"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, sportsnetwork.com
HUNTINGDON VALLEY, Pa. (Sports Network) --
It's officially over for this year and I was wrong. The Yankees won in five games, not the six I forecast. Though the Mets had me for a while there, as I thought Al Leiter might win one game. Thanks to Luis Sojo, that was not to be. And, for those around the country that opted to miss this October Classic out of resentment that their own teams were not in it, you missed a hell of a series.
The New York Yankees celebrate their 4-2 win and World Series Championship over the New York Mets during Game Five of the World Series. |
Not missing an opening in the post-series celebration, however, the begrudging pundits, covetous journalists and unhappy fans, those of the Mets and elsewhere, proclaimed that the margin of victory was not that much and, after all, what did it prove? I would hazard a guess that it proved the very same thing that we witnessed recently at the Olympics when years and years of training, dedication and talent came in second and third by margins of one-hundredth of a second, the reach of a fingertip or nose and that last lunge for the gold. It is the nature of things in sports.
In Game Five, it was Yankees 4, Mets 2 as we have all come to know. However, discounted is the fact that the two runs achieved by the boys from Long Island were unearned. And, it was the way the Bronx Bombers have usually excelled, by taking advantage of every opportunity afforded them, by throwing a great line-up against the other guys and persevering as only those attired in pinstripes can do. It was a third consecutive championship and there is something to be said for that. Also, the fourth championship in five years.
There were probably as many Yankee fans at Shea on the evening of October 26th as there were Mets rooters. They were there to see their team win its 26th world championship. For those who are still just toying with the word dynasty, consider that the Yankees have a record of 46-15 in postseason play over the past five years, including a 16-3 mark in the World Series. What else do they have to do, win again next year? That, by the way, as you groan your way into football completely from this point on, is not out of the question.
Al Leiter probably deserved better than being handed the loss that ended the first Subway Series in 44 years, but his buddies on the Mets did not do very much to support his quest for a first post-season victory. The Yankees do not come to the ballpark to lose at this time of the year. It is not their way. Forty-four years ago, and beyond that, they usually just threw their gloves out on the field, in those eras when they were left out there between innings. Now, all they have to do is show up. They have a rich history of knowing how to win. Their first three victories were decided by a run each time. But that is what champions are supposed to do...come out on top in the close ones. It does not diminish the effort or remove the luster, and arguments to the contrary are simply ridiculous. Win the Indy 500 by a few seconds and you are still the winner. You need not lap the field each time.
How about the other side of the issue? The Yankees built their three-games-to-one lead without any support from one of the best players in the game, Bernie Williams. He was hitless in 22 at bats before Game Five, dating all the way back to Game Two against the Braves last year. But, in the final game, the real Bernie Williams showed up. That is what Yankees do. They are a team and give the same credence and credibility to that word as did the Boston Celtics and Yankee teams of decades ago.
Joe Torre is the super glue that holds this club together and he does not make the right decision all the time but he certainly can lay claim to doing so most of the time. And his loyalty to his players is unquestioned. Ask Andy Pettitte, David Cone, Paul O'Neill. Torre was a heck of a player in his own right and he has proven to be a much better manager in this sport that has consumed most of his life. His ball club was written off as old, not ready for the youthful Mets who had become accustomed to winning late in the game no matter what the other guys had done. What have the Mets done that could compare to the seven one-run-game victories in 16 of the Yankees' previous World Series outings? Down to the wire and it was the Bronxites reaching for the finish line tape. Throw in winning three extra-inning series games dating back to 1996, including the one in twelve against the Mets, the one that they needed so desperately, and you have the stuff of which dynasties are made.
If you want to be the next team of the decade you have to beat the guys occupying the throne right now.
Please, none of that nonsense about the best team that money can buy. What should George Steinbrenner have done, cut his payroll, not doled out the dollars it takes to win trophies and entered a competition with less than the best, regardless of what it takes? You want to compete? You go out and get the best. He did that. And, so will the Dodgers, Indians, Braves and, now, maybe the Rockies for next season
Ramiro Mendoza will be returning to the bullpen, O'Neill will be back, as will Scott Brosius and Chuck Knoblauch, the latter in a utility role, and David Cone will suit up if he can come back to spring training with a new wing. Dwight Gooden is probably gone, Jose Canseco has no value. They will chase down Manny Ramirez for right field, with O'Neill winding down his career as a DH. Forget Scott Rolen coming up the New Jersey Turnpike from Philadelphia. Tino Martinez has one year left on his contract so he will still be there digging those errant throws out of the dirt. Sojo will be in pinstripes thanks to his multi-faceted talents, being able to play third and second. The rest of the nucleus is there and you can count on the Yankees to add to their current riches. Don't even mention the bullpen. It can only get better.
Jose Vizcaino celebrates driving in the winning run in the 12th inning against the New York Mets during Game One of the World Series. |
Why would anyone declare free agency when they play for New York [Yankees]? Ego? To test the water and determine market value? Maybe. A chance to play more? Why? All those championships, with more to come, the endorsements available in the Metropolitan market, the incredible exposure. The other teams can resent, begrudge and envy them. They can covet the championships that the Yankees have garnered. They can hunger to be there in the Fall Classic. They can call guys in their late twenties and early thirties old by baseball standards. They can come to bat again next year and try to dislodge Torre's guys from the throne. They can try. The House that Ruth built is in good hands with its current tenants. It is seemingly indestructible right now.
This is a better team than the Oakland A's of 1972-74 although Reggie Jackson might not agree and the pitching staff is better...Pettitte, Clemens, Hernandez...with a far superior bullpen if it only had Mariano Rivera in it and no one else.
The Yankees proved one thing for certain, give them an inch and they will take the World Series trophy home with them. Whether it is by five runs or one. It is what they do best: Win when they have to. They don't just knock on doors; they knock them down as soon as they spot a loose hinge.
What about next year? You gotta be kidding me! Bring on the National League's best. The Yankees will be waiting for them up there in the Bronx.