Two words describe the plight that the Yankees put themselves in by failing to win the American League East and having no home-field advantage this postseason. And those two words are not "wild card." Instead, they are "so what?"
Don't get them wrong. The Yankees love being at Yankee Stadium, as they were for a short simulated game and a workout Tuesday. They love even more playing there in front of frenzied fans. The results throughout baseball this October, though, say that being away from home is not the road to ruin.
If the division series were any indication, they are in good shape. The first step toward a win is getting on a plane. After the Rangers' 5-1 victory over the Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla., last night, road teams are 11-4 in the 2010 playoffs - including 5-0 in that very series.
Curtis Granderson mentioned that the momentum is not affected as much by crowd noise in baseball as it is in other sports.
"I think with this sport, you can't be loud for all 27 outs of the game," he said. "There's always a duration where everything evens itself out. There are definitely momentum switches throughout the course of the game. I think that's what kind of neutralizes it, and makes teams successful on the road."
Lance Berkman said: "I don't know, it doesn't seem to have that much impact. I always actually feel better on the road, I feel more relaxed in a game on the road for some reason. I haven't played a home game here yet, so I don't know how that will be. The game is the game, you know what I'm saying? If you get a great pitching performance, whether you're on the road or at home, you've got a great chance to win."
The Yankees did pay due homage to the home field when they were asked. You do get to bat last at home. Domed stadiums can be distractingly loud. Joe Girardi pointed out that many clubs are built to the dimensions of their home parks and that a home manager can use his closer differently.
Phil Hughes, the winning pitcher in the clincher over the Twins at the Stadium on Saturday, said: "You look at the Rays-Rangers series and that's one case. But we play great at home. Obviously, home field would be something we'd love to have."
Yes, the Yankees were 52-29 at the Stadium during the regular season, as opposed to 43-38 on the road.
"With us not winning the division, we put ourselves in a predicament of not having the home-field advantage," Swisher said. "But to be a championship-caliber team, you need to be able to do it in both sites.
"It's the same game of baseball," the rightfielder said, calling to mind a fictional high school basketball coach wielding a tape measure to show that the basket in a big arena was 10 feet off the ground, just as it was in their tiny gym. "It's like 'Hoosiers,' man."