Today In Local Sports Coverage: Who Will We Hate If the Yankees Lose?

After last night’s 12-inning, extra-season game wrapped up the regular season and settled the last playoff spot–and also reminded Mike Lupica why he watches baseball–the playoffs officially start tonight for the Yankees. Having missed the playoffs last year, expectations are tempered. ““Par here is making it to the World Series,” Reggie Jackson told the Daily News. That’s setting the bar a little low, isn’t it, Reggie?

After all, the Daily News also says Joe Girardi, in his first playoff appearance as a manager, “knows he can’t leave without a ring.” Neither, apparently, can C.C. Sabathia or Mark Texeira.

Seems like all the sportswriters have heeded Joel Sherman’s call yesterday to find a new scapegoat, after years of piling on Alex Rodriguez.

Jay Greenberg makes the case for blaming C.C. Sabathia, whose 7.92 E.R.A. in the playoffs “turns Alex Rodriguez into Mr. Clutch by comparison.” Sabathia, apparently, “carries the same steamer trunk to the mound that A-Rod will take to the plate.” The Times says it’s not just Sabathia, but A.J. Burnett too, since the team invested a combined $243.5 million in the two pitchers.

Mark Texeira has actually had some playoff success–last year with the Angels–but Mike Vaccaro isn’t buying it. “Still . . . that was Southern California. This is the South Bronx.” Vaccaro says all eyes are on Tex.

But really, honestly, all eyes are on Girardi, who made his first controversial call yesterday by announcing that Jose Molina will catch for A.J. Burnett in game two instead of Jorge Posada. “Burnett simply feels simpatico with Molina’s game-calling,” Joel Sherman explains. But if Burnett doesn’t pitch well, and Molina doesn’t hit well…

Elsewhere, Rex Ryan–whose DNA is examined minutely by Tom Scocca here–is still talking trash to a relatively obscure Miami Dolphins player, Mike Piazza is still trying to bury Ted Williams, and Deadspin has a Mets trivia question for you.

Today In Local Sports Coverage: Who Will We Hate If the Yankees Lose?