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MLB playoffs: Yankees’ season is a success, regardless of outcome

NEW YORK — Something interesting happens when opposing teams are introduced at Yankee Stadium.

Aside from the usual chorus of boos and jeers from the Bronx crowd, the "Imperial March" of "Star Wars" fame blares over the PA system, accompanying opposing players to the field.

This was again the case Tuesday at Yankee Stadium prior to New York's 8-4 AL wild-card win over the Twins.

What makes the choice interesting is the juxtaposition of self-awareness: For the longest time, the Yankees were known as the "Evil Empire," ruling the galaxy with baseball destroyers and open checkbooks. But the home squad is introduced with another piece of "Star Wars" music — the one associated with the good guys.

A new empire is rising from the ashes of the old. On Tuesday night, the Bombers took their first major step toward completion.

The Empire has crumbled in recent years, forcing the franchise to rebuild nearly from scratch. With that comes youth, inexperience and sometimes a lack of confidence, but to seven-year veteran Todd Frazier, these guys are different.

"They're humble," Frazier told Sporting News after the victory. "You saw the at-bats they had today. No nervousness about it. They came in, didn't worry about a darn thing, and just trusted in their abilities. That's the best thing you can ask from young guys."

GAME CENTER: Twins-Yankees complete box score

It's not a secret or a surprise that the Yankees are developing a core akin to that of the '90s dynasty teams (a new Death Star for the Empire to play with). The true surprise is that this year's team was able to win 91 games and secure a playoff spot in its first full season together.

Simply put, this crew is fully operational. It hasn't played like a squad trying to jell — it just happened. The tenacity of the Yankees' youth has been a prevailing theme all season, a microcosm of which played out in the first inning when New York came to bat down 3-0 and with ace Luis Severino already out of the game.

"'We got some work to do,'" right fielder Aaron Judge said when asked about his mindset entering the bottom of the first. "We've been in that situation multiple times this year. This team never panics."

Judge was a member of the 2016 Yankees squad that seemed like the last stand for the previous "era" of Bronx Bombers. He said Tuesday the team's approach this season felt different.

"Mentality of this team," Judge said. A long pause followed as he gathered his thoughts. "Our mentality is just keep fighting. Keep passing the baton. If a guy doesn't get the job done, don't worry about it. We know the guy behind us will get it done."


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