The 2009 World Series starts Wednesday with the New York Yankees in their first Series appearance since 2003 (they lost to the Florida Marlins). Yankee fans saying “finally” and “it’s been so long” could easily get annoying, especially for someone like a Cubs fan who never sees their team advance to the playoffs, much less win a title. But for Yankee fans, six years seems like an eternity and much like the players, they’re hungry and ready for another championship.
However, it won't be easy. The Phillies, defending world champions, are a much tougher team than either of the ones the Yankees faced in the playoffs. While the Yankees swept past the Twins in the divisional series, the Angels were a hard team to beat. After leading the ALCS 3-1, The Yanks lost Game 5 and fell behind early in Game 6. Even a Yankee fan has to admit that the Bronx Bombers only won last night's game on walks and errors by the Angels. While it was a win, it was not the way you would expect world champions to win. The Yankees left innumerable men on base, hitting into several double plays with the bases loaded. When the game ended, I found myself relieved but also nervous. I enjoyed the win for only a few seconds before my thoughts went to the next step in their post-season journey: could the Yankees really beat the Phillies?
While The Phillies have Ryan Howard, a player who instills in Yankee fans the same fear David Ortiz does, The Yanks have Alex Rodriguez. And Derek Jeter. And Johnny Damon. The Phillies have Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez but the Yankees have C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte. For every ace and slugger one team has, the other has a response.
The Phillies are defending champions, ready to repeat. But perhaps the Yankees have the edge simply because they have something to prove. They were the dominant team of the 1990s, winning four championships in five years (1996, 98, 99 and 2000). But ever since 2000, this has been a decade marked by disappointment for New York, advancing to the World Series only twice, losing both times (2001 and 2003). To add insult to injury, not only have the Yankees fallen short, they have seen their arch rivals, the Boston Red Sox, become world champs twice since their last World Series berth (2004 and 2007).
For the past few years, the Yankees have been known to be the team to make the playoffs only to choke and go home. It is time for the Yankees to remind their fans, and the world, why they are the biggest franchise in baseball history, why they have the most World Series wins of all time (26) and why they deserve to regain their title as world champions. I may be biased, but I believe this is their year.