What type of advantage do you think you have because you clinched five days earlier than the Yankees in setting up the rotation?

Mike Scioscia: Well, I think it's big. I think it's big for us. I don't know if they will know -- we'll see how it plays out. But it's certainly important for us to have gotten Bartolo into Game 1, something last year was tough for us to reset the way we wanted because we had to go so long and so hard, almost what the Yankees went through. I think setting your rotation is very big, and we were able to do that this year, and you know, we'll see if it has some importance.

What about the psychological perspective?

Scioscia: Well, for someone like Bartolo or somebody in the rotation? They would know what day they were going no matter how we end it. If Bartolo would have to win the last game of the season for us, he would have known when he was pitching in the series, that would have come to light anyway. But I think the fact that those guys have been the lead dogs for us all year and to be able to get them one and two is something that's important to us.

But like I had said, no matter who is pitching against that lineup that the Yankees have, you have to execute pitches, so whether it's Bartolo or John or Paul or Jarrod, they have to make pitches. That's the challenge; whether they were pitching Game 3 or Game 2 or whatever the situation might have been, I don't know if that would have changed anything.

For us to get Bartolo out there, to be able to get him in there for Game 1 is important for the type of year he had for us and important for the type of lineup we're going against.

The last time you faced these guys in the playoffs, the Yankees, you did a number on them, and you have a lot of the same guys coming back this year again to face them. Is there a mental aspect to that, kind of punched through the mystique of the Yankees and what they represent on the field?

Scioscia: I don't know if you can quantify it or qualify it as putting a number on them. We played good baseball. We beat them in the series we played them in 2002; that's long gone.

They are a terrific ballclub. We have challenges. We're playing at a high level right now and I think that that's what we're going to focus on, how we're playing the game, and they have some challenges to try to stop some of the things we can do.

The thing about the mystique, those guys, they play the game the right way. They are deep. If anything, they have begun to pitch better and I think that's been probably what has fueled their ride to the playoffs. I don't think what happened in 2002 is anything that's going to, you know, affect what will happen in this series.

Just looking back a week or so, a week or ten days or whatever, are you surprised that you're sitting here, rather than in New York or somewhere else based on where you were looking at a week ago?

Scioscia: Well, yeah, I think in hindsight, it was the furthest thing from our mind, where you're playing in the playoffs; it was just getting to the playoffs.

We had some challenges and some very, very tough challenges to get to the playoffs. We beat some good clubs along the way. Beat a terrific Oakland club to get here. And that was our focus really -- to get to the playoffs, not where we're playing.

Once things started to sort out and you understand you have a chance for home field advantage, we had to really balance the fact that our guys needed a rest. We had to get our guys refreshed and two days off the playoffs. Right after we clinched the playoffs in Oakland, we gave most of our regulars a rest and still were in the hunt for home field.

As we went through the Texas series, it became evident, especially the last day, that we had a chance for it, and I think it is a pleasant surprise the way things worked out, but I don't know if it wasn't anything that we felt was going to override the need for us to get our players rest. If home field happened, great; it did happen. If it didn't happen, we felt it was much more important for us to have our team as whole as it could be going into the playoffs.

I think you can characterize it as a mild surprise that we are here. I don't think it really will have an effect on any huge advantage, because I think when we get to this situation, what's going to be important is how we're playing the game, not who or where we're playing. And if we're playing well, we like our chances. I'm sure the Yankees feel the same way; if they are playing well, they like their chances, whether they have home field advantage or not.

Over the last ten years you've played very well against this team, and you did win the series season this year. Is there anything about the way the Angels play that make this is a very good matchup for you?

Scioscia: Well, I think first of all, the Yankees are a little different team now. They are playing at a higher level than at some times early in the year, when they had some issues -- particularly in their rotation -- and some guys banged up. I think they are a little different club than we probably saw in the summer.

I think we're in the same boat. I think we're a different club right now. We've done things a lot better the last month. Our team, we can't get into a slugfest with these guys. We have to manufacture, we have to run the bases hard, we have to run them well, and we're confident we're going to do that and that's the type of game we have to bring.

The depth of our bullpen is going to be important, and I think as we look to some of the games we play against the Yankees, some of the games we lost late were because either the bullpen was fatigued or some guys not being able to come into play the way we wanted to. Right now, that depth is re-established and I think that is something that could be big for us.

So we have to pitch, when we pitch well against them, we've been able to hold our own, and that's going to be what we have to do.

First of all, your decision to go with Bert in three and Washburn at four, and also your reason for sitting out Christiansen on the roster in the first round?

Scioscia: A lot of things have been looked at. One is going into yesterday's game, if it had no bearing, we had the option of shortening Ervin Santana to get him get back into our bullpen earlier. As our game progressed and we realized we had a chance to get home field, Ervin threw, I think, over 100 pitches. So I think his length will be lost for tomorrow, and possibly he'll reappear in the bullpen Wednesday, definitely on Friday.

So Kevin Gregg was really somebody we needed in our bullpen for length as we get into these first couple of games, and he's throwing the ball well, so that's how that decision was made.

Christiansen, obviously, a lot of left-handed hitters and what Christiansen would have brought to our club, we feel very confident with the right-handers we have down there; that they go after lefties well, and I think that that gives us a lot of depth there.

Jarrod Washburn, we're trying to give as much time in between starts. He was short this weekend. He's had a little bit of an elbow issue. It seems like it's behind him now and he feels strong. Friday, our Game 4, will be the day that's best for Jarrod.

How does it change the dynamic from when you played the Yankees in 2002? The Angels had not been in the playoffs in a while, and now you've been there three out of four years, won the World Series -- does that give you more confidence or change the dynamic of series at all?

Scioscia: I think the experience was very cut and dried. When you play well and you played your game in the playoffs, you're going to have success, and when you don't, you're not. Last year I think is a perfect example of us being a little bit banged up going into the playoffs, facing a club that was very, very tough offensively and they took it to us and they swept us.

The experience of 2002 is that we're playing at our level and doing things we need to do, then hopefully, we're going to achieve and have a much better chance to achieve. So that's what we're looking for this year, because I think we're in much better shape right now this year than we were last year at that time.

So I think the experience of being there tells you what you might be able to expect. It's just like a regular season game; if you play well, you have a chance to win. If you don't, these teams are good, they will take it to you.

What kind of a dimension does Chone Figgins bring to the team? He seems to have come into a zone between his versatility on the field and the speed he brings to your team.

Scioscia: Chone is our most valuable player this year and we're sitting here not even talking or talking about a playoff game coming up if it wasn't for Chone.

His speed is the type of speed -- even if he's not stealing a base, it can be effective in what other teams are trying to do to contain him. I think his versatility -- I have not seen it matched by anybody. I've been around this game 30 years, not being able to to play at a lot of positions, there's been guys that have been able to do that. But the high level of play he brings, particularly defensively, whether he's playing second, short or third or centerfield or any of the quarter outfields, it's incredible.

So what he's done for our club is important. We need him to get into his game early. It might not translate into pure stolen bases. He might not steal a base this whole series, but by him being there and getting on is going affect some of the things that other clubs are going to have to do, and that's still an advantage. We need him to play his game, and obviously other things to happen for us to have a chance to win.