So much has gone wrong this postseason, the annoying procession of off days, bad calls, dreadful weather and intrusive television interests, but pure baseball always prevails in the end. Not everyone appreciates the Yankees -- at times, the resistance leans toward hatred -- but there was a crushing inevitability to their pennant-winning celebration early Monday morning, for reasons well beyond the decadence of an unlimited payroll.
As the clock struck midnight in the Bronx, the Los Angeles Angels were down to their last out against the greatest relief pitcher in history,
It was a powerful convergence of talent, history and tradition, reminding us once again that vulnerability just doesn't play in October. The Angels, for all of their resolve, were the team making wild throws, botching routine plays and stepping curiously out of character during this ALCS. The Yankees played the game right, to the point of cruel efficiency at the finish.
And the best part of all: When the World Series opens Wednesday night, the Yankees just might meet their match in the Philadelphia Phillies.
For the past three weeks, these two teams have struck observers as titanic, otherworldly, without real weakness. Such arguments are highly subjective, but in my mind, this is the best World Series pairing of unstoppable-looking teams since the Yankees of
In any case, it will be difficult to look away. Such a sterling collection of faces: the regal Jeter, the defiant
Among the many tawdry episodes involving Martinez and the Yankees -- the
The finest sporting confrontations are always marked by contrast, and this one's a beauty. The way
For the Yankees, a world championship would be one of many, and most likely dwarfed by such legendary seasons as '27, '37 and '61. The Phillies won last year's title against the vaguely familiar Tampa Bay Rays, clinching it on a night that began in the bottom of the sixth inning (due to a rain-forced suspension) and lasted just 1:18 on the clock. No one would question their worth as repeat champions, should they pull it off, but defeating the mighty Yankees would mean absolute validation.
There's plenty of history to be considered on other fronts. Jeter and Rollins, each the heart and soul of his team, represent the most heralded pairing of World Series shortstops since the 1982 Fall Classic, which featured the Cardinals'
There's also the matter of a pitcher's endurance, and for that we should give eternal thanks to
More than anything, though, this World Series is about a mood. Take it from a San Franciscan who experienced the prime of
The Phillies did something quite remarkable this year. In the wake of