Alex Rodriguez with the Texas Rangers in 2002. He’s one of the many mercenaries acquired by the New York Yankees to build a roster of future Hall of Famers.
Sage philosopher Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
Although the Angels are down 3-1 to the Yankees in their best-of-seven series, they still go to the World Series if they win Thursday then go to New York and win the last two games there.
Which brings up another quote attributed to Berra, “It gets late early out there.”
It’s very late for the Angels.
I’m a fatalist when it comes to the post-season. Three layers of playoff series add so much unpredictability that I don’t see the point to getting all worked up about what happens.
Watching this series, though, I’m grateful for any games we win because the Yankees have a roster laden with future Hall of Famers.
Among the position players, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are slam-dunk inductees. A-Rod has 583 career homers at age 34 and, barring injury, should be the all-time home run king by the time he retires. Jeter at age 35 has 2,747 career hits and should easily top 3,000 if he doesn’t get hurt.
Arguments could be made for other Yankees players.
Mark Teixeira doesn’t turn 30 until next April but has hit over 30 homers a season every year since his rookie campaign, when he hit 26. He hit 41 in 2008 and 43 in 2009.
Jorge Posada won’t be a first-year inductee, but certainly will be considered. He has 243 homers, has gone to five All-Star games and won five Silver Slugger awards for the best hitting catcher in the league.
Johnny Damon won’t get a Hall induction, although early in his career he was certainly headed in that direction. He hit 24 homers this year, matching his single-season high.
Robinson Cano probably won’t go either, but at age 27 (tomorrow) he hit 25 dingers this year, a personal single-season high.
The so-called “fans” who bash the Angels’ pitching for giving up runs to this lineup are not living in the real world. There’s no pitching staff on the planet that could shut down this modern day Murderers’ Row.
The pitching staff also has its Hall of Fame candidates.
Andy Pettitte will be inducted. He has 229 career wins and a lifetime .629 winning percentage. His career ERA is a little high at 3.91 but he’s pitched in an era where anything below 4.00 is considered pretty good. He’s averaged 6.7 strikeouts and 2.8 walks per nine innings over his fifteen-season career.
How’s about A.J. Burnett? He’s been on some mediocre teams, which has kept down his win total, but he has a career 3.84 ERA in 11 seasons, averaging 8.4 strikeouts and 3.8 walks per nine innings. At age 32, he still has several good years left in him, and playing in the New York limelight might be enough to get him Hall votes.
C.C. Sabathia has showed in this series why he might be a Hall candidate when he retires. He’s only 29 but already has 136 career wins; 300 used to be the gold standard for Hall of Fame pitchers but now 250 is good enough and C.C. has another 8-10 years to notch 114 more to reach 250. His career ERA is 3.62, averaging 7.6 strikeouts and 2.8 walks per nine innings.
That’s the three-man rotation the Angels have faced in this series — Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte.
And I don’t think we need to argue whether closer Mariano Rivera will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. That’s a slam dunk.
So on this 25-man roster, you can pretty much assume that Rodriguez, Jeter, Pettitte and Rivera are a lock for the Hall. Teixeira, Posada, Sabathia and Burnett certainly are possibilities.
That’s eight guys, or about one-third of their roster.
The best team money can buy.
The Yankees had an Opening Day payroll of $201 million, according to USA Today. The Angels were at $114 million, a little over half of the Yankees’ payroll.
And for that, we have at least the second-best team in the American League.
I can live with that.