"Yankees in four."
"Yankees in five."
"Yankees in three."
"Yankees in four."
...and so on.
Today in Detroit, Jeremy Bonderman, a fourth-year veteran at the ripe old age of 23, shut down what quite a few folks have called "the best lineup ever assembled in the history of baseball" for over eight innings. After the Yankees plated a couple of runs in the ninth, a ground ball to Placido "Polly" Polanco and a flip to Sean "The Mayor" Casey sealed the victory. The Tigers beat the Yankees 8-3 today, which means they won their American League Division Series, three games to one.
The Tigers made a class move after the win: they went in and sprayed some champagne on each other in the clubhouse, then grabbed a bunch of bottles and went back outside, whereupon they hosed down quite a few of their fans with The Bubbly. Quite a few players ran along the stands, high-fiving fans (Craig Monroe chucked Bonderman's cap into the crowd), Carlos Guillen sprayed champagne from the top of the dugout, and Kenny Rogers (who dominated the Yankees last night) poured half a bottle on a cop's hat before giving him a big bear-hug.
Manager Jim Leyland, while fielding postgame questions from Ken "TheYankees TheYankees TheYankees!" Rosenthal, got visibly choked up when he was explaning how the Tigers' turnaround was most important for the club's fans. Sure, he's a gruff old-timer who smokes more than the factories in Hamilton, but he's actually a really emotional guy who appreciates people and what they mean to the whole organization. I mean, hey, I never played an inning for them this year (although I probably could've cracked their rotation when they lost an AL-record 119 games in 2003), but the ticket I bought for the game I attended on August 16th helped the club pay for some of those players. Ergo, I helped.
(Besides, I'm trying to turn all my students into Tiger fans. Since many of them are new to the country and haven't formed baseball allegiances yet, I can get 'em before anyone else can. It's great to have a pulpit, with three sermons daily, from which to spread the Gospel of Saint Leyland.)
(The ironic thing about that last comment is that Jim Leyland's brother is a Catholic priest in a suburb of Toledo. Hallelujah, indeed.)
So, on to the ALCS, and a date with the Oakland A's. I don't know much about them, but if they swept a white-hot Twins team in their ALDS matchup, they've gotta be something special.
Here's rookie flamethrower Joel Zumaya, after he came back on the field to celebrate with the fans. Note the champagne in his right hand.