It has been 2,992 days since New York Yankees players, coaches, employees and fans have been able to refer to themselves as champions. That isn’t as long as the Cubs’$2 36,911 days, but it’s plenty long, considering pretty much the whole point of being a Yankees player, coach, employee, or fan is being able to refer to yourself as a champion. So now you can say it: The New York Yankees have won the World Series. Feels good, don’t it?
Save for a brief hairy moment in the top of the seventh — in which Damaso Marte did his best impression of someone who isn’t Damaso Marte by striking out Chase Utley with the tying run on deck — the air at Can’t-Call-It-New-Anymore Yankee Stadium had a party vibe pretty much from the third inning on. The building still didn’t feel electric, but it’s hard to shake when the outcome is so little in doubt. The first real herewegoherewegoherewego moment was the zip-zap of anticipation right before “Enter Sandman” started playing and Mariano Rivera jogged in from the bullpen. That’s when it actually felt like the Yankees were about to the win the World Series, and soon.
Baseball-wise, it was a night of good-byes. Pedro Martinez is almost assuredly going to retire, because his stuff is essentially gone: We’re not sure he topped 85 mph all night, and the “Who’s Your Daddy?” chant is about to shuffle off this mortal coil. Andy Pettitte might return, but the crowd cheered him as he left in the sixth inning as if they were making sure he knew how much he mattered, in case he doesn’t. And Hideki Matsui, your World Series MVP, had the game of his life, knocking in six runs in what very likely will be his last appearance in a Yankees uniform.
That was it for the drama, though. The whole evening felt less like a competition than a coronation; it was methodical and robotic and overwhelming, just like the Yankees the rest of the season. The Yankees had the best record in baseball and, all told, were never really threatened in the playoffs. It might not have always been the most inspirational run, but true dominance rarely is. And now here they are. Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera have their fifth championship, and Alex Rodriguez has his first.
Way back in March, we previewed the Yankees’ season and wrote that, “The Yankees represent all of us, what we once were … and what we might be again.” Forget the money they spent, forget the pricey new stadium, forget anything other than this moment, right now. The Yankees have won the World Series. The last time you could say that, nine years ago tonight, they had won three in a row, and four in five years. It felt like old hat. It doesn’t feel like old hat this time. Turns out that winning the World Series is rare and special after all. You never know when it’ll happen again. Enjoy it. Soak it in. Celebrate like crazy. That is, after all, the point.