For Yankees, 27th Title Is Something Entirely Different

November 5, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

You could see it in their faces, you could read it on their lips, you could hear it in their roars.

This may have been a nostalgic taste of history for many donning Yankees caps and jackets across New York, a remembrance of what was thought to be routine only a decade ago, but for the men donning the pinstripes, this was fresh. This was extraordinary.

This was the first mark of the new generation.

Robinson Cano scooped up Shane Victorino’s soft dribbler late Wednesday night, turned and fired it to Mark Teixeira at first, and then sprinted. He sprinted to the center of the diamond where the rest of his teammates convened for their celebration. He sprinted to the stage where a few of his teammates have already been. He was part of the new crowd painting old memories.

As the Yankees sealed their 27th World Series title with a Game Six victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, all you had to do was look around. Look around and see the jubilance that accompanies that first-ever glass of championship bubbly. Look around and see the relief that comes from years of expectations unlatched and ditched deep into the blustery November night.

Most evidently, look around and realize that this isn’t 1998 anymore.

There was a sense of similarity, if not comfort, about having four of the Yankees’ most prominent postseason figures at the heart of a new title. Derek Jeter has been around for all five of them during his career, roaming the middle of the diamond and ending the season in his patented two-arms-to-the-sky leap that will forever be remembered in the Bronx long after his plaque makes its way to Cooperstown.

Mariano Rivera spits out cutters like other players spit seeds. One after another after another. An endless display of routine efficiency. Rivera got the final five outs of this title only to show people that nothing has changed since he leapt into the arms of Jorge Posada on that autumn night in Shea Stadium nine seasons ago.

As long as Rivera has been breaking bats accumulating saves, Posada has been guiding him. A little older, knees a little more brittle, Posada still looks like the backdrop of perfection as he squats and waits for Rivera to fire another bullet.

The man behind the mask doesn’t get nearly the attention that the golden boys in the center of the diamond do, but Posada is one of the originals that now has a ring for his thumb.

And, of course, there’s Pettitte, the man who owns the most postseason wins in history. The guy who sits atop most Yankees’ pitching records that matter—the ones in October (and November). Not Roger Clemens, not David Cone, not David Wells. Sorry Whitey. Ford isn’t the most decorated southpaw in franchise history.

It’s Pettitte, the one who bolted from New York after their run of titles because he wanted to pitch closer to his Texas home. After witnessing that the comforts of Houston couldn’t trump the thrills of Manhattan, Pettitte came back. On fumes, Pettitte pitched the Yankees to another ring and notched one more October victory onto his postseason résumé.

But that’s it. That’s all that’s left from the days of Scott Brosius and Tino Martinez. Those teams won with two men at the corners of the diamond that embraced Yankee tradition and only asked to be part of it. This team won with Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, glittery free-agent acquisitions that are talented enough to take that tradition, flip over a new page, and begin rewriting it.

The “dynasty” teams won with a hyper-intense Paul O’Neill in right field, a fireplug of emotion and competitiveness that rose to the occasion because he didn’t fear the spotlight. This team won with Nick Swisher in right, a personality looser than a XXXL t-shirt.

As Swisher caught the second out of the ninth inning, he turned to his boys in the stands beyond the fence in right and held up his index finger. One more out to go. One more out until the trophy is back in New York, until Swisher tastes the sweet fruits of victory that he has been grinding for ever since he made his way into the big leagues as a tough kid in Oakland.

In 30 years, Swisher’s mother may be the only person who remembers his name as part of the ’09 Yankees title, but his place in the clubhouse is clear. What effect Swisher had on transforming this team from tight and businesslike to relaxed and endearing we may never know, but you can bet that Swisher played a huge part in bringing guys like Rodriguez out of their shells.

Swisher dreams of having the talent that A-Rod has, but he showed the former enigma how to have fun playing this game. What a concept, I know, but it’s one that led Rodriguez to his greatest postseason barrage yet.

For Hideki Matsui, this is his first championship since coming to America after becoming a legend in Japan. “Godzilla” made sure Game Six is where this series stopped as his six-RBI night, which included a two-run homer off Pedro Martinez, ended with him hoisting the World Series MVP trophy.

Matsui will become a free agent this winter, and nobody knows what’s left in his tank. He is aging and is little more than a designated hitter at this stage in his career. This could very well be his only ring, and if these are his last days in New York, what a way to go out.

We know that pitching wins championships, and the Yankees restocked their barn with thoroughbreds for this one. CC Sabathia came over in the winter and was immediately labeled as a savior in New York. That’s what happens when you sign for $161 million.

Sabathia has tasted postseason success before, but nothing like this. His ’07 season in Cleveland ended after the Boston Red Sox stormed back from a 3-1 ALCS deficit to move on to the World Series. That loss devastated Sabathia.

We knew he wasn’t going to let that happen again. Sabathia pitched well in Game One of this series but lost to a better Cliff Lee, but came back on three days’ rest and won Game Four. If we went to a Game Seven, it was Sabathia who was taking the ball.

A.J. Burnett joined Sabathia for his first trip in pinstripes. Some may remember Burnett’s Game Five debacle where he couldn’t make it out of the third inning in Philly, but don’t forget his Game Two masterpiece that allowed the Yankees to go to Philadelphia with the series even at 1-1.

Beyond the big names and exorbitant dollars are the “glue” guys, the guys who fit superstars together and finalize championship teams.

Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Phil Coke, Melky Cabrera, et al., all got their first look at a World Series celebration. They rushed the field a little quicker than the veterans did, eager to embrace the first championship banner of their careers. For many, this will be their defining moment.

But for this club, it isn’t just all the new faces that make this title unlike all the rest. This one has everything to do with the four guys that helped make the previous four titles possible. Jeter, Posada, Rivera, and Pettitte have all reached the seventh-inning stretch of their careers, at least, and not even The Boss, Mr. George Steinbrenner, himself can purchase a clock that rewinds time.

Jeter and Rivera will be around for a few more years. Posada should be too. Pettitte? Wait and see. This roster is talented enough to defend their title next season if healthy, but we have all learned that sports are a fickle and funny business, a trade that guarantees nothing.

So as the Bronx Bombers parade down the Canyon of Heroes on Friday morning, it’s very possible that this will be the last time these four guys do it all together. It’s also possible that this is the last time these four guys ever do it again at all. If Jeter retires without a sixth ring, it would be a failure in Yankee Land, assuming he has another four or five seasons left.

But it’s reality, and it wouldn’t take away from anything that this club has become. We may see a couple more of these with this group. But this 27th one is special to the players and the fans because they all know that these parades don’t last long into your 40s.

If this is the last patented Jeter leap, the final series-clinching out for Rivera or win for Pettitte, or the final ring Posada will slip onto the fingers that only a catcher could admire, we know it has been one hell of a ride.

You can reach Teddy Mitrosilis at tm4000@yahoo.com.

Read more New York Yankees news on BleacherReport.com

readers comments

Yankee Tickets

Yankee Tickets

Shop Yankee

Shop Yankee