…what Yankees achieved in the eighth inning Friday could have enormous October implications, because regardless of whether the Red Sox win the division or not, there is no getting around the fact that New York drew mental blood.
I know Buster Olney wrote this in the bleary-eyed dawn of Friday night/Saturday morning, and I am reading his script with the privilege of an extra day of baseball in the aftermath of yesterday’s dismantling of the supposed blood-drawers from New York. But I can’t help but think that Olney was writing more about the stereotypical Sox fan than he was about the actual Sox team. Players, it is clear, don’t have the emotional swings that us fans do. They are trained to play long seasons, to endure ups and downs, to battle through slumps, to get kicked in the crotch in the late innings and have to play the next day, to remain sharp enough and focused enough to get clutch hits off world-class pitchers despite having failed miserably just hours earlier. It was clear yesterday that the Red Sox didn’t play as if the Yankees were in their head, and the Yankees didn’t play like they owned anyone. Ownership, for the players at least, is as weak as the amount of break on any given Chien-Ming Wang Slider or as strong as the location of Josh Beckett’s fastball.
Yesterday’s game was something of a lesson, at least for me. As harrowing as Friday’s loss was at the moment (and yeah, it was disheartening as hell), the players are really good at shrugging these types of things off, especially veteran ballclubs seasoned by many games of a very tense rivalry. The point being: a blowout yesterday and a convincing throttling of the Yankees’ best starter will probably have about as much impact on tonight’s game as Friday’s did on yesterday’s. Or October, if both teams are lucky enough to get to an ALCS.