We don't know what the narrative of the Yankees-Rangers series will wind up being once the teams take the field. Every series winds up with a personality of its own and it rarely winds up being the one you think it is going to be while thinking about things ahead of time. All that we can know right now are the topics that will be dominating the broadcasts of the games until the new storylines take hold.
Alex Rodriguez is Working For Both Teams
Shortly after A-Rod gets booed by the crowd in Arlington during his first at-bat on Friday night, you'll definitely hear Ernie Johnson setting up Ron Darling and John Smoltz for some cracks about his unusual contract status. Rodriguez is still owed nearly $25 million by the Rangers because a hefty chunk of his salary was deferred when he signed with the team in 2001 and because the Rangers picked up an even heftier chunk when he was traded to the Yankees. That puts him in the position of being paid by both teams, which is certainly worthy of a little laughter in the booth.
Let's hope they don't go where Steve Politi of the Star-Ledger went when discussing the topic, however. A-Rod filed an objection to the Rangers bankruptcy plan this summer because it wasn't clear how he'd be paid the monies owed to him. Seems like a pretty reasonable thing for the team's largest unsecured creditor to do, although Politi decides that A-Rod's motivations might be questioned because the Rangers will make more money if they beat the Yankees. The new Rangers owners have already promised to pay their debts in full, but nothing like an "A-Rod loves money" angle to bring out the best in our local sportswriters.
Cliff Lee Coulda Been a Yankee (And Might Still Be)
This one will last at least until Game Three's start at Yankee Stadium and it will still be a topic of conversation in the ninth inning if Lee tosses his customary October gem. We all know how close the Yankees came to acquiring Lee before the Rangers swooped in at the last minute so expect to hear some thoughts about whether the Mariners acted honorably in their dealings and how the season might have played out if things went the other way.
And, on top of all that, there is sure to be a lot of conversation about Lee's impending free agency and the widely held belief that the Yankees will pull out all the stops to bring him to the Bronx. You're unlikely to hear any wits accuse Lee of being happy with a Yankee victory because it will generate more revenue for his future contract -- only A-Rod cares about money -- but you'll definitely hear references to possible future teammates and digressions into whether Lee was worth it if the Rangers can't re-sign him.
The Yankee Rotation Order
The Yankees announced Thursday that they would deviate from recent history and throw Andy Pettitte in Game Three instead of his customary Game Two. The reasons for the move, from Phil Hughes's problems giving up homers at home to the desire to throw lefties in two of three Yankee Stadium games, make a lot of sense, but they are sure to be talked about a lot and will be ripe for second guessing if either or both men stumble in their appointed outings.
The September Sweep
The Rangers swept the Yankees during a three-game series in Arlington during the final month of the season, something that will be brought up. Hopefully, the reason it is brought up is to dismiss its usefulness as a predictive factor. None of the games were started by Hughes, Pettitte or CC Sabathia -- Texas star Josh Hamilton didn't play in the games either -- and they matter about as much as the fact that the Yankees beat the Rangers in three playoff series more than a decade ago.