Open Thread: Looking back at 1998


(Photo Credit: SF Weekly)

The Yankees have had a very successful season so far, sporting the second best record in baseball at 88-57. One of my favorite things to do each year is compare the current team’s progress to the 1998 Yankees at the same point of the season. It’s always fun to see that no matter how good you think the Yankees are at any given moment, the 1998 squad will always be better. For example, after 145 games in ’98, the same number they’ve played so far this year, the Yanks were 103-42. If you took that team and stuck them in the AL East right now, the 2011 Yankees would be 15 games out. Fifteen! The 1998 Red Sox went 92-70, a great season, but they finished 22 (!!!) games out of first place. That blows my mind.

Here’s the Baseball-Reference page for the 1998 Yankees. It always neat to see that aside from Bernie Williams, no one really had a monster season. Just about everyone was solidly above-average and they had depth, 1-9 in the order and 1-5 in the rotation. They could play any kind of game too, a slugfest, a pitchers duel, a bullpen battle, that team could do it all, and quite often they did. We’re never going to see another team like that, but I’m glad I got to see them.

Anyway, here is your open thread for the night, as we wait for the game to start a little after 10pm ET. The Mets are playing the Nationals (Dickey vs. Detwiler), and the Monday Night Football doubleheader has the Patriots at the Dolphins (7pm ET) and the Raiders at the Broncos (10pm ET). The game thread will be along in a little while, but talk about whatever you want here.

Categories : Open Thread


  1. CBean says:

    aw man I was looking forward to seeing Montero take on King Felix. I’d rather him at DH than Tex.

  2. Jesse says:

    Really hoping the Rays win tonight.
    Oh yeah, and fuck you New England. Go Dolphins!

    • Kiersten says:

      Miami’s got the Dolphins, the greatest football team. We take the ball from goal to goal like no one’s ever seen. We’re in the air, we’re on the ground, we’re always in control, and when you say Miami, you’re talking Super Bowl!*

      GO FINS!

      *if only this were true

  3. vin says:

    Romine’s catching tonight… So whatever happened to the all-important familiarity with the pitching staff?

    • CBean says:

      well apparently that’s why he’s catching Phil. He caught him in rehab.

    • Jesse says:

      That’s the excuse with Montero because they know he’s not a good defensive catcher.

    • mustang says:

      Exactly!!! One catcher has been catching in AAA for two years the other just got promoted to AAA. The Yankees can publicly spin it anyway they like there actions speak volumes of what they think Montero’s catching abilities.

      • vin says:

        And they were forced to throw Jesus to the wolves with Freddy pitching. I was exhausted watching him trying to keep those pitches in front of him.

        Just put Jesus behind the plate as often as possible so that they can get his bat into the lineup – especially with Alex out, a gimpy Swisher, a hobbling Jones, and a struggling Gardner.

        I watched Piazza catch all those years, and I have no doubts that Montero will be able to cut it as a semi-regular/Victor Martinez type catcher. He won’t be Carlton Fisk, but as long as he can throw out the occasional baserunner, he’ll be fine.

        • mustang says:

          “He won’t be Carlton Fisk, but as long as he can throw out the occasional baserunner, he’ll be fine.”

          If he is this then I agree.

        • The Big City of Dreams says:

          I’m amazed how many ppl came away from the game saying well he can’t catch. He’s 21 yrs old…catching his first game in the bigs. Can ppl be a little patient

  4. vin says:

    I’ll always look back to ’98 with incredible fondness. Great team, and it also happened to be one of the best years of my life. Those two things definitely aren’t mutually exclusive either… funny how that works.

  5. Phife Dawg says:

    It’s pretty amazing how fucking dominating that team was. We probably will never see a team as good as them ever again

    • vin says:

      Not until the ’01 Mariners anyway. Fortunately they couldn’t get past the Yanks in the ALCS. That’s what made the ’98 team so special, they dominated in the large and small sample sizes that are the regular season and playoffs. They were 40 games over .500 on the 4th of July. Insane.

