ARLINGTON, Texas — The front page, above the fold, on the right, in Friday’s Dallas Morning News read, “Yankees fans bring the swagger.”
The headline in the Dallas Morning News sports page read, “Ghost Busting.”
These bold type headlines were in reference to the Yankees coming to town to open the A.L. Championship Series. The advantage of perception goes on.
On the leading sports talk radio in Dallas, the discussion wasn’t about how good the Rangers are, but about the Yankees — everything from what the New York talk shows were saying to how the Rangers would be favored in Game 7 with Cliff Lee pitching, if they can only get there.
Around the Texas batting cage on Thursday the players were talking about being able to win one of the first two games in Arlington and get to Game 3 in New York with their ace Lee on the mound.
Really, the talk needs to be about taking four in a row, but, hey, these are the Yankees.
The references to the “navy blue horde” and the “Damn Yankees” are everywhere in Dallas.
Red Sox fans know all about the dreaded swagger and pinstripes that precede the actual fans and players from New York.
Still, it is amazing how the Goliath image rolls on.
Certainly, the franchise is the richest in sports in terms of past success and big names. That is deserving of many accolades.
So too, deserving of the accolades is the ability of the Yankee organization, or perhaps it’s just the opposing teams and their fans, to fan the reminders of “we are the Yankees” and have that mean everything from Ruth to Jeter, even if only one of them will be playing in this series.
The mind game this whole history plays on opponents is real. Once the Yankees get a lead in a game, it’s as if the whole history of the organization is coming down on opponents.
It works in reverse for the Yankees. Once they roll, they feel the history of success that is on their side and they charge with controlled abandon.
In this series, Texas is as talented a team as the Yankees. The numbers for each are close in every department.
Do the Rangers believe? They will all say the right things, but between the lines they see a Yankee emblem that is different from all others they play.
The Baltimore Orioles finished the last two months looking like a new team under new manager Buck Showalter.
One of the reasons is Showalter kept harping on the players about giving too much credit to opponents. Stop putting yourself second, he repeated day in and day out.
Texas needs to do the same. The game is played on the field, but the mind game can dictate the on-field results if you let it.
So do they believe? Game 1: Yankees 6, Rangers 5