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Sunday, September 27, 2020

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Yankees' long road to World Series victory No. 27

The pinstripes did it again. Last Wednesday the New York Yankees won their 27th World Series title by defeating the Phillies 7-3 in Game 6.

If you are a New York Mets or Boston Red Sox fan, this was probably the most painful World Series you have had to witness - but you definitely could not keep your eyes off the television. It was a battle of the reigning champions and baseball's most-winning team. I would call the Yankees America's team, but it may anger anti-Yankee, hard-core baseball aficionados.

The Yankees are not used to waiting nine years before regaining their spot at the top of Major League Baseball. Before the 2000 season, the Yankees held the World Series title in 1999, 1998 and 1996 - all of which were under former manager Joe Torre's leadership.

Joe Girardi became the manager last season, and after his rocky start I do not think many people expected he would lead the Yankees to the championship series one year later.

But it was not smooth sailing for the New York team in 2009 either. The eight-straight losses to rival Boston Red Sox during the teams' first meetings were some of the low points of the season. And then there was the Alex Rodriguez controversy.

After Rodriguez admitted he had used performance-enhancing drugs while he played for the Texas Rangers, he was out of play until May. But then he made his reappearance known with a three-run home run on the first pitch he hit of the season. Rodriguez was an integral part of the team's success and other fans vocalized their jealousy - with boos and cheers of "A-Roid" - when he would take the field.

It seems like the perfect story. The Yankees were beaten down last season and entered this season amidst intense heat and debate. The team made some risky transactions during the off-season and put a lot of money into the acquisitions of pitchers CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett as well as first baseman Mark Teixeira. And then there was the new stadium.

New York premiered two state-of-the-art baseball facilities this season. Between Citi Field and the new Yankee Stadium there was enough media attention to go around. With exorbitant ticket prices and a deep economic recession, some feared that seats would not be filled and baseball had become too expensive for the average Joe to enjoy anymore.

Things, however, did not pan out that way. Plenty of fans came out to see the Yankees in their new stadium, and, I would have to say, they christened the place pretty well. What better way to come off a nine-year title drought than to come back and finish out the World Series with a win for the first time in a new stadium?

Everything clicked at the opportune time. Who knows whether it was a combined frustration from the past seasons that drove this team to victory, a newfound team chemistry that jived or a little luck that found its way back to the Bronx. Whatever it was that brought the Yankees to their victory on Nov. 4 made it a great moment for baseball and a great moment for New York.

The ticker-tape parade that took place on the streets of New York City last Friday embodied just that. Hoards of people took off work, called in sick, traveled into the city and covered the street to watch the champions pass by on floats and salute their fans with pride. Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, current Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Yogi Berra and other notables joined the celebration. Jay-Z performed his "Empire State of Mind" and it was all about the Empire State that day.

Now the excitement has settled and it is back to business as usual. It's the offseason and it will only be a matter of time before questions surface about next year. The rumor mill has already begun about the fate of World Series MVP Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon. The books are now closed on the 2009 season and we will have to wait and see what the "Bronx Bombers" have in store for the next season.

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Contact staff writer Jessie Murray at jessie.murray@richmond.edu

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