Good bet: Yankees' brass will get busy

From Torre on down, Steinbrenner & Co. to render judgment

World Series

October 26, 2003|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - In the end, the New York Yankees didn't look anything like the invincible machine that won three straight world titles a few years back. They just looked banged up and beaten.

They might come back and win the American League East title again next year, but the young, fresh Florida Marlins made them look like yesterday's news with a six-game victory in the 99th World Series.

What does it all mean? It means that 23-year-old Josh Beckett gets to go on the banquet circuit this winter and the Yankees get to spend the next few months dodging recriminations from volatile owner George Steinbrenner.

"I don't know what's going to happen," said center fielder Bernie Williams, who had delivered so many big hits in so many other postseason situations. "I think a lot of people are very upset, obviously. I'm glad I don't have to make those decisions, but I think there are going to be some changes."

Steinbrenner has a right to be upset. He paid about $180 million for this team - more than anybody ever spent on any team ever. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria spent less than a third of that for his little wild-card team, and he's going home with the shiny trophy.

Left-hander Andy Pettitte, the pending free agent who saved the Yankees so many times before, pitched well enough to win last night, but the Marlins had all the mojo this October.

The Yankees waited around for their aura to overwhelm Beckett, but he just kept poking holes in it with his 97-mph fastball. So they turned to their mystique, but it couldn't hit that nasty curveball, either.

"Everybody had the attitude that some kind of magic was going to happen," said sore-legged slugger Jason Giambi. "Everybody thought right up to the last inning that if we could just get someone on, we could still get there."

They tried to summon the "ghosts" that Derek Jeter likes to talk about. Jorge Posada doubled to open the seventh inning, but he was still standing at second base when Beckett closed it.

Alfonso Soriano opened the eighth with a single to bring the top of the lineup and the potential tying run to the plate twice, but Beckett and the flashy Marlins infield snuffed that rally in a hurry - didn't even let the suspense build.

"Nothing is written in stone," said Williams. "That's the way it happens sometimes. We've got to take this and try to make it better next year."

The only supernatural forces at work at Yankee Stadium last night were a budding superstar pitcher and a grandfatherly manager with the Midas touch.

Jack McKeon risked a trip to Grady Littleville when he threw Beckett out there on three days' rest, but every move he has made this postseason has been gold-plated - or so it seems in retrospect.

What happens now? The speculation begins. There already have been whispers about manager Joe Torre's job security, and the tricky Don Zimmer situation can only complicate the situation.

The future is as cloudy as it has been since Torre took over eight years ago. Roger Clemens is heading into retirement. David Wells may headed for parts unknown. Pettitte can become a free agent, but he should be able to name his price after a 21-win season and an impressive postseason.

Steinbrenner, who once wanted to get rid of him, now may have to beg him to stay.

The other big guys - Jeter, Giambi, Williams - will be back next year, but it may not be the same.

"You never know that," said Torre. "They talked about the end of an era when Paul O'Neill and Scott Brosius and [Chuck] Knoblauch left, but we surfaced again. We'll see."

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