10 years ago, the New York Yankees put together one of the best seasons in the history of their great franchise. The team had a record of 114-48 in the regular season and went on to sweep the Padres in four games to become World Champions for the second time in three years.
There were several high-profile players on that team like David Cone, Tino Martinez, Darryl Strawberry, Paul O’Neill, and Bernie Williams. In addition to established veterans, there were up and coming stars like Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera.
What made the team click was the balance of superstars and what many may refer to as average players.
The Yankees acquired pitchers like David Wells and Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez to round out their rotation, and Graeme Lloyd to add length to their bullpen. They added second baseman Chuck Knoblauch and inserted him into the leadoff spot in order to give their RBI guys more of an opportunity to get runs in.
Kenny Rogers was traded to Oakland for third baseman Scott Brosius, who ended up batting over .300 with 98 RBI and 19 home runs, and was named the ’98 World Series MVP after many thought his career was over.
Fast-forward 10 years and the Yankees have the highest payroll in baseball, with just two World Championships since ’98. Over the years, they have subtracted most of the members of the ’98 team, with only Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte remaining.
The “win-now” mentality led to the signing of high-priced free agents like Jason Giambi, Carl Pavano, and Alex Rodriguez, with the hope of not delaying the chance of winning a World Series.
However, the Yankees have done almost the complete opposite.
Since ’98, the team has made the postseason every year, but they have only made it past the ALCS once in the past four years. With all the superstars that have been and currently are on the roster, it would seem reaching and winning the World Series would be very attainable.
So what is the problem exactly?
Well, some may suggest that the teams haven’t done so well because there are too many superstars and not enough of a balance of average or above-average players with the superstars.
Every player, regardless of how good they are, is going to go through slumps, and they can’t be expected to carry the entire team. Or maybe the team has focused too much on signing home-run hitters and less on pitching, leading to their downfall in every recent postseason.
The 2008 team has all kinds of potential to be a World Championship team. Perhaps though, there is just that, too much potential and not enough results. The ’98 team banded together and relied on all of their abilities to achieve their success.
The 2008 team needs to not look to one or two guys to get the job done, but come together as a whole and realize that looking back on the successes of the past just might help them be great in the present.