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October 3, 2005

Hey, This Again!
by Larry Mahnken

Well, the Yanks won the division, but lost Home Field Advantage in the first round, so it's off to Los Angeles for the first two games of the ALDS, then off to Anaheim because the Angels don't play in Los Angeles.

3-3 at home against the Angels and 1-3 on the road, it seems like that's a tough hit to take on the last game of the season, but it must be remembered that had the Angels not used up their bullpen in an 18-inning loss the day before the last series against the Yankees, they probably would have finished off those two weekend games the Yankees came back in, and the Yanks would have been 1-5 at home, 2-8 overall against the Angels. Besides, HFA means just one game at the end of the series that might never be played. It's not a vital advantage.

A tougher loss is that of Randy Johnson, who by starting in the clincher on Saturday is now unavailable for the first two games, and only available in relief on one day of rest if there's a Game 5. The Yanks will have to go with a questionable Mike Mussina in Game One, and Shawn Chacon in Game 2. That's a bigger factor than being home or away.

But don't get me wrong, the Yankees can win this series.

Offensively, the Yankees have the edge -- a huge edge. Vlad Guerrero is the only good hitter the Angels have, while the Yankees start the game off with 5 outstanding batters. The Angels' defense is better, and their rotation is deeper -- and set up better than the Yanks'. The bullpen is deeper, too, though Gordon and Rivera are as good, or better than anything the Angels have.

It can go either way, really. The first game is more important for the Angels than the Yankees, though it's important for the Yankees to get a good outing from Mussina. I won't make any guesses here, but I'll just say it should be a good series.

Bring it on.