Wednesday, October 21, 2009

24 Hours From Greatness

After being verbally throttled all day for very debatable decisions (Ok, I'll tell it like it is, Joe Girardi was more micromanageable than a stripper in Game 3, his control freak on full display), Girardi now stands 1 game from steering the big Bomber bus back to the promised land.

It's been a while since the Yanks advanced to Baseball's zenith, the natural environment one would envision a team that shelled out Bernie Madoff money on CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixera comfortbaly perched in.

Now the Yankees are 24 hours of greatness, on the doorstep of the World Series for the first time since 2003.

Last night's 10-1 thrashing before an announced 45,160 at Angel Stadium gives the Yankees a convincing and controlling 3-1 lead in the series.

New York's most acclaimed and expensive dessert chef, A.J. Burnett, takes the hill tomorrow night to face the Angels' John Lackey.

Alex Rodriguez, who's defied the critics and virtually erased his post-season pitfalls from previous seasons with his dominance in these 2009 playoffs, watched his series tear continue.

The super-rich slugger, who was mired in controversy following his admission to using steroids in the spring, clubbed a 2-run homer off Jason Bulger in the fifth inning to supply the Yanks with a 5-0 edge they wouldn't squander.

He's made naysayers who claimed he was forever too soft and a player who puts personal statistics above winning seal their lips shut.

The cat we once referenced as double-play Rod come playoff time singled to lead off the fourth. He also smoked a ninth-inning double, and scored the first run barreling home from third and beating out the tag after Robinson Cano's ground ball from second. He was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle in a titanic performance.

It's starting to feel a lot like 1998. This Yankee team not only has the potent lineup, the immeasurable intangibles, and the insatiable thirst for victory...

They have the lights-out pitching to supplement it.

Sabathia went eight innings, surrendered just one run on a Kendry Morales dinger, and whiffed five. He allowed five hits, outdueling Scott Kazmir, who allowed four runs on 89 pitches and was taken out of the park by A-Rod and Johnny Damon. Damon has rediscovered his bat after the NYPD issued a search warrant out for it prior to the ALCS.

As poised, powerfull, and pressure-free (after being staked to a 5-0 bulge) Sabathia was last night, A-Rod was once again the October headline.

A-Rod is no longer a mortal. He's no longer a marshmallow haunted by ghastly post-season ghosts that allow his relationship with Yankee fans to deteriorate.

No longer a verbal punching bag from his own fans and media outlets, no longer a big giant check with a big giant question mark next to it. No longer the tabloid tease, the stripper-fiending falloff boy whose commitment to winning was once called into question.

No longer under the public knife, with every word and ounce of willfulness being thoroughly dissected, A-Rod has emerged from the storm a victor.

Thus far, he's fended off the ghosts and goblins that hang around Halloween time in the Bronx.

A-Rod October ensues.