MLB Playoffs 2011: Why the Texas Rangers Would Rather Face the New York Yankees
The Texas Rangers, despite some knee-jerk reactions following their Game 1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, were able to stave off the Rays in convincing fashion in Game 4 by winning their second consecutive game by the score of 4-3.
To be honest, I feel that no matter whom they take on in the American League Championship Series this weekend, they should be able to defeat them. But anytime there is more than one option, it's human nature to speculate as to which provides the best perk.
The New York Yankees are the team I'd rather face if I'm the Texas Rangers. This decision will certainly be seen as obtuse by some.
Seriously, man? The Texas Rangers are hitting .238 against the Yankees, and .231 at Yankees Stadium with only two home runs.
Yeah, and the Yankees' new-ish home is a launching pad for many other teams. And the Texas Rangers hit much better against the Detroit Tigers (.269 to be exact.)
Sure, if it's the Yankees in yet another 2010 postseason rematch, the Rangers will be giving up home field advantage. And who doesn't want home field advantage in the playoffs? And the Yankees will have the "revenge" factor and...
Nope. I'd still rather pay the New York Yankees, and here's why.
5. It's the New York Yankees
Sure, A.J. Burnett's 2011 ERA (5.15, actually lower than last year's 5.26) is quite appealing to most teams, especially the Texas Rangers.
But hey, Burnett was very solid in last night's 10-1 rout over the Detroit Tigers.
It was a big game for the Yankees, and hey, who would've thought that Burnett would earn the win when the Yankees were step away from elimination?
Not me. And maybe not even the NY Yankees.
But they did, and now, anything goes in that "other" ALDS. But A.J. Burnett—who in my mind is like a taller version of Rich Harden with tattoos—isn't even one of the reasons I'd rather play the Yankees.
I want to play the Yankees because they're the Yankees.
It's a tired old cliche, and maybe not even true in this scenario, but you always want to become the best by beating the best. And sure, the Tigers just might be better, but few (aside from last year) have dominated the Rangers like the Yankees.
Actually, no one else (aside from the San Francisco Giants in last year's World Series) have ever dominated the Rangers in postseason play.
And I'll never, ever get tired of watching A-Rod's face when his team gets knocked out of the postseason—by the Texas Rangers.
4. Justin Verlander
With Justin Verlander, you basically get a packaged deal.
He's the pitcher that's also his own closer.
That's what happens when you hit 99-100 MPH in the later innings. Unbelievable.
By playing the Yankees, the Rangers get to miss Verlander (who has a 2.00 ERA against them this year with four strikeouts over a complete game).
Isn't that reason enough?
Plus, I feel that Verlander's best postseason games are ahead for him. I would hate for those games to be against the Rangers.
3. C.C. Sabathia
I read an article a few months ago (that's not very specific, but I read almost constantly—I actually just read that) that purported to rank the most "un-athletic" athletes in professional sports.
Essentially, it became a list of overweight athletes.
Look, C.C. Sabathia is far from thin. But the dude is an athlete. Being heavy has nothing to do with athletic ability.
It could, however, hinder the possibilities of your peak performance. Plus, it can cause your body to break down.
People lift weights for a reason. And they run, too. It doesn't looks as if Sabathia does either of those.
He does pitch, however, extremely well. More importantly, he has struggled against the Rangers, and that's a good thing.
He won both starts against Texas this season, but he wasn't exactly sharp. He walked six, and finished with an A.J. Burnett-like 5.12 ERA over those two contests.
It was last year's ALCS, when the Rangers feasted on C.C. like the big man would a buffet. In Game 1, Sabathia lasted only four innings, he gave up a home run and four walks with only three strikeouts, and he had a bigger-than-his-belly 7.20 ERA.
He hasn't been much better in this year's postseason against the Tigers, either—in two starts, one of which was postponed due to rain, thus knocked him (and Verlander) out of the starter's role—his strikeouts have improved, with seven, but his walks are high (six) and his ERA is pretty bad, at 5.06.
Okay it's like the sore tooth you can't stop touching, I'm moved beyond belief to talk about the man's weight. I'll end on these:
Why isn't he sponsored by CC's Pizza? Talk about a relationship that could be "mutually beneficial." And just how much do you have to weigh to look that large when you're 6' 7" tall?
Last one: He's listed at 290. Really? That's the statistical equivalent to calling a bald man "curly" or listing Randy Johnson as 6' 5" tall.
2. Comerica Park
With the Detroit Tigers, when it comes to a potential ALCS showdown with the Rangers, you have to ask yourself: "Is home field advantage really an advantage?"
The Rangers are 1-1 there so far this postseason, and their win was a nail-biting, 8-6 slug fest.
The loss? An 8-0 shellacking of their best starting pitcher, C.J. Wilson.
Plus, I'm not exactly chomping at the bit to welcome a team from Motor City that absolutely rakes at the Rangers' Ballpark in Arlington—to the tune of a ridiculous .373 batting average.
But it's really not about the Texas Rangers' home—that's a relatively small sample size, and the Rangers hit well there, too. It's more about the Tigers' hacienda, Comerica Park.
The Tigers hit .288 at home, and against left-handed pitchers (of which the Rangers have three in their four-man rotation), they hit even better: .291 with 31 home runs.
And it's not just about how well the Tigers hit at Comerica; it's also about how poorly the Rangers handle their lumber in Motown.
Sure, their batting average isn't too terrible (.269) but some parks just have that bad vibe, y'know?
When the Rangers step into Comerica, it's like checking into your hotel room, flipping on the lights as you throw your suitcase on the bed, and finding "Help Me!" written in blood on the mirror.
Okay, maybe that not bad. But still, I'd rather play in New York; ironically enough, the city where you're most likely to encounter the whole blood-on-the-mirror-in-your-hotel-room-scenario.
Just tip the cabbie, and order your pizza fast, that's all I'm saying.
1. The Detroit Tigers in General and Miguel Cabrera in Particular
As discussed previously, the Detroit Tigers love hitting in their ballpark, Comerica Park.
They have good reason to, as well, since they're batting .288 there.
Detroit also does pretty well against the Rangers in Arlington, Texas, too.
The previous statement is like saying that "Milton Bradley kind of has anger management issues."
The Tigers destroy at the Rangers' Ballpark in Arlington. They are batting .373 there this year—that's their highest batting average anywhere.
Oh yeah, and the Tigers have some dude named Miguel Cabrera on their roster.
Cabrera has that certain something that doesn't really come off or translate in statistics—he's that guy that makes you picture bad things happening to your team when he strides to the plate.
Evan Longoria is that guy for Tampa Bay—although he doesn't scare me anymore, since he'll have to buy a ticket like the rest of us to show up at an ALCS game this year.
Aside from Curtis Granderson, no one really scares me in that Yankees lineup. Certainly not as much as Cabrera.
Plus, with A-Rod doing his annual postseason disappearing act and Teixeira not doing much better, the Yankees just seem easier to shut down right now.
And it's not just Miguel Cabrera that can hit.
This Tigers team is solid top-to-bottom—although, to my mind he's the scariest Tiger—and the team as a whole hits extremely well against the Rangers, better than against any other team this year (aside from their chief AL Central rival White Sox), with their .317 batting average.
So bring on the New York Yankees, I say.
Let's have a 2010 ALCS rematch, hopefully with the same results as last year.