A celebrated "Idiot" from the Red Sox team of 2004 that came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Yankees in the ALCS was asked yesterday if he thinks this year's Yankees will do the same against the Tigers.
"Did I think they will? No," Johnny Damon said in a telephone interview.
Damon, who hit the crushing grand slam in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS at Yankee Stadium, cited the loss of Derek Jeter to injury and the benching of Alex Rodriguez as factors why the Yankees might not be able to become the second team in big-league history to win a postseason series after going down 3-0.
"My whole thing is you have to have guys who can hit home runs," Damon said. "One of the best in the history of the game [Rodriguez] is sitting on the bench. I know he's struggling, but one swing of the bat can actually get him going."
When asked how the '04 Red Sox were able to do it, Damon said: "A lot of guys stayed together and then there were those momentum swings that went our way. [Yankees first baseman] John Olerud goes down. Didn't seem like a big deal at the time. The Yankees may have used up all their hits in that [19-3 Game 3 win]. It was shocking how dead their bats went. As dead as bats can go, they can also get hot with one swing of the bat."
Even though he doesn't expect it -- who could? -- Damon did leave open the possibility that the Yankees could come back.
"I think any time you play the game of baseball, anything can happen," Damon said. "But you need to start creating some luck on your side. You need to go out there and try to create some momentum.
"If they can win tonight [before the rainout], it starts putting a little more pressure on whoever pitches for the Tigers tomorrow. They win tomorrow, it's 3-2. Then they're in a spot at home where Detroit could be scuffling."
How should the Yankees approach it? Loosely, Damon said. "They've got nothing to lose," he said.
Yankees reliever Derek Lowe, who was Damon's teammate on the '04 Red Sox and the winning pitcher in Game 7, said: "You've got to obviously stay positive. Don't look at the totality of what has to happen. But that team had a special bond and a special attitude about it. That was our mentality all year long. That's why I've said it was the funnest team I've ever played on. Not just because we won, but just the overall attitude we had.
"Obviously, it can be done. But you have to simplify things and not try to go down negative lane. It can happen. You've just got to think small. It's obviously hard. It's only happened one time in the history of baseball. But it can definitely happen again."