As the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim celebrated the continuation of the ALCS, there must be countless thoughts running through fans' minds as the series shifts back to the Bronx.
1. Who has the momentum?
It's easy to say that the Angels have the momentum, as they have the most recent win in the ALCS, which is now 3-2 in the Yankees' favor. But when the Yankees and Angels play one another, anything is possible! Most fans know that the Angels are the only team with a winning record against the Yanks (73-63 since 1996), but before the series even began, Mike Scioscia was cautious in his approach.
"You can take all that and throw it out," Scioscia said, of the Angels' post-season dominance of New York. "Right now it's a different environment, different series."
Oh, but can you really Mike? The Yankees can give their fans MANY reasons to believe the worst at this current point. They are the only team in baseball to have ever blown a 3-0 series lead in the playoffs, and their wins in this post-season have been overshadowed by terrible umpiring, defense, and base running of the opposing teams! The yanks haven't dominated many games by themselves, winning only the first game against the twins (7-2) and the fourth game against the Angels (10-1) in overwhelming fashion.
Of course, good teams find ways to win, and bad teams find ways to lose. But the bottom line is that the Angels were the underdogs for this series, and they have every reason to lose (half the payroll, curse of Gary Matthews Jr., home field disadvantage, rally monkey, etc.) But the Yankees have NEVER beaten the L.A./California/Anaheim/L.A. of Anaheim Angels in a playoff series, and combined with the pressure of their fan base and the media, it will be no easy task!
2. Will the series end through the players or the umpires?
Obviously, this has been an atrocious post-season for the umpires and there really is no need to go through them at this point. But now, even WATCHING games is becoming harder and harder for both fanbases! Your emotions are high as you wait for the umps to raise their hand and send the batsman back to the dugout, but wait...wasn't that a strike!? Didn't he get his hand back in time!? Are they REALLY saying that ball landed foul!? You get the point..
The joy of sports is that it unites the communities, people who you will never know or frankly care to know, but they were there when you celebrated a walk-off homer or game ending strikeout! But at the end of the day, this is just a game and both fanbases want to win the right way. Nobody wants an asterisk next to their championships (Ala Dallas Stars in '99), but never has that been more important than this current post-season, where a record must've been set for blown missed calls! Hopefully, we all can be satisfied by a clean result.
3. Will my manager cost us the series?
Both sides have beef with many decisions so far taken by their respective managers. On the Yankees' side, Girardi has made many questionable decisions such as removing Dave Robertson in the 10th inning of game 3 (for another righty), his constant chatter with pitchers during innings, making a post-season roster without a true pinch hitter (Eric Hinske), and putting too much faith in AJ Burnett (and too little in his bullpen) in game 5. Angels' fans will also complain about Mike Scioscia's decision of keeping Guerrero in the cleanup spot, not playing "Angels' baseball" (utilizing more hit and runs and steals), and most recently, not putting enough faith in John Lackey (and even more inexplicably, using a 60 year old relief pitcher in his spot).
Naturally, there will be anxiety from both fanbases, but in Girardi's case, losing this series could very well cost him his job! But for now, there really is only one thought on the minds of Yankees' and Angels' fans...
IS IT THE WEEKEND YET?