From the moment the Los Angeles Angels took a first inning lead in Game 5 of the ALCS, the national and local media began dredging up the New York Yankees 2004 ALCS collapse. Glee may have even been heard in the voice of lead Fox announcer Joe Buck. But whether or not this year’s Yankees advance to the World Series, one thing is for sure, this team has nothing in common with the ‘04 squad.
Pitching wins championship and that is the major difference between the current squad and the one five years ago that squandered a three games to none lead. Mariano Rivera is the only hurler to be on both team’s rosters. Had tonight’s Game 6 starter AndyPettitte taken the mound for Game 6 back then, there may have been a different outcome. And while CC Sabathia , already 3-0 in this post-season, waits in the wings in the event of a seventh game, the Yankees had to go with a creaky Kevin Brown in the decisive ‘04 contest.
The ‘04 team hit with a vengeance through the first three games of their showdown with Boston, and then, to a man, completely stopped hitting. DerekJeter, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, and Hideki Matsui are the only players left from the prior roster. And while the current team has struggled throughout these playoffs to score without the aid of a home run, they’ve proven throughout the season that no deficit is too small. Even before losing Game 5 Thursday night, the Yankees turn a 4-0 deficit into a 6-4 lead.
And this year’s opponent should not be overlooked. The Angels don’t have more than three-quarters of a century of losing hanging over the heads. They’re an established winning franchise, with arguably the top manager in baseball at the helm. They are a team capable of coming back from a three games to one deficit.
So while it remains to be seen if the Yankees will play for their 27th championship, there’s no question that this team has built its’ own reputation and will determine its’ own legacy.