The Yankees' Game One loss to the Tigers was like a punch in the gut that left you emotionally scarred and more than a little shellshocked. Then Sunday was all about accepting fate.
A lifeless crowd watched a lifeless team do the baseball version of shrugging its shoulders and raising its palms skyward during a 3-0 loss that gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead that feels like a 10-0 lead in the American League Championship Series. And, just as someone in dire straits might cast around for other things to think about, the Yankees are trying their best to turn attention away from their own failings.
Joe Girardi made a very reasonable point about baseball's pathetic refusal to include replay of calls at a very unreasonable time. There was an indefensibly awful call at second base that led to a Tigers run on Sunday and a bad, if not egregious, call that cost the Yankees a run on a groundout with the bases loaded in Game One, but making that case at that moment is sort of like blaming a plane crash on the Earth being in the way of the plane.
It's true, but it's irrelevant to what's really going wrong. The problem with Girardi's whole point is that the Tigers already had one run on Sunday when the bad call happens, which means they would have won anyway because Girardi can't hit.
Girardi's desire to distract attention is easy to understand. He can't push any of the right buttons and he'd probably like to avoid any questions about why he's willing to bench and replace A-Rod while Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher get to keep playing.
Swisher's running his own attempt to shift people's minds from his horrendous performance at the plate and in the field. Swisher has long gone out of his way to ingratiate himself with the fans at Yankee Stadium, but he tore them apart after Sunday's game for giving him a hard time about failing to catch the very catchable ball that scored the first Tigers run in the 12th inning on Saturday.
That miss preceded Derek Jeter's injury, leading some of the greater minds of the bleachers to blame Swisher for Jeter breaking his ankle. That's ridiculous, obviously, but one imagines that Swisher's real problem is that the people he thought really liked him only actually like him when he's playing well.
He wasn't the only Yankee with a problem with the fans. Mark Teixeira yelled at a fan who caught a foul ball a couple of rows back in the stands during the seventh inning, just before the Tigers would score their first run.
The Steve Bartman experience would seem to make Teixeira some kind of folk hero, although that ignores the fact that Teixeira was going to have a really tough play to throw Quintin Berry out at home since he had his back to the plate while moving in the wrong direction. And if Robinson Cano just makes a simple transfer, the Yankees get out of the inning anyway.
It's amazing that both Swisher and Teixeira could find issue with the fans on a day when there weren't very many of them in the ball park. The crowds at both this weekend's games could be best described as sparser than imaginable for a Yankee playoff game and the official number pegged the crowd at about 3,000 less than capacity.
That seems generous, although the total number doesn't really matter in the overall scheme of things. What matters is that packed October nights where the crowd was a player in the drama are as much a part of history as the Commodore 64 and dinosaurs.
Make all the excuses you want for that, but the truth is that they've priced too many people out of the Stadium and most of those that remain have been pushed so far from their field by the early 20th century cruise ship practice of treating fans as first class, second class and steerage customers. The atmosphere is about as exciting as paint drying, although that has nothing to do with why the Yankees are in this pickle anyway.
It's because they can't hit. Cano, a plausible MVP candidate at one point this season, has set a single-playoff season record with 26 straight at-bats without a hit and no one seemed even remotely interested in putting together even a good at-bat on Sunday.
Nothing else, not even Swisher's inability to catch a routine ball because he lost it in the lights of a stadium he's played in for the last four seasons, matters when you can't put even a single run on the scoreboard. The Yankees are free to point in any direction that they like for why things haven't gone their way, but the only correct answer will come when they look in the mirror.