GO FOR THE KNOCKOUTBy Wallace Matthews
Joe Girardi promises to keep his foot on the gas this weekend against the Boston Red Sox. Better he should promise to keep his boot on their throats.
Russell Martin, sounding very much like a True New York Yankee, said on Thursday, "I hate the Red Sox."
Now it's time for the manager to take it a step further. He and his team hate playing the Red Sox, as their 4-11 regular-season record against them demonstrates.
Why put yourself in the position of having to find a way to beat them four more times in just seven ALCS games?
The Yankees have already proven their point, that they are the better team this season, but what better way to put an exclamation point on a remarkable year than by driving the final stake through the hearts of the bogeymen formerly known as the Boston Red Sox?
We all remember the preseason hype and hyperbole, when just about every baseball expert worth his rosin dust was picking the Red Sox not just to win the AL East, but to run off with the World Series.
And yet, here we are. With six games left to go, it is the Yankees who are cruising into October and the Red Sox who are fighting for their playoff lives.
The Yankees' mission this weekend is to end this fight now. Put the Red Sox out of their misery this month or risk your own misery next month.
Because as much of a bust as the Red Sox have been this month, that's how much of a bane they can be to the Yankees in the postseason.
You never want to let a good team off the mat, and of the remaining three teams in the AL wild-card race -- the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angelese Angels are the other two -- the Red Sox are still the best. So the ideal ending to the Yankees' season is as follows: Sweep the Red Sox this weekend. And get swept in Tampa on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
REST IS BEST, JOEBy Ian Begley
If the New York Yankees sweep the Boston Red Sox this weekend and keep them from the postseason, it would fan the flames of a rivalry that already burns with intensity.
But I'm here to throw a bucket of cold water on all of that, to tell you why the Yankees should take their foot off the gas, rest their starters and take it easy for the rest of the regular season.
Joe Girardi's stated regular-season goals are three-fold: make the playoffs, win the AL East and get home-field advantage.
Two of those three have already been checked off the manager's to-do list. And the Yankees need either two wins over their final six games or two Tigers and Rangers losses to clinch home-field advantage through the ALCS.
I don't think you need to play Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira every day to make that happen. Which is why Joe should give those guys -- and the rest of his regulars -- a rest.
I'm not saying throw out a Triple-A lineup. But Alex Rodriguez, 36, is dealing with injuries. Jeter's playing well, but at 37, he could certainly benefit from a few games off. Cano has played in 67 of the Yankees' 68 games since the All-Star break. Brett Garnder has played in 66, Teixeira 65. Both Nick Swisher and Granderson have played in 64.
Another thing to consider: who would you rather see in the ALCS? The resurgent Rays or a limp Boston team that's just 5-16 in September?
The Rays have a stellar starting staff, all-important in the postseason. That's a claim the Yanks can't make with a straight face. On the other hand, Boston's pitching -- from the starters to the bullpen -- is a mess.
I'm sure most Yankees fans would be ecstatic if their team stepped on Boston's throat this weekend. But is a moderate amount of pleasure in late September worth the possible pain of a mid-October collapse?
I think the answer to that would be a resounding no. So give 'em a rest, Joe.