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When everything has settled down and we look back, we will know that 2009 is the year that Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez finally earned his stripes — pinstripes, that is.

A-Rod had such a tumultuous start to 2009 with the steroid confession, hip surgery, and his divorce finally becoming official.

While Hideki Matsui may have been the MVP of the World Series, A-Rod was the MVP of the entire playoffs. He hit .365/.500/.808 over 68 plate appearances with six home runs and 18 RBIs.

Benjamin Kabak at River Ave. Blues illustrates what changed about A-Rod this year and why he is finally raising the World Series Trophy over his head for the first time ever.

While A-Rod will never be one of my favorites and I won’t consider him the greatest Yankee ever, I definitely respect all he has accomplished.

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…is what Tyler Kepner characterizes the season by the Yankees in one of his blogs yesterday afternoon.

Everything came together for the Yankees this year. They shed a lot of unnecessary contracts, and actually trimmed payroll this year, in spite of a $450 million spending spree. A-Rod stopped trying to do too much and became more natural, aided by Tex and Swisher.

The Yankees finally had good arms after the struggles of Brown, Johnson, Pavano, et al.

So this year was peaceful and easy….definitely!

 

I have to get up soooo early to go to work. I won’t have time to do my usual game recap today, but I will be back on this blog later this afternoon. Maybe Trevor will have a chance to post something. But there are a few things I’d like to say.

I’m sick of the comments on Twitter and on Facebook that the Yankees “bought their world series.” I’m going to do a blog post on this very topic later. That whole notion is ridiculous. Period.

Andy Pettitte is the man of the hour. No disrespect to CC Sabathia. CC was brilliant, no question. But Pettitte pitched the AL East clincher, the ALDS victory, the ALCS victory, and now the World Series victory. This is why he came back last January.

Jayson Stark has this article on ESPN about the Gang of Four (I like that name, I’m going to copy it). Pettitte, Jeter, Posada and Rivera.

Rivera pitched an amazing number of innings and all during the Postseason. I don’t think anyone could have asked for more from him.

I’m going to take some advil. My head is throbbing from the lack of sleep. I want to part all of you with this image for the rest of the day.

27rivera

No one could have predicted such a night like last night’s.

The game was tied 4-4 in the top of the ninth with two outs and Johnny Damon battled a 9 pitch at-bat to get on base, then stope both second and third. Mark Teixeria was hit by a pitch, bringing up A-Rod. He hits a RBI double into left field to give the Yankees a one run lead. Then Jorge Posada hits a two-RBI single that he gets out on an advance. Just like that, it’s 7-4 Yankees. Cue Mariano Rivera. Game over.

And in all of that was the fact that Rivera only needed 8 pitches to record 3 outs last night. On Halloween night, Rivera only needed five pitches to record 2 outs. So make that 13 pitches to record five outs. And Jimmy Rollins after game 1 said the Phillies had figured out Rivera. Yeah, right. Just like you figured out how to hit lefties, Rollins!

Last night’s game was not the best by both teams. They both gritted it out, made mistakes, and I can sense that the long season is getting to them now. Starter CC Sabathia was not dominant. Just good enough to get the Yankees into the 7th on 6 strikeouts and 3 ER. Joe Blanton from the Phillies was better than expected, striking out 7, and at one point, retiring 11 straight Yankees.

There are two recaps you can read. One by Mike Axisa (River Ave. Blues) on YES, and the other by Greg Cohen at Sliding into Home. Both recaps will give you a perspective of the game.

And here’s ESPN’s take. It all focused on A-Rod.

Last night was probably the night A-Rod earned his pinstripes. Seriously. The man has validated past October failures up to this point. Now all he needs to do is help get win #11 of the postseason, then he has redeemed himself.

PeteAbe of the Boston Globe admits that the double-steal by Damon is a brilliant move, one that gave the Yankees their third straight victory over the Phillies.

Finally, Jack Curry brights to light Mariano Rivera. He’s not a one-man bullpen, but he sure looks like one in the 9th inning of the last two games. 13 pitches to get 5 outs. I still can’t get over that.

