When my wife and I got married, we’d only known each other for two and a half months. There were many skeptics. When I told my father the news, he said something that has stayed with me to this day: “these things,” he said “are not measured by how they begin, they are measure by how they end”. I think this is an appropriate criteria for the 2009 New York Yankees. To say that we had an inauspicious beginning is an understatement, I’m not much for hyperbole but consider the following:
- Before the first pitch of spring training The Yankees had to deal with Alex Rodriguez’ steroid circus, the accusation, the mea culpa press conference, and concerns over A-Rod’s mental fortitude to deal with it all.
- Then it seems that the universe was piling it on to A-Rod, books by Selena Roberts and Joe Torre painted an even dimer view of Rodriguez in and out of the locker room. He pulls out of the World Baseball Classic with a hip injury, has surgery, and misses the first few weeks of the year.
- CC Sabathia labored during his first few outings
- Teixeira had his infamous slow start in April
- Going 0-for-8 against the Red Sox to start the season, were criticism of Girardi’s over-managing gained momentum
- Chien-Ming Wang goes 1-for-6 with a 9.64 ERA, hurts his shoulder, then his foot
The Yankees were 8 back of the Red Sox before getting it together in June and turning their season around in a hurry to get to their 27th Championship. Everything came together for this team, the pitching solidified, the offense became more consistent, the defense was sharp, all things that can be attributed to talent and execution. But then we began to notice other aspects of their game develop, the kinds of things that make a team special or at least poised for something great.
Things that we notice which excite us a fans and makes us wonder aloud: this could be the year. Two-out rallies, numerous comeback wins, consistent contributions from the bottom of the lineup, scoring almost 1/2 of their runs after the 6th inning, poise at the plate, working the count, no desperation when loosing by a few runs, bullpen contributions. These characteristics are the result of more than talent and execution, they are the tangible result of team character and chemistry.
Even after winning 103 games, the most in the league, there were questions about the way that Girardi was setting up the pitching rotation, the Joba experiment, would A-Rod finally come through in the postseason, can Sabathia improve his postseason record specially when asked to pitch with 3 days rest, how can the Yankees loose Posada’s bat in order to accommodate AJ Burnett with Molina behind the plate, which Burnett would show up…but this team embraced a blue collar approach and was determined to work through any obstacles to be victorious at the end.
The Yankees did not hesitate in their approach to the job at hand, they did not shy away from challenges, they didn’t get too high or too low, and they did not allow for doubt to permeate their thoughts. They were clear in their purpose and continued to do what was necessary to become World Champions. No one in sports is under more pressure to finish the job than the New York Yankees, to whom much is given much is expected, and finish the job they did. This is how things end, not with a whimper, but with the bang of fireworks and the loud proclamation that the 2009 New York Yankees are World Champions.
Breaking News from various Yankees beat writers:
The rotation for the ALDS will line up like this:
Game 1: CC Sabathia
Game 2 (which I’ll be at!!!!!!): A.J. Burnett (with JOSE MOLINA CATCHING)
Game 3: Andy Pettite
NOT ON PLAYOFF ROSTER:
Home runs, strong pitching, walk off wins, and whipped cream facials have been the mark of ball games played at the new Yankee Stadium this season. Last night’s game with the Chicago White Sox was right out of the 2009 playbook. Robinson Cano crushed a 3-run home run in the bottom of 10th inning to give the Yankees a 5-2 victory and made Cano the recipient of pie ala Burnett.
Left-hander Randy Williams struck out Mark Teixeira and then got some help from the wind as Alex Rodriguez‘ deep fly to center died short of the warning track. But Williams walked Hideki Matsui and Nick Swisher, setting up a showdown with Cano, who had been hitless in four at-bats on the night. After working a 2-2 count, Cano launched a Williams fastball into the Yankees bullpen for the team’s 11th walk-off win of the season. The strong winds had no chance to play a factor since the ball more of a line drive than fly ball. Brian Bruney worked a scoreless top of the 10th to improve to 4-0.
CC Sabathia had given the Yankees a dominant outing, striking out 10 batters through six innings. But the big man, protecting a 2-0 lead built on home runs by Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon, ran into trouble in the 7th. If not for some key defensive plays, Sabathia may very well have left the game with the Yankees trailing.
Jermaine Dye started the 7th with a double and Sabathia issued his first walk of the game, putting Carlos Quentin aboard. Alex Rios‘ double to right cut the Yankees lead in half and put the tying and go ahead runs in scoring position. One out later, Sabathia induced a ground ball by Ramon Castro. Quentin, running on contact, was easily gunned down at the plate by Rodriguez. The Yankees third baseman then made a huge play, diving into foul territory to snare Jayson Nix‘ fair ball that barely went over the third base bag. Though he had no play to make, A-Rod’s stop prevented not only a run from scoring, but a bigger inning from occurring.
Gordon Beckham lined a game tying single to right, but Nick Swisher came up with, arguably, his best throw of the season- a one-hopper to Jose Molina, who thrust his right leg out to block the plate and tagged out his White Sox counterpart Castro for the inning’s final out.
Derek Jeter hit his 22nd lead off home run, putting in him sole possession of second place on the career franchise list. He’s just two home runs behind Rickey Henderson for the #1 spot. The home run was also the 223rd of his career, pushing him past Don Mattingly for 10th place on the team’s career list. The home run was his lone hit, and number 2,705, 16 behind Lou Gehrig.
CC Sabathia finished August 5-0, 2.64 and is 7-1, 2.95 since the All-Star break.
*This post was written by Drew Sarver of My Pinstripes*
Every month we will preview the Yankees 2010 Roster based on our opinions of who the Yankees will sign.
Here are the Yankees Free Agents for next year:
SS-Jerry Hairston Jr.
RF-Eric Hinske, Xavier Nady
So here is what I project will happen with those players:
Jose Molina-No contract offered
Jerry Hairston Jr.-No contract offered
Johnny Damon-Offered Arbitration, accepted
Eric Hinske-No contract offered
Xavier Nady-No contract offered
Hideki Matsui-No contract offered
Andy Pettite-Re-Signed to a 1 Year Deal
So here is how the roster would look
C-Jorge Posada, Francisco Cervelli
3b-Alex Rodriguez, Ramiro Pena
Lf-Jason Bay (signed to a 5 year $85 Million deal in offseason)
Cf-Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner
Rf-Nick Swisher, Shelley Duncan
SP-Andy Pettite/Jarrod Washburn if Pettite retires
SP-Phil HughesSecurity Starters (in case of injury) Ian Kennedy, Alfredo Aceves, Josh Towers
Long Relief-Alfredo Aceves
Middle Relief- Dave Robertson, Phil Coke, Zach Kroenke
Set-Up- Damaso Marte, Danys Baez (signed to a 2 year deal, the Yankees have been wanting him for a long time)
So, in my opinion, the Yankees will get younger this offseason, with the bench especially getting younger.