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Press Row: Bring on the Red Sox?
10/09/2004 11:40 AM ET
Bring on the Red Sox?

That's the talk that started to spread in New York after the Yankees showed their postseason prowess in an 8-4 win over the Twins in Game 3 of the American League Division Series at the Metrodome on Friday night.

The win puts the Yanks just one victory away from a much-anticipated rematch with the Red Sox in the ALCS -- a rematch that many have seen as the only acceptable ending to the '04 AL season.

Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post believes the Yankees are motoring toward that rematch because of the contributions of the four most veteran members of the club -- Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera.

Vaccaro, who calls them "The Core," wrote:

"The more the Yankees change, the more they stay the same. The deeper they charge into this extended run of excellence, the more they rely on the continuing contributions of the old guard, the old core.

"'This has never been about one player, or one group of players,' Jeter insists.

"But it is, of course. Together, the Final Four represent the last stand of the modern Yankee dynasty. So many of their old compatriots are gone, Paul O'Neill and Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius and Andy Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch and Jeff Nelson and Joe Girardi. It isn't what it used to be, this core.

"But it's still pretty damn good.

"And still the engine that will drive the Yankees as far as they're going to go. The record screams so. Since 1996, the Yankees have taken part in 20 postseason series and they have won 16 of them. They have played 102 playoff games and won exactly two-thirds of them. The Core has been there through all of them.

"If the Yankees can finish off the Twins, they'll bring a stubborn crew of players who know how to win baseball games into the Red Sox series. Maybe it won't be enough.

"The Final Four, as always, will take their chances."

Each member of the "Final Four" came up with a big contribution in Game 3, but one of the newest Yankees might have made the biggest contribution of all. Kevin Brown turned in an efficient outing that allowed the Yankees to take a big lead early.

According to Jack Curry of the New York Times, it was a performance that vindicated Brown for his wall-punching incident in early September. Curry wrote:

"Thirty-five days after Kevin Brown, a grown man of 39 years old, thought the best solution to a frustrating night was to punch a clubhouse wall, he was in position to help save or help spoil a season he could have damaged almost as much as his left hand. Brown got a chance at redemption with the Yankees, a quick chance to dull an embarrassing episode.

"Even Brown, a stubborn, ornery sort who utters about two sentences a week, realized how fortunate he was to be starting such a game. When Brown punched the clubhouse wall and broke his hand on Sept. 3, he displayed a selfishness and silliness that could have delayed his next pitch until 2005.

"But Brown was remorseful, he was rehabilitated and rejuvenated enough Friday night to guide the Yankees to an 8-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins in Game 3 of their American League division series at the Metrodome. Brown marched through six innings like a man who was in control and who would not be humiliated again."

After Game 1, it seemed the Twins might be able to contend with the mighty Yankees. But now they may be headed down the same path as a year ago, in which they took Game 1, then were swept out of the playoffs by New York.

Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune believes the Twins' imperfections are catching up with them.

"October baseball is a microscope. The Twins are the dissection in progress.

"October probes; the Twins are found deficient.

"October, with its short series, can hide flaws, like a paucity of arms. This pressurized month exposes all others.

"The Twins' payroll forces the violation of child labor laws. They employ rookies and virtual rookies in the middle of the lineup and bullpen and along the bench. Multimillionaires lounge there in New York and Boston.

"The Twins lost Game 3 because the best pitcher available was a mystery they acquired in a money-dumping trade who threw one pitch for one inning at a time last year.

"Carlos Silva had an admirable season. He'll enjoy many more. He can't be expected to intern on the mound and beat the highest-paid team in history."

Perhaps there's something more to it than that. Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press offered an interesting analysis of why the Twins seem to be going down quietly:

"The Boston Red Sox have the right idea. You have to hate the New York Yankees. That's the only way to have a chance against them.

"There has to be a deep-down sense of revulsion that makes a team want to grind them into the turf. It should be easy. They are pampered and overpaid. They are arrogant. They might as well write "hate me" on the backs of their jerseys.

"The Twins should stop complimenting them. They should stop tipping their caps to them. They behave like young lions in the presence of the alpha male.

"For God's sake, they need to quit talking about all the future hall of famers in the Yankees lineup.

"They need to stop patting the Yankees' fanny and concentrate on trying to kick it. They are being overly respectful.

"If the Twins are going to go down, it should be screaming and kicking. Right now, they are losing politely, like a courteous small market team."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.