Yankees' storied postseason success matters in a series against the historically futile Rangers
Thursday, October 14th 2010, 4:00 AMSipkin/News Yankees of the past and present - from left, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Joe Girardi and Derek Jeter - know a thing or two about winning. The Rangers have only Nolan Ryan's no-hitters to boast. <!--googleoff: index --> <!--googleon: index --><!-- ARTICLE CONTENT START -->
Over the past 50 years, the Yankees have won nine of their world championships, 15 American League pennants and fielded the likes of Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter.
All they've ever had was Nolan Ryan, and they've ridden him like an urban cowboy on a mechanical bull.
Ryan's no-hitters aside, this ALCS represents one of sports' great historical mismatches, 40 pennants versus zero. The Yanks should win this series just by throwing their pinstriped uniforms onto the field and reading from a few pages of The Baseball Encyclopedia.
Of course, the Yanks are too diplomatic to admit such a thing.
"I think history can play a role if you're playing a team where the guys have played against you," Joe Girardi said. "Most of (the Rangers) don't remember the late '90s, so it's not going to affect them one way of another. It doesn't mean anything to them."
Well, it should. The Rangers are the oldest of three existing major league clubs never to have won a pennant. They should be ashamed to bring their media guides to the Bronx.
The late '90s? What about the '60s, when the Rangers were born as the Washington Senators, mostly to appease congressmen who were ready to vote away the league's antitrust exemptions after the other Senators moved to Minnesota.
Those new, second-generation Senators were every bit as lousy and nomadic as the first batch. During their odd-ball stay in our nation's capital - who can forget Richard Nixon throwing out the first baseball? - and then after moving to Turnpike Stadium in Arlington, the Senators/Rangers managed exactly one .500 season among their first 15 years, through 1976.
The magic moments since then? How about a New York Times reporter declaring with anguish her retirement from sports writing after fighting the backward postgame flow of fans and dealing with the horrors of the old rat-infested Arlington Stadium?
How about the Rangers signing Alex Rodriguez to an unsustainable 10-year, $252 million contract in 2000, when the team still didn't have enough pitching to field a contender? Or owner Tom Hicks defaulting on $525 million in loans and Major League Baseball paying the club's operating expenses from a common fund?
Or A-Rod filing as a creditor in court this year, seeking the $24.9 million still owed him by the Rangers?
Yes, this has been a sad, losing franchise for half a century, but not in a charming way like the Cubbies. The Rangers are still hoping to emerge from the darkest of dark ages now under the guidance of Ryan and new owner Chuck Greenberg - who happens to be from Pittsburgh, so you can imagine how much he knows about building a decent baseball team.
Here's the bottom line: In New York, a professional club is only worth as much as it pays its players, or as much as the franchise can attract on the open market.
The Yankees' total payroll on opening day was $206.33 million, while the Rangers' was $55.25. The Rangers were sold to the Greenberg group for $570 million, despite playing now in the respectable Rangers Ballpark.
Forbes estimates the Yankees are worth about three times that.
Why are they even playing this series? Why don't they just use the scores from '96, '98 and '99?
"I can't even think back to those years," Jorge Posada said. "It's over. I don't think it matters."
It matters. The Yankees lead, 27 titles to none. Play ball.