It was only five years ago, but given the fact that the New York Yankees are expected to compete year-in and year-out, and have missed the playoffs each of the past two seasons, makes five years seem like a lifetime. For many Yankees fans, especially the ones who grew up during the Joe Torre/Core Four Dynasty of the 1990s and early 2000s, five years was flat out unacceptable. For those of us who grew up in an era PRIOR to the dynasty, five years was nothing compared to a lifetime of disappointment and near misses during the 1980s. I mean, after all, how many teams do you know win 97 games, MISS the playoffs, and the manager gets fired as a result? Well, that’s exactly what I witnessed as a child to the 1985 Yankees. Billy Martin had replaced Yogi Berra a month or so into the season, had the team in contention and fell just short, and then was shown the door.
Five years is nothing, but listening to new age Yankees fans as I like to call them, it’s unacceptable and the team should be humiliated. Well, I, like any fan wants to see my team win every year. It simply doesn’t always work out that way. Why is 40 the magic number for the Yankees on this day, five years ago? The Yankees took down their longtime postseason nemesis, the Anaheim Angels in six games to advance to the World Series for the first time in six years. With the win, the Yankees clinched their 40th American League pennant, by far, the most of any team in big league history.
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Game Six of the ALCS was delayed a day by a rain postponement. One of the Yankees issues during recent postseason appearances during that time period, was leaving a large amount of runners on base without being able to get them home. Nothing changed in the early part of Game Six, as through the first two frames, the Bombers left six men on, while former Yankees outfielder Bobby Abreu drove home the go-ahead run to give the Halos an early lead.
Johnny Damon gave the Yankees a lead they would never relinquish, by hitting a two-run single, which was followed by a bases loaded walk to Alex Rodriguez, which forced home another run. A combination of poor base running and shoddy defense by the normally fundamentally sound Angels was their undoing. For every step they gained back, such as the RBI-single by Vladimir Guerrero in the 8th inning, they would take two steps back, just as they did in the bottom of the 8th inning. A pair of sacrifice bunts that were kicked around by the Angels, allowed two more runs to cross the plate for the Yankees, extending their lead back to 5-2 after only having a one-run lead entering the bottom of the inning. It was rare that Yankees’ reliever Mariano Rivera would allow a run, but that’s what he did with the Vlad single.
Rivera wouldn’t repeat his mistakes from the previous frame in the 9th inning. He easily set down the side, as the Yankees clinched their 40th and most recent AL pennant, winning the series 4 game to 2 over the Angels. The Yankees would go to to face the defending World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies in the Fall Classic, led by ALCS MVP C.C. Sabathia. Boy how quickly the times change.