Friday, May 14, 2010

The Yankees Have the Twins' Number (and it isn't 2)

After finishing that rain-forced doubleheader in Detroit with an 8-0 win -- 6 runs in the 9th -- the Yankees closed out the series with a weak 6-0 loss. That they've now lost 4 of 5 isn't a big concern, but that they got shut out in 2 out of 4 (2 out of 3, actually), even against a good team in a pitchers' park, is.

Fortunately, the Yankees come home to face the Minnesota Twins, against whom they've won 10 straight -- 13 straight if you count the 2009 American League Division Series.

The Twins last beat the Yankees on July 4, 2007. That's 2 days after the birth of our own twins, my nieces Ashley and Rachel. Someday, I'm going to have to explain to them why the Minnesota team is called the Twins. (Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the "Twin Cities," each had a team in a Triple-A league before the original Washington Senators moved out there in 1961 and united the two teams. Their original logo was two players, with the logos of the Minneapolis Millers and St. Paul Saints on their respective sleeves, shaking hands over the Mississippi River.)

My sister, their mother, and her new guy (she and their dad are divorced) are going tonight, because it's the new guy's birthday.

I keep telling the girls that one day I'll take them to Yankee Stadium. They love the idea. But they're still too young to really "get it."


One of the things I really worried about when moving into the new Stadium was leaving behind the old Stadium's tradition. The Montreal Canadiens haven't won a Stanley Cup, or even reached the Finals, since 1996 when they left the Yankee Stadium of hockey, the Montreal Forum, for the building now known as the Bell Centre. Prior to that, they won 24 Cups, all but the first 2 as Forum tenants. It took the Boston Celtics 13 years to win their first NBA Championship at the building now known as the TD Bank Garden; at the old Boston Garden, they won 16.

However, the Yankees finished last season, their first in the new Stadium, by winning the World Series, after 26 in the old one. Last night, the Celtics beat the Cleveland Cavaliers to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. And the night before, the 8th-seeded Canadiens beat the defending Stanley Cup Champion -- two-time defending Eastern Conference Champion -- Pittsburgh Penguins to advance, for the first time since moving, to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Habs could play their ancient rivals, the Boston Bruins, who jumped out to a 3-games-to-0 lead over the Philadelphia Flyers. But the Flyers have stormed back, and Game 7 is tonight.

Only 3 times in the history of major league sports has a team blown a 3-games-to-0 lead. The first was in hockey: 1942 Stanley Cup Finals, Toronto Maple Leafs over Detroit Red Wings. Revenge very nearly came soon: 1945 Stanley Cup Finals, the Wings came from 3-0 down before the Leafs ground out Game 7.

The second time it happened was also in hockey: 1975 Stanley Cup Quarterfinals, the New York Islanders, in only their 3rd season, after beating the New York Rangers (who, then as now, sucked), came from 3-0 down to beat... the Penguins, in only their 7th season. Then the Isles almost did it again, falling 3-0 behind the defending Champion Flyers, then coming back, but the Flyers won Game 7 and went on to make it back-to-back Cups.

The third time it happened was in baseball, but since we now know the Red Sox cheated, it doesn't count. But wouldn't it be nice to see another Boston team make it the fourth time?

Of course, that would mean that the Flyers are in the Conference Finals... Can the Habs beat them? Or the Bruins? I hope so, and not just because, in those days before the arrival of the New Jersey Devils, it was the Canadiens of Guy Lafleur, Serge Savard and Ken Dryden -- not to mention future Devils' Cup-winning coaches Jacques Lemaire and Larry Robinson -- who taught me how the great game of hockey is meant to be played. Particularly in 1979, when they had that thrilling seven-game Cup Semifinal against the Bruins (too many men on the ice, Don Cherry) and then beat the Rangers in 5 in the Finals. (Ooh, la la, you suck!)


Today, mere hours after the Celtics ended their season, the Cavaliers fired coach Mike Brown. All he ever did was lead them to the only NBA Finals, and 2 of the 3 NBA Eastern Conference Finals, in club history.

But it's well-known that LeBron James wanted Brown out. Firing Brown is ownership's first sign that, yes, they do want to keep James.

Tough luck, Knicks fans, he ain't comin' to Da Gawden.

Side note: It was another Mike Brown who was Mayor of Cleveland when Art Modell stole the original Cleveland Browns away and moved them to Baltimore. But he talked the NFL into putting a new team in Cleveland and denying Modell and the renamed Baltimore Ravens the right to claim any part of the Browns' identity and history.


Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series: 3, starting next Monday night, at Yankee Stadium II.

Days until the 2010 World Cup begins: 27. Just 4 weeks.

Days until the World Cup Final: 58. Under 2 months.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 113.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 119.

Days until the new Meadowlands Stadium (still unnamed) opens for football: 121. 4 months. If they end up getting Super Bowl XLVIII, I'll start a countdown for that.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: 148 (estimate).

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 195.

Days until Derek Jeter collects his 3,000th career hit: 382 (estimate).

Days until the Rutgers-Army football game at Yankee Stadium: 547.

Days until the last Nets game in New Jersey: 695 (estimated).

Days until the 2012 Olympics begin in London: 815.

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