New York Yankees: Back to the Old Ways in '08
As the somewhat terrible season continues for the New York Yankees, the pressure of winning or even contending continues to grow.
The old Yankees used to win with pitching, however, over the past ten years the Yankees have continued to build a team with strength and power rather than pitching.
Pitchers Mike Stanton, David Wells, Roger Clemens, and David Cone led the Yankees to four World Series Championships from 1996-2001. They did it with strong starting pitching and a young Mariano Rivera in the bullpen to shut down games in the end.
It started in 1996 when the Yankees fired manager Buck Showalter and replaced him with Joe Torre. Despite the famous New York Post quote of “Clueless Joe”, Joe Torre went on to lead the Yankees to an 8-0 record on the road in the playoffs and capture the 1996 World Series Championship over the Atlanta Braves.
In 1997 the Yankees lost to the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS. As a result the Yankees fired their general manager and went on to hire current GM Brian Cashman.
Cashman went on to sign key players for years to come for the Yankees including Scott Brosius, Chuck Knoblauch, Darryl Strawberry, and Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez.
The 1998 Yankees went on to do something that, in my opinion, no other team will ever do again. They went on to a 114-48 season, including going a 11-2 record in the playoffs and eventually sweeping the San Diego Padres in the World Series.
The total of 125 wins will never be passed (though the Seatle Mariners broke the regular season mark in 2001 with a 116 wins).
After the season the Yankees traded David Wells to the Blue Jays for Roger Clemens, who had been coming off two straight Cy-Young seasons.
The 1999 season was filled with great moments. David Cone would go on to pitch a perfect game on “Yogi Berra Day”, with Don Larsen in attendance (who had pitched a perfect game in the 1956 World Series). The Yankees finished off their season winning another World Series beating the Texas Rangers and the Boston Red Sox on the way there.
The World Series highlighted the 2000 season. The Yankees and the New York Mets met in the World Series for the first time ever. The Yankees would go on to win the series with pitching.
This completed the three-peat as the 1998-2000 Yankees marked only the third time a team had won three consecutive World Series Championships. However after this season the Yankees started to develop into the team that we know today.
The Yankees were beginning to age and it was also beginning to become noticeable.
The 2001 team went on to lose to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the World Series. Mariano Rivera uncharacteristically blew the series in Game 7, giving up an RBI single to Luis Gonzalez in the 9th inning. The Diamondbacks did it with pitching, Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson leading the way there.
After the 2001 season the Yankees lost four of the key members of the dynasty teams. Paul O’Neill, Scott Brosius, Tino Martinez, and Chuck Knoblauch all left following the 2001 season.
The signing of Jason Giambi, who went on to hit 41 home runs, highlighted the 2002 season. However the team lost to the Angels in the ALDS, who eventually won the World Series.
The 2003 team was the true sign of the Yankees beginning to slip. The Yankees battled their way to the World Series winning that famous Game 7 in Yankee Stadium. Aaron Boone hit a home run to win the game and send the Yankees to the World Series.
Just as it had seemed that the Yankees had won another World Series, the Marlins shocked them and took the series in six games. They did it with pitching, Josh Beckett leading the way.
In 2004 the Yankees pitching caused the collapse that is known today as one of the biggest comebacks in sports history. The Yankees blew a 3-0 lead on the Boston Red Sox, who ultimately beat the Cardinals in the World Series, winning their first title in 86 years.
Over the next couple of years the Yankees added old veterans expecting the same positive results. They added players like Gary Sheffield, Randy Johnson, Johnny Damon, Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, Andy Pettitte, and Bernie Williams. All of those players (except Pavano and Wright) were old.
As the team struggled through the next couple of years, people blamed Joe Torre for an injured and poor starting rotation.
Randy Johnson was traded back to the Diamondbacks in 2006. Pressure continued to battle Torre and the Yankee front office. Torre was finally fired following the 2007 season. He was replaced with Joe Girardi.
The team began to get back to it's old ways at the end of last year. The emergence of pitchers like Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, and Ian Kennedy have brought the Yankees back to their old ways. Winning with pitching.
As the team continues to struggle, fans continue to heckle the team to make moves and get better. The Yankees were also heavily criticized for not going harder after former Twins ace Johan Santana.
Instead, the team decided to keep their young talent such as Melky Cabrera and Phil Hughes, players who were both wanted in order to complete the trade for Santana. Santana also demanded a new contract, and a big one at that.
The Yankees were not willing to do that, especially after they had just given Alex Rodriguez $275 million dollars to keep him in pinstripes.
Fans were also recently angry as it was said that Joba Chamberlain would come out of the bullpen and become a starter. Some fans (including myself) believe that it was a good move.
What was the point of having Chamberlain pitching in the 7th inning when they didn’t have the starters to get the lead to that point in the games anyways?
As fans continue to grow angry, I continue to believe that the Yankees are doing the right thing. They are going back to doing what they did that made them a dynasty in the first place, pitching.
So be patient Yankee fans, because it will all pan out in a couple of years.
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