I knew on Saturday when the Yankees lost to the Rays 8-6 that if they lost again on Sunday – as they did, 3-0, also to the Rays – that some wise guy would jump up and say, “but the 1998 Yanks started out 0-3 and they did okay.”
Yes, they did. But the 2012 Yankees aren’t the 1998 Yankees. Let us count the differences…
For starters, the left side of the ’98 Yankees infield, Derek Jeter and Scott Brosius, were 24 and 31 respectively. The left side of the ’12 Yankees, Jeter and A-Rod, are 38 and 36.
The 1998 Yankees had a first baseman, Tino Martinez, who had
strikingly similar power and defensive ability to the 2012 Yankees’
first baseman, Mark Teixiera. But Tino wasn’t in sharp decline, or at
least he wasn’t stymied by a shift to the right side of the field, which
took 60 or 70 points off his batting average.
The 1998 Yankees had a
near-HOF catcher in Jorge Posada, who was 26 — not a good journeyman
like Russell Martin on this team.
The Andy Pettitte of 1998 was 26 and at his peak. This season’s
Pettitte is 40 and coming off a year of inactivity.
And this, perhaps,
is the biggest single difference: in 1998 Mariano Rivera was about to
ease into this role as the best closer in baseball history. This year’s
model is 42 and we’re all holding our breath.