If the Yankees were to win Game 6 tonight and thus cinch their 27th World Championship, your favorite characters in the sports-media world will suddenly seem awfully productive. Within minutes of the final pitch, the Daily News will have full-on Yankees Championship packages, the Times will put the victory in historical perspective and the Post will be selling some sort of hat.
Obviously, they didn’t start writing it all when the game ended; they’ve been working on it since the Yankees won Game 4 to take a 3–1 lead, preparing to launch it all when the Yankees finally won. We’re doing the same thing here: If the Yankees win tonight, this site will run a piece we wrote about Alex Rodriguez’s place in the universe and one we wrote about pressing questions the Yankees have in the offseason. Obviously, we’ve already written those. Joe DeLessio has a gallery already set up with the top ten moments of the Yankees 2009 season; we only have to grab a photo from the clinching game for No. 1.
This is how it works. We write ahead of time so we’re ready. This is fine for us, because we’re a Cardinals fan: We have no fear or concern about jinxing anything. But Joe, poor Joe, he goes to work with his face painted in pinstripes every day, even in the offseason. Like any true fan, he knows you can’t assume anything. Asking him to write under the assumption the Yankees have won the World Series is cruel, his profession at odds with the fan’s logical understanding that your tiniest movement absolutely has an effect on whether your team wins or loses. Jinxing is the worst sin a fan can commit.
Which is why we’re writing this post, and not him: If the Yankees win tonight … who’s the MVP?
(Boy, that was some throat-clearing, wasn’t it?)
Anyway, by our count, there are five logical candidates for Yankees World Series MVP, depending, obviously, on how the last two games play out.
Johnny Damon. He might be an adventure in the outfield and the least likely guy around to throw anybody out at the plate, but he was near unstoppable during the three games in Philadelphia. He’s now hitting .381 for the Series and has scored a team-high five runs. Mostly, though, he has that amazing play in Game 4, stealing second base and then sprinting to third, Damon’s signature moment as a Yankee and probably the team’s signature moment of the Series.
Hideki Matsui. Obviously, Matsui’s a bit of a long shot, considering he has only started two of the five games so far, but he’s hitting .556 and is the lone Yankee with more than one homer. If he hits two or three tonight — and Pedro Martinez is the type of guy he hits well — the quiet excellence of his Series will grow much louder.
Mariano Rivera. Unless the Yankees win the Series with a walkoff, the odds are excellent that Rivera will be on the mound for the last out, just like he was for the first three wins. He has two saves already in this series, and, frankly, we still don’t quite understand the arcane statistical rule that didn’t give him one in Game 3. Plus, he’s Mo, and there would be a certain symmetry to him winning his second World Series MVP a decade after he won his last one.
Alex Rodriguez. He might only be hitting .222 with one homer … but come on, we all know who the true breakthrough player this postseason has been. Clutch-hitting from every angle and direction, A-Rod’s the one guy the Phillies are terrified to face with anyone on base. He needs to get that average up a bit, but if he happens to win tonight’s game with a walkoff, who could deny him?
CC Sabathia. For CC to win, he’d probably need to throw a Game 7 shutout, considering it would only give him one win in the series. If he did, though, the Yankees would have won two of his starts, and his ERA would be in the low twos. But who wants to think of a Game 7 right now?