By JARED BYRD
Several days ago, I never thought I would have been writing a commentary on the Yankees, winners of 4 out of the last 5 MLB championships, losing a World Series. Arizona manager Bob Brenly did just about everything humanly possible to throw away the series, including mismanaging his bullpen (in particular, 22-year-old closer Byung-Hyun Kim). Very few people gave Arizona a chance.
New York had the momentum after sweeping Games 3, 4 and 5 at Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately, Arizona had the home field advantage in Games 1, 2, 6 and 7 - and won all of those games at Bank One Ballpark. If you didn't think home field advantage was huge in this series, let me remind you that in the 9th inning of three of these seven games, the home team either scored the winning run or the tying run (allowing them to win in extra innings).
Although the Yankees were the beneficiaries in two of the three 9th inning comebacks, the normally indestructable Mariano Rivera surrendered the tying and winning runs in Game 7. However, Rivera isn't to blame for the Yankees losing the series.
New York's offense was truly offensive during this seven-game stretch. The entire team batted .183 throughout the series, and scored only 14 runs. Chuck Knoblauch was 1-for-18, David Justice was 2-12 with 9 strikeouts, and Derek Jeter (usually reliable in the postseason) was only 5-27. And despite their 9th inning heroics, neither Scott Brosius nor Tino Martinez hit .200 in the Fall Classic.
Though neither team stole that many bases (4 steals combined between Arizona and New York on 6 attempts), this was somewhat surprising because the Yanks led the major leagues in this category during the
regular season. Only Paul O'Neill was able to steal successfully.
Defense was another problem for the Yanks, who made 8 errors compared to the Diamondbacks' 3 errors (as many as Alfonso Soriano had by himself).
Let's not forget Andy Pettitte's contribution to this series (0-2, 10.00 ERA), perhaps one of the most overrated pitchers in baseball.
Regardless of what the outcome of this series was, the team you saw blow a 9th inning lead on November 4 will not resemble the one you see on Opening Day 2002. First baseman Tino Martinez and third baseman
Scott Brosius are free agents, and right fielder Paul O'Neill will likely retire. Even Joe Torre's status is in jeopardy; his contract actually expired on Halloween, and owner George Steinbrenner has yet to offer him a new contract. Knowing Steinbrenner, this World Series loss might give him a reason (although an extremely lame one) to fire him.
In fact, you might see a commercial that goes like this on TV in the not too-distant future:
Announcer: Joe Torre, manager of the New York Yankees, you've just lost the World Series! Where are you going to go next?
Torre: I'm going to the unemployment line!
Game 7 got the highest television ratings of any baseball game in 10 years, as many watched the Yankees dynasty come to an end (or at least that's what most baseball fans outside of New York hope).
But one thing's for sure: baseball will be hard pressed to duplicate a World Series as exciting as this one.
NOTE: Jared Byrd is not a Yankees fan, but is writing this article from a New York Yankee perspective.