The New York Yankees are simply the class of Major League Baseball, and they have been for most of a century. The Yankees won their record 27th World Series this past October, so there is no immediate sign of their decline. It is the fifth title they have captured since 1996 alone, so they are as relevant now as they were in the days of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and the other greats of the game. Indeed, one of the best parts of visiting the old Yankee Stadium was knowing that the greatest players to ever play the game played there. One walk through monument park was like stepping into the game’s history as the retired numbers and plaques were not just Yankee legends, but baseball legends. No team has more titles, more history, and more retired numbers than the Yankees.
Amazingly, the Yankees threw away a part of that history in 2009 when they closed the doors on the old Yankee Stadium and moved into the new $1 billion Yankee Stadium across the street. That meant that the old House that Ruth Built, the first grand cathedral to the game of baseball, was destined for the wrecking ball. As a baseball fan, that made their 2009 season a tad bittersweet. Yes, it was great as they opened a fine new stadium. Winning the World Series was even better, but getting rid of the history and tradition of the old Yankee Stadium somehow felt wrong. The new Stadium also had an odd feeling to it. Though many games were filled to capacity, the premium seats immediately behind home plate were often found empty because it was hard to sell those incredibly expensive tickets in a tough economy.
The Yankees will continue to be competitive and generate revenue, however. Derek Jeter, the well respected captain of the team, is about two seasons away from reaching 3,000 hits for his career. He is one of the few Yankees with five World Series rings, so it is only a matter of time before his number 2 joins the other retired numbers in the new MonumentPark. The same is true with closer Mariano Rivera, who earned his fifth World Series ring and reached 500 career saves this past season. What helped the Yankees the most in 2009, however, was the emergence of Alex Rodriguez as a playoff performer. Regularly known as a player that did well during the regular season but stumbled in the playoffs, Rodriguez finally lived up to his massive expectations and huge contract by slugging his way through October.
The Yankees will once again be one of the World Series favorites in 2010. It is mostly because they spend more than any other team in baseball. They can amass talent like no one else can simply because they can afford it. They also have several key veterans like Rivera, Jeter, and Rodriguez returning to power the lineup. As always, that means it is a very good time to be a Yankee fan. There is no end in sight to the good times either.