World Series 2001 |
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World Series 2001
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11/05/2001 05:52 PM ET
Smith: Don't count out the Yanks just yet
Roger Clemens is one of several All-Stars returning to the Yanks in '02.
Mariano Rivera will be back.

Roger Clemens will be back.

Derek Jeter will be back.

The Yankees will be back.

The Yankees will be back because winning is what they do best.

Sure, they lost to the Diamondbacks in the World Series this year. But it took a classic seven-game series, with the outcome undecided until the bottom of the ninth inning in the final game. After all they've seen, even the staunchest Arizona fans would have to admit they thought the Yankees would somehow find a way to win this one.

That's because the Yankees always come back. They came back from a 2-0 series deficit against Oakland in the first round of the playoffs and they came back from a 2-0 series deficit against Arizona to go ahead 3-2. One has to believe the only reason the Yankees didn't come back again on Sunday night is because they didn't bat in the bottom of the inning.

But they will have that chance again next season. The fact is, the New York Yankees have come back from World Series defeats to win it all the next year seven times. And there are many, many reasons why 2002 will not be any different.

George Steinbrenner will be back.

"The Boss" simply does not allow for mediocrity. He is incredibly demanding, yes, but he always provides the tools the Yankees need to get the job done. He signs the checks to go after the players they need, the training they need, the facilities they need. Anything they need.

The Yankees win it all and "The Boss" will let go of his emotions amidst a locker room champagne shower, and everybody in the Yankee family will get a huge ring symbolizing his achievement for the ages. It has happened before and it will happen again.

Jorge Posada will be back.

Some faces may change this offseason with Paul O'Neill retiring and Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius and Chuck Knoblauch eligible for free agency. There also is a possibility Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez will not be offered arbitration. But that's the way it works with the Yankees. Remember John Wetteland and Joe Girardi and Chili Davis and David Cone and Jeff Nelson? They all played pivotal roles in recent Yankee championships and yet the team went on to win without them.

Bernie Williams will be back.

Strength up the middle is another integral reason the Yankees will be a factor in 2002. With Jeter, Posada, Williams and Alfonso Soriano, the Yankees have one of the strongest combinations of offense and defense up the middle of any team in baseball. And the players are locked up for years to come.

That strength up the middle may be surrounded next year by guys such as Shane Spencer, Nick Johnson, Enrique Wilson and maybe even Johnny Damon or Jason Giambi. But, chances are, analysts will point to the guys in the middle of the field as the core of the team's continued success.

The only thing possibly more important than great players up the middle is pitching. And the Yankees will have great pitching again. Why?

Mike Mussina will be back.

Andy Pettitte will be back.

Mike Stanton will be back.

Along with Clemens, Rivera and Ramiro Mendoza, that group figures to be one of the best in baseball again. And if "El Duque" does not return, the Yankees will likely hit the free agent market, or explore the trade front, and come back with a very good No. 4 starter. Just look how quickly and easily the Yankees signed Mussina last offseason. He saw their dedication to winning championships and never really considered any other teams.

Brian Cashman will be back.

No one can make "The Boss's" wishes come true like Cashman. He's young, he's smart, he's energetic, and, most important of all, he's never without his cell phone. He rarely gets appropriate credit for the great moves he's made during the Yankees incredible run from 1996-2001, but Cashman is the man who makes things happen. He is an administrative genius and a very good judge of talent.

Joe Torre will be back. After Steinbrenner and Cashman put the team together, there is no one more equipped to deal with the demands of the New York Yankees than Torre. His even-tempered approach to each game seems to be just right for this team's makeup and his strategic moves can only be described as magical.

Torre has his priorities in order (family, faith and country ahead of the game) and isn't afraid to show it. He's got great assistants in Don Zimmer and Mel Stottlemyre and respects their opinions as much as anyone's.

Torre also has the absolute backing of everyone on the team, the front office and an incredible fan base. Though the contracts of Torre (and Cashman) have technically expired, few believe that their re-signing is anything more than a formality.

Rudolph Giuliani will be back.

He may not be back as mayor of New York but you can bet he will play an important role in the Yankee community simply because it needs him. New York likes Giuliani, trusts Giuliani and will continue to embrace Giuliani. Which means he'll probably be back in the front row next season wearing whatever hat is politically timely. But, because of what the team has meant to him, he will always be there for support.

New York City will be back.

The recovery process already has begun. The trains continue to run on time. The Broadway shows have gone on. The Statue of Liberty still stands tall. No one will ever forget the tragic events of Sept. 11, nor should they. But the greatest city in the world relied on its incredible mix of people, cultures and ideas to become what it is and will use the same combination to maintain and move ahead.

As world-famous winners, the Yankees have been a monumental part of the city's past. Their inspirational play this season has mirrored the healing of the present. And, chances are, the Yankees will play another vital role in a more fortunate future.

The Yankees will be back.

Because of the people.

Paul C. Smith is a reporter for