Bauman: Order restored in baseball world
With their 27th championship, Bombers back atop mountain
NEW YORK -- The natural Bronx order of things has been restored.
The time when the Yankees were bigger and better than everybody else has returned. That was in many ways a simpler time, and the rest of life has not become any simpler. But the Bronx Bombers' dominance has reappeared as current reality.
The nine-year championship drought has become a mere historical footnote in the long march of New York's American League baseball franchise. This is the Yankees' 27th World Series championship. No other North American professional sports organization matches this performance. In Major League Baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals are second with 10. A comparison of the music of Barry Manilow and Bob Dylan comes closer.
In the end, there was not a tremendous amount of drama attached to the Yankees retaking baseball's summit. The Philadelphia Phillies were worthy adversaries, defending World Series champions after all. But this autumn, they could not stick with the Yankees. The Yankees closed the deal in Game 6 on Wednesday night with a 7-3 victory.
The 50,315 patrons -- the largest crowd of the year in new Yankee Stadium -- were suitably thrilled front to back as the Yankees reestablished their status atop the sport. But even for people who actively dislike the Yankees, see the Yankees as rampaging economic imperialists, think of this operation as "the Evil Empire," there is something in this.
What fun is envying the Yankees, detesting the Yankees, complaining about how much money the Yankees have when the Yankees are in third place like they were last season? Now those people who need to work up some really negative emotion about the Yankees can get serious again. The Yankees are on top. This is the bull market for Yankees haters. The time for venting, ranting, raving begins anew and in earnest. Knock yourself out.
In the midst of a triumph for the entire franchise, there were some individual Yankees who emerged as winners in more ways than one. Designated hitter Hideki Matsui fit that description.
With knee problems catching up with him, Matsui had moved down the ladder from outfielder to designated hitter. In one capacity or another, he'll be seeking a new deal in this offseason. Game 6 was a terrific audition for another club -- or a reminder to the Yankees -- that this designated hitter was still a real hitter. Home run, double, single, six RBIs. Every time you looked up, Matsui was driving in two runs.
Super at the Stadium
He hit .615 for the Series. He was named the Most Valuable Player. He towered over this event. If you're going to have a huge performance, pick an event that matters most at a time when the audience is at its largest. Matsui was invaluable to the Yankees and he was also a world-class advertisement for himself.
Manager Joe Girardi moved beyond his apprenticeship with this championship. In his first season at the helm, the Yankees failed for the first time in 13 tries to reach the postseason. No, he wasn't Joe Torre, but neither was anybody else.
Earlier in the postseason, Girardi was relentlessly second-guessed by many of us in the baseball writing business. Here in the World Series, he was second-guessed again, about his use of a three-man starting rotation. This just in -- he only had three reliable starters.
Girardi is now the manager of a World Series champion, and no matter what happens down the road, no matter what decision is up for second-guessing in seasons to come, in this important way, his managerial status has been elevated for keeps. And when you look at it, winning the World Series with only three viable starters, that's a fairly significant managerial achievement all by itself. Which game was it that you wanted him to start Chad Gaudin?
Andy Pettitte sprinted away from the rest of the field in postseason victories. He now has 18; nobody else has more than 15. He won the clinching game in all three postseason rounds for the Yankees, this one on Wednesday night on short rest. He was not great here, but he was good enough, which in this case meant being better than Pedro Martinez. Pettitte did not need any further achievements; his place in Yankees postseason history was already secure. But he played another significant role in yet another championship.
This was a triumph for Pettitte and the other three members of the "Core Four" -- Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and, as much as anyone, Mariano Rivera. This quartet helped to usher in the era of Yankees dominance in the final years of the last century. Now, they have led the Yankees to the top again.
A-Rod also won something in addition to a championship. The importance of his contributions to the Yankees' offense in this postseason cannot possibly be overstated. In helping the Yankees win a championship, he filled in the one gaping hole in his resume: success for his team.
The Yankees were united as a team this season and this postseason, and after the ultimate victory, they were united in dedicating this to "The Boss."
"This is what the Steinbrenner family has strived for year after year after year and has tried to deliver to the city of New York," Girardi said. "George Steinbrenner and his family are champions. To be able to deliver this to the Boss, the stadium that he created and the atmosphere he has created around here is very gratifying for all of us."
Yes, the prevailing baseball order is back at work. The sun can still rise in the East. Lassie can still come home. Mom, apple pie and the Fourth of July are still eligible to remain on the active roster. Love them, hate them, respect them, envy them, the Yankees are back. In their case, that translates to back on top.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.