The Same Old Yankees: Why Game Four's Outcome Should Not Surprise Anyone
The only thing I could think of after watching Game Four of the 2009 World Series last night, was something so obvious, that I'm surprised no one brought it up.
Haven't we seen this before from the Bronx Bombers?
Go back to Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS. The Yankees are down 5-2 in the bottom of the 8th inning to the Boston Red Sox. Pedro Martinez, up to the point of one out and nobody on base, was pitching brilliantly. That was until Derek Jeter started the rally with a double. A mound visit and some base hits later, and the game was tied up at 5-5. Pedro Martinez leaves the mound in shock, to the delight of Yankees fans of course.
Go back to Game Five of the 2000 World Series against the Mets at Shea Stadium. The game is tied in the 9th inning, 2-2, with two outs. Luis Sojo hit a single up the middle, off of pitcher Al Leiter, to drive home Jorge Posada from 2nd base. Turns out the ball hits Posada, rolls into the dugout, and Scott Brosius comes around to score from 1st base, making the score 4-2. Mariano Rivera comes on in the bottom half of the 9th, and gets Mike Piazza (representing the tying run) to fly out to the warning track. The Yankees won the Series in five games.
Go back to all of the come-from-behind victories the Yankees have been apart of this year.
Go back to all of those rallying cries from years past, where Scott Brosius hits a game-tying home run in the bottom of the 9th inning in Game Five of the 2001 World Series. He did it the night after Tino Martinez did the same exact thing, and after Jeter won Game Four in the 10th inning.
These Yankees consist of some different players than in the past decade. But the same Yankee "aura and mystique" that everyone absolutely hated back then, is working right now. It is now driving the Yankees to their 27th World Championship.
How crazy was the top of the 9th inning last night in Philadelphia? Pedro Feliz just tied the game from a solo home run off of Joba Chamberlain in the bottom of the 8th. It looked like the Phillies were going to tie this series up eventually. But as we know as baseball fans, something that you feel is going to happen, might just be the complete opposite.
The Yankees have been known to benefit from mistakes from all of the teams they have faced over the years. Stupid errors, blunders, flukes; you name it. It always works out for the Yankees. Something so inexplicably stupid or controversial seems to work its way in New York's favor. From dropped pop-ups (New York Mets), to not knowing who has the ball on an easy pop-up (Los Angeles Angels), to base-running gaffes (Minnesota Twins).
Of course, you would never expect this type of sloppy and undisciplined play from the reigning World Series champions, the Philadelphia Phillies. They are built just like the Yankees. Good starting pitching, and a powerful offense. Defensively, they are actually better on paper.
And so, with the top of the 9th in Game Four, tied at 4-4, Brad Lidge comes on and retired Hideki Matsui and Derek Jeter with ease. You say to yourself "Lights-Out Lidge is back. He will get everyone out here, and the Phillies will win it in the 9th inning. They have all of the momentum". You would be right in thinking that, of course. They are the World Champions. There is no way they lose this kind of game.
Enter Johnny Damon.
He steps up to the plate, and is down 1-2 in the count. He fouls off a couple pitches, takes two pitches out of the strike zone, and on the 9th pitch, he lofts a single into left field.
Ok. Whatever. One hit off of Lidge. So what?
Here comes Mark Texiera. First pitch to him? It's a ball, but Johnny Damon steals second base.
Again. Whatever. No big deal. This is Brad Lidge.
The man covering second base? Pedro Feliz. He's the third baseman. Johnny Damon takes off for third, and no one is covering that base. Brad Lidge did not cover third base. He was supposed to, because the shift was on for Texiera.
Brad Lidge loses control, and he hit Mark Texiera with the second pitch.
Then, Alex Rodriguez hits the ball deep left, one hopping the wall, and now the Yankees lead 5-4. Jorge Posada now comes up, and hits a 2-RBI single, getting tagged out at second in the process. The score going into the bottom of the 9th inning is 7-4 Yankees.
Three runs with two out, and nobody on base. How in the world does a team do that on the road?
How does a team have a third baseman come up huge when his entire career is based on him choking in the postseason? How does an old catcher drive in two huge insurance runs? How does a team give up a heart-breaking home run in the 8th inning, only to rally for three more against one of the best closers in the postseason?
More importantly, how does a Phillies team not have anyone cover third base? The World Champions cannot employ simple fundamentals to their game, at home, in Game Four of the World Series. Why?
How can such a mentally tough NL team get outclassed and out-hustled? Why are the Phillies playing like children against men?
All of those answers are quite simple.
It's the Yankees. The same old friggin' Yankees.
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