says he'll be ready for D-Backs
NEW YORK -- The Yankees are moving on to play in the World Series for the 38th time in franchise history. Their opponents, the Arizona Diamondbacks, have only been in existence for four seasons.
|When they're finished celebrating their pennant, the Yankees will turn their attention to Curt Schilling.
The 25 players that have made up the Yankees' playoff roster have a combined total of 60 championship rings. Arizona's roster features one -- Craig Counsell's 1997 ring that he won as a member of the Florida Marlins.
Yet, despite the disparity in their history, the Yankees aren't taking the Diamondbacks lightly. How could they, considering that Arizona will likely send Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling to the mound in the first two games of the Fall Classic?
"I'm just glad we have a few days to enjoy this before we have to settle in and figure out a way to match those guys," said Manager Joe Torre. "They're two top-notch pitchers that dominate a game. We have to figure out a way to match them. You don't try to beat guys like that, you try to match them."
The Yankees have been here before. They faced Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz in 1996, Kevin Brown in 1998, Atlanta's staff again in 1999 and Al Leiter and Mike Hampton in last year's Subway Series against the Mets. The Yankees themselves sport a solid rotation, featuring Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens, Orlando Hernandez and ALCS MVP Andy Pettitte.
"Hopefully we can find a way to pitch better than them," said catcher Jorge Posada. "It will come down to pitching, defense and getting a clutch hit. We play like a team, we know how to win, and it's a lot of fun to get back to the World Series."
Getting back to the World Series. That is where the Yankees have the advantage.
Nineteen Yankees have played in the Fall Classic, while only five D-Backs have done so. New York's players have played in a combined 225 World Series contests, while Arizona's troops total 26 games. And don't forget that the D-Backs are led by rookie manager Bob Brenly, who never had the chance to play in the World Series during his nine-year Major League career.
"We're going to find out how much experience matters," Torre said. "They have some experienced people -- Schilling's been through it, Randy has been here before. Bob Brenly is a player's manager, he was a tough, hard-nosed catcher -- and he was a broadcaster, maybe that helps. They have those two guys, which gives them a lot of confidence, and they have a great supporting cast."
Just don't ask the Yankees to talk about that supporting cast. Most of the players do not follow the National League during the course of the season and will rely on scouting reports to familiarize themselves with their World Series opponents.
"To be honest, besides Schilling and Johnson, I don't know much about their team," said Derek Jeter. "I haven't really followed the National League, but obviously they're the best team over there. They dismantled the Braves."
The Yankees will know all about Luis Gonzalez and Co. come Saturday. But for the next few days, it's time to enjoy their pennant and begin preparations for the final step.
"They're in the same boat we are. They're excited to go into the World Series, as are we," said Paul O'Neill, who is gunning for his sixth championship ring. "Those games are going to be played this weekend, so for the next couple of days, you let what has happened sink in. You can't let anything cloud what you're trying to accomplish, which is to win another World Series."
So what if the Diamondbacks weren't a baseball team when Torre's Yankees captured their first title? David Justice points out that most of their players are veterans.
"It doesn't matter. They didn't draft all of those guys," Justice said. "Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling have been in the league for 12, 13 years. Just because the franchise hasn't been around for a long time doesn't mean the players haven't."
Posada said that experience aside, it all comes down to one basic formula, one that the Yankees have been able to follow in each of the past three seasons.
"It's not only experience, it's being able to focus a little better," Posada said. "We know what we have to do to win, how many games it takes, how tough it will be. We have to win four before they win four. It's that simple."
Mark Feinsand is the site reporter for Yankees.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.