Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera are the last remnants of the Yankee dynasty from the 1990s and 2000. These few players are no strangers to big series, like the American League Championship Series. But tomorrow night, these Yankees are going to have to lead their teammates into unfamiliar territory.
About 50 percent of the New York Yankees postseason roster has never played in a League Championship Series. This means that tomorrow's game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will be a first for many players and coaches. Among the first-timers is Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, who commented on how it feels like to make it this far. "Oh man, I'm excited. I've been to the playoffs three times before and never been in the second round, but I'm going to go out there with the same thing in mind - play hard and play the same game."
Currently, there are eight players on the New York Yankees with at least one World Series ring. But a few of the players that fall into that category have never played in a ALCS or World Series under the lights of Yankee Stadium. It seems like the emotions and ghosts from the Old Yankee Stadium have crossed the street and made themselves feel at home in the new Yankee Stadium.
This is the first time that postseason baseball is being played at the New Yankee Stadium and the first time that the ALCS is in the Bronx since 2004. In 2004, the Yankees had a 3-0 lead over the Boston Red Sox and saw that lead vanish after a few games. That was until in Game Seven, the Yankees lost and the Red Sox moved onto the World Series and made history. The wounds from that 2004 ALCS have healed a lot, because this year's Yankee team brings back memories of the 1996 and 1998 team.
It was that "We will get them the next game!" mentality that harmed and eventually doomed the Yankees in 2004. But after a five year absence from the ALCS, the Yankees have changed their mentality and grown as a team.
Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera, AJ Burnett, and just about the entire Yankees bullpen will all make their ALCS debut in this series. It is the job of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte to make the newcomers feel comfortable and at ease in such a high stake series like the ALCS, especially in the Bronx.
Joe Girardi was also a part of the Yankees dynasty and is very familiar with the League Championship Series. Some of his coaches though, are 40 years old, in some cases 50 years old, virgins to the LCS. The manager's job is just to get on the same page with the rest of his coaches and treat these games no different than other games. Girardi played in second round of the playoffs four times in his career. Girardi used to call pitches the last time he was in an LCS. Now he is the man that has to make the right moves in order for the Yankees to be successful. The pressure on him is immense, but as he has shown in the past he does not fold during crunch time.
All eyes are on those last players from the 1996-2000 Yankees, who's leadership will be tested against a team of experienced Angels. Who will come out on top? It all depends on how comfortable the first-time Yankees feel in a new atmosphere.