Heading into every season the mission statement of the New York Yankees is clear-cut: Win the World Series or consider the season a failure.
Always has, and always will be.
A World Series championship was the icing on the cake to a magical inaugural season at the new Yankee Stadium. But as the excitement of the new stadium starts to fade, the Yankees will and desire for their next championship continues to grow.
I’m aware that it’s only May and the 2010 baseball season is far from over, but the Commissioner’s Trophy can already be awarded to the New York Yankees for winning the 2010 World Series.
So for all the Yankee fans out there, including myself, it’s my pleasure to present 28 reasons why the 28th championship in franchise history will be coming to the Bronx this fall.
Through 27 games, the New York Yankees have the second best record in the majors, and are trailing the Tampa Bay Rays by only a game for first place in the American League East division.
The Yankees opened the season on the road against the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, and won both of those series. To date, the Yankees have amassed a road record of 9-6.
Considering the teams they played and the tough stadiums they played in, I’ll take it.
They’ve proved they can beat the best teams in the league away from home, and if they need to win a pivotal playoff game on the road, it can certainly be done.
Since the Yankees are most likely going to finish the regular season with the best record in baseball, they will have home field advantage until the World Series begins.
That does not bode well for any visiting team.
Last season the Yankees finished with a record of 57-24 at Yankee Stadium, the best record in baseball, and this season, their picking up exactly where they left off as they’ve gotten off to a 10-2 start at home.
If the American League can win the All-Star Game for the eighth consecutive year, since the All-Star Game winner started determining home field advantage in the World Series, the Yankees will only have to be concerned with winning the games played in their own ballpark.
There is no doubt: “New” Yankee Stadium has become one of the greatest home field advantages in baseball.
Great news for Yankee fans.
The month of April is finally over, and that means one thing: Mark Teixeira can finally begin his baseball season.
Teixeira lovers have all grown accustomed to his slow starts during the month of April, as Yankee fans were able to experience his April struggles first hand last year, and this year too.
In two seasons with the Yankees during the month of April, Teixeira has played in 39 games, has 24 hits, five home runs, 19 RBIs, 32 walks, 20 strikeouts, and, this year, is batting a lousy .133
But although Teixeira struggled in his first month in pinstripes, the first baseman got red-hot in May and never slowed down, finishing with the AL lead in home runs (39) and RBI (122).
Expect another big year from Teixeira, with Alex Rodriguez hitting behind him for a full season, as Teixeira is primed for another monster season as the Yankees' No. 3 hitter in the batting order.
Through five games played in May, Teixeira has five runs batted in, and has raised his batting average over 40 points.
The Yankees have been winning with Teixeira struggling. Now imagine what this team is going to look like when the “real” Teixeira shows up.
Can’t wait to see.
A-rod finally got the monkey off his back.
Last season, Rodriguez played a major role for the Yankees (6 homeruns, 18 RBI, .365 avg), as he torched the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the ALCS, and the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, en route to winning his first World Series title.
After A-rod’s postseason for the ages, no one should ever question Rodriguez, and wonder if he’s able to thrive in the postseason because he certainly proved last year that he can.
Rodriguez is entering this season 100 percent healthy, and not having to answer any questions about his steroid scandal. He finished his abbreviated season with 30 home runs and 100 RBI in 124 games.
The Yankees now have an entire season with their cleanup hitter in the lineup, and that means Rodriguez can be well on his way to the fourth Most Valuable Player award of his illustrious career.
Jorge Posada has struggled to stay healthy this season.
However, backup catcher Francisco Cervelli, who’s been called upon to replace Posada in the lineup, has filled in just fine.
Although the Yankees lost the offense Posada provides, producing 22 homeruns last season, Cervelli has an on-base percentage of .436, a batting average of .371, and six runs batted in through 12 games this season.
As long as Cervelli maintains this type of performance, the Yankees will have no problem making Posada the permanent designated hitter.
The can continue to win regular season games without him, but they need Posada rested and healthy for the postseason. That is when they’ll need his offense the most.
Hopefully, he'll be able to provide it for the Yankees.
Can CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett believe winning a World Series championship was that effortless?
Now that they’re playing for the New York Yankees, they can.
Although Burnett's first year in the Bronx ended with a World Series title, Burnett struggled at times ending the season with a 13-9 record, and a 4.04 ERA.
Then he posted a 5.27 ERA in five postseason starts, but with one year under his belt, Burnett appears to be fully comfortable wearing the pinstripes (see 2010 season: 4-0, 1.99 ERA, 28 strikeouts, 1.15 WHIP).
Then there’s Sabathia, need I say more?