The Yanks have game #5 tonight against Cliff Lee. I believe he will be good, but not dominant like game #1. AJ Burnett previously is 3-0 on short rest (all three starts with Toronto). All we need is one more high-quality appearance from Burnett plus a strong offensive effort and we will probably come back to NY with something special.

When you’ve got the major league record of wins in a postseason, you don’t question a man’s character. And last night, after a early 3-0 lead, Pettitte never gave up.

He was not at his best, but when it came to key points of the night — Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard, he got them to go 0-9 with 6 strikeouts. Howard now has 9 strikeouts in three games, and he is on pace to obliterate the World Series record of 12 strikeouts.

Instead of writing a game recap, I’m going to defer to Greg Cohen at Sliding into Home. He always provides a good recap.

Here’s what Greg said about last night’s game

It was a gutty and gritty performance by the Yankees tonight as they fought their way back from a 3-0 deficit to win and take a 2-1 lead in the series. But the way things started out this one looked like it was going to be a total disaster.

Ed Valentine on Pinstripe Alley brought up several good points

  • Lack of reporting from FOX on the home run that was reversed — the first one ever in the World Series.
  • Praise for Pettitte from Mike Lupica of the Daily News.
  • Cole Hamels’ curveball to Pettitte that he hit for a RBI and eventually scored on.
  • Swisher’s performance last night — a hit and a home run.
  • Phil Hughes. More on that later.

I watched the first five innings of the game from Greene Turtle restaurant in my area except for the 6th inning (missed Swisher’s bomb). Then at home I watched the last 3.5 frames. I felt confident with Hughes last night in the 9th and felt he could get it done, even after giving up a home run to Ruiz. My attitude is like, ok, move on. He could have gotten the last two outs, I feel.

So, Girardi’s decision to go to Rivera was a little premature in my opinion. I can see that Girardi won’t take any chances at all, but we cannot gas out Rivera when there are at maximum four games left. IF Hughes had allowed one more run, then I’d go for Rivera, but not when there’s still 3 runs left to tie the game.

Two more links for you to read this morning — Jayson Stark’s column on ESPN.com.

Five outs into his memorable Saturday evening, he was three runs down. He’d already huffed and puffed his way through 50 — yep, that number was 50 — pitches. And he looked like a bigger threat to be heading for the nearest shower stall any second than for the winning pitcher’s spot on the interview-room podium three hours later.

But when a man has spent his whole career pitching on the October stage, his heart doesn’t pump at 4,000 beats a minute at times like that.

When a man has started more World Series games than anyone in history not named Whitey Ford, he doesn’t feel the ballpark shaking, doesn’t hear those 46,000 people shrieking.

And so, on the final night of October 2009, on the most important night of his season, Pettitte found a way to do what he had to do:

Survive.

Jim Capel talks about A-Rod.  Yes, the man some people despise, and the man some people have reconnected with after such a memorable postseason.

After all, 2009 has been A-Rod’s personal reality show, better known as “Alex & Kate Plus 28 (Counting Coaches).” The home run simply added to Rodriguez’s 2009 saga that already included Joe Torre’s book, the steroids revelations, the hip surgery, the Kate Hudson relationship, his superb second half, his extraordinary postseason … and then came the latest episode of Days of Our A-Rod in which Rodriguez homered to spark a Yankees rally, made a throwing error, was hit by not one but two pitches and helped make World Series history.

Gene Woj thinks Girardi is out of his mind with going on a three-man rotation. Pettitte needed 106 pitches to make it through 6 innings and doing Burnett and Pettitte on short rest may come back to haunt Girardi… Read an excerpt.

…Girardi is giving every indication that he’ll push all-in with his three big chips: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte. He’s doing this because his team has a $208 million payroll, but it doesn’t have a fourth starter he trusts. This is like buying a tank but not having the Parts Department attach the gun turret.

Today will be a fun-filled sports day. My Giants vs the Eagles at 1pm. Favre’s return to Green Bay at 4:15 and the game #4 at 8:20. I hope I can watch all three and get everything else done that I need to.

 

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