Monday, October 19, 2009

This ain't '98, and that's all right

In today's Record, columnist Bob Klapisch makes the '98/'09 comparison.

It's a comparison we've seen before and we will see again.

After all, this year's squad has won more games than any team since 1998, and seems poised for great things.

Yet, I wonder, must we compare the 2009 Yankees to the 1998 squad?

Does not the 2009 squad have an identity and a legitimacy in its own right?

I know we're Yankee fans. I know we don't think of any team as legitimate unless it wins the World Series, or else KO's Boston in the postseason. This is our hubris, will forever be our hubris, and it is also the number one identifying factor of being a Yankee fan: We expect to win every year, and no other baseball team can lay claim to that.

That said, we will remember the 2009 team.

We will remember this season, and we won't need to remember 1998 for 2009 to mean something.

We remember the way the 1998 team dominated; we will remember the way the 2009 fought--17 walk off wins, the ties season series against Boston after starting 0-8, the way the team just never, ever gives up.

In 1998 we remember perfection, in 2009 we will remember pies.

In 1998, the rotation dominated so completely that we did not give much thought to the bullpen and certain overused arm (I'm looking at you, Ramiro Mendoza); in 2009 the bullpen is the unsung hero of so many come-from-behind and walk off wins.

When it comes down to it, here's the answer you're looking for:

Can the 2009 Yankees beat the 1998 Yankees?

This is a really, really, really good Yankees team we have been able to watch this season.

While we're off comparing this year's team to a team that played in what was, at the time, a weaker division, let's not forget that.

The 1998 Yankees, on paper, are a better team. Better in the outfield and more pitching depth.

Knowing what we know about the 2009 Yankees, however, one must assume that on any given day, in any given conditions, this year's team could be the 1998 Yankees. Most likely in a walk off.


I plan to head to the Stadium to catch at least some of this afternoon's game. If you're going and would like to say hello, drop me an email.