The World Series Still Goes Through New York

 9/29/2004

The New York Yankees may one day change the modern terminology of “having a target” on one’s back to “having a pinstripe” because they are once again the target of all opposition entering the 2004 playoffs.

Okay, so we know that the Yankees have not won a World Series in any of the past three postseasons. But they’re still the target. One must go through the New York to win the World Series. Even in this three-year “drought” the Yankees have faced, they’ve lost to the World Series Champion each time.

The 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks had to go through New York to win the World Series. The 2002 Anaheim Angels had to beat the Yankees on its way to a World Championship. Last year’s Florida Marlins had to also get past the Yankees in order to win it.

Only once since the 1995 postseason has the World Series Champions not been either the Yankees or the team that beat the Yankees. The lone exception is 1997 when Florida beat Cleveland. Since then, that’s six years in a row that a team has had to go through New York in order to win the World Series. And half of those years have come up dry for the challengers.  

Don’t let the drought fool you. The Yankees are still the target. Any team who can afford Alex Rodriguez’ contract will be a target. Any team who can afford A-Rod, Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui, Mike Mussina and still have enough left over to be the only team able to afford both Kevin Brown and Javier Vasquez is definitely a target. They’re certainly Boston’s target!

 But it’s not just the Red Sox. Even among other likely AL playoff teams the Yankees have been where their playoff hopes get crushed. Oakland can’t get past the Yankees. Minnesota has not been able to get past the Yankees.

And it doesn’t matter how many more games the St. Louis Cardinals win than the Yankees. The Cardinals are still targeting the Yankees harder than the Yankees are targeting the Cardinals. St. Louis is counting on having to go through New York to win the World Series.

The Yankees’ power force leads the AL in homeruns and is second in the league in runs scored. We can talk all we want about ending this curse or that curse. It’s still all about the Yankees. It’s all about whether the Yankees win it all or if they get knocked off by the next champion. Either way, the World Series still comes through New York.

Don’t be lulled into thinking that because they’ve not won in a few years that it’s time to treat them with complacency. They won’t get overlooked or forgotten about. Every other team’s map has New York on the road heading to the Land of the Champions.

Of course every team anticipates that they have to go through New York to win the World Series. They’re everybody’s target. After all, they’re the ones who have pinstripes on their back.