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We're Almost There

By Dustin Racioppi

Well, you can almost taste No. 27.

After taking a commanding 3-1 lead over the Phillies Sunday night, the Yanks look like and are playing like champs. They're showing you grit and determination. No game is over with this team until the very last out and they proved that last night when they took a two out, ninth inning lead against Philly's up and down closer, Brad Lidge. Philly, on the other hand, showed you something different on Sunday night.

Once Johnny Damon sparked a three-run rally in the ninth inning to break the tie, the defending champions looked deflated. Mariano Rivera came in and made quick work of the Philly lineup. They were swinging at first pitches, almost fanning at them, to get the game over with. After playing so hard for the entire series, that bottom of the ninth for the Phillies was brutal.

But the series isn't over and you can't think too hard about bringing home championship hardware. Tonight's matchup is difficult, to say the least. A.J. Burnett goes up against Cy Young — er, Cliff Lee — on short rest in Philadelphia. Yes, A.J. put forth a masterful performance the other night with 1 run ball. And even if he gives you another great performance, it's hard to top Lee. The Yankee bats will really need to wake up. Y'know, maybe some of these guys could boost their average up to the interstate line.

Here's a few quick thoughts on the Sunday night game.

- Unless something big happens in this series, Johnny Damon has got to be your Yankee MVP, win lose or draw. He's been such a valuable piece to this team all year and Sunday night was no different. With two outs he put together a fantastic at-bat then followed it up with great base running when he stole second, then swiped third. His great baseball instincts and consistently clutch hitting more than makes up for that weak appendage that looks like an arm.

- Robinson Cano might be auditioning for another baseball team. I don't care how much talent he has, and he has a lot. It hasn't showed this postseason. When he should've dove for a ground ball last night, he didn't. When he strikes out, he smirks and waltzes back to the bench. He doesn't hustle. I don't know if anybody told him he's playing in the World Series, but if I were pushing the buttons in Yankeeland, the next World Series he ever saw again would be in a different uniform. And I'm saying this after being a staunch Cano supporter over the years, but he has lost me this postseason.

- Chase Utley is a gutsy player that looks like he wants to someday be considered for the Hall-of-Fame. And CC Sabathia should never pitch to him again.

- There can be no more criticism of Alex Rodriguez. He has showed you all year why he's the absolute best player in the game. Every hit he's gotten this postseason has been a big hit. Sure, he's got a batting average of somewhere around .100, but it's a meaningful .100

- If I have to endure Fox zooming in on Andy Pettite as he stares into Jorge Posada through the slit between the brim of his hat and the tip of his glove, I might just have to shut off the TV and listen to John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. Yes, it is that bad.

- I can already hear the Philly fans chirping about the Yankees' large payroll and how they buy their wins. If ever there were a more bogus argument these days. As we know, the Yanks have spent the most they have in the last eight years and yet have nothing to show for it. Buying big players doesn't equate to wins and championships. And it's not as if Philly really has any room to squawk about spending habits. Here's the list of 2009 payrolls, from USAToday:

Team2009 payroll
New York Yankees$201,449,189
New York Mets$149,373,987
Chicago Cubs$134,809,000
Boston Red Sox$121,745,999
Detroit Tigers$115,085,145
Los Angeles Angels$113,709,00
Philadelphia Phillies$113,004,046
Houston Astros$102,996,414
Los Angeles Dodgers$100,414,592
Seattle Mariners$98,904,166
Atlanta Braves$96,726,166
Chicago White Sox$96,068,500
San Francisco Giants$82,616,450
Cleveland Indians$81,579,166
Toronto Blue Jays$80,538,300
Milwaukee Brewers$80,182,502
St. Louis Cardinals$77,605,109
Colorado Rockies$75,201,000
Cincinnati Reds$73,558,500
Arizona Diamondbacks$73,516,666
Kansas City Royals$70,519,333
Texas Rangers$68,178,798
Baltimore Orioles$67,101,666
Minnesota Twins$65,299,266
Tampa Bay Rays$63,313,034
Oakland Athletics$62,310,000
Washington Nationals$60,328,000
Pittsburgh Pirates$48,693,000
San Diego Padres$43,734,200
Florida Marlins$36,834,000

Now let's go get No. 27.

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