10/19/2010 11:12 AM ET
Graziano: Rangers are just better
Lee, Hamilton and Co. mean Texas win would be no upset
By Dan Graziano / SNY.tv
Left-hander Cliff Lee is a dominant force looming in the Yankees' nightmares for a potential Game 7. (AP)

Here's the part with the Yankees to which everybody always has a hard time getting: The part where you realize they're not the better team.

The most glaring example in recent history is the 2003 World Series, which some people still insist was some kind of massive upset when in fact it was a case of a good Yankees team losing to a Florida Marlins team that was better than they were. Better starting pitching, better bullpen ... just better.

It happens sometimes. Because it's the Yankees, it's almost impossible to believe when it happens. The Yankees are always Goliath, always the favorites and it's always an upset when they lose. But every now and then, whether we realize it or not, they run into an opponent that's just better than they are.

That's what's happening right now.

In case you haven't watched the first three games of the American League Championship Series, let me fill you in on something: The Texas Rangers are the better team. If not for a historic Game 1 bullpen meltdown, they would be up 3-0 right now and looking for a sweep tonight against the Yankees' worst pitcher.

Their starting pitching has been better than the Yankees' in every game -- dramatically better in the first two, in fact. Their lineup takes no back seat, even to that of the Yankees. It has speed, power, depth and texture. They may not all be household names, but pitchers aren't enjoying trying to get through that Michael Young/Josh Hamilton/Vlad Guerrero/Nelson Cruz gauntlet every night.

They're legit, and the way they came out swinging in Game 2 on Saturday after having their hearts ripped out in Game 1 on Friday tells you a lot about the kind of men they are.

Now, this is no knock on the Yankees (though I'm sure many of you will take it as one). The Yankees are a great team -- worthy defending champions who won 95 games this year playing in the very tough American League East. They massacred a very good Twins team in the first round. And they very well could come back and win this series.

Champions don't fall easily, and it'd be no huge surprise if A.J. Burnett exceeded expectations in Game 4 or if the Yankees picked off the next couple of games against that jittery Texas bullpen.

But at this point, you can't call it an upset if the Rangers end up winning the series. Not when they're up two games to one and just crushed the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in Game 3. Not when they appear to be the clear-cut better team over the first seven or eight innings of every game.

And not when they've backed the Yankees into a situation that requires the champs to win the next three games.

Yeah that's right. The Yankees have to win the next three games. Because in case you were watching the worst game in Monday Night Football history and missed Game 3, I'll tell you one other thing of which you may not be aware:

No matter what you think of the premise of this column -- whether you agree or not, and even if you can make a compelling case that the Yankees are, in fact, the better team -- there is no way on this pinstriped earth that they're going to beat the guy Texas has going for them in Game 7.

Dan Graziano is the host of "The MLB Hour" with Steve Phillips on FanHouse.com and a regular contributor to SNY.tv.
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