The Commish Online                                                                                
2009 Playoffs
Expected but Exciting, Yanks Finish Phils
November 5, 2009

Everything went according to plan: Sabathia and Lee were standouts, Jeter was Jeter, Big "Mo" closed out every game he entered, Utley displayed his superior "baseballness" to the world which will be forgotten again until next October, and the Yankees won in six professionally played games.

Unlike some franchises, New York doesn't worry about curses and jinxes.  There was no fear that leaving behind The House That Ruth Built would mean leaving behind the dynasty.  Instead, hard work and plenty of free agent dollars led the Yankees to their 27th World Series championship, the first in a new ballpark ready to make plenty of new World Series memories.
In an effort to become the first NL team since the Big Red Machine of the mid-70s to win back-to-back titles, the Philadelphia Phillies fell short, but not from lack of trying.  They were simply overmatched - most notably in the pitching department.  Look no further that the number of games won in the Series NOT started by Cliff Lee.  The missing missing piece for Philadelphia was the lack of a "2" in the Cliff Lee/Cole Hamels 1-2 punch.  Hamels was ineffective in Game 3 and never had a chance to make amends.  Pedro Martinez gave an effort, but the changeup couldn't fool New York hitters forever, and they wasted little time capitalizing on Pedro's mistakes in Game 2 and last night. 

As expected, Mariano Rivera appeared in four games, and the Yankees won those four games.  Brad Lidge saw action in just one game - a 4-4 tie that quickly turned into a 7-4 disaster.  Pettitte wasn't nearly as effective as the fans and broadcasters would have you believe, but he did win two games.  Choosing to pitch around, well, everyone, Pettitte walked eight batters in two games, flirting with danger often, escaping with a World Series ERA of 5.40 - hardly the stuff of heroes, but sufficient for victory... twice.

While the composite batting averages were nothing to write home about (.247 for New York and .227 for Philadelphia), run production was spread around enough to give each pitching staff fits.  Nine players from each team had at least one RBI in the series - the Yankees just happened to come up with their hits at the right times. 

Philly's lefty-loaded batting order, usually an asset, made rallies difficult with so many left handed options on New York's staff.  Philadelphia's failure to group baserunners in bunches is why, despite his record-tying five home runs, Chase Utley finished the Series with just eight RBIs.  Damaso Marte's sudden reacquaintance with the strike didn't help the Phillies, either. 

Lower in the order, I can't think of a single bad at bat for Carlos Ruiz in the past two weeks, but his success didn't translate to team success because others weren't getting on base in front of him.  Meanwhile, Hideki Matsui, in just 14 plate appearances, made an MVP of himself by taking advantage of seeing all those pitches with baserunners on in Game 6 alone.

Much will be made of the money New York spent on the likes of Sabathia, Burnett, Teixeira, and others, but credit the players for executing when it mattered, regardless of the payroll.  In addition, "home growns" like Rivera, Posada, Jeter, Cano, and Pettitte's second tour were just as important to this year's success as the hundreds of millions spent on others, so don't dismiss the 2009 Yankees simply as the best team money could buy.

Do deep pockets help?  Unquestionably, yes, but when the games begin, the players have to play.  For the 27th time, it can be said that the Yankees' players played better than anyone else when it mattered.  The reward?  Another title in the Bronx, and millions of New Yorkers ready for a parade on Friday.