Let's channel the mind of a passionate Yankee fan after Game 2 of the ALCS against the Rangers.
Fan: "We're in huge trouble!"
Friend: "Relax, it's only Game 2."
Fan: "But Lee is starting Game 3, and Burnett is slated to start Game 4!!"
Friend: "Maybe Lee will choke."
Fan: "What, are you kidding me?!?!? Lee has never lost a postseason game in his life and the Yankees are intimidated by him! And I don't trust Burnett any further than I can throw him!"
Friend: "Isn't Pettitte starting Game 3?"
Fan: "So what? We had to win the first two games in Texas, and Sabathia and Hughes both bombed! We're done!!!"
Friend: "Watch the Yankees win the series anyway. I'll laugh at you."
It's easy to panic as a Yankee fan when you live under the Steinbrenner Doctrine: Win the World Series or your season is an utter failure. It breeds pressure on the players, the coaches, and especially the fans. But you know what exacerbates this sense of urgency and entitlement? The Media. That's right, I said it.
My advice to Yankee fans is to ignore the prognosticators. Ignore the columnists. Ignore the so-called "experts" that make Cliff Lee out to be bigger than God himself. Yes, Lee is a great pitcher and will probably end up with the Yankees next season for 20 million or more a year. Yes, he is nearly perfect in postseason play with a 2-0 record against the Yankees in the 2009 World Series with the Phillies. Yes, he has the vibe of Mike Scott circa the 1986 Postseason (and if I hear that Lee scuffs the ball one more time, I am going to choke someone. Get real, folks!).
Have these fans forgotten this is baseball? Anything can happen. The sport is a crapshoot every single goshdarnmothertrucking day, no matter how good or bad the opposing teams are on paper.
Have you also forgotten that Andy Pettitte, wins wise, is the greatest pitcher in postseason history? His next victory will be his 20th, Cy Young caliber in the regular season, and unprecedented in postseason play.
Have you forgotten how shaky Texas' bullpen is? A full-blown implosion in Game 1, and agita-filled moments in Game 2?
The bottom line is, if Game 3 is close in the late innings, and Texas holds a slim lead, say, 3-2, will there be any doubts in your mind that the Yankees can rally at home? The Yankees once again led the major leagues with 48 come-from-behind wins in the regular season, and 3 of the 4 Yankee playoff wins have been of the comeback variety.
All Andy Pettitte needs to do is pitch a Vintage Pettitte game, and the Yankees will have a chance. Is it possible Pettitte can implode the way Sabathia and Hughes did? Yes, but isn't Lee due for a bad postseason start as well?
Relax, Yankee fans. Texas is a much better team than Minnesota, and they showed it in Game 2. This series is still a long way from over.
Of course, this all being said, should the Yankees lose Game 3 and throw A.J. Burnett in Game 4 with the season potentially on the line, THEN you may panic.