Familiar script in the Bronx
Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
You can bring in all the CC Sabathias, A.J. Burnetts, Mark Teixeiras, and even the Alex Rodriguezes you want, but when the New York Yankees needed to get the most important win of the year, it was their heart and soul who carried them to the finish line.
Andy Pettitte gave the Yankees everything he had on short rest, Hideki Matsui drove in six runs, Derek Jeter had three hits and Mariano Rivera, was, well, Mariano Rivera.
What can you say about Pettitte?
Has there ever been a better big game pitcher with the Yankees? I never saw Whitey Ford pitch and caught the tail end of Ron Guidry's career, but I don't think anyone can argue that Pettitte belongs in the conversation of the best Yankee starting pitchers of all-time.
Yankee fans first fell in love with Pettitte in 1995 when as a 23-year-old rookie he helped lead the Bronx Bombers back to the postseason for the first time in over a decade.
The Yankees won their 27th World Series championship.
It wasn't until his second season in pinstripes, though, that the rest of the league started to take notice. Pettitte won 21 games that year, but it was his start in Game 5 of the World Series that made people realize just how special he really was.
That night, with the series tied at two games apiece, Pettitte outdueled Atlanta's John Smoltz, the NL Cy Young Award winner that year, as he scattered five hits over 8 1/3 scoreless frames to give the Yanks the advantage in a Fall Classic that they would eventually win.
His outing on Wednesday, though, may have been even more impressive. Thirteen years after that start in Atlanta, Pettitte again went on short rest, and kept the Yankees in the game for 5 2/3 innings on their way to an unprecedented 27th World Series title.
Pettitte won all three clinching game for the Yankees this postseason and has now won six such games in his career.
If this was his last game in pinstripes, what a way to go out. Before this series I would have guessed Pettitte would be back, but this might just be such a fitting ending for him that he won't want to come back.
I have probably said it 100 times this year, but the New York Yankees are really going to miss Hideki Matsui next year.
Matsui will become a free agent sometime over the next couple of weeks and the odds are probably against him coming back to the Bronx. But, like Pettitte, what a way to go out if Wednesday was in fact his swan song in pinstripes.
Matsui's two-run home run off of Pedro Martinez in the second inning set the tone in the 7-3 win. The homer, though, was just the start of Matsui's big night, as Godzilla matched a World Series record with six RBI in one game and was named the MVP.
How many big hits has Matsui had since the grand slam he hit in his first-ever game in the Bronx back in 2003? The Yankees are not going to be able to replace that, nor the professionalism that just seems to ooze out of him.
I would be willing to bet a lot of Yankee fans would probably prefer them sign Matsui this offseason rather than Johnny Damon, who is also a free agent. Problem is that Matsui is just a designated hitter these days. He can't play the field anymore because of his knees.
Unfortunately with the way the Yankees are currently constructed, that DH spot is going to be filled by a number of players over the next few years. Jorge Posada will start to get the bulk of his at-bats there. Jeter is going to start to DH more, as he gets up in age. And, of course, given the state of Alex Rodriguez's hip, he is not going to play the field everyday.
Honestly, even with his performance in these playoffs and the 28 home runs he hit during the regular season, he probably won't be a consideration for general manager Brian Cashman as he starts to formulate his plan for next season.
I doubt Matsui would settle for being a part-time player and a left-handed bat off the bench. If you want to win, though, some team could do a lot worse than taking a chance on Matsui.
Are you going to tell me that the Tampa Bay Rays would not be better off next year with Matsui as their DH, than Pat Burrell?
Then, there's Mariano Rivera.
Matsui was given the MVP, but you could have just as easily given it to Rivera, who picked up two saves and tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Why don't you ask the Phillies how valuable it is to have a guy who can get the final three, and sometimes six, outs.
It was fitting that Rivera closed this one out on Wednesday of all nights. It was eight years to the day of his greatest professional failure when he blew the 2001 World Series in Arizona.
Rivera is a machine. I have always maintained that he is not only the best reliever of all-time, but he is the best player, period, of this generation. I don't think there is anyone anywhere ever who does their job as good as Rivera has.
And he has shown no signs of slowing down. He is just amazing.
Nice job by the way from the Sporting News. Just before the start of the playoffs they declared the Boston Red Sox the team of the decade. Apparently the decade ended right after the regular season finished. .
You have to think they might want to reconsider their selection after watching the New York Yankees roll through the Philadelphia Phillies on their way to their 27th World Series title, and oh by the way their second championship this decade.
Not only have they won it all twice, but the Yanks appeared in four Fall Classics this decade, while making the playoffs in all but one year.
There is no question the Yankees are the team of the decade.