With Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira winning gold gloves, as well as Jeter winning the Roberto Clemente Award and Hank Aaron Award for being the best hitter in the American League, the recognition of the brilliance of the 2009 World Champion New York Yankees has rightfully continued (Yahoo Sports). This team was a truly masterful collection of great defense, even better hitting, and very good pitching. But, the Yankee defense has been largely overlooked throughout the course of the season despite being one of the best in the league. These awards have acknowledged that defense remains very important in the run to a championship.
The Yankees do not have a flashy defense but rely more on sound defensive play with the occasional top ten plays candidate. Jeter, who has been constantly assaulted for his poor defense in recent years, made a career-low 8 errors and had an astounding .986 fielding percentage. Even with a great first basemen it is clear that Jeter remains a top fielder as there is no way that Teixeira’s play was the sole cause for Jeter’s great defense during the 2009 season. Many people have accused Jeter of being one of the worst defensive shortstops in the league based on new statistical analysis. It speaks volumes, however, about his defense that he won an award that was voted on by the opposing teams who would not give him the award simply because he was Derek Jeter.
Teixeira’s defense during the postseason saved him from a great deal of attacks on his fortitude and ability to perform under pressure. Anyone who watched any Yankee game this year probably saw at least one play that Teixeira made that saved an error, a run, or stopped a base runner from advancing. He was a much needed improvement over past first basemen whose defensive skills were desperately lacking. He made the entire infield better by taking pressure off of Robinson Cano, Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez and just allowed them to concentrate on making the play rather than worry about throwing a strike to first.
Defense in many other sports is often the key to winning a championship. In baseball pitching is essentially the primary defense that any team has. For the Yankees their pitching and hitting led them to the World Series title but the defense certainly helped them get there so it is great to see the defense be rewarded with the Gold Glove Awards for Jeter and Teixeira.
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It has been a couple days since the Yankees won the World Series. I have gathered myself enough so that I feel comfortable writing about it, though I still find myself smiling and whooping from time to time. If I had written even two days after the Yankees won, the comments would have been pretty inane, mostly just Woooooooooooo!!! and other celebratory phrases. Don’t get me wrong I still bust out a celebration every now and then but now I have enough self-control not to write them down. The reason every New York Yankees fan feels so strongly about this win, I think, is just how much has changed over the past decade.
In 2000, everything was going great. The Yankees had just come off their third straight World Series win and looked to be the team that would dominate the first decade of the new millennium. The baseball season was going great in 2001 until September 11th happened. The world changed and so did New York baseball. Anyone who watches the video of President Bush throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium barely weeks after 9/11 cannot help but feel an indescribable swell of emotion. Baseball helped distract Americans from the terrible events that had occurred. The Yankees made it to the World Series and fought for their city and made New York proud by reaching the World Series, serving a higher purpose simply by winning baseball games. Then a bloop hit ended the series but I did not think the coming years would go the way it did even after a crushing World Series loss. The Yankee’s decade went downhill from there.
Dominated in 2003 essentially just by Josh Beckett, the Yankees looked poised to return to form until the 2004 postseason and the historic collapse that I shudder to discuss any further. After 2004 things just didn’t feel right. The Yankees, always big spenders during the Steinbrenner era, spent gobs of money on free agents who never seemed to help the team in the ways that really matter. Postseason struggles continued until 2008 when the Yankees did not even make the playoffs during the final year at the old Yankee Stadium. Having all the Yankees on the field saying their goodbye’s to the old Yankee stadium and welcoming in the new ballpark before October ball had even started was painful, all the more so because of the discouraging years that came before 2008.
There is a reason this team got a ticker-tape parade. Too much has been made about Yankees fans complaining about not winning a title in 9 years, which is like a lifetime for other clubs. It is not about the length of time, it is about what happened during that period. The Yankees entered the decade as a dynasty and then, much like everyone else in New York, had their legs cut out from under them in 2001. After plodding around for 8 years of over-priced aging talent, epic postseason failures, petty clubhouse squabbles, tabloid reports, Joe Torre’s dysfunctional termination, the Boss’s declining health, the first missed postseason in 14 years coming in Joe Girardi’s first year, and being everyone’s favorite punching bag throughout the decade, the Yankees needed to win to close out the decade.
Throughout other teams’ championship droughts or even postseason droughts, I doubt that their failures were as highly criticized or over-publicized as the Yankees were. The stress of growing up being a Yankee’s fan in this era has been great. Not only is the team losing, but they are still paying the most money and everyone continues to love to hate the Yankees. Being a Yankee fan when the Yankees are not winning, or even when they are, is difficult because you constantly are being forced to defend them from any number of worn-out attacks. Other teams are able to be bad quietly without much attention, the Yankees aren’t.
That is why it has been a long decade. But, now that the Yankees have won I can enjoy this victory with my friends and more importantly my family. I can enjoy this victory because of all the problems it washes away and how one season is able to change my outlook on an entire decade and because winning just feels great. It will be a memory that I will treasure for a long time. Some people say that the Yankees have won so many championships that the fans aren’t able to appreciate them as much as they should. I disagree.
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.
Overrated. That’s all I have to say. I respect the Phillies. I like the Phillies. I do not respect or like this man. He should not be even called a man. (In case you didn’t know that is Jimmy Rollins, who stated that if they were lucky the Yankees would win one game this series)
Not much else to say. It is a great day for any Yankee fan. The Yankees have played great this postseason and got the win. They won it for the boss, for themselves, for the fans, and for everyone who supported them.
The Yankees won the World Series. That is really really nice to say. It is especially nice to say because it quiets so many people! Now that they are all quiet we can unite as fans and enjoy this moment.
Happy thoughts everyone. The-e-e-e-e-e Yankees WIN!!!
Hideki Matsui won the World Series MVP award. Congrats to him and the Yankees and lets enjoy the moment, folks.
The Yankees defeated the Phillies tonight 7-3, and won the World Series in six games. With tonights victory the Yankees have 27 World Series victories and 40 pennants.
-Clutchest Pitcher in baseball history=Mariano Rivera
-Only the Yankees fans would go crazy over not winning a World Series in 10 years. In a place like Kansas City, making the playoffs twice in 10 years is an amazing feat.
-I was in Philadelphia earlier today and I was booed heavily (I wore a Yankees jersey)
-I was cursed at by two 80-year-old ladies and challenged to a fight by a teenage girl
-Philadelphia has great food, so they at least have that going for them
-Damaso Marte just skyrocketed his status with the Yankees fans. What a postseason for him.
-This could have been Andy Pettite’s last career game.
-What a postseason for Hideki Matsui. It will be very tough not to bring him back next year….don’t be surprised if the White Sox sign Damon and the Yankees sign Matsui/Bay/Holliday.
-Cano needs to step it up in the clutch.
-The Yankees won the World Series.
-Spike Lee is one impressive fan.
-Alex Rodriguez finally won a World Series.
-The Yankees won the World Series
-Tough loss for the Phillies, even tougher for dirt-bag Jimmy Rollins. (I don’t mind any other player on the team)
-THE YANKEES WON THE WORLD SERIES