The Yankees have all but won this thing. Yes, if any team can lose three in a row, it is the Yankees. But with Ryan Howard deciding that hitting the ball is a mortal sin and Brad Lidge doing his best imitation of a reliever from the 1961 Reds, the Phillies have tossed away two winnable games in a row. At worst, this series should be tied at 2-2.
But this seems to be New York's year. They have had everything they needed to get to the cusp of another title. Good play, solid pitching, some breakout seasons (or post-seasons, in A-Rod's case), and a healthy dose of luck. Almost every call New York needed to go their way...went their way. I am not implying malfeasance or intent on the part of the umpires here. But every team that hoists that trophy come year's end had their fair share of breaks and luck. And New York is no different in that regard. You could see it coming once the umpires blew that call on Mauer's hit in the ALDS.
So the Canyon of Heroes will see ticker-tape once more and those Damned Yankees will add another trophy to the case. And we here in New England (and around the world) have to suck it up and deal...for now.
But take heart, fellow Boston fans. The odds of the Yankees repeating are rather slim. No team has won two or more titles in a row since the Yankees of 1998-2000. And we all know why that was possible*...Some of their key contributors in the post-season are getting old and likely will start to fall off production-wise and may not even be back. They avoided a lot of injury problems as the season progressed, something that rarely happens year after year after year. Once you got past May of this year, the only Yankee of note who went on the long-term DL was Wang in July. Other than that, it was just a lot of day-to-day stuff. And then there are the calls, the lucky bounces...that is something else that doesn't happen every single year.
It's like I say about the Sox; expecting them to win a title every season is insane in this day and age. Likewise, expecting this to be the dawn of a new Yankees dynasty that wins a title every season is insane. That simply isn't going to happen. They, like Boston, will be competitive every year. Which will make for a lot of great baseball in the years to come. But even with their win this year, any Yankee fan who is being honest will admit that Boston and New York are even in talent and ability as we approach the last year of the first decade of the 21st century.
In fact, even with New York's apparent win factored into the equation, you could argue that Boston has been the better team so far between 2001-2009. They have two titles to New York's one (if current trends hold), with each team making four appearances in the ALCS. The Sox are no longer an also-ran or poor cousin to the Yankees. They are the two Behemoths of Major League Baseball. And if Henry and Co. ever loosened the purse string a little more with all that non-baseball revenue pouring into Fenway these days**, they'd run neck-and-neck with the Yankees in the "Insane Contract" Department.
So this will sting...a lot. To re-use a phrase of mine, it's like getting gutshot with a howitzer. But that will fade over the winter. And then the questions will be "Who will sign Lackey?" "Where is Chapman going?" "Can the Sox resign Bay?" And like that, the focus will fall on 2010. And the Sox have as good a chance as anyone, including the Yankees, of winning it all.
* Don't start with the "Hey, Manny and Ortiz cheated!" stuff. No one is taking away your titles. But let's be honest here, the Yankees had like 11 guys on those 99-00 teams using some kind of PED. That's a wee bit more than...two.
** I went to the Paul McCartney concert at Fenway with my wife this past summer. Believe me, Henry and Co. are making a mint off of these concerts. $5 bottles of water in 90 degree heat...it's a moneymaker. Oh...awesome concert, BTW. Just flat-out incredible.