If, hypothetically, Andy Pettitte had left last night’s game in the sixth inning up by just a run, we’re not sure how much we would have enjoyed watching the proceedings. We would have had visions of Joba throwing that one bad pitch, and of some Yankee hitting into a double play at the worst possible time, and of Fox showing some godforsaken graphic of teams who’d won Games 6 and 7 on the road. Is that irrational? Of course it is. But that’s a big part of being a Yankees fan, isn’t it?
But it never came to that. In reality, last night’s game was over pretty early. It was a best-case scenario for the team (which wanted to win the World Series), but also a best-case scenario for their fans (who wanted to win the World Series and maybe avoid the crippling stress that tends to go along with these games). For that, we can thank Hideki Matsui, who had the game of his life. And Pedro Martinez, who had nothing. And Andy Pettitte, who had enough. And the Phillies bullpen, which pitched just enough like the Phillies bullpen to put the game out of reach.
In other words, from about the third inning on, we never had the chance to think about what could go wrong. We never once thought about 2001, or 2004. This team had already won 113 games in 2009, but we were now finally comfortable truly imagining a World Series title without having to worry about setting ourselves up for a letdown. This was happening, and even the Phillies probably knew. We enjoyed every damn minute of it.
We haven’t checked the tape, but we’re pretty sure Shane Victorino’s at-bat with two outs in the ninth took nine minutes to complete. If we could change anything about last night, it would be that. (Would it have killed him to just give up and ground out on the first pitch? We’d have gotten a few minutes more sleep if he did.) Because after that, there’s nothing we would have changed. Some of the images were borderline touching: Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter — a couple of guys who’d just won their fifth title together — embracing, or the joy on the face of first-timers like Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher.
But then there were the goofy moments that could only come from a group of grown men celebrating a boy’s game in front of 50,000 people. There was Joe Girardi, looking as dorky as possible with his championship T-shirt on over his hoodie. And Rodriguez awkwardly proclaiming “We’re gonna party!” as if his remarks has been prepared by Miley Cyrus. And Hal Steinbrenner accepting the trophy with all the excitement of a kid accepting a perfect-attendance award in the fourth grade. But somehow, it was all perfect. Once again, we loved every minute of it.