November 5, 2009
Al Bello/Getty Images
Some have been talked about, some haven't, and maybe some shouldn't. Whatever the case, these are my top moments in the 105th World Series played in the great game of baseball.
5. No Habla Ingles
Hideki Matsui using an interpreter to accept his World Series MVP award didn’t sit right with me and will leave a lasting image. We criticize immigrants from Mexico all the time, at least I do, for coming to our country and not knowing our language, let alone changing our public school teachers' curriculum to accommodate those that don’t speak English.
Granted, some get special passes because of their economic climate, but someone coming off of a $52 million deal to play in America should have better language skills.
If Yao Ming and Orlando Cepeda can learn to speak English in a short amount of time, so should Matsui, and that goes for Ichiro Suzuki as well. Their teammates say they know how to speak English, so why make us all go through a third party to understand your emotions after the greatest moment of your career?
Let us share that moment with you; we were all amazed by the feats of Godzilla on the biggest stage possible.
4. Core Four
Despite all the money spent on free agents over the years by the Yankees, the nucleus of veterans on the team were most responsible for winning their fifth World Series. Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera came up together, won together, and still remain major contributors to the team.
It would have been nice to see Bernie Williams get another ring, showing everyone that the base of your team starts with the minor league operations.
The success of the Yankees foundation should be somewhat of an inspiration to the Pittsburghs, San Diegos, Clevelands, and Floridas who continually go on this never-ending cycle of trading their existing young talent for newer, younger talent which they don’t want to sign to a deal when it's their time.
3. Managing 301
Joe Girardi didn't handle his pitching staff by the modern day baseball book and he deserves to be respected more than any other manager since Mayo Smith for the Detroit Tigers in 1968.
Despite all the tabloid experts and radio managers in New York criticizing Girardi, he made bold moves that went against the grain and it was a sight for sore eyes.
Setting a pitching rotation for the A.L.C.S. and World Series with his top pitchers getting three days rest and allowing him to use ace C.C. Sabathia in three starts if the series went seven was bold and brilliant. It was old school baseball at its best—going with your best and laying all your cards on the table.
In an ever bolder move, Girardi used legendary fireman Mariano Rivera to close out games beginning in the eighth inning. In a pivotal Game Two, he sent Rivera to close out the final two innings, unheard of in this age of modern relief pitching. In the clinching Game Six, with no save opportunity, Girardi sent him out again in the eighth just to seal the deal.
It was an old-school Dick Williams move with Rollie Fingers in the early '70s. Go to your best when it counts, whenever the situation, and get the win. It was refreshing, and at the same time, eye opening to managers around the league that have all followed the Tony LaRussa-Eckersley philosophy of only going with your big gun in the final inning in save opportunities.
2. Mayor Bloomberg
It was hilarious to watch New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg attempting to get airtime in the Yankees celebration as if he contributed to their success. It started in the ALCS finale where the Mayor attempted to be interviewed by Fox announcer Chris Rose during the celebration to no avail despite waiting in line behind everyone else.
His turn never came after just about everyone but the ball-boy got face time on camera. In the World Series finale, Bloomberg was there again, waiting his turn with Chris Rose and no one wanted to talk to him. You’d think that the Mayor would have gotten the hint the first time, but there he was waiting for his turn and it never happened.
Mayor Bloomberg looked like a total buffoon trying to get TV time even though he had plenty during his narrowly-elected third term in office. Obviously there was serious jealousy involved because of all the airtime Rudy Giuliani got in 2001 when the Mayor of New York was on air quite a bit during the Yankees-Diamondbacks World Series.
Maybe Bloomberg thought it was his right as Mayor, like others in the past, to talk about the Yankees. Sorry, Mr. Mayor, wrong year for the Mayor to be on point in the World Series.
No, the best Bloomberg for the Yankees still remains the first designated hitter ever, Ron Bloomberg. If he had been there, Chris Rose would definitely have handed the mic to him.
1. Epic Base Running
Johnny Damon getting a base hit with two outs in the top of the ninth in Game Four of a 4-4 game.
He started the rally that would lead to three runs and eventually win the game against the Phillies closer Brad Lidge.
But what he did after getting the hit will go down as one of the best displays of smart base-running in World Series history.
With Mark Teixeira at the plate and the infield shifted to the right side with him hitting left-handed, Damon would steal second base and then have the wherewithal to run for third base knowing that Phillies third baseman Pedro Feliz was covering second base and no one was covering third.
"I knew Feliz covered the bag, and I knew how he caught the ball," Damon said. "When I saw him right behind me, I thought, 'Man, I hope I'm still the Johnny Damon of 21 years old and not the 35-year-old guy.'"
It was the kind of smart heads-up base running that will go down in history, like Enos Slaughter's “Mad Dash" going from first to home on a base hit in the 1946 World Series.
The Yankees' ninth inning rally in Game Four to take the Series to a commanding 3-1 lead was spurred by Johnny Damon and made for a memorable series.
So that's it.
That's what I came away with. Jeter speaks for himself and he has almost become an expectant of excellence, so he doesn't stand out, as ridiculous as that sounds.
Alex Rodriguez? Maybe his contrived celebration and his pink chewing gum could stand out, but that memory will surely fade.
Pedro Martinez and the drama he created for himself would have ranked up there had he won a game, but he'll pass through as well with little memory reserved for him.
The Phillies Cliff Lee and Chase Utley made strong impressions, but my lasting memory will be a question as to why Phillies Manager Charlie Manual didn't go the route of Girardi with his rotation.
Chase Utley not coming through in key moments of Game Six stands out as much as his five home runs.
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