For Robinson Cano, what a difference a year makes.
After hitting .207 with runners in scoring position during the 2009 season, Cano is hitting .308 with two homers and 13 RBIs in those spots, as he continues his hot hitting.
Called upon to replace Hideki Matsui as the number five hitter in the Yankees lineup, Cano has excelled.
Named the American League Player of the Month for April, after hitting .400 with five doubles, a triple, eight home runs, 21 runs scored, and 18 RBIs, Cano is making a case to have his named mentioned in the MVP debate.
The Yankees have been waiting five years to see Cano mature into the hitter he’s capable of being.
He’s finally arrived.
The best pitcher in baseball is no longer pitching in the toughest division in the majors (AL East) after being shipped from “North of the Border” to the City of Brotherly Love.
When Roy Halladay was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies during the offseason, the Yankees were relieved. The former Cy Young winner went 18-5 with a 2.64 ERA against the Bombers since 2001, and 8-2 with a 2.54 ERA over the past two seasons.
Although the Phillies come to the Bronx for interleague play this summer, the Yankees may not even face Halladay then, and that means they won’t see him until the World Series.
Does this mean a rematch of the 2009 World Series?
Philly fans would love that, but would once again have their hearts broken into pieces.
Newly acquired Nick Johnson, Curtis Granderson, and Javier Vazquez all looked on as they watched their new teammates get their 2009 World Series championship rings.
They’re still waiting.
Both Johnson and Granderson have the ability to be major playmakers for the Yankees this season.
Although Johnson is injury prone, he’s an on-base machine. Only Albert Pujols and Joe Mauer had a higher on-base percentage than Johnson in 2009 (if you didn’t know, they were the 2009 MVP award winners).
Granderson was among the league leaders in homeruns last year for American League outfielders (30), but has struggled early on this season. Granderson is currently on the disabled list, but expect him to be a spark in the Yankees lineup when he returns. He’s scored 90 or more runs the past four seasons, and being in this lineup, expect Granderson to top the 100 runs scored mark for the third time of his career.
And does anyone care about Vazquez? Have you forgotten about his dreadful relief outing in Game Seven of the 2004?
Let me remind you...actually, it makes me sick to even think about it.
If I didn’t write his name, everyone would know whom I was talking about, right?
You know—the great Mariano Rivera. You might have heard of him.
He has seven seasons of 40 saves, and a career ERA below 2.50 during the regular season. He has the most saves in American League history with 533. He has a major league record of 39 postseason saves, and the lowest career ERA in postseason history (0.74).
Even at the age of 40, he is the most dominant and reliable closer in the game. And during this October, Rivera will once again get the opportunity to show why he’s simply the best.
Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Derek Jeter.
Now that they have a championship ring for the thumb, let’s just say a championship ring will look very nice on the other hand too.
“Now batting, No. 2, Derek Jeter, Jeter, Jeter.”
Life without Jeter in pinstripes is a nightmarish thought for any Yankee fan. After we got to see the thrill of Jeter winning another title, he now enters the 2010 season in a contract year.
Not that Jeter needs any extra motivation to prove he can still be an elite player at almost 36, but this will certainly help.
Jeter will look to replicate his 2009 season, as he fell just short of winning his first MVP award.
Do the math: Contract year + never having won an MVP award + proving to all the doubters he can still play = A World Series Championship
After being defeated by the Los Angeles Angels in the 2002 and 2005 American League Division Series, the Yankees finally knocked off their long-time nemesis last postseason.
However, things got worse for the Angels, as they took another beating over the winter after losing John Lackey to the Boston Red Sox, Chone Figgins to the Seattle Mariners, and Vladimir Guerrero to the Texas Rangers.
They tried to replace those players by signing Hideki Matsui, Joel Pineiro, and Fernando Rodney, but the Angels reign atop of the AL West is over, as the Angels will fall short of winning their third consecutive AL West division title.
With Jason Bay heading to the Empire State to play for the New York Mets, and David Ortiz taking on the role of “Little Papi,” the rival Red Sox have stumbled out of the gate to begin the 2010 season.
The Sox made a splash by signing John Lackey, but with Boston already 6.5 games out of first place, and having a team ERA over 4.5, the Red Sox will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2006 season.
They simply don’t have the pitching or the hitting to compete with the Yankees.
Heading into spring training, Phil Hughes fought to earn the final spot in the Yankees pitching rotation, and prior to the start of the season he was named the Yankees No. 5 starter.
Thus far, Hughes been nothing short of impressive.
