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A Champagne Toast, Bronx Style

LongIsland.com

Yankees Clinch 13th Straight Playoff Berth Was there ever any doubt that the Yankees were going to be celebrating in their locker room at some point at the end of the season? Even when they ...

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Yankees Clinch 13th Straight Playoff Berth

Was there ever any doubt that the Yankees were going to be celebrating in their locker room at some point at the end of the season? Even when they trailed the lowly Devil Rays in the American League East standings, the baseball world had to have known that it was only temporary and the team that spends the most money would somehow right the ship and get to where they expect to be every fall.

With their 12-4 victory over the same Tampa Bay team they once had a worse record than, the Bronx Bombers clinched a playoff spot and erased an entire summer of doubt. At one point, they were looking up at not only the Red Sox in the division, but seven other teams in the Wild Card race.

"I'm elated we have clinched the playoff spot," team owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement. "After a tough first half of the season when everyone seemed to lose faith except for our players and our fans, the team has really stepped up and shown themselves to be the champions that they are."

When you think back earlier in the season when the Yankees were 14 1/2 games out in late May or when their deficit was still 11 1/2 games a month later, sealing up a spot in the postseason is even more of an accomplishment. Add in the fact that they did not make any big moves at the trading deadline and this may be Joe Torre's best managing job in his Yankee tenure.

"Everybody wanted to blame him (Torre) earlier in the year," Derek Jeter said to reporters. "But he put us in position to win."

Boston is still leading the division by three games, so the Yankees will most likely face the AL Central champions, the Cleveland Indians, in the Division Series as the Wild Card entry. The Los Angeles Angels have already sewn up the West and would face off against Boston.

A hot team can go a long way in October and the Yankees have gone 16-7 in the month of September up until the game in Tampa Bay on the 27th of the month. They won seven straight games at one point this month and are 7-3 in their last 10. They round out the regular season with three games at the Stadium versus Baltimore.

Against the Indians, the Yankees have faired well this season, taking all six previous regular season meetings. The playoffs are a different story, as the 1988 Mets can attest to. That season, they beat the Dodgers ten out of 11 games only to see the NLCS go six games with Los Angeles advancing to the World Series.

But that is for another day. Right now, all the Yankee haters around the country have another October to deal with. The team has worked out all the kinks in a season that was arguably Torre's most difficult since arriving here in 1996. Now they prepare to embark on a stage that they revel in. The playoffs wouldn't be the same without them. Was there any doubt the October Party would go off if they didn't have an invitation?