Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Iron Clipper

Which of the following Yankee Dynasties was the greatest ever?

+ The Ruth/Gehrig Yankees
+ The Joe DiMaggio Yankees
+ The Mantle/Berra Yankees
+ The Reggie/Billy Yankees
+ The Jeter/Mariano Yankees

(Yeah, it’s questionable including Reggie/Billy since 2 titles does not a Dynasty make. But I think that 2 consecutive titles qualifies, otherwise you couldn’t include the Big Red Machine. If you disagree, write your own damn blog.)

The answer is: None of the Above. At least according to David Schoenfield, who ranked all 27 Yankee champions on ESPN’s Page 2 this week.

Extrapolating a bit from the Page 2 list, the greatest Yankee dynasty was one that, quite frankly, I didn’t know existed: the Gehrig/DiMaggio Yankees, which won 4 consecutive World Series from 1936 to 1939.

(Yeah, it’s questionable including 1939, since Gehrig gave his famous “luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech on April 30th after playing in only 8 games. But I’m going to count it since his spirit was on that team. If you disagree, write your own damn blog.)

Anyway, like most people I associate Gehrig with Ruth, and think of Joltin’ Joe as sort of being on his own. It surprised me to learn that the Iron Horse and the Yankee Clipper were teammates for nearly four seasons, from 1936 to 1939, and the Yankees won the World Series in every one of those years. And it further surprised me to see Page 2 rank those 4 teams as being 4 of the 8 greatest Yankee champs ever – mixed in with the ‘27 (#2), 98’ (#3), ’53 (#6), and ‘32 (#7).

As I mentioned in my Jeter piece a few weeks back, I think Gehrig is the most underrated of the Yankee greats, and this information only strengthens that opinion. He won 3 titles with Ruth and 3 titles with DiMaggio (not counting 39). He had 13 monster seasons in a row. Mix in the fact that he was born, raised, educated, played and died in New York City and I think it’s a shame that he is not accorded quite the status of Ruth, DiMaggio, Mantle and Jeter.

As for me, the fact that I, as a card-carrying Yankee hater, can write a piece like this only moments after another title, just shows how mature I’ve become in my old age. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to re-watch the entire 2000 World Series on DVD, and try to figure out how my beloved Mets lost to the crappiest Yankee champ ever.

Update: The New York Times on Sunday wrote a similar piece as ESPN, ranking all 27 champions. And while they didn't agree on every point, there was definitely some cross-over, with the 1939 team ranked 2nd, and the other Gehrig/DiMaggio teams in the Top 9. Who knew?

1 comment:

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