And so, all is well in Yankeeland again. At least for a couple weeks.
There’s no doubting that the Yankees deserved their World Series win over the Phillies. They got a gutty performance from Andy Pettitte, whose postseason pitching may someday be the reason he gets into the Hall of Fame—although the steroids admissions two years ago may be the reason he DOESN’T get in the Hall.
They got Derek Jeter play from Derek Jeter, a remarkable performance from Hidecki Matsui and just enough from Mark Texeira and Alex Rodriguez to be champions for the first time in nine years.
In the end though, the difference was Mariano Rivera. It isn’t as if he’s been completely infallible as a postseason pitcher—he gave up the home run to Sandy Alomar in 1997 and the two runs in the ninth inning in Arizona in 2001—but all that does is prove he’s human. Sort of human anyway. What Rivera does for the Yankees is something no closer of this era has done: he makes the game seven innings for the both teams.
Everyone knows that if the game gets to the eighth inning with the Yankees in front, Rivera’s coming in and the odds are that’s it, he’s going to do what needs to be done and the Yankees will win the game. He now has FORTY saves in postseason. Think about that number. That’s a very good SEASON for a closer in saves in the games that matter the most.
What’s truly funny is to think back two years to when Joba Chamberlain first came up at mid-season. He was throwing 98—back then he actually threw strikes on a consistent basis—and within two weeks he’d become a cult figure in New York. There were actually people saying it was time to ease Rivera out of the closer’s role (he’s had his annual run of a couple bad outings about then) and give the ball to Chamberlain.
I know I bring up “Living on the Black,” a lot when writing about baseball but, if nothing else, Mike Mussina and Tom Glavine were two of the really smart guys I’ve met along the way in sports. I remember Mussina talking about the notion of replacing Rivera with Chamberlain.
“People really make me laugh sometimes,” he said. “They just cannot understand what Mo does or how he does it and what it means to a team to look out at the bullpen and know he’s the guy coming in to finish off a game. Heck, he’s worth a few outs before he gets in there because guys are squeezing the bats knowing if they don’t get runs before he gets in the game’s over. Joba’s a great talent but we’ve all seen great talents come up in this game. You don’t even think about replacing Mariano Rivera until HE tells you it might be time.” He smiled. “And then you try to talk him out of it.”
Think about this too: The Yankees had three absolute lock Hall of Famers on the field last night: Rivera, Jeter and Rodriguez—whose bases loaded strike out in the third would have overshadowed everything else he’s done in postseason had Matsui not picked him up and had the Yankees not gone on to win. Pettitte will be a very credible Hall of Fame possibility at some point and the Yankees have younger players like Texeira and CC Sabathia who may get to that level. Point being: they’re really good.
Of course the Phillies started a probably Hall of Famer last night too in Pedro Martinez. But it was clear from the start that he didn’t have it and it’s almost surprising it took the Yankees as long as it did to get to him. In fact, he did a good job of keeping the game competitive.
will be a force for a while: Cole Hamels had a bad year and so did Brad Lidge and the team was two wins from winning the whole thing again. They were, without doubt, the National League’s best team and with Cliff Lee there all season, they should enter 2010 as the favorites to win again—although who knows what the offseason will bring. Philadelphia
The first question that’s going to come up is what the Yankees will do with Matsui. The consensus all year was that this was his sayonara tour in
. He’s 37 and his knees were so bad he didn’t play an inning in the field all year. But he got very hot the second half and was great in postseason. He is one of those guys everyone in the clubhouse likes and, beyond that, how do you not re-sign the World Series MVP who has done everything you’ve asked for seven years. The Yankees have more money than God, they should give him a two year deal and if he doesn’t produce it’s a thank-you present. Hell, A-Rod should offer to pay half of it if necessary. New York
I don’t know about you, but I always feel a certain melancholy the day after The World Series ends. It doesn’t matter who wins, I know there’s no baseball of any kind for four months and no real baseball for five months—even when the Series ends in November. I’m one of those people who always has the number of days until pitchers and catchers report (I also make it February 15th since it’s never more than a day or two off that each year). So, this morning as I read the paper I did the math: 102 days until pitchers and catchers report. Another two weeks until the exhibition season begins. And, if all goes well, I’ll get home from The Masters on April 12th and go to a ballgame the next day. And you wonder why people think I’m nuts.
I really enjoyed some of the posts and e-mails yesterday about favorite TV shows. Some of my favorites beyond ‘West Wing,’ came up—including ‘Hill Street Blues,’; ‘Mash,’; WKRP in Cincinnati’ (where have you gone Bailey Quarters?) and ‘Seinfeld.’ Worth noting by the way that ‘The Wire,’ was written by a former newspaper guy. Some of those people DO have talent.
As I was reading the posts, I thought about another show I loved: “The Odd Couple,” with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. It had the greatest ending of any show ever (Newhart was a strong second). Felix gets re-married to Gloria and the wedding is in the apartment. As Felix is leaving he and Oscar share a handshake and a sincere thanks. Felix points his finger and says, “You know what I’m going to do JUST for you?”—and he walks over and dumps a garbage can on the rug.
Oscar looks at him and says, ‘you know what buddy, just for you, I’M going to clean that up.”
Another warm handshake. Felix leaves. Oscar turns to look at the garbage for a moment, then waves his hand and says, “I’m not cleaning it up,” and leaves the room.
Great ending you think. About 10 seconds go by. Finally, the door opens. It’s Felix. He looks at the garbage and says, “I KNEW he wouldn’t clean it up.” He cleans it up. Truly fall down funny great ending.
Let’s hear what your favorite TV ending was.