Yankees playoffs: Judgment day arrives in the ALCS

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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The Yankees find themselves in mid-October still vying for a title. And what was once a fun house ride for the Astros is turning into a house of horrors.

Yankees playoffs have been bereft of success lately. That’s historically very un-Yankees like. But since 2009, the team has been in decline, the playoffs serving as a sad reminder that only fine wines age well.

October, however, is a time for reflection and planning, whether you are in the playoffs or not. The Yankees spent their recent Halloweens scared of the choices they had made, and fearful of finding any good young talent to take over.

Today, though, is a much better day in Yankees universe for planning and reflection. And it’s not too early to give thanks.

So just now, before game four and during this magical Yankees moment, is time for a look at some of the decisions that got them here, and the decisions being made based on postseason performances.

And of course to revel in where the Yankees are today, and where they might go in just a few days.

The Ghosts of Yankees Past

There is more to Yankees mystique than championship banners and fan-boy posts.

Woven into the fabric of the organization, and reinforced by Yankees manager Joe Girardi, GM Brian Cashman, and the players they put into that locker room, is a certain work ethic; an expectation that an athlete must prepare his body to be successful, not just show up and play.

And that takes work and effort. Take Starlin Castro, for example. When he came over from the Cubs, he was a formerly prolific hitter who looked like he had taken his talents as high as he ever would. Instead of progressing, he seemed to be regressing.

His body reflected his body of work. When he showed up for his first training camp, he looked pudgy, like he still had his baby fat. I think many of us predicted he would either not look like that in a year or two, or not be in a Yankees uniform.

This is Now

Watch him today when he bats in game four. You will see a slimmer, more athletic man. His hitting has rebounded and he ended as the only Yankees regular with at least a .300 average. There might be a correlation between his revitilization and his new Yankees work ethic.

That’s not an accident, and it’s not league standard. The Red Sox only had a problem with Pablo Sandoval when his girth finally affected his play and by then it was too late.

And when was the last time you saw a Yankees rookie come up with Dominic Smith’s belly? The Baby Bombers all seem to arrive in phenomenal shape. That’s how you prepare to play your best for when you play well past game 162.

Castro is likely still fresh because of his offseason workout changes, inspired and perhaps ordered by the Yankees, along with his stint on the DL.

Pitchers are in a bit of a different category but even with this group the results have been delightful.