Does anyone know what number championship this is for the Yankees, because I haven’t heard. Although I have heard more than enough about the figurehead owner who has been practically comatose all season!
OK, that bit of snark aside, I’m very proud of this team, and this championship is very gratifying. I also need to offer condolences to my Phillies fan friends. That’s a very tough champion you guys have, and I’m sure you’re proud too. A couple different decisions by Charlie Manuel and this series could still be going on — if not over in your favor.
But man, it was great to have the designated hitter back, wasn’t it? You can’t make a rash decision on whether or not to bring Hideki Matsui back based on one game — I’m sure Red Sox brass is wishing it passed on Mike Lowell instead of giving him a big contract after he won the 2007 Series MVP — but Matsui always struck me as the kind of guy who would have some huge Series moments if he ever got a second chance. And he was an easy Series MVP, because who knows how this game would have gone without him? Most of the rest of the guys who had been struggling continued to struggle, and you can make the case that the Yankees won this series for two reasons: Mariano Rivera, and Matsui owns Pedro Martinez. Matsui’s 2-run homer to get things going was huge, but the biggest hit of the night without doubt was his 2-run single in the third inning. Pedro, with help from a generous third-strike call against Alex Rodriguez, was one strike away from escaping a bases-loaded, 1-out jam. Considering the Phillies had already answered Matsui’s homer with a run in the top of the third, you have to figure they would have had all the momentum if they could have gotten out of the inning. But Pedro couldn’t figure Hideki out, even with two strikes. Huge hit.
Which brings us to Charlie Manuel. Sure it’s a classic second guess, but I — and I’m sure many of you — first-guessed this. J.A. Happ had to be in there to face Matsui in that spot. It was clear from the start that Pedro had nothing, and the only reason he got as far as he got was because the Yankees, other than Matsui, were doing a fabulous job of getting themselves out. Again, other than Matsui. I know Matsui eventually hit his 2-run double off Happ, but that doesn’t justify the decision to leave Pedro in the game with the team’s life on the line simply because his name is Pedro. Terrible decision on a night when Manuel should have been ready to empty the tank on everyone. Especially with the possibility of rain tomorrow and Cliff Lee starting in a postponed Game 7.
Andy Pettitte was decent. I know his start is going to be romanticized by a lot of people, and that’s OK. He’s done a lot to earn the love and respect he has from Yankee fans. And considering he was a 37-year-old man pitching on short rest, he could have been far worse. But all the walks were playing with fire, and he benefited greatly from the team’s — or more accurately Matsui’s — offensive outburst. Hey, he won the clinching games in all three rounds, and he’s one of three guys to be a key member on all five of the Yankees’ recent titles, and I was very glad to have him on the mound instead of A.J. Burnett in this game. At least he battled. And I’ll gladly have him back next season. It’s amazing how much things changed for him from the disappointment of 2008.
Hopefully if Pettitte does come back, the Yankees will have a usable fourth starter so he won’t have to go on short rest again. It’s really amazing that, in this era of specialized pitching, a team was able to win with three starters. So, yes, even credit to Burnett, who it should not be forgotten was outstanding in Game 2.
You know who else should not be forgotten? Damaso Marte, who with one series made that 2008 deadline deal pay off, regardless of how good Ross Ohlendorf and Jose Tabata turn out to be. He was fabulous. Fabulous to the point where I wanted Joe Girardi to leave him in the game when he was bringing in Mariano. How crazy is that?
But it was the right move, of course. Girardi deserves this championship, as, outside of starting Jerry Hairston over Nick Swisher in Game 2, he had an outstanding series. I think we saw a manager that was willing to learn and grow, even from series to series. And I’m now optimistic the day will come when I’m confident in him. Either way, he managed this team to the title, and no one can take that away from him.
Back to Mariano. It’s worth noting again how incredible he is. In fact, you just can’t say it enough. He’s the ultimate weapon in all of sports. From Joe Nathan to Brian Fuentes to Brad Lidge, we got a first-hand look at how difficult it is to fill the closer spot for other teams. As with Michael Jordan, we will never see another like him. Enjoy it, appreciate it, and hope — no pray — that he’s being serious when he talks about pitching five more years.
Even Joba, who I think we all can begrudgingly agree belongs in the bullpen, is not anywhere near as reliable as Mariano, as evidenced by his seventh-inning struggles. Still, he was very valuable to this championship run, as he was able to pick up the slack for the surprising failure of Phil Hughes, who should be back in the rotation next year.
Derek Jeter. I love the guy, but I get as sick as fans of other teams about the hyperbole surrounding him. That said, he had a superb World Series and postseason in general. He is fashioning a Yankee legacy that makes him an immortal name, and it’s well deserved. The fifth ring goes a long way toward cementing that legacy. Pettitte and Jorge Posada will always have a place in team history, but Jeter and Rivera are the immortals.
Ah, but there’s another immortal now, isn’t there? What more can be asked of Alex Rodriguez now? In his six-year Yankee tenure, he has won two MVPs and was the best player in the run to this year’s championship. I’m sure the monkey will never be completely off his back, because some people are just idiots, but he is likely the greatest position player you’ll see wear a Yankee uniform in your lifetime.
Can’t write the wrap-up for this Series, and season, without mentioning CC Sabathia. Aside from A-Rod finally getting hot in the postseason, the biggest difference this season was that the Yankees finally had an absolute horse they could ride at the top of the rotation. I have complete faith he would have done it one more time, but I’m glad we didn’t have to find out.
Well, I think that’s about it for now. It was a great season, but the best thing about baseball is that it’s a 12-month-a-year sport. We’re right around the corner from the season awards and the hot stove, and we’ll be all over that kind of stuff here. Thanks for taking the time to read, and I hope you keep coming back.
Enjoy the parade, and congratulations 2009 Yankees, world champions!
Article printed from The Yankee Scrolls
URL to article: http://blogs.mycentraljersey.com/yankees/2009/11/05/yankees-win-world-series/