The 1996-2000 New York Yankees seemed like the dynastic gold standard at the time, and their legacy has survived untarnished over two decades later.
Not only has no MLB team won three World Series in a row since the '98-'00 Bronx Bombers, but nobody's even done it back-to-back. This is also not to mention those Yankees also won in '96 ... and made the '01 World Series ... and were led by role players rather than flashy free agents. God, that era ruled.
The 2023 Houston Astros are about to embark on their attempt at being the first repeat champions since Derek Jeter's Yankees, and based on the way they knifed through the American League slate last postseason, they'll be heavily favored to represent the AL yet again -- and probably to win the whole thing.
So, how do they keep getting away with this? Jeter spoke to the (shudder) Houston media at Reggie Jackson's charity golf tournament this week and detailed exactly how the Astros have remained so relentless.
He also, inadvertently, described what the Yankees appear to be lacking in their pursuit of Houston: the ability to replenish, year after year (or even within a season), without skipping a beat.
Astros could become first team to repeat as World Series champions since Derek Jeter's 2000 Yankees
For one year, in 2019, everything seemed to go right for the Yankees ... in the wake of everything going wrong. Somehow, some way, their unholy amount of injuries were countered by their superhuman ability to respawn. Aaron Judge became Mike Tauchman. Miguel Andújar became Gio Urshela. Cameron Maybin became Barry Bonds. It was amazing ... until the roster was stretched one spot too far, when Giancarlo Stanton went down against the Astros in the ALCS and altered everything.
That was the one time the Yankees' depth somehow managed to rival the Astros', a team that can regenerate on command. Some of Houston's advantage comes from a willingness to take risks. Jeremy Peña wasn't ready to replace Carlos Correa ... until he was. Meanwhile, Oswald Peraza's only now going to get the chance Peña received "prematurely."
Most of the Astros' advantage comes from their unbelievably impressive balance, though. They have become an elite offensive team with an elite rotation, an elite bullpen and an elite feeder system, which can slot Hunter Brown into Justin Verlander's spot without much of a loss in talent. As Correa and Springer left town, Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier rounded into form, turning the Astros from a relentless offense with a generational ace into a solid offense with a world-class rotation, top-to-bottom.
The Astros' strengths keep changing, but they never get weaker. If the Yankees are going to reach Houston's height, they're going to need the next generation of young talent to rise and rise quickly, in order to save in future free agency cycles. The bullpens are close. The rotations are close.
The offense? If the Yankees are going to stop a repeat bid, they're going to need to welcome a new wave. Fast.