Yankees playoffs: Judgment day arrives in the ALCS

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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Who Will Win the Costume Contest?

What a difference a change in venue makes. Were I to write this column before game three, it would have been titled: Jose Altuve is showing everyone what an MVP looks like.

Last night, Aaron Judge donned that same mask. With both his offense and defense, Judge showed what it can mean to have the biggest player in the game.

There was a hidden effect on the Astros, as well. It took Altuve and the Astros every ounce of their talent to score four runs in the first two games. Then they watched the Yankees hit two, three-run home runs. It seemed to rattle the Astros.

That is especially true because Judge hit one of the homers. Just the specter of the biggest man this side of Paul Bunyan starting to find his sweet swing seemed to spook the Stros.


And they showed it. The Astros showed they felt every home run that left the park, and the ghosts of Yankees past. Like Cleveland before them, Houston committed uncharacteristic mistakes playing in front of Yankees fans, and at times looked lost.

That’s what Yankees mystique is all about. And at this time when the future and present meet, there is an additional lesson to be learned: The difference home field advantage can have. Think how different this postseason might be if the Yankees started and finished every series at home.

When this year is all over, no matter the outcome, these baby bombers need to remember it. They need to remember that if they had won two more games against the Red Sox, or four more overall, they would have earned their very real home field advantage.

And it’s that thought that should drive the team every day of next season, and beyond. They need to win every inning of every game, especially against Boston next year as they will return a strong contender in 2018.

Do that, and they might impose their will, and imbue a fear of Yankees mystique, from before the first pitch of their next postseason series.

Especially if future teams play as loose as this team, which seems hard to believe.