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10/30/09 2:53 AM ET

Core supremacy reigns for Yanks

Groundwork laid with big four nearly two decades ago

The ending of Thursday night's World Series game at Yankee Stadium was so familiar you might have thought you were watching a replay.

There was Mariano Rivera on the mound, delivering one of his famed cut fastballs into the glove of catcher Jorge Posada as Philadelphia's Matt Stairs swung and missed for the third strike to end the game.

Posada came to the mound, handed the ball back to Rivera and shook his hand.

The Yankees had won the game, 3-1, to even the World Series with Rivera pitching the final two innings, Posada delivering a run-scoring single as a pinch-hitter and shortstop Derek Jeter turning a double play to end a troubling eighth inning for the Yankees.

And now it's on to Philadelphia for Game 3 with Andy Pettitte to take the mound for the Yankees.

Rivera, Posada, Jeter and Pettitte -- they form the very foundation to the Yankees' success that produced four World Series titles between 1996 and 2000, and now the foursome is in the hunt for one more championship.

The Yankees of today are known for their winning ways and their ability to land the most expensive free agents on the market.

You can't dispute this billing, particularly when two new Yankees -- pitcher A.J. Burnett and first baseman Mark Teixeira -- contributed greatly to Thursday night's victory. It is the foursome of Rivera, Posada, Jeter and Pettitte that anchors the Yankees, however. And with all of the talk of free agents, these four players were signed and developed by the team.

The 1990 Yankees season will be remembered as one of the darkest years in the team's history. The Yankees went 67-95 and finished seventh, trailing by 21 games.

2009 World Series
Gm. 1 PHI 6, NYY 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 2 NYY 3, PHI 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 3 NYY 8, PHI 5 Wrap Video
Gm. 4 NYY 7, PHI 4 Wrap Video
Gm. 5 PHI 8, NYY 6 Wrap Video
Gm. 6 NYY 7, PHI 3 Wrap Video

If the season shows anything, however, it would be that you can't judge everything by what happens at the Major League level. Because it was in 1990 that Posada and Pettitte were drafted by the Yankees (as 24th- and 22nd-round selections, respectively) and Rivera was signed as a free agent.

Jeter was the team's first-round selection in the 1992 draft. The Yankees did not have a winning record at the Major League level between 1990 and 1992, but the foundation of an amazing record of success was put in place.

If you want to know the importance of scouting and player development, it rests in the cases of the four veteran Yankees players.

The ironic part in all of this is that the Yankees had three different people serve in the role of general manager in 1990 -- Harding Peterson, George Bradley and Gene Michael. I called Peterson this week to get his thoughts on the important Yankees acquisitions of 1990, but he backed off from taking any credit.

"I can't honestly tell you I recall anything about the signings," said Peterson. "But I do know one thing -- it was the result of good scouting."

Peterson was a good and dedicated baseball man for many years with Pittsburgh and the Yankees, but he didn't survive in the GM role for the 1990 season.

The players who came to the Yankees in 1990 are surviving quite nicely, however, and you can catch them on baseball's biggest show -- the World Series.

Fred Claire was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1969-98, serving the team as Executive Vice-President and general manager. He is the author of "Fred Claire: My 30 Years in Dodger Blue." This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.