      • MikeD says:

        It may not seem fair, especially considering the randomness that can occur in the playoffs, but no team will be considered a great team unless it wins it all. It’s actually worse than that. Being so great in the regular season and falling short in the big games makes the team an example forever of unfilled potential and of a “failed team.”

        When great baseball teams are discussed, the Mariners are usually mentioned, but not as an example of a great team, but of one that failed to achieve greatness. The 1998 Yankees would have had this same fate if they hadn’t steamrolled through the postseason, confirming their greatness, something the Mariners failed to do.

        • vin says:

          One of my favorite facts about the ’01 Mariners, was that the 2nd place team in the AL West, the A’s, won 102 games! Whereas the Yankees had an expansion franchise in their division in ’98.

      • Accent Shallow says:

        The ’01 Mariners are, IMHO, one of the most overrated teams of all time, and a fantastic illustration about results over the long haul v. results over a short series.

        Seriously, go look at their roster. I’ll wait.

        Even if the pre-divisional playoff setup had been in place, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see them lose the World Series.

        • bexarama says:

          Why are they necessarily overrated? Yeah they had very few awesome HOF names, they weren’t a team of All-Stars or whatever, but the guys they had had fantastic years. A lot of them wouldn’t repeat that success again, but great years by almost everyone are great years by almost everyone.

          (Also, Fun With Hypotheticals! In 1994, the Mariners don’t call up A-Rod because they know baseball will go on strike. This means they have an extra year of control of him, which means they still have him in 2001 instead of Carlos Guillen’s .259/.333/.355 at SS. Yikes.)

  6. Xstar7 says:

    Anyone Remember this?:

    Boy does Eric Ortiz look like a moron now.

    “The Red Sox have won 100 or more games three times in their 110-year existence. They will make it four in 2011. But this team has the potential to accomplish something even bigger than winning 100 games…………….The 2011 Red Sox could accomplish a feat that has never been done. They could unseat the 1927 Yankees as the greatest major league team of all time. That would be something to celebrate.”

    LO fucking L

    • Jerome S. says:

      Yeah, I never got over that article. Game me the diarrhea for weeks.

      But seriously, fuck ‘em.

    • Kiersten says:

      I remember L O fucking L-ing at that article when it was published.

    • Tom Zig says:

      They need to go 15-1 to win 100 games this year.

    • Jesse says:

      I remember reading this when the season started and I literally pissed myself from laughing so hard.

    • Freddy Garcia's 86 mph Heat says:

      As I said, when was the last time the Red Sox didn’t win the January World Series??

    • bexarama says:

      Funny thing is aside from Crawford (and Drew too, but Reddick picked up the slack) they’ve had great to awesome seasons from just about everyone offensively, including some unexpected guys. Ellsbury’s a monster, Varitek and Saltalamacchia have been pretty darn good, etc etc etc.

      They’re not gonna score 1000 runs (unless they do some obscene things over the next ~20 games), and even if they win the World Series, they’re not one of the best teams of all time. So, yeah.

      • Kiersten says:

        Yeah but outside of Beckett, everyone on the pitching staff has had a below-average to terrible season.

        Your point still stands though, obviously.

        • bexarama says:

          You certainly can’t say Lester’s been below average. Maybe not his best year ever, but compared to the rest of the league he’s been still awesome.

          But yeah your point still stands, too.

        • MikeD says:

          Yup, but that’s what made that original article so crazy. It assumed everything would go according to plan, every player would achieve his peak performance, there would be no signficant injuries, everything would fall the Red Sox way. Of course it wasn’t going to do that.

          The Yankees started the season with a questionable pitching staff, and they performed better than expected. Yet Tex has underperformed; A-Rod has been injured since June; Cano is slightly off his peak, Posada performed worse, Soriano was injured and has underperformed, Joba had TJ surgery, etc.

          Every team has a mix of the great, the good and the bad. The better teams trend toward the left of that line, which is why the Yankees, the Red Sox and the Rays are the top three teams.

