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Jeter, Ichiro lead way to ALCS

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Oct. 15
Game 5: Yankees 5, A's 3
Years and perhaps generations from now, we will relive Derek Jeter's shuttle pass alongside the home runs of Kirk Gibson and Carlton Fisk and Bill Mazeroski, and next to Don Larsen jumping into Yogi's arms.

Last winter, when Alex Rodriguez said that Jeter would never have A-Rod's stats, he was, of course, right. But while Rodriguez is a great player, few have ever been greater in one October after another than Jeter.

What Jeter, David Justice, Tino Martinez, Mike Stanton and Mariano Rivera do every October remains one of the majesties of our generation. That they came back to defeat the A's after going down 2-0 at home is the greatest comeback in the short history of the Division Series, or any five-game series if you want to go back to pre-1985 championship series.

It could be a lesson for the brash A's, who did not play well. Eric Chavez showed his youth all series, swinging at bad pitches in key situations and making a critical error. Miguel Tejada's base-running gaffe cost Oakland the tying run in the middle innings.

Look, there is no question that the $80 million spread in payroll was a difference; check who came off the bench or who pitched in the middle innings. And while the A's appear to have the pitching staff of the future, Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon and Jason Isringhausen are gone, and ownership may not be inclined to retain even its front office.

The lesson the A's will take from this is never to underestimate this Yankee team, and appreciate that they played against one of the great October players of all time, Derek Jeter.

Game 5: Mariners 3, Indians 1
You watch the entire series, every game, every day, and you understand a lot better than any raw number what they mean in Seattle about Ichiro and the MVP. He seemingly changes the rhythm and the balance of every game, on ground balls to the infield or balls in the corner. When he does it, he changes the metabolism of Safeco Field. The 12 hits, the speed, the defense ... and those two great starters and three great relievers.

The Mariners are the ultimate testament to good management of a roster, allowing Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr. and A-Rod to leave and building a 25-man roster of Arthur Rhodes and Jeff Nelson and Mark McLemore and Stan Javier. They're also a testament to Lou Piniella; the M's have now won three postseason series in seven years, which means they've won more series in that time than the Rockies, Diamondbacks, Astros, Rangers, Devil Rays, Expos and Angels combined.

Those 116 wins deserve more respect than they've received.

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Gammons: Game notes

Gammons: Day four notes

Gammons: Day three notes

Gammons: Day two notes

Gammons: Day one notes

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