Lewis ticked off at a couple of bad roughing the passer calls last week cleans Carson Palmer's clock at least twice this week. Yeah, I'm going with that. Baltimore should win this one.
Washington at Carolina: I'm picking Carolina in an upset, if you can call it that. Jake Delhomme is better than four quarterbacks in the NFL, and Jason Campbell is one of them.
Tampa Bay at Philadelphia: Would anybody else be surprised if Tampa Bay kept this game close? If I was picking with the spread, I'd probably go with the Bucs. Since I'm just picking the winner, I'm going with Philadelphia.
Atlanta at San Francisco: I just can't go against the 49ers, even with Shaun Hill at quarterback. I'm still not completely sold on Matt Ryan and the Falcons - there's something about that team that smells like I just had Mexican food. I don't know if it's their receivers or the fact that the Falcons aren't running the ball that well this year. I'm going with Singletary and the 49ers.
Jacksonville at Seattle: Maybe I was a little too hard on the Jaguars, who made Tennessee look like a college team last week and lost a tight game to Indianapolis in Week 1. I still think they're weak at quarterback and wide receiver, but the Jags have enough to beat the Seahawks on Sunday. At least Jacksonville fans will be able to see that game. Welcome to the era of road field advantage.
Houston at Arizona: I'm not surprised Arizona's 1-2. They are a mediocre team that can catch fire offensively like they did in the postseason last year. Houston should have enough to beat the Cardinals, unless Kurt Warner finds the Fountain of HGH.
New England at Denver: Fred Taylor, welcome to the injured list. Injured list, meet Mr. Taylor. How embarrassing, you've already met 37 times. Adios Fred, we hardly knew you. On the plus side, Taylor's ankle injury means BenJarvis GreenEllis will be active again - and the most complete and non-injury prone of the Patriots running backs is back in the lineup.
Even without Taylor, I think the Patriots will handle the Broncos. He's a decent quarterback and all, but Kyle Orton doesn't strike fear into anyone. The Denver defense has given up 26 points all season, but they haven't played Tom Brady yet - you know, a quarterback smart enough not to throw twice in the end zone right at Champ Bailey.
Indianapolis at Tennessee: I'm tired of picking Tennessee - they're like the GoDaddy.com commercials. They're sexy, but in the end are a big disappointment. Ladies and gentlemen, you're 2009 Tennessee Titans - big boobs and a bigger disappointment. At some point, you are what your record says you are - and the record says Indianapolis beats up on the Titans.
NY Jets at Miami: I pick the Jets, and that's all I have to say about that. I hate both teams and don't want to waste the time and energy thinking about them. This game smells like a burned hair covered in turd.
Since the News Wife and I won't be watching this game, who else loved the Robin 101 idea last week on How I Met Your Mother? It's nice to see the writers not neutering Barney like they did Ted when he dated Robin, and I think I speak for every man in a committed relationship (love you, News Wife) that there are times when you wish you had a notebook with some of that information. An episode half as funny as last week's will still be more entertaining than the Jets harpooning the Dolphins.
Last Week's Record: 9-3
Season Record: 39-19
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