Yankees will pay for failing to meet Steinbrenner's expectations
Posted: Sunday October 26, 2003 2:37AM; Updated: Sunday October 26, 2003 6:31AM
Derek Jeter watches another team celebrate a World Series title for the second time in three years.
Al Bello/Getty Images
NEW YORK -- The mighty New York Yankees lost the World Series on Saturday to the not-so mighty Florida Marlins, which leads us to assume three things:
1.) The Marlins were a lot better than pretty much anyone thought they were. I mean, we knew they were good. But they just beat the Yankees -- a team that won 100 games in the regular season -- in six games.
2.) The Yankees, given their performance in this Series, were not nearly as good as everyone thought they were. Not anywhere close. And,
3.) Ooooo, is The Boss gonna be hacked off about this one.
Yes, it was one ugly World Series for the customary champions of the World Series. Losing the last three games. Losing the final one, Game 6, at home. Losing to the Marlins, for goodness sakes.
Spending, what, $180 million. For this?
"We went out there trying hard," said center fielder Bernie Williams. "Unfortunately, we're not in the business of trying. We're in the business of doing."
Or, as was the case here, not doing. The Yankees had a 2.13 ERA in this Series -- 2.13! -- and lost in six games. They hit .261 for the Series (the Marlins just .232). And the Yanks lost in six games.
The Yankees outscored the Marlins 21-17, had seven more hits, had three times as many homers, had only one more strikeout (which is impressive, considering the Yankees supposedly are the big swingers and the Marlins just put the ball in play) ... and, yet, the Yankees lost in six games.
Two strikes? Two outs? No problem. The Fish were clutch with a capital C throughout the World Series and Game 6 was a textbook example.
HERO: Josh Beckett Pitching on three days' rest, the Marlins' 23-year-old ace threw the first complete-game shutout in a deciding World Series game since Jack Morris in 1991.
GOAT: Derek Jeter The Yankees' captain is human after all. Jeter went 0-for-4 and his first error in 27 career World Series games allowed the Fish to tack on an insurance run.
2 -- Managers who have led their teams to a title after taking over midseason: Jack McKeon and the Yankees' Bob Lemon in 1978.
2.13 -- ERA compiled by the Yankees, the lowest for a losing team in the World Series since the St. Louis Browns (1.49) in 1944.
17 -- Runs scored by the Marlins in the six games, the fewest for a winning team since Toronto had 17 in a six-game victory in 1992.
All those statistics look pretty lopsided in the Yanks' favor, but here's a number that's not: .140. The Yankees, in this Series, were 7-for-50 with runners in scoring position. That's a .140 batting average. In the 2-0 Game 6 loss, they were 0-for-12 with runners on base.
They had the leadoff hitter on in four different innings, and no Yankee runner ever got past second base.
That offensive ineffectiveness is what has to really be burning the Yankees -- and You Know Who -- right now. Simply put, the Marlins, who scored almost half of their runs in this Series on two-out hits, were clutch.
The only thing the Yankees were clutching were their throats.
"We just couldn't seem to get the big hit to break open games," said designated hitter Jason Giambi, who hit .235 for the Series, with one homer and one measly RBI.
"They played better baseball than us. There's no sugarcoating it," said shortstop Derek Jeter, who hit .346 but drove in only two runs. "They deserved to win."
You have to wonder if The Boss will think that way. Well, really, you don't. You can almost be assured that The Boss will not think that way. At all.
What he'll think is that the Yankees were beaten by an inferior team. What he'll think is that there is too much highly paid talent -- from the coaches down to the players -- to come in second to a team that can't even win its division.
The Boss will think changes need to be made. The Boss will want to shake things up.
And what The Boss wants ...
"I know we're better than what we showed," said The Boss' main underling -- at least for now -- general manager Brian Cashman. "Change is ahead. It's inevitable in this game."
The question the Yankees have to ask themselves is if their thinking, their philosophy, the way they do their baseball business, is outdated. All that money, all that veteran pitching, all that power hitting ... and a team that has none of that beats them.
Are the Yankees dinosaurs? Is it time for the Bronx Bombers to go smallball? Become the Bronx Bunters?
"Littleball, whatever you want to call it," Cashman said, "the bottom line is, we struggled offensively. That's happened enough throughout the year that we need to get better in that department."
The fact is, the Yankees won't become the Marlins or the Anaheim Angels, the smallball team that beat them in last year's postseason. They'll still have Giambi, who they're paying millions to hit home runs. They'll still have older legs in guys like Jeter and Williams, who can't run the bases like they once did or need to in order to play smallball.
They'll still have Alfonso Soriano, who may not be able to get on base enough (.227 in this Series, with nine strikeouts) to play smallball. They'll still have to figure out what to do with third baseman Aaron Boone (.143, six strikeouts), who may have the same problem as Soriano.
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They'll still play in Yankee Stadium, made for sluggers like Giambi and first baseman Nick Johnson.
But there will be changes. Bench coach Don Zimmer reiterated Saturday that he won't be back. He's upset about the way he's been treated by The Boss. Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, who wanted to quit a couple of years ago, may do it this time. Manager Joe Torre could walk if The Boss puts too much pressure on him or the rest of the staff. Or he could be fired.
That's just the way it is with the Yankees and The Boss. Win or prepare to be sacrificed.
"I don't know how much more pressure there can be," said Cashman in a tomb of a Yankees clubhouse. "Whatever it's going to be, it'll be."
There are a lot of things the Yankees need. They need to get better defensively (one of the two runs Saturday scored after an error). They need to get better at the basics, like moving runners over and hitting the other way.
They need to shore up their bullpen, they need to find a steady replacement in the starting rotation for the retiring Roger Clemens (and, possibly, free agent Andy Pettitte), and they could use a better right fielder, or a second baseman if Soriano moves to the outfield.
But, more than anything, after losing the past two World Series they've been in, the Yanks need to get back to the Series again next year and win it.