          The reason RS fans want to remove the record at the start of the season, and now even some want to remove the recent losing record, is to somehow figure out a way for their team to live up to the expectations at the start. That NESN article was totally off the wall and should never have been taken seriously, yet it was a brick in the wall of expectations.

      • MikeD says:

        Certain media members and Red Sox fans will focus on Crawford’s bad season, and injuries to players as their excuse. All team fans do this, looking for the excuse, but it’s an art form, a way of life, in Boston. The fact that Ortiz had an incredible come-back season and the greatest season ever by a DH his age, and Pedroia, Ellsbury and Gonzalez will all received MVP consideration will be lost in the narrative.

        • Freddy Garcia's 86 mph Heat says:

          Boston media: Only reason we lost is because Player X was hurt, or was underperforming, etc. If you take out both of the 2-10 stretches, and all of the other games we lost, we’re the beat team in the league!!

          NY media: This team is in trouble. (trivial/flukey matter) is keeping them from running away with the East. So many question marks are around this team, that any real playoff run would be a miracle.

          • Guns of the Navarone says:

            Let me see if I remember all the panic stories from this season:

            1. Yankees did not sign Cliff Lee. Panic
            2. Andy Pettitte retired. Panic
            3. Colon is too fat.
            4. Joba is too fat (how DARE he!)
            5. Phil Hughes lost his velocity. He’s done.
            6. Jeter’s bad 1st half. He’s done
            7. The Yankees can’t beat Boston.
            8. Mariano has a bad week. He’s done.
            9. Obligatory panic article after every bad Colon/Garcia start.
            10. Oh, and A-Rod played poker.

        • Guns of the Navarone says:

          Exactly. I agree with this 100 percent. Every Red Sox position player other than Crawford has performed either too expectations or has drastically exceeded expectations. Youkilis’ AVG has dipped, but his BB% and ISO are still up there, and he’s still at 131 wRC+.

          I think it’s a fact that on paper, and when completely healthy, the Red Sox are a better team than the Yankees. But that’s not the way it works out over a full season. The Yankees are a MUCH deeper team and organization. I think this fact also gets lost in the narrative and the Yankees get absolutely no credit from the MSM, which is par for the course.

          If the Red Sox won the division with a bunch of retreads like Garcia and Colon after the monster 2008 offseason the Yankees had, they would have been praised endlessly. What also gets lost is the fact that with all the injuries the Red Sox have had, the Yankees can almost match them player for player. They didn’t get anything from Hughes for over half a season, and Alex Rodriguez has been in and out of the lineup since forever, and hasn’t hit much of anything since June.

  7. bexarama says:

    The Yankees had actually already clinched the division on this date in 1998. Crazy.

  8. Craig says:

    No Jorge at 1b? Ouch. I sure hope he gets a proper sendoff at the stadium somehow, someway.

  9. Countryclub says:

    Jeter had a 7.8 WAR in 98

  10. Magg G says:

    TD Dolphins!

  11. vin says:

    I wonder if Mike Lowell ever got a ring for ’98. Nowadays, it would be a certainty, not sure about back then.

    So many great veterans on the team – Raines, Strawberry, Chili, O’Neill, Cone, Wells. Everyone else was either young and extremely talented (Jeter, Andy and Jorge) or in and around their prime (Tino, Brosius, Knobby, Stanton, Bernie, etc.) Great mix of talent.

  12. mustang says:

    Lineup for Seattle opener

    Derek Jeter SS
    Curtis Granderson CF
    Mark Teixeira DH
    Robinson Cano 2B
    Nick Swisher 1B
    Eric Chavez 3B
    Brett Gardner LF
    Chris Dickerson RF
    Austin Romine C

  13. YankeeDudel says:

    I believe that picture is from 1996. It couldn’t be the 1998 World Series clincher because that was on the road (in San Diego). Still cool though.

