By Jon Lane
So much ground to cover. I’ll have a mixed bag in this space later with my feature on Hideki Matsui’s Reggiesque performance in Game 2. This image from the AP shows people watching a TV at the Yamada Denki discount store in Tokyo and their national hero, Matsui, become the first Japanese-born player to be named World Series Most Valuable Player after hitting a record six RBIs.
Assistant general manager Jean Afterman, instrumental in bringing Matsui to the Yankees in 2003, had some great perspective on a physically-challenging season that culminated in him being named Series MVP.
Nick Swisher, at his frat boy best, put it to us this way: “MATSU! They’re partying in Tokyo tonight! He deserved that MVP trophy. There’s no doubt about it.”
Five more years?
Mariano Rivera is serious. Entering the final year of his contract, Rivera believes he can play five more years. He turns 40 years old later this month.
“I’m serious and hope the organization will do whatever it takes to bring me back,” Rivera said. “Whatever happens, happens.”
You go ahead and try to stop him. Rivera threw 41 pitches in the final 1 2/3 innings to lower his career World Series ERA to 0.99. He has 11 World Series saves and 39 in the playoffs for his career. Oh yeah, in the regular season he converted 44 out of 46 save opportunities and posted a 1.76 ERA.
“There’s nothing Mariano can’t do,” said Alex Rodriguez. “He’s Superman. All I was thinking enough today was give Pettitte enough of a cushion to get Mo in the game. Once Mo was in the game I felt like we could bring this home.”
One season removed from missing the playoffs, the Yankees won World Championship No. 27 and their first in nine years, an eternity in these parts. They are the second team this decade to win two world titles (Red Sox in 2004 and 2007).
“When you win, especially the way that we won, having to overcome a lot of adversity, and winning it for the city of New York, it’s tremendous, really special,” Rivera said. “It tells you how hard it is. We didn’t make the playoffs last year. This year we gave everything we had.”
This one was for the Boss
Yankee Stadium’s huge Diamond Vision touted World Championship No. 27 with the inscription, “Boss, this is for you.”
Team president Randy Levine said that Hal Steinbrenner spoke to his father, principal owner George Steinbrenner, after the celebration. Hank Steinbrenner relayed the Boss’ emotions while he watched No. 27 unfold on television from Tampa.
“He’s very happy,” Hank Steinbrenner said. “This one was big for him and more emotional than the others probably. We knew they had character. We knew they had makeup. Since the first day we all thought that. So to us they were no-brainers.”
Under Steinbrenner’s ownership (he took over the team in 1973), the Yankees have won seven World Series.
In select company
Joe Girardi is the first manager to play for and manage the same team to win a World Championship since Billy Martin in 1977.
“The joy is the same, but it’s a different type of joy,” Girardi said. “As a player it’s what you dream about ever since you were a little boy. As a manager you still have that joy, but the joy is for other people because you know as a player what it takes to win a championship.”
Crazy scene on the field (it’s 3:11 a.m. as I write this). Yankees employees are running the bases and whooping it up. The rest of New York can join in on Friday when the parade down the Canyon of Heroes begins at 11 a.m.