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Down in ALCS and Facing Justin Verlander, the New York Yankees Are Not Dead Yet

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 14:  Mark Teixeira #25 of the New York Yankees hits a double in the bottom of the first inning against the Detroit Tigers during Game Two of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 14, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
Dan LevyNational Lead WriterOctober 16, 2012

George Steinbrenner must have risen from his grave, walked out to Monument Park following the demoralizing Game 2 loss by his beloved New York Yankees, strolled past the plaques for Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio and croaked all over again. 

Or was it Derek Jeter? Did Jeter break his ankle, or did he die on the infield dirt during extra innings of Game 1?

It has to be one of the two, because the only explanation for a seemingly never-ending stream of Yankees obituaries this week would be if one of the team's most beloved figures had actually died. 

It's hard to believe so many people would be writing the Yankees off after two bad games (and one frustrating injury) in the American League Championship Series. Cold as the bats may be, they are still the Yankees.

Jeter is out, and from a baseball standpoint, he is ostensibly dead for the remainder of the postseason. That doesn't mean the Yankees, as a team, are dead along with him. As bad as the first two games were in New York, neither the team nor its chances of making the World Series are anywhere near dead just yet. 

The thing is, the storyline is better if the Yankees are dead. Most fans hate the Yankees (consider me part of that group on most days), so watching them struggle in the playoffs is fun, and writing or talking about those struggles in the gravest possible scenarios is playing to that bloodthirsty audience. 

If by chance the Yankees come back to win the ALCS, the story is all the better: a team left for dead that rose from the ashes to regain its rightful place in baseball's Yankee-festooned history. Against all odds—and against most pundits' prognostications—the Yankees found a way to get the job done. 

Either way, the narrative works.

It still seems premature, though. Jeff Passan from Yahoo! was obviously inspired by the listless crowd in attendance at Game 2, tweeting photos of empty seats and writing after the Yankee loss that the mystique and aura of the old Yankee Stadium are gone, replaced by the new stadium that is "a sarcophagus if there ever was one: no matter how gorgeous and ornate the outside, it remains filled with lifelessness."

Since opening the new Yankee Stadium in 2009, New York is 12-8 in home playoff games. Certainly the numbers haven't been great since the World Series championship in 2009, but it's hard to suddenly blame the atmosphere for why the Yankees couldn't beat the Tigers in two games.

It's fair to blame the bats, which Passan and most others have as well. Passan, catering to the bloodlust, went so far as to call the Yankees a "$200 million joke," explaining the savvy New York fans "understand a fraud when they see it."

If the New York Yankees are a fraud, there are 26 other teams in baseball who would love to borrow their smoke and mirrors.

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