Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Coronation

The Yankees had been tortured by the own high expectations for 9 long years. Not by the supposed "Championship or Bust" mantra that for the most part is wildly overplayed, as much as their actions as a franchise. Even if they had pretended like they didn't care that much about winning, it would have been painfully apparent that they did.

Since 2000, the Yankees have spent over $1.5B on player's salaries, let alone the amount paid to coaches, training staff, front office personnel, scouts, minor league operations and countless other employees singularly dedicated to assembling the best baseball team possible. And last night, it's seemed like it was all worth it.

If the last nine years have taught us anything, it's that you can't buy championships (despite the common Yankee-hater refrain). You can certainly try. You can buy extended streaks of regular season success. You can come pretty close to buying a playoff berth. But you still have to run the gauntlet of a three-tiered playoff system which was a lot harder than it seemed back when Paul O'Neill, Tino Martinez, David Cone, Bernie Williams & Co. were still wearing Pinstripes.

This year, it seemed easy again.

The Yankees cruised through the second half of the season, didn't face elimination once in the playoffs, and the Phillies didn't have the tying run on base at any point after the third inning last night. After Damaso Marte impossibly mowed down Chase Utley to end the 7th inning and Ryan Howard to begin the 8th with 2 strikeouts six pitches, we could relax and savor the moment.

Last night was a coronation of the a team who, despite what Jimmy Rollins wants you to think, was the best team in baseball for most of this year by a considerable margin. It was validation of the last 9 years of aggressive free agent spending and high-upside drafting.

It was a celebration for Hideki Matsui and A-Rod and Sabathia and Burnett and Cano who will never have the fact that they haven't won a World Series held against them again. And probably just as sweet for the guys who played supplemental roles and ended up in the right place at the right time. It was a culmination for Jeter, Pettitte, Posada and Rivera who amazingly won a 5th title together 9 years after their last. This is as good as it gets.

We were all in vastly different places in our lives 9 years ago. I was a 16 year old kid who was a Yankee fan but didn't really know that much about baseball. I couldn't have told you what OPS meant or who Bill James was. The Yankees had just won 4 out of 5 years and if you had listed the players the Yanks were going to acquire and told me it would take until now to win again, I would have thought you were batshit insane.

But it did take that long. Which makes it that much sweeter.


  1. does Posada have a ring from 1996? I know he wasn't on the postseason roster, but he did appear in 8 games throughout the season

  2. That's a good point, I was assuming that everyone who appeared in a game (or was on the roster at some point during the season) gets a ring. Not sure how that is determined though.

  3. I'm pretty sure it's up to the team's discretion, but if you were on the active roster at any time of the season I think you get a ring. A lot of players that were traded mid-season from teams that went on to win the WS have received rings.

    I hope Xavier Nady gets one. He only played in 7 games this season, but had he not been hurt I have to believe he would have contributed to this team.

  4. I know Nomar got one for the Red So... oh wait, that never happened.

  5. Posada has a ring from 1996. I'm not sure of the exact circumstances around it (insurance in case Girardi or Leyritz got hurt?), but he was "with" the team throughout the playoffs without being on the active roster. Very similar to the way Frankie Cervelli was with the 2009 team in the World Series.

    If anyone ever gets to watch a highlight compilation of the 1996 series celebration look for number 55. That's Hip Hip Jorge from way back in the day.

  6. Did Nomar get a ring for 2004? he probably should have. or how about even more extreme examples like Anthony Claggett (2.2 innings) or even better, Steven Jackson, who was on the active roster for about a week but never appeared in a game