Even before both the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies won Game 5 of their respective league championship series, staving off elimination, everyone had begun to ask the question.
How many teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a league championship series?
Inevitably the answer (six) begins and ends with the Red Sox, who have accomplished the feat three times.
In a twist that likely has some in the Bronx rubbing their temples, its the 27-time champion Yankees (and maybe the Phillies) who can turn to Boston as a source for inspiration.
New York, of course, was the first team to lose a 3-0 deficit by dropping four straight to the Sox in the '04 ALCS. You didn't forget, did you? Didn't think so. But while the Yankees have tried to, their current situation begs for a trip down memory lane, if only to remember how quickly it can all slip away.
"I'd like to forget '04,” Alex Rodriguez told reporters Thursday. "If you remind me, I think there's something to be said – you have to win four games. The last three outs, the last game, is always the toughest on both ends."
The man who helped the Yankees stay alive for at least one more game with a Game 5 win Wednesday night, CC Sabathia, also knows a thing or two about Boston rallies.
Sabathia's Cleveland Indians were up 3-1 in the '07 ALCS and had their big lefty on the mound for a potential clinching Game 5. Sabathia was severely outdueled by Josh Beckett, who got the series back to Fenway Park. Two routs later the Indians were sent home and the Sox rolled to their second World Series title in four years.
New York manager Joe Girardi has said that Sabathia will be available in Game 6 out of the bullpen, just in case. The Yanks' ace knows that that scratch-and-claw mentality — together with a tinge of desperation — can turn deficits around in a heartbeat, in large part because of what he saw the Red Sox do to him just four seasons ago.
"It's tough to close a team out because they're scrapping and fighting for everything, as we are over here," Sabathia said when asked about those Red Sox teams.
It's not as if the Yankees cannot draw inspiration from their own past. They rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the 2001 ALDS. They also overcame a 2-0 deficit in the 1996 World Series.
However, neither of those results have come up in the past day or so as dreamers in New York search for historical precedent for what they hope their team will accomplish.
For that they need only to look at their archrivals. And they don't need to look too far in the past.
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