He might not get paid the big bucks like CC Sabathia, or have the star power of A.J. Burnett, but with a record of 3-0, an ERA of 1.44, .88 WHIP, and 24 strikeouts, Hughes is looking like the ace of this staff.
It sure looks like the 23-year-old and former 2004 first-round pick is ready to take on his role in the rotation—for the next decade or so.
Let’s just worry about this October for now.
Throw the rulebook out the window because, in the words of Yankees announcer Michael Kay, let’s all say “See Yaaaa” to the Joba Rules.
The rules won't be necessary now that Joba Chamberlain is back in the bullpen, regaining the eighth-inning setup role that made him a hero during the 2007 season.
Having lost the fifth-starter competition to Phil Hughes in spring training, Chamberlain returns to the spot where he belongs—in the bullpen setting up for Mariano Rivera.
The Yankees are hoping Chamberlain can regain his old bullpen magic, and if he does, the Yankees will have the deadliest setup man-closer combination in the majors.
It'll be déjà vu for Yankee fans, as they'll begin to reminisce about the “John Wetteland-Mariano Rivera” combination back from 1996.
They were untouchable, but this combo is even better.
At the end of the 2009 season, the Yankees finished with 111 stolen bases, which ranked seventh in the American League, and 11th in the majors.
So far this season, the Yankees have 24 stolen bases through 27 games—Brett Gardner has 13 of them.
With the addition of the speedy Curtis Granderson to the lineup, and now that A-rod is healthy and playing every day, the Yankees will find themselves turning walks and singles into doubles, making it a nightmare for the opposing catcher behind the plate.
The Yankees led the league with 2,703 total bases and 915 runs scored last season. Expect those numbers to be even better this year when the season is over.
Last September, it looked like Damaso Marte's three-year, $12 million contract would be an enormous bust.
Marte was awful, as he posted a 9.45 ERA in 21 relief outings. Not giving up on him, the Yankees called on Marte once the calendar turned to October, and Marte excelled in the spotlight
In eight postseason appearances, including four in the World Series, Marte was phenomenal, holding opponents scoreless. If Marte is able to carry that momentum into this postseason, the Yankees will have a lefty specialist to turn to in the late innings, and what a dominant force he would be.
Although Hal Steinbrenner instructed general manger Brian Cashman to curb the spending this offseason, remember, these are still the Yankees.
With the core members of the team entering their mid-thirties, injuries can play a major role this season. If Cashman feels this team needs improvement, the Yankees will find away to get better—they always do
Because when it comes to the Yankees, money is never an issue.
Championship No. 27 was for the boss. Championship No. 28 will be for the trainer.
Longtime Yankees trainer, Gene Monahan, whom has worked with the organization for 48 years, is currently in a battle that is not taking place on the baseball field.
Monahan is suffering from throat and neck cancer, and is undergoing treatment. He’s expected to return sometime this season, but who knows what Monahan’s future holds.
While everyone is hoping and praying for Monahan, what a thrill it would be if he’s present when the Yankees win it all.
The Yankees aren’t the Mets. They aren’t a circus act or the team that collapses down the stretch.
They continue to win, while going about their business in an extremely professional manner.
And as long they keep winning, nothing is ever going to change.
When Joe Girardi was hired as the new manager of the Yankees, the perception surrounding the team was that Girardi was rigid, humorless, cold, and disciplined.
He was basically a drill sergeant in pinstripes.
But since the Yankees acquired A.J. Burnett and Nick Swisher, the team’s personality has changed.
Even though they act different, they continue to win, and that’s the way it ought to be.
When Johnny Damon and 2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui departed from the Yankees this offseason, as they signed with the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels respectively, it was time for them to go.
They both had the mental toughness to play in the Big Apple, but Granderson and Johnson were brought here to fill the voids left by Damon and Matsui.
However, if they’re unable to handle the New York spotlight, let’s not forget that the Yankee lineup still consists of Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, and Robinson Cano.
That’s certainly all right with me.
Last season the Yankees were tied for the league lead with 1,604 hits, and led the majors with a .478 slugging percentage and 244 home runs.
If they repeat those numbers, no one will beat them.
Look for the same offensive display they put on last year to be replicated throughout this season.
Who knows when the members of the “Core Four” are going to retire?
As long as they keep winning championships, I don’t see them slowing down.
A parade down the Canyon of Heroes has become a tradition for the New York Yankees. As this season starts to unfold, rumors are already swirling that they notified the city of New York to start preparing for another one.
Get the confetti ready.
This Yankee team is loaded with talent and, without a doubt, they are the best team in baseball.
Joe Girardi is looking for a new uniform number, and he already got word that No. 29 (Sorry Francisco) will be available when next season begins.