The 2006 ALDS hurt like a motherfucker. It wasn't just that the Tigers were the better team. Anyone who saw the 2006 regular season knew that, and I was lucky enough to check out an August matchup between -- as it happens -- the Tigers and the Rangers at Comerica to witness it up close.* It was because the Tigers so thoroughly outperformed the Yankees.
The outcome of the 2011 ALDS is, of course, the same. And I was pretty upset last night. But it's hard to be bitter about this one. These teams turned out to be evenly matched. My test for a good series is whether there's ever a moment where one team seems defeated. You couldn't say that for a single frame of these five games, even during the Yankees' sporadic hitting clinics. A five-game series that ends with a one-run differential in the bottom of the ninth is an exciting series. It happened to not break in the direction I wanted. Such is life.
Tyler Kepner has a smart article quantifying that perception, and arguing against the Yankee ethos that any season that doesn't end with a World Series title is a failure:
It was an odd series, tough to make much sense of it. The Yankees outscored the Tigers, 28-17. They reached base more often, had a better slugging percentage, hit for a higher average — .260 to the Tigers’ .228. The Yankees’ pitchers had a 3.27 earned run average, more than two runs better than the Tigers’ 5.73.
This was not the colossal beating the Yankees absorbed from the Rangers last fall. It was more like a compressed version of the 1960 World Series, against the Pittsburgh Pirates, when the Yankees won the blowouts and lost the close games.
You know what might be the best stat from the ALDS, from the perspective of a Yankee fan looking to the future? In his first postseason appearance, Jesus Montero, the next great homegrown Yankee, went 2 for 2 with an RBI. Even if the Yankees make no offseason adjustments, the 2012 team is in good shape. We're a few tweaks away. I refuse to accept that the winningest franchise in the history of sports is defined by the 81 seasons it didn't take the title.
Yes, I know. I have exactly one commenter who shares my fandom. But you guys know what you're going to get from me at this point. As a great man once said, if you don't like my lyrics, you can press fast-forward.
* My only non-Yankee sports memorabilia came from that trip: a Curtis Granderson t-shirt. Savor that.