The “Core Four” Return
It’s first season in and its first shot at baseballs ultimate showcase as the new Cathedral in the Bronx will host the 2009 World Series. Andy Pettitte followed the time-tested formula of handing the ball off to a Yankees bullpen anchored by Mariano Rivera to secured the Yankees 40th American League pennant with a 5-2 victory over the Angels in game 6 of the American League Championship Series in front of 50,173 fans.
It was another marquee moment in the inaugural season of the new house, where New York logged the Majors’ best home record and remained undefeated in postseason play, authoring a new winning tradition.
Pettitte became baseball’s all-time leader with his 16th postseason victory, breaking a tie with John Smoltz and setting a new record with his fifth career victory to clinch a postseason series. Rivera’s moved alone into first place in career LCS saves with 12 as Dennis Eckersley had 11. CC Sabathia became the eighth Yankees player to be named Most Valuable Player of an American League Championship Series.
Joe Girardi continuing to wear No. 27 as a reminder of the mission at hand, his club opened Spring Training thinking about segmenting its season into stages, keeping its eyes on the prize at the end of the line.
On Wednesday, the Yankees will open their first World Series since they lost to the Marlins in 2003. That six-year drought represented the fourth-longest stretch without a pennant in franchise history. The last time the Yankees won a World Series was when the Bombers defeated the Mets in a five-game “Subway Series.” Only four players Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte remain from that squad.
The Yankees didn’t win a pennant until their 21st season in 1921, while also experiencing spans of 12 years (1964-76) and 15 years (1981-96) between AL titles. The Yankees have been to the World Series seven times since ’96, five more times than any other team during that period.
The Bombers’ 40 appearances in a title game or series are the most among the four major North American sports. The closest team to New York is the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, who have been to the Stanley Cup Finals 34 times. The Canadiens’ 24 titles are also second among major sports franchises to the Yankees’ 26 championships.
Philadelphia is expected to start Cliff Lee enticing a pitching match up between former Cleveland teammates and the past two AL Cy Young Award winners when he takes on CC Sabathia in the World Series opener. The Phillies won two of three at Yankee Stadium in May.