  14. Karl Krawfid says:

    Damn Juan Fransisco

  15. Freddy Garcia's 86 mph Heat says:

    3-0 Rays. I think during the last 4 days, I’ve cared about the Rays more than I ever have. (except the 2008 ALCS)

  16. Karl Krawfid says:

    Juan Fransisco hits a ball 502 feet.

    He’s the first player to hit a ball out of Great America ballpark.

  17. mustang says:

    Dickerson RF and Nick Swisher 1B

    Too funny

    • The Big City of Dreams says:

      And no Jesus….damn it

    • well you know says:

      Jesus simply cannot play the OF. Period.

      As for 1B, there are very few days a year that Tex will be DH’d, so there’s no large point here. Also, under the particular circumstances of tonight, Swisher needs to play 1B to rest his elbow and he has good numbers against Felix, so he would be in there anyway over Jesus.

      • mustang says:

        “Jesus simply cannot play the OF. Period.”

        Really are you a scout or did you see him try somewhere in the minors that we all don’t know about.

        facts to back up this statement please

        • well you know says:

          The pertinent “facts” are his limited speed and agility, which aren’t exactly concealed secrets.

          Also the fact that finding a position for him has obviously been an issue of concern and the Yankees have shown absolutely no inclination to make OF an option.

          OF has its own dangers, like running into walls. Or colliding with teammates. You won’t see the Yankees risk those dangers in a tryout. Not happening.

          • mustang says:

            Oh! Yes catching is far less dangerous then playing the OF that’s why both our starting catchers are out!!!!

            We will see how fast its ” Not happening” if he sucks behind the plate.

  18. Ivan says:

    That 98 team was just amazing. Best team I have ever seen in my lifetime. The crazy thing is that if you look at each individual performance, almost all the players didnt have that crazy year besides Bernie Williams and Scott Brosius.I mean that team was just…perfect.

    Man I would love to see a 7 game series between the 61 Yankees and 98 Yankees.

  19. Stratman9652 says:

    Montero gets his first PA against Lester and Romine gets his first PA against King Felix. Talk about throwing the kids to the wolves.

  20. Guest says:

    I loved that ’98 team. Incredibly fun to follow. But I feel like the ’98 team was more about everything coming together and nothing (or little) going wrong than anything else. Yes, few had career years, but the usual outta nowhere disappointing performances that happen to EVERY team, just didn’t happen to that team.

    Think of how good the ’11 Yanks would be if no one disappointed. If tex was .300/.375/.580. If A-Rod was 35 and 115. If Jeter hit for power. If AJ was solid AJ. If they had half as many injuries. If Phil took a step forward instead of 10 back. If Soriano was Soriano. If Jorge had one more good year in his bat. If, if, if…

    And I guess that’s what made the ’98 team so special. They were just deep and complete, totally, “disappointing year” free. I guess that makes them more impressive even than a “murder’s row” type group. I’ve seen more talented teams, but I’ve never seen any team come closer to maximizing its potential. And it’s not even really close.

    • Guest says:

      Either more impressive than other great teams, or luckier. One or the other. Probably a little bit of both.

    • bexarama says:

      Pettitte’s year was pretty disappointing on the 1998 Yankees… that’s about it.

      • Guest says:

        Eh, it was disapointing given his first few years, but I think it was more of a “kind of disappointing” than a “pretty disappointing.”

        The ERA and peripherals don’t look great yes, but this was ’98. McGwire and Sosa wore greek tunics on the cover of SI. Chicks digged the long ball, and all that. So while most of his numbers were kinda ugly, he still had a 104 ERA+, better than league average.

        AJ’s 2011 ERA+ is 83 and Phil’s is 68. Now THAT is pretty disappointing.

        • bexarama says:

          I do see what you mean. Just in 1996 and especially 1997 he was a legit ace-type. He wasn’t in 1998, even if he was totally fine. And, I mean… he was their FOURTH STARTER by the time the World Series rolled around. That’s insane.

  21. Jesse says:

    Yes! Brady threw a pick!

  22. Monteroisdinero says:

    No Montero and Dickerson in rf with Swish at 1B against Felix. This looks like the game we lose. Think I will skip it in favor of a good night’s sleep. Now watch Romine hit a HR off Felix!

