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October 10, 2004

'I'm in the Sierra Club!'
by Sean McNally

There's not really a lot to say about Game Four, or the impending potentially apocalyptic ALCS against Boston, and quite honestly, I just don't have it in me (and apparently neither does Larry or SG or anyone else for that matter).

I watched most of the game, then had an obligation to attend to when I basically put it on mute and resigned myself to the fact there would be a Game Five and someone would quote Jack Buck: "And we'll see you all tomorrow night!"

Then a funny thing happened, as I sat down to a nice bone-in rib eye and more wine than is usually advised: Johan Santana sat down. I'm told that he was not happy about the decision, but at first it looked like it would work, the Yanks fell in order during the seventh, and as usual, and Minnesota setup man Juan Rincon sauntered to the bump… and predictably, in this unpredictable season, all hell broke loose.

Gary Sheffield beat out an infield hit, moved to second on a wild pitch and Godzilla worked a walk, bringing Bernie Williams to the plate.

Now, if this were May, Bernie most like would have bounced into a 4-6-3 double play, but this is Rejuvenated Bernie, zombie centerfielder. Williams was left for dead by Yankee fans, myself included, who already had secretly wondered: Would the Yanks unretire 15 for Carlos Beltran?

But Bernabe Figueroa Williams, the elder statesman of the Yankees, will not go quietly into that good night. No, Williams is hitting a sizzling .429/.529/.857 this postseason and probably had the key at-bat in the eighth inning rally. An unproductive out, or worse even, a double play would have likely buried the Yanks, but Bernie smoked the ball into scoring Sheffield and moving Matsui to third.

Posada whiffed, as he is prone to do, then another Yankee elder strode to the plate: Ruben Sierra.

Sierra, who once famously got himself run out of New York because "all they care about is winning," represented the tying run.

Now, Ruben has had a renaissance in the Bronx this year, slugging 17 homers in just a shade over 300 at-bats, mostly in a pinch-hitting/DH/fifth outfielder role, but importantly, he’s had several big swings for the Yanks this season in situations just like this.

Most Yankee fans probably expected Sierra to fail in this situation, after all, he’d been dismal to this point in the series, but there was magic in his bat and his big 39-year-old butt and with one deeeeeep drive to right center:


After that, it sounds very conceited, very "Yankee" to say that I knew they would win, but honestly, I had no doubt.

This Division Series was a microcosm of the Yankees season: moments of doubt and terror, triumphant comebacks, big power hitting and stars being stars, and Yankee (and Twin) fans can hold their heads high after a great battle.

Now the series that most expected: Boston vs. New York, Hatfield vs. McCoy, Us vs. Them.

I, for one, am not sure what I think about the series. I think its good for baseball, because these clearly were the best two teams in the American League, but as a Yankee fan, I've never been more, I don't know if apprehensive is the word, going into a series.

I think the Yanks probably will win, but I expect the series, if not all the games, to be close.

A lot more will be written about the upcoming series, so I'll keep it short: I'd like to see Giambi on the roster and The Run Fairy or Loaiza off, but either way - Let's Go Yanks!