Via Wallace Matthews -
The Yankees have spent $1,187,333,651 on ballplayers since 2003, the last time they made it to the World Series. That’s one billion, one hundred eighty-seven million, three hundred thirty-three thousand and six hundred fifty-one dollars, if you’re scoring at home.
The number jumps to $1,425,549,383 – almost enough to pay a Goldman Sachs CEO his bonus – if you go back to 2000, the last time they actually won a world championship.
That’s a lot of money, a lot of time, an eclectic and ever-changing collection of a handful of great players and far too many frauds, failures and goldbricks who have passed through the Yankees clubhouse since the last time they earned a parade down Broadway.
Finally, the Yankees seem to have found the right combination of players to get them back to where they believe they rightfully belong every year, although in last night’s 5-2 win that finally vanquished the stubborn but underpowered Angels, it was a member of their original cast, Andy Pettitte, and a soon-to-be castoff, Johnny Damon, who ultimately brought them there.
Plus, the Angels were willful participants in their own failure with their nightly baserunning follies, another episode of which was presented last night when Vlad Guerrero somehow managed to get himself doubled off first base on a routine pop fly to right in the second inning.
The $201-million Yankees – down slightly from the $209-million version that failed to make the postseason in 2008 – did precisely what they were supposed to do against teams like those, no more and perhaps even a bit less.
But the Philadelphia Phillies, the defending world champions who are ready and rested after finishing off the Dodgers on Wednesday, are a different story altogether.
Unlike the Twins and Angels, who are National League-type teams trying to keep up in the high-powered American League, the Phillies are the exact opposite.
They hit nearly as many home runs as the Yankees, scored just a handful fewer runs, and play in a ballpark just as homer-friendly to them as the new Yankee Stadium is to the Yankees.
Most importantly this time of year, with the exception of Rivera, for whom they have no equivalent (but then, who does?) the Phillies’ pitching staff can match the Yankees, arm for arm.
The Yankees have CC Sabathia? The Phillies have Cliff Lee. A.J. Burnett equals Joe Blanton. And though the Yankees are still stuck for a reliable fourth starter, the Phillies have J.A. Happ, a 12-game winner with a 2.93 ERA. And of course, there’s Pedro – shame on you if you ask Pedro Who? – who in the midst of the 2004 Yankees collapse against the Red Sox sat in the press room at the old Stadium and mused about the good old days sitting under a mango tree in the Dominican Republic.
You think he might want to put a little hurt on his old tormentors?
No, this is not going to be easy, even with Sabathia starting Game 1 on full rest and Alex Rodriguez still seemingly unaware that it is indeed October.
The Yankees spent nearly as much money on this ballclub as they did on the ballpark it plays in just to get back to the World Series.
Now, what kind of price will they have to pay to win it?
Me? This World Series will come down to what happens in Yankee Stadium. The Yankees play extremely well at home. But, the Phillies have played well on the road this season. So, if the Phils can split the first two games of this series and then turn it into a situation where it then becomes a “best 3 of 5″ with Philadelphia then having the home field advantage…well…things could get sweaty for New York.
The key to this series…assuming that Sabathia and Pettitte do what they normally do…could be A.J. Burnett (for the Yankees). What happens in his starts could make or break the Fall Classic for the Yankees.
Do you agree? And, if you do, does it scare you that Burnett could be the key player in this World Series?