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2003 World Series: Dynasty vs. Destiny

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Bronx, NY (Sports Network) - On the 100th anniversary of the first World Series, this year's Fall Classic matchup features a team that is rich in championship tradition versus a young club that refuses to lose in the postseason. The New York are in the World Series for a sixth time in the last eight years, and with an aging starting staff could be on the tail end of a magical run. The Florida , who have never lost a playoff series, are making their second trip to the World Series and have a lot of young players on a team led by the oldest manager in postseason history.

Both teams are coming off emotional-draining seven-game championship series triumphs, but are faced with the task of getting together for Game 1 approximately 44 hours after the finished off one of the most memorable victories in the American League Championship Series.

George Steinbrenner's have been accustomed to nothing but success recently and the team will be aiming for their 27th World Series title in their 39th trip to the title series. They are coming off an incredible Game 7 victory over the Boston Thursday night in the Bronx, rallying from a 5-2 deficit in the eighth inning and winning 6-5 on 's leadoff homer in the bottom of the 11th.

"To come here and play against the , and play them 26 times and beat our rival like we did, it couldn't be more satisfying," said manager Joe Torre. "This has to be the sweetest taste of all for me. They never quit."

On the other side, the are in the Fall Classic for the first time since 1997 when they beat the Cleveland in a heart-stopping Game 7 victory in 11 innings. Florida, which is in the postseason for only the second year in franchise history, went in as the wild card winner that season and is in the same position again.

Florida features a good batch of young starters in , , and . They also have one of the best catchers in the game hitting his stride in the playoffs. , who was signed to a one-year, $10 million deal in the offseason, has been worth every penny since coming over from the Texas . He is hitting .333 in the postseason with three homers and 16 RBI. Rodriguez became the fifth catcher in NLCS history to win MVP honors.

The will bring a never-say-die attitude into Game 1 on Saturday night at Yankee Stadium. This is a team that was fired its manager early in the season and was 10 games under .500 at one point. When 72-year-old Jack McKeon replaced Jeff Torborg, the were 16-22. However, Florida responded by going 75-49 in McKeon's 124 games as manager during the regular season. Florida lost the opener of their division series to San Francisco, but won the next three games with a pair of heart-throbbing one-run wins. The springy South Florida team fell behind 3-1 in their best-of-seven set to the , but with the help of and especially the leadership of veteran catcher , Florida came back from the dead to win the NL pennant.

"It's probably the biggest moment of my professional career," McKeon said after Florida's 9-6 Game 7 victory in Chicago Tuesday night. "I can't even explain it. It probably hasn't even sunk in yet. But I do know that it's a wonderful feeling. People asked me was I going to come back for next year, and I told them if I get in the World Series and manage the All-Star team, I'll definitely be back."

Speaking of All-Stars, the will have home field advantage not because they had a better regular season record than the , but because the American League won All-Star Game this year.

Steinbrenner has always been able to reload season after season, but this could be the last hurrah for the as far as their starting pitchers are concerned. Future Hall of Famer will retire after the World Series and 40-year-old lefthander as well as southpaw are slated to become free agents in November.

New York has the best closer in postseason history. , who has a major league record 29 saves in the playoffs, was strong again Thursday night, pitching three innings for the victory.

The Yankee lineup is full of star players. , , , and all have home run power.

Even though the will be facing the for the first time in 2003, there is one player who is very familiar with Florida and what McKeon's club has been able to accomplish all season. That is Boone. He played for the Cincinnati until the end of July when he was dealt to the . Boone had spent his first seven-plus seasons with the and on a regular basis had to face Florida's starting pitchers.

Although Boone belted the ALCS-clinching homer off Boston's , the third baseman has struggled in the playoffs, going 6-for-32. Against the this season, Boone batted .143. The message he is sending to his new team is the are an excellent team with a lot of resilience.

"The cliche with them is they don't beat themselves and all that, but they are really good," said Boone. "They catch the ball really good. They have speed, they have power, they have pitching, they have a good bullpen now. They have got themselves off the mat a lot of times at the end of the season. I remember going to Philly, losing 14-0, that first game and I'm thinking, all right, they are done, but they just keep on answering. I'm sure they will be ready to go here Saturday night."

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