The Yankees haven't even advanced beyond the first round of the postseason, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg already is talking openly about a championship parade route. Have the expectations for a wild-card team ever been this high this early in the postseason?
As the Yankees spent Friday taking batting practice at Yankee Stadium in advance of hosting the Twins in Game 3 of the American League Division Series on Saturday night, the city's mayor apparently already was prepping for another celebration down the Canyon of Heroes.
"I'm trying to figure out where the parade should start," he said on his radio show.
As much as the Yankees would hope that comes true, they wanted no part of that talk Friday. Winning the first two games of this best-of-five series on the road has given them a significant edge over the Twins, but they insisted they aren't looking at anything beyond Game 3.
"I hope the mayor is right," manager Joe Girardi said. "I imagine that there's a lot of planning that goes into something like that. And they just can't do it overnight. I wouldn't think they were in major stages of it. But I'm sure they have to have a preliminary conversation when he gets time. I hope he's right."
Of course, the last thing the Yankees want to do is give the Twins even the slimmest glimmer of hope of winning this series.
"We can't take anything off," Hughes said. "We have one more game to win and we know this is a dangerous team. And just because we're at home, it's not going to be any easier. So we're in a good position right now. But we still have one more to get."
Girardi stressed the importance of not looking beyond Saturday night's game, something he believes won't be an issue for this experienced team. That's one advantage of being the defending world champions; it's easy to recall taking advantage of a chance to finish a postseason series.
"You look at it one game at a time," Girardi said. "You try to win that game that night. You don't look at what you've done the day before or two days before."
But by winning the first two games of this series in Minnesota, thoughts of the Yankees' late-season struggles - they finished 9-17 - have been erased. Now they return home to Yankee Stadium, where they went 52-29 and have experienced great success against the Twins.
The Yankees have won 25 of their last 29 regular-season games against the Twins in the Bronx since 2002, including six of the seven at the current Yankee Stadium. The Yankees also won both postseason games against the Twins here last year en route to sweeping them in the ALDS.
Not that the Yankees want to hear it, of course. They insist they're looking at Game 3 as its own game, separate from the history that overwhelmingly favors the Yankees in this spot.
"It's not about putting down the hammer or anything like that," Jorge Posada said. "It's about doing the things that we've been doing the last two games: pitching, playing well behind our pitchers and hitting in the clutch."
Added Robinson Cano: "We've got a lot of guys here with a lot of experience and we know everything counts now in the playoffs. Everything matters."