Monday, September 28, 2009
What a difference a year makes. A year ago, we were watching a melodramatic celebration as the NY Yankees closed out 85 years of history at the original Stadium. The Yankees had just defeated the Baltimore Orioles, but there would be no post season play for the first time in 13 years. Joe Girardi was under fire as former manager Joe Torre was leading the LA Dodgers to a division title. The Yankees had no starting pitching. And the Red Sox had been a better team than NY for 5 years.
The Yankees addressed these problems during the off season by acquiring Sabathia, Burnett and Teixeira. Little did we know, Nick Swisher may have been the biggest pickup giving a kind of spark and personality the clubhouse needed so much.
A-Rod lied about steroids and was exploited. He then missed the first month and a half of the season. The Yankees got off to a terrible start. C.C. got off to another one of his patented slow starts. Chien-Ming Wang turned into the Jake Delhomme of baseball. They dropped the first 8 games against Boston. And the new Stadium was being referred to as "Coors Field East." Of course everyone was writing the team off. Major trouble in Yankeeland.
But then something happened around the time A-Rod returned in mid May. The NY Yankees became the best team in baseball seemingly overnight. They won 9 of the final 10 games against Boston, leaving the season series tied at 9-9. Derek Jeter broke Lou Gehrig's team record for career hits. Mark Teixeira had an MVP type season. Sabathia and Mariano Rivera should both finish in the top for the Cy Young.
Since the All Star Break, the Yankees are 49-19! All this with basically a 4 man rotation. You have to give major credit to Joe Girardi. He could have hit the panic button back in May when the New York Media were calling him out. But he stepped up to the plate. He did a magnificent job with a depleted bullpen where he found a home for Phil Hughes.
The Yankees had a walkoff win just about every 11th game (14 total). Every walk off win was followed by the old pie in the face routine brought on by A.J. Burnett.
The Yankees have won 100 games for the first time since 2004 and it's the team's first division title since 2006. Order is restored.