Eight years ago, the Yankees were playing the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series. They were leading three games to none, and had humiliated Boston in the third game, breaking a 6-6 third-inning tie and going on to win 19-8. After that, though, an odd thing happened: the Yankees stopped being the Yankees, stopped taking pitches, stopped walking, and tried to hit Boston's pitches. In what has gone down in baseball history as, depending on your point of view, one of the great comebacks or one of the great collapses, the Red Sox won four straight games and headed on to the World Series and their appointment with destiny. The Yankees slunk home to trade for a 41-year-old Randy Johnson.

The Yankees' perseverance in this postseason now depends on the Tigers committing seppuku in the same way they did all those years ago. That seems unlikely, just as it was unlikely then. Still, it ain't over etc, and I don't want to make this a premature post-mortem and risk an Edgar Allan Poe-style dénouement. Still, things are in a dire place and may continue to be for some time, given that the latest news is that Derek Jeter will require surgery and might not be ready to start spring training.

I know it's a million years ago and part of the adventures of a 19th century near-dwarf instead of a 6'3" specimen of athletic perfection, but I keep thinking of Rabbit Maranville, the three-decade gloveman of the 1910s through the 1930s. He was coasting along at 41, if you can call hitting a powerless .212 coasting, when he broke his ankle during spring training, 1933, suffering a compound complex fracture on a play at the plate against the Yankees. He missed all of that season, attempted to come back at 43, and found he just couldn't move around the same way again.