“Boss, this is for you” was the message that flashed on the big video screen in the outfield at the new Yankee Stadium. George Steinbrenner the owner was home in Tampa watching the festivities unfold as his son, Hal, the managing general partner accepted the trophy on a podium on the infield.
The New York Yankees are World Champions again, and after Robinson Cano made the putout to Mark Teixeira at first that ended the Philadelphia Phillies one year reign as champions the celebration began. The Yankees after a 7-3 win over the Phillies, in their billion dollar ballpark gave their gift to the boss who made it happen.
“The Yankees won,” said team president Randy Levine on the field and moments later in a victorious clubhouse that was wilder than the 26th Yankees championship in 2000, their last one when they beat the cross-town Mets. So Levine wasn’t kidding when he said, “The world is right again.” Levine, instrumental in getting a new stadium for the Yankees was also proud that the Yankees won it for New York and people of the Bronx.
Because to the Yankees, it isn’t right unless they win a World Series and they did it by spending money again. Though one Yankee fan outside the press gate felt that that the spending habits of the Yankees is not the way to do it bringing in the players, a half billion dollars worth of talent this season in pitchers CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and a hitter and defensive first baseman like Teixeira.
Regardless of what that fan was saying, these Yankees set out to accomplish what they had to do when they assembled in spring training back in February. Every word in that champagne celebration, in the early hours of Thursday morning, conveyed a message to the boss.
Thank you, the players said for putting us together. For bringing the brilliant arm of Sabathia to the Bronx and for signing pitcher Andy Pettitte again, 2-0 in this World Series, a record 18 postseason wins and now a world champion for the fifth time along with other members of the core, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera.
Pettitte would become the first pitcher in history to start and win all three clinching games in a single season postseason, the ALDS, ALCS and the World Series. Jeter would go 3-for-5, his second three-hit game of this World Series and Rivera pitched 5.1 scoreless innings in four appearances.
“It feels better than I remember it, man,” said Jeter about being world champs again after a nine year hiatus as to being called the best. The Yankees came close as they continued to struggle over that span while spending money, but it came together in May when Alex Rodriguez returned from hip surgery.
It came together with a healthier Hideki Matsui, though playing with two bad knees. Matsui, along with Rodriguez got their first world championship. They too thanked the boss, general manager Brian Cashman and of course the manager Joe Girardi.
“My teammates, coaches, and the organization stayed by me,”’ said Rodriguez who finally became a true Yankee, his first championship with a memorable postseason setting a franchise record with 18 runs batted in. “And now we stand here as world champions,” he said.
Matsui, designated hitter for a majority of the season was named the Series Most Valuable Player the first Japanese player to do so, also the first DH to get that accomplishment. He made a statement as to the Yankees renewing his contract next season going 3-for 4 with a double, homer, and a World Series record tying six runs batted in and batted .615 with three homers and 8 runs batted in six games.
“No, I have no idea right now,” commented Matsui when asked about next year. “Certainly it’s been a long road and a long journey,” he said about reaching the pinnacle of being with a championship team after a successful career in Japan. “I’m just happy that after all these years we were able to win and reach the goal that I had come here for.”
So eight years to the day, November 4th 2001, the first time the Series was played that late, the Yankees lost to Arizona in seven games, they are champions this time. And it was a total team effort.
It was also the leadership of Girardi, wearing number 27 to signify what he wanted to achieve. When he took on the managerial responsibilities in his first and disappointing season of last year, when the Yankees failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons.
“This is what the Steinbrenner family has strived for year after year, said Girardi. “George Steinbrenner and his family are champions. To be able to deliver this to the Boss, this stadium that he created and the atmosphere he has created around here is very gratifying for all of us.”
And now Girardi becomes the first manager to play and manage with the same team to a World Championship since Billy Martin guided the Yankees in the 1977 world title. ”The joys is the same, but it is different type of joy,” he said. As a player its what you dream about ever since you were a little boy, and for me it was listening to Curt Gowdy and do all the World Series games.”
And for Girardi there was more satisfaction with the efforts of players who contributed during the course of a long season. Pitcher Sergio Mitre who filled in nicely as a number four starter when Chein-Ming Wang was shut down for the season and infielder Ramiro Pena brought up form Triple A.
They, too were tasting the champagne and on Friday morning will be a part of their first victory parade down the ”Canyon of Heroes” on Broadway. Girardi said all along it was the contributions of every player as we saw in this World Series. Damaso Marte, who struggled with arm problems, had his best pitches out of the pen in the six games against the Phillies.
“It’s an honor to win a championship with those guys,” said Teixeira about Rivera, Jeter, Posada and Pettitte. “It’s my first championship and their fifth, they are Yankee legends.” On top of the Baseball world again are the Yankees and now Girardi may be looking at wearing uniform number 28.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: [email protected]