  23. Guest says:

    If you had to give an answer right now, what do you think Jesus’ future with the Yanks looks like?

    1. Traded by 2012 trade deadline.
    2. Future starting catcher
    3. Full time DH/back-up catcher
    4. Corner outfielder

    Right now, if I had to guess, I’d say option 3. For some reason, it really appears that catcher defense is a big deal to this organization. This is curious, given the four rings they won with a mediocre at best defensive catcher who could mash, but it appears to be where they are.

    This org has given multiple playoff starts to Jose Molina, many starts to the Francisco Experience, signed a catcher who hadn’t in two years primarily for his defense (thankfully some of the pop came back), left one of the best young hitters in the game in the minors because he was a poor defensive catcher (I’m not saying it was illogical given that he wasn’t tearing the cover of the ball) and apparently prefer to start a catcher that kind of struggled with the bat at AA this year than a catcher who is essentially Shane Spencer with the natural talent to make a hot start look like more than just a fluke. (Obviously they’d rather have Montero with the big club than Romine, but I think they’d rather start Romine behind the plate than Montero if those two were the only options).

    Given all this, I think the most likely result is they try to have Martin hand the job of to Romine a couple years down the road. Jesus will DH, back up catch, get 550-600 PA’s. But he won’t be the number one catcher.

    I hope I’m just totally wrong and completely over-reacting to a couple of meaningless decisions during some meaningless September games. But given the teams recent handling of the catcher position, I think I might actually be right.

    • mbonzo says:

      Similar to how Posey and Santana are 1B/C, Montero will be a DH/C with the ability to play 1B and RF.

    • Jerome S. says:

      I see a V-Mart-ish future for Montero.

    • MikeD says:

      I go with 3 also, although you should add in the option of future first base.

      The one issue I have with many fans is the comparison to Posada. While Jorge was never a great fielder, for most of his career he was competent. If Montero can eventually catch at that level he will be a catcher.

      I think it’s unlikely he’ll ever be as good a defensive catcher as Posada. If that’s the case, can you then understand the Yankees reservations with him behind the plate?

  24. Nuke Ladoosh says:

    One area where I give Michael Kay credit in 98. He said over and over ad nauseum, “never again for the rest of our lifetimes will we see anything like this again”. Almost as many times as he said Interlocking NY.

  25. Foghorn Leghorn says:

    Tom Brady looks like a woman.

  26. Foghorn Leghorn says:

    re: above posts about the red sox and the crazy predictions to win more than 116 games.

    For the past three years all I’ve read is how amazing the Sox pitching staff is…top to bottom…you know..5 aces. And in each year, 2009, 2010 and now in 2011, the pitching has not met expectations. And the difference this year is that their bullpen sucks donkey nuts.

    The Sox have no trouble scoring runs. But the pitching has never met the lofty expectations set by the MSM.

    • bexarama says:

      And the difference this year is that their bullpen sucks donkey nuts.

      Really? Bard and Aceves have been really good. And Papelbon has been unreal – gross. Their other guys have been at least okay. Having three guys you can depend on is pretty darn good.

      LAST year their bullpen totally sucked. In 2009 they started off elite but clearly got worn down by the end of the season. I do agree their pitching gets overrated – probably because of “names.” Expecting the 2007 Lackey and Dice-K at this point is as silly as expecting the 2007 Jeter and A-Rod. Of course that article was totally dumb about the Sox pitching, saying stuff like Dice-K being an All-Star in 2011 and the best #5 evarrr.

      Just don’t think the bullpen has really held them back in ’11. JMO.

      • Foghorn Leghorn says:

        yes, realy…

        those three are it…everyone else has sucked. in previous yrs they had a much deeper pen.

        the starting pitching is what has held them back in ’11…same as the previous yrs. but this bullpen has issues for a while now.

      • MikeD says:



  27. Pasqua says:

    So, John Gruden just said “shit” on national television. That was fun.

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