I've been talking to a few Yankee fans about how Game 5 went, and if they might be a little worried that the Yankees missed an opportunity to close out the Angels in their ALCS matchup.
The answer I get back is invariably, no, we're not worried about it. Afterall, the Yankees are coming back home and they have Andy Pettite going in Game 6, and in the worst case scenario, they have C.C. Sabathia going in Game 7. The consensus seems to be that there is no way that the Yankees will lose those two games. There is no way that the Yankees will lose the last three games of the series after being up 3-1.
Hearing Yankee fans talk, I find myself being transported back to 2003. The Cubs had a 3-1 lead in the NLCS and Carlos Zambrano lost to Josh Beckett in the last game in Florida. Cubs fans were not worried. We knew they had Mark Prior and Kerry Wood scheduled for Games 6 and 7 at Wrigley, so we were supremely confident that the Cubs would be going to the World Series.
It didn't matter that the Cubs had a long history of coughing up a chance at history. Whether your frame of reference was 1984 or 1969 or any other team that supremely disappointed you, you felt that 2003 was going to happen for the Cubs. Of course, we all know how wrong we were.
Yankees fans have much more success in their history from which to draw confidence, but let's not forget that they were the perpetrators of the biggest playoff choke in baseball history when the Red Sox stormed back from being down 3-0 in the ALCS. That team also had homefield advantage and lost both games in Yankee Stadium, where previously, most teams' playoff lives went to die.
Yet the thought of the Yankees not marching on to the World Series seems completely impossible to Yankees fans. I wish my memory was so short when it comes to the Cubs. I know that I will never believe anything is inevitable until the final out of the clinching game is recorded. Because of 2003, I may like the Cubs' chances and be horrendously disappointed when they lose, but I shall always at least be prepared for the ultimate letdown.
It would be kind of fun if the Yankees fans started to understand that mentality.