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Series Preview: Texas Rangers @ New York Yankees - The Greener Grass

As I watched the Mavericks close out the Miami Heat on Sunday in Game 6 of the NBA Finals I couldn't help but be reminded of my impressions as a sports fan from when the Rangers defeated the New York Yankees in Game 6 of the 2010 ALCS. The feelings, emotions, and circumstances were different, sure. I care far more for baseball and the Texas Rangers, for example, than I do about the NBA to an indescribable degree. But that win was for Dirk which was high up on my "need to see happen" list in my sports fan life. And maybe, as a kid who became a sports fan because of NBA on NBC, it was easy to conjure up the appropriate level of care. Additionally, it was different because their triumph was for it all. That changes the dynamics quite a bit.

I don't know, maybe these two points in time aren't similar enough to really go there, but maybe I'll just always find ways to evoke that pennant clinching memory because, as Mark Cuban said later that night, as the owner of the World Champions, "My biggest fear is not remembering every moment. Every emotion." He understands being a sports fan. And I understand why Neftali Feliz's dragon of a curve and Dirk's hurdle to the locker room are linked in my mind.

The other thing that series got me thinking about, because there isn't much that I think about that doesn't eventually reflect on my being a Rangers fan for whatever reason, was the Miami Heat/New York Yankees parallel. Sometimes, when it plays out like those two series did, the secondary reason we care, to watch the team we never wanted to see win lose to our team, is enough of a sidecar on the ride to make those moments and emotions last longer and feel more poignant.

Maybe it shouldn't. Maybe winning alone should just be enough. And ultimately, it is. The very first thing you will recall is the victory not the circumstances. But do you think you'd as easily be able to hold onto the memory of those special moments that we so desperately crave as sports fans if the Mavs had beaten a surprise New Jersey Nets team in the Finals? Or will it be the vindication? Will be be Dirk being reminded of "'06" before hoisting the trophy in Miami? Would it have meant as much, even though it already meant everything, had it come against a random Detroit Tiger instead of A-Rod and that last at-bat and those Yankees, again, last October?

I think we know that answer is still yes, but with a great villain as a lagniappe for our consciousness, our fears of forgetting become impossible. Thankfully sports afford us these lampposts to see in the darkness of memories destined to fade every now and then.

I wondered, what would it be like to be a Yankees fan? To be a Miami Heat fan? But, I didn't remain in that thought for long, as I focused instead on making memories to last me. The grass here is just fine.

Tuesday June 14 6:05: RHP Alexi Ogando vs. LHP CC Sabathia

Wednesday, June 15 6:05: LHP Derek Holland vs. RHP Ivan Nova

Thursday, June 16 12:05: LHP C.J. Wilson vs. RHP Hector Noesi (Currently undecided)

Derek Jeter is being examined likely as I type this and "if there is any doubt" about the condition of his strained right calf, he's going to end up on the disabled list instead of playing in this series against the Rangers six hits away from reaching the immortal 3,000. I hope.

I don't hate Jeter, I'll say. I won't even get into the qualifiers when I say he's been a great baseball player and I respect him. But I really don't want him to get his 3,000th hit against the Rangers. I don't need to spend the rest of my life watching the media showing their favorite highlight of their favorite players over and over with Ranger blue blurred players in the background. Honestly, the Cubs, who play the Yankees next, are far, far more appropriate to be the owners of that historical footnote.

So, ESPN's Cy Young predictor is a kind-of-out-of-date and silly formula invented by Bill James and SB Nation's Rob Neyer to predict who will win the Cy Young based on the criteria of past winners and probable voting based on stats that writers have favored over the years. Currently, the predictor has the pitchers opposing each other in the opener of this series as 1st and 7th most likely to win the Cy Young based on what they've done so far this season. Only, surprise, it isn't CC Sabathia topping the list. It's our 8th inning guy turned best-pitcher-in-the-American-League, apparently, Alexi Ogando.


New York Yankees (36-28, 2nd Place AL East)

Rangers 2011 Record vs. New York: 2-4 (1-2 at Yankee Stadium)

New York's Recent Results: 3-1 Series win against the Cleveland Indians

New York's Home Record: 20-17

New Yankee Stadium Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 130/111 - wOBA: 101/100

SB Nation Yankee Blog: Pinstripe Alley

Match-up: (as of 6/13)        Rangers  Yankees Advantage
44.3 30.6 Rangers
Yankees :(
Overall RAR + UZR 72.8 125.1 Yankees :(

Questions to Answer:

  • If Derek Jeter is healthy enough to play in this series and his 3,000th hit comes against the Rangers, are you mentally prepared to see that highlight for the rest of your life?
  • Who is your pick to lead the Rangers in hits and which Yankee will have the most hits in this series? (I'll say Josh Hamilton and not Derek Jeter.)
  • Over/Under: 5.5 hits for Derek Jeter in this series?
  • Is there a scenario that exists in which you could find yourself rooting for the New York Yankees? For me, it's only happened twice; the 2001 and 2009 ALCS series.
  • June 16 will be the last time the Rangers and Yankees play one another until I'm assuming the playoffs. Doesn't that seem strange? Are you going to miss the Yankees in the second half or are you glad the Rangers vs. Yankees 2011 tussles are nearly over already?