Following their 6-1 loss to the Phillies in Game 1 on Wednesday night, it would be the Yankees who were left to assume the latter of those two positions. But unlike some teams that have been in recent 0-1 series holes, the Bronx Bombers actually have the history to back their "we're-not-out-of-it-yet" claims.
After Wednesday's defeat, the Yankees are now 24-16 all-time in the first game of the World Series. The good news for the New York faithful, though, is that a Game 1 loss by the pinstripers has by no means been a consistent omen for an unhappy series ending. In fact, more times than not, the Bombers have actually parlayed a defeat in the first game of the World Series into a championship title.
New York fans, take some solace in this: Of the previous 15 times that the Yankees dropped Game 1, eight of those losses were still followed with the Bombers hoisting the World Series championship trophy by the time all was said and done. What's it going to take to push that total to nine?
"You move on -- quick," third baseman Alex Rodriguez answered. "You have to have a short memory. We need to win [on Thursday], obviously. We need to go back to Philly, 1-1."
Wednesday actually marked the fourth time in franchise history that the Yankees have dropped Game 1 of the World Series at home. It's a scenario that has cost New York the coveted home-field advantage, but again, it's one that hasn't historically fazed the club.
|1922||Lost to NY Giants||4-0-1|
|1923||Defeated NY Giants||4-2|
|1936||Defeated NY Giants||4-2|
|1951||Defeated NY Giants||4-2|
|1952||Defeated Brooklyn Dodgers||4-3|
|1956||Defeated Brooklyn Dodgers||4-3|
|1958||Defeated Milwaukee Braves||4-3|
|1960||Lost to Pittsburgh Pirates||4-3|
|1963||Lost to LA Dodgers||4-0|
|1964||Lost to St. Louis Cardinals||4-3|
|1976||Lost to Cincinnati Reds||4-0|
|1978||Defeated LA Dodgers||4-2|
|1996||Defeated Atlanta Braves||4-2|
|2001||Lost to Arizona Diamondbacks||4-3|
|2003||Lost to Florida Marlins||4-2|
Interestingly enough, the Yankees' first of 26 World Series championships came in a series that opened up with a home loss. That 1923 club, though, went on to take four of the next five games against the New York Giants to wash those Game 1 sorrows away. In 1951, the Giants were again the victims of an identical scenario, as the Yankees erased the same daunting deficit.
And in 1996, the Yankees did what many thought was improbable, taking four consecutive games from the defending World Series champion Braves after losing Games 1 and 2 in New York.
"They're all critical [games]," said Derek Jeter, who, along with Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Joe Girardi, was on that 1996 club. "I say that even when we get Game 1 of the series. You're out there trying to win games, but the other team is good, too."
The only time that the Yankees have lost Game 1 of the World Series at home and not rebounded to win the series was in 2003, New York's most recent Fall Classic appearance. After falling behind 0-1 to the Marlins in '03, the Yankees went on to lose the series in six games.
"It is what it is today," catcher Jorge Posada said. "We've got to move on. We really have to."
The Yankees' historical success in such deficits has not been matched by teams in recent years, however. Since New York's World Series title in 1996, only one time has the Game 1 winner not gone on to win the title. That came in 2002, when San Francisco jumped out to the early series lead, only to watch the Angels win the series in seven.
Now it's time for the Yankees to embark on that same quest, in search of an identical result.
"We're both good teams," said Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon. "That's why you play a series. We definitely don't like this situation. We know we can't lose three more."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.