Game 6: Yankees Clinch Series Title Over Phillies
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
The New York Yankees are World Champions again. They beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-3 last night in the Bronx behind the pitching of Andy Pettitte and the hitting of Hideki Matsui, who knocked in six runs. At times, the Yankees were so good and their roster so loaded with talent that it's easy to regard their accomplishment as inevitable. But as NPR's Mike Pesca reports, they don't see it that way.
MIKE PESCA: It might seem that all the Yankees have to do every year is not screw up. They always have the highest payroll. They often purchase the services of the year's best free agents. And they have as long time employees a veritable Mount Rushmore of baseball winners: Jeter, Posada, Rivera and Pettitte. But manager and former player Joe Girardi - who, like the names just mentioned, is beginning to fill his fingers up with championship rings - is here to tell you winning 103 games during the season and the requisite 11 in the postseason is hard work.
Mr. JOE GIRARDI (Manager, New York Yankees): All I think about is all the people that it takes to do something like this and how difficult this really is. I mean, I remember, as a player, this is not an easy feat.
PESCA: Over the last two seasons, it was hard to point to any major mistakes Girardi made, except for one, that he wasn't the last Yankee manager, Joe Torre. So this world championship buys him respect and perhaps even the love of Yankees' fans.
Another Yankee who needed a World Series win to prove something was Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod's boss, Hank Steinbrenner, said the most talented player in the game did just that.
Mr. HANK STEINBRENNER (Owner, New York Yankees): He was amazing. Yeah, I mean, he proved himself in the clutch. Nobody can ever question him again. Period.
PESCA: Actually, exclamation mark. After 18 RBIs and huge hits this postseason, it can now never be said of Rodriguez, sure, he's a good player, but he's never won it all. He just did, which, as Derek Jeter is here to remind us�
Mr. DEREK JETER (Professional Baseball Player, New York Yankees): This is not easy. Let's just reiterate that once again. It's not easy to win a championship.
PESCA: There are no other locker rooms in professional sports where after a championship, that reminder flows as freely as the champagne. The Yankees put more pressure on themselves than any other team, the kind of pressure that Hank Steinbrenner acknowledges and, let's face it, perpetuates.
Mr. STEINBRENNER: For the Yankees, a nine-year drought's a long time. But for anybody else, it's, you know, it's nothing. But for us, it is a long time.
PESCA: What other owner would just ignore the fact that the Yankees had the best record in baseball during that drought and won two American League pennants?
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel took a forgiving tone with his team in defeat.
Mr. CHARLIE MANUEL (Manager, Philadelphia Phillies): I love the way they played, and we definitely were fighters and we never quit. I'm proud to be their manager and I'm proud to have guys on our team with the makeup and the fight that they have, determination.
PESCA: But no one was a more determined fighter than Andy Pettitte, whose solid pitching performance last night earned him a fifth ring. Pettitte knows what it means to be a Yankee.
Mr. ANDY PETTITTE (Professional Baseball Player, New York Yankee): It's an awful high standard to set when you start the season and you say the season's going to be a failure if you don't win a championship. And that ain't a lot -that ain't good pressure to have. But these guys, we dealt with it. We embraced it, and we did it, man. And it makes it even a sweeter feeling.
PESCA: It comes with the territory, comes with the pinstripes, that mandate to win. This year, the Yankees have done just that, satisfying themselves, delighting their fans and helping the sport itself, which can draw motivation from the fact that the Yankees are once again the toughest out in baseball.
Mike Pesca, NPR News, New York.
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