Baseball: Yankees looking dandy as season enters play-offs

Autumn takes over from summer, and baseball changes gear. Today the relaxed summer pastime turns into nail-biting sudden death. And as usual one question dominates: Can anyone stop the New York Yankees winning their fifth world championship in seven years?

The Yankees wrapped up their steamrolling campaign in the American League East on Sunday with their 103rd win of the season, at the expense of the hapless Baltimore Orioles. Tonight at Yankee Stadium they open their divisional series against the AL wildcards Anaheim Angels, in the post-season for the first time since 1986.

The winners progress to the Championship Series to face either the Oakland Athletics or the Minnesota Twins – either of which will be the neutrals' favourite. Both have disproved the cliché that only rich market teams succeed. The Athletics have one of baseball's smallest payrolls, barely a quarter of the Yankees' $122m (£78m), while the Twins were set to be "contracted" – baseball's euphemism for being shut down – until a Minneapolis judge stepped in at the beginning of the year to block the process.

But do either have the depth to beat the Yankees and their top-flight pitching and hitting – not to mention experience – in a best-of-seven Championship Series? If anyone is to cause an upset, the Angels may be the best bet in a best-of-five Divisional Series where they could catch New York cold.

The National League, however, is less predictable. The Atlanta Braves, who on Sunday wrapped up their 10th straight divisional title, are favoured, as usual thanks to their dominant pitching. Tomorrow they start their Divisional Series against the wildcards San Francisco Giants, for whom Barry Bonds, holder of the single-season home-run record, has maybe his last chance to prove he is not a post-season choker.

If Bonds and the Giants see off the Braves, they will face either Arizona, who defeated the Yankees in one of the sport's greatest World Series last year, or the underrated St Louis for the right to represent the NL in the 2002 Series.

As in 2001, Diamondbacks' hopes are pinned on the all-conquering pitchers Randy Johnson and Kurt Schilling, winners of 47 games between them in the regular season. But St Louis could surprise everyone. Though without superstars, they have no obvious weaknesses and in Tony La Russa possess the canniest manager in the game.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee