Angels Play Head Games With Yankees By Insisting They Aren't In Their Heads

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Since 1996, the Angels are 78-63 against the Yankees. The opposite of a small sample size, this stat courtesy of the LA Times' Mike DiGiovanna is a way too large sample size. A stat that has no bearing on the teams currently. Sensing this in his article about a possible psychological advantage LA may hold over the Bombers, he gives us a more useful 32-17 in their last 49.

DiGiovanna posits that after being ousted by LA in 2002 and 2005, they'd rather face almost anyone else in the playoffs. So of course, the Angels players agree with this, right? No? Gasp!

Do the Angels have some kind of mental hold on the Yankees?

"No," third baseman Chone Figgins said. "They've slugged it out and beat us. It's always a battle against them, and we've had our share of success, but I don't think it's because we're in their heads.

"We run the bases aggressively and we put pressure on you, but because it's New York . . . that stuff doesn't show up in Kansas City and Seattle. It shows up more because it's New York, and you're not expected to have a good record against the Yankees."

Said Manager Mike Scioscia: "By no means have we dominated those guys. We've competed well against them, but they're tough."

I totally expected Torii Hunter to say "Of course we own those fools. They're all flakier than an almond croissant and are incapable of beating us." Baseball being a game of matchups™ and all, there is something to be said for a team having sustained success against another team... but not that much when it comes to the playoffs. The playoff format is a mandatory small sample size that throws head to head records out the window. Consider the Yankees starting this season 0-8 versus Boston before almost reversing course to go 7-1 over the next 8. What do those numbers tell you for the playoffs? Nothing.

But still I salute Mike DiGiovanna for trying to coax a possibly inflammatory comment out of Torii Hunter. That is, after all, part of his job. Just hope he wasn't expecting to unearth too much.

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