Watching Nick Punto face reporters on Sunday night was almost hard to watch, even for a Yankees fan.
A fringe player who looks more like a plumber than a professional athlete, Punto sat ashen and bleary-eyed in front of his locker trying to explain why he had barrelled around third base in the eighth inning like Rex Ryan toward a buffet table. His blunder had doomed the Twins, and now he was the man responsible for turning the lights out for good at the Metrodome.
If it would make him feel better, someone should tell Punto that he has company. After all, the Minnesota infielder is only the latest in a long line of players that famously abetted recent Yankee October runs.
Punto now joins the likes of Mark Wohlers, Trevor Hoffman, Timo Perez, Jeremy Giambi, Byung-Hyun Kim, Byung-Hyun Kim (again), and Tim Wakefield, all individuals whose blunders (either physical or mental) led to improbable Yankee victories.
Punto isn't even the only player from his own team to join the roster of Yankee abettors. Carlos Gomez committed a similarly egregious base running error during a tight Game Two.
Left-field umpire Phil Cuzzi, meanwhile, can talk shop with Jeffrey-Maier-Game umpire Rich Garcia about how much they suck at their jobs.
The ALDS had a very nostalgic feel to it, like I was watching an I Love The 90s marathon on VH-1. The Yankees trailed in each of the three games, but you never got the feeling that they were in any real danger. It was almost as if it was the Yanks' divine right to win.
It's been awhile since I felt that sense of Yankee Destiny. The breaks that marked Games One and Two were the exact types of breaks that happened all the time from 1996-2000.
No one is ever going to feel bad for the Yankees, but the truth of the matter is that it's been some time since you got the feeling the Baseball Gods were smiling on New York. After a five-year period marked by bad-hop Tony Clark doubles, Randy Johnson and Chien-Ming Wang meltdowns and Joba Chamberlain bug attacks, the universe appears to be returning to orbit.
Well, Yankee Universe anyway.
Time will only tell if this good fortune will follow the Yankees into their ALCS throwdown with the Angels. If all this karma portends a Chone Figgins felony-arrest scenario, I'm a very excited guy right now.
Dan Hanzus can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Dan on Twitter at danhanzus.
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