Yankees Champions for 27th Time

11:27 Thu 05 Nov 2009. Updated: 20:19 05 Nov 2009
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They beat the Philadelphia Phillies in six games, finishing it last night with a stellar performance from Hideki Matsui, a solid outing by Andy Pettitte, and the usual lethal efficiency from Mariano Rivera. 27 titles is by far the most in baseball, and is also the most in the “big four” US sports of baseball, football, basketball, and ice hockey (the Montreal Canadiens have 24).

With Pettitte’s win, the Yankees apparently became the first team in the history of baseball’s three-round postseason (i.e. since 1995) to take the title using only three starting pitchers (Pettitte, C. C. Sabathia, and A. J. Burnett). Pettitte pitched for the win in four huge games this season:

If I’m not mistaken, Rivera also closed all those games—and he closed out each win the Yankees had in the series.

Matsui had a huge game last night, with a ridiculous six RBIs. He became the first player born in Japan to win the World Series Most Valuable Player award, clearly deserved given his offensive output (although I’d also be tempted to give the award to Rivera).

Derek Jeter was his usual postseason self in the series, batting .407 and generally coming through at key moments (the lone exception being his hitting into a double play in the ninth inning in Game Five, badly hurting the Yankees’ attempt to come back from a huge deficit). Alex Rodriguez has finally gotten rid of the notion that he can’t play in the postseason.

It’s been nine years since their last win, which isn’t long in baseball terms but seems like forever to me… partly because I thought they would win in 2001, 2003, and 2004. Seeing Rivera calmly get the last five outs went some distance towards making that awful 2001 ending less painful. It’s also great to see the “core four” from the late 90s team (Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte, and Jorge Posada) get another championship.

Since 2000, the Yankees have outspent everyone else but still not won until now. Here’s a list of how much higher their payroll has been than the next-most-expensive team in that time:

  • 2001: $3 million
  • 2002: $17 million
  • 2003: $35 million
  • 2004: $57 million
  • 2005: $85 million
  • 2006: $74 million
  • 2007: $40 million
  • 2008: $72 million

(From this Joe Posnanski article.)

The money put them in contention (except in 2008), but it doesn’t simply guarantee the title (which is for the best, really). But this year it all came together, and while the starting pitching looked creaky at times, they were just a lot better than every other team.

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