Thursday, November 05, 2009

VICTORY = Yankees win #27

The greatest franchise in American sports history is again the champion of baseball. The Yankees are the champions of baseball after knocking off the Phillies in the 2009 World Series, 4 games to 2. Considering the youth of the Phils' core, their ability to retain their top prospects, and the way they've manhandled their principle rival for NL supremacy in the past two years, the likelihood that they will win the NL pennant a third-straight time is pretty good. If they do, the Phils will be the first team to win three-straight NL crowns since the 1942-44 Cardinals, and the first to do so in the NL since the start of divisional play (the '69-71 Orioles, '72-74 A's, '76-78 Yanks, '88-90 A's, and '98-01 Yanks all won at least three-straight AL titles since 1969).

Notes in abundance:

(1) Kudos to Godzilla (Hideki Matsui) whose 6 RBI performance in what is likely his swansong as a Yankee keyed last night's 7-3 win. Like another Yankee who had one fantastic game that defined his World Series (Reggie Jackson, 1977), Matsui won the WS MVP award on the strength of his one great game. Monkette and I loved Japan when we went and I'm happy that so many Japanese will take joy from Matsui's performance and award.

(2) The Phils are the 11th team to repeat as NL champs after winning the World Series. Eight of those teams have faced the Yankees in the World Series: '22 Giants, '23 Giants, '43 Cards, '56 Dodgers, '58 Braves, '76 Reds, '96 Braves, '09 Phils. Only two beat the Yanks: the '22 Giants and '76 Reds. Five of those Series were rematches from the previous year (1922, 1923, 1943, 1956, 1958). There have been only two World Series in history that were rematches of the previous year's contest and did not include the Yankees -- 1908 and 1931.

The other three times the NL champ was the defending World Series champ were 1908 (Cubs), 1966 (Dodgers) and 1968 (Cards). Only the Cubs won; the Dodgers were throttled by the Orioles and the Cards bonked a 3-1 lead against the Tigers.

(3) Based on his post-game remarks yesterday, Charlie Manuel is a very gracious man. Phils' shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who is still insisting the better team lost, is not. Seriously: from the time A-Rod returned from his hip injury, the Yanks were 101-48, including playoffs -- over the course of a full season that's 109-53, which is the same record as the 1961 Yankees

(4) The Yanks' starting pitching in the postseason was generally very good: three quality starts in three games against the Twins, five in six games against the Angels, three (and 1/3 inning from a fourth) against the Phils. Considering that the Yanks had rolled up four quality starts from 2005-07 in losing consecutive ALDS, the difference between winning and losing is clear.

(5) For all the opprobrium he'll get for losing game 5 of the WS, AJ Burnett deserves a hand for winning the biggest game of the Yankees' postseason -- game 2 of the Series. Burnett's lockdown start reversed any momentum from the opener and changed the dynamic of the Series. Yeah, he sucked in game 5, but he was fantastic in game 2 when the Yanks faced a possible 0-2 Series hole and the big ones you win count more.

(6) If the Phils fail to extend Cliff Lee, they're fools. But that front office is not foolish because the pitchers who started eight of their 15 postseason games were not with the Phils at the start of the year -- the Phils traded for Lee without giving up any top prospects and obtained Pedro off the scrap heap for a pittance. Manuel did well to scratch together a 93-win team with an ailing Hamels, horrible Lidge, and no starter who won more than 12 games

(7) If Cole Hamels is fully healthy next year, the Phils can threaten the 100-win mark. Of course, winning 100 means little -- the '97-99 Braves did it, lost two NLCS and were swept in the '99 WS; the '02-04 Yanks did it and suffered two playoff humiliations and a World Series bonk. There have been about 12 teams that won 100 or more games since 1995 and only the '98 and '09 Yankees won the World Series. This season is an oddity because for only the third time in the 15 three-round postseasons since 1995, the team with the best record in the regular season won the World Series.

More later, perhaps, but I need to get Yankees 2009 World Champs gear for myself, my son and my impending infant . . . it's called good parenting.

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