This Yanks edition ranks with the best of them
For the 27th time, the New York Yankees have won the World Series.
Depending upon your rooting inclinations, that means either the natural order of things has been blessedly and mercifully restored, or baseball is once again a pinstriped hellscape of evil and injustice. After all, when it's the Yankees, there's simply not a sober middle.
Anyhow, the latest Yankees trophy has fans wondering where the 2009 model ranks among the greatest Yankees teams of all time. It's a crowded fray, but Dayn Perry is here to sort it out and rank the top 10 for good and all ...
The best Yankees team of all time is also, not surprisingly, the best overall team of all time. The '27 Yanks boasted one of the great offenses ever — an offense fronted, of course, by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. They went 110-44, spent every day of the season in first place, boasted a winning record against every other team in the league, won the pennant by 19 games over Connie Mack's Athletics and swept the World Series.
You can make a compelling case that the '39 Yanks should be No. 1 on this list. They were the only team of the modern era to outscore their opponents by 400 runs or more, and they logged a winning percentage of .702. Joe DiMaggio batted .381, and second baseman Joe Gordon chipped in 28 homers. In the rotation, Red Ruffing and Lefty Gomez both went on make the Hall of Fame. That year, the Yankees beat the Red Sox by 17 games and swept the Reds in the World Series.
Hall of Famers on the '32 squad include Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, Bill Dickey, Joe Sewell — deep breath — Earle Combs, Red Ruffing, Lefty Gomez, Herb Pennock and manager Joe McCarthy. No surprise then that the Yankees won 107 games — topping the Athletics by 13 games — and swept the Cubs in the World Series. In that World Series, Ruth appeared to — but probably didn't — call his shot in the fifth inning of Game 3.
First and foremost on this team's long list of merits is the win total: 114. (And that's despite starting the season 1-4.) The '98 Yankees were a team of uncommon balance. In the lineup and rotation, no single player had a "superstar-caliber" season. But there were no weak spots. Throw in a tremendous bench and Mariano Rivera in the bullpen, and you've got a team that's strong from every angle. In the AL East that year, the Yanks buried the Red Sox by 22 games and went 11-2 through three playoff rounds.
The 1961 Yankees are most famous for Roger Maris breaking the single-season home run record. Sometimes lost in his historic season, though, is a truly great team. Mickey Mantle crushed 54 home runs despite missing time with a hip injury, Elston Howard batted .348, Moose Skowron contributed 28 homers of his own, Whitey Ford won 25 games and Ralph Terry went 16-3. The Yanks stormed to a record of 109-53 (including a 65-16 mark at home) and won the pennant by eight games over the 101-win Tigers. In the World Series, the Yankees bested the Reds in five.
Just ahead of the 1936 team we have ... the 1937 team. Consider the similarities: The '37 Yanks had largely the same roster as the '36 club, a similar record (102-52), a comfortable triumph over the Tigers in the regular season (13 games), and a victory over the Giants in the World Series.