When New York Yankees fans wake up tomorrow morning, they will feel something very strange; something they have not felt in almost a decade.
It is not the heartbreak of Game Seven of the 2001 World Series. It is not Game Six of the 2003 World Series. And it will certainly not feel like the 2004 ALCS. No, this is something Yankees fans, after taking it all in, will remember feeling back in the late 90s.
Yes, start spreading the news, the New York Yankees are champions of baseball for the 27th time in franchise history.
The Yankees finished the season on top, as they and their fans expected all along.
One-hundred and three wins capped off the best regular season for any club in the MLB, and after defeating the Minnesota Twins in three games, the Anaheim Angels in six, and now, the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies, also in six, the Bronx can start to celebrate down the Canyon of Heroes.
It's only fitting that the Yankees travel down that road. It was a season full of heroes rescuing a team that for the previous nine years had not lived up to its own expectations. No championship? Bust.
Heroes like Joe Girardi, who in a game this season against the Atlanta Braves got tossed arguing a blown call. His ejection helped rally the struggling Yankees to win that game, and then most of the rest.
Joe put himself in a pressurized position by wearing the jersey number "27," basically guaranteeing that he would deliver the Yankees' 27th championship.
His tactics were questioned and criticized, but in the end, he pulled his men together to win it all, just like he did as a player in the late 90s.
Heroes like Melky Cabrera, who time and time again rallied the Yankees from deficits in big games, and who got so many pies to the face you would think he was full by now.
Heroes like Hideki Matsui, who earned the World Series MVP award with his unreal Game Six numbers: six RBI and a triple short of the cycle. That will go down in Yankee lore.
Heroes like Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera, four men who know victory, that smelled and tasted champagne before; four men who helped close out Game Six, just like old times.
Heroes like CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett, who while at times were inconsistent or had poor outings, came up big in the postseason, and showed why the Yankees paid so much money for big time pitchers.
Heroes like Mark Teixeira, the potential AL MVP, who mastered the art of first base play in New York, and saved games with his bat and glove. No Yankee fan will forget his walk-off home run against the Twins in Game Two in the ALDS.
Some unsung heroes, players who came through when you never expected them, were guys like Joba Chamberlain and Damaso Marte, who battled through adversity and questions and pitched perfectly when it counted.
And the little guys like Brett Gardner, Nick Swisher, and Jerry Hairston, Jr. were not so little when a clutch hit was needed.
All of these players play under the biggest microscope in sports: New York City. They came through when they were expected to, and were confident enough to succeed on any level.
But one player who might just be the happiest Yankee of them all, is a hero who received the ultimate redemption for his career. This man is the biggest hero of them all.
This is a man who was mocked and ridiculed by the baseball world for not coming up big in the postseason. He was branded a choke artist.
This is a man who was laughed at when he admitted to using steroids. Everyone before the season thought only about how to embarrass him, with or without needle pictures.
This is a man who was going to be a bust this year because of his bad hip, even after surgery.
This is a man without a ring, a Hall of Fame career with no championship to show for it.
That is all over. Redemption.
He drove in the go-ahead run against the Phillies in Game Four. He tied the game in the 11th inning against the Angels in Game Two of the ALCS. He tied Game Three of the ALDS in the seventh inning against the Twins. He proved himself clutch.
Is he now a Yankee? His redemption speaks for itself.
But thenagain, all heroes redeem themselves. The Yankees were once the heroes of New York. They were a baseball dynasty from 1996 to 2001.
But that dynasty ended on a bloop single in the desert. This new dynasty begins with a ground ball in the new Yankee Stadium.
A champion full of heroes, dreamers, and redeemers; old veterans and young swashbucklers; a mix of heart and grit. This was a season to remember for all Yankees.
And when you Yankees fans see Alex Rodriguez, thank him. He redeemed himself for New York, for you, and deserves glory.
The glory that was once robbed from him now returns to its rightful place: among the Yankee legends.
Right next to the 2009 World Series trophy.