The New York Yankees enter the 2010 season looking to repeat as champions. Twice in their history has the club come into a season ending as defending champs and actually won a title going into a year ending with "0." The 1949-1950 Yankees did it and most recently the 1999-2000 squad accomplished this feat as well. So here's a decade by decade look at how they have fared.
1910: Ah the dead ball era, we all remember this one right? The 1910 season saw the then still New York Highlanders finish second to the Philadelphia A's with a record of 88-63. Hal Chase hit .290 with 73 RBI and 40 steals and Russ Ford went 26-6 with an ERA of 1.65 and 29 complete games. That would be the Highlanders best finish until...
1920: The 1920 now New York Yankees in the first year of Babe Ruth finished with their best record in franchise history at 95-59. However the Babe's line of .376/54/137 weren't quite enough as the Yanks finished third behind the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox. Carl Mays and Bob Shawkey were also 20 game winners that year and Del Pratt knocked in 97.
1930: Speaking of Shawkey, the 1930 season would be his first and last as Yanks skipper. That squad like the one Shawkey pitched for ten years prior also finished up third with a record of 86-68 behind the Philadelphia A's and Washington Senators. The 'Murders Row' lineup which still saw six batters hit over .300 along with Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Tony Lazzeri accounting for 99 HR's and 448 RBI. Once again it all comes back to pitching.
1940: After winning four straight titles under skipper Joe McCarthy the 1940 Yankees yielded another (say it with me) third place finish with a record of 88-66, behind the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians. This was the Yanks first season without Gehrig on the team and McCarthy's worst finish to that point. It was the 'Joe, Joe and Charlie Show' as Joe DiMaggio paced the Yanks with a line of .352/31/133, Joe Gordon had an also impressive .281/30/103 and Charlie Keller wound up going .286/21/93. Once again the pitching was not up to snuff.
1950: By 1950 the Yankees were in the midst of the greatest championship run in baseball history. Already having won the 1949 crown under first year skipper Casey Stengel, the 1950 version was even better. Those Yanks went 98-56 and swept the Philadelphia Philles 4-0 in the World Series. It was that season when shortstop Phil Rizzuto won the American League MVP with 200 hits and a .324 average. Yogi Berra .322/28/124 and Joe DiMaggio .301/32/122 paced the champions heart of the order that season. And yes the pitching was solid as well, with four double digit winners including Vic Raschi who won 21. And there was no controversy over the Yanks fifth starter that season, as a young Whitey Ford went 9-1, winning the World Series clinching Game Four at Yankee Stadium.
1960: The 1960 season would be Casey's last but a sign of things to come for the Yanks. Winning the American League Pennant with a mark of 97-57 the Yankees would be victimized by the Pittsburgh Pirates Bill Mazeroski's World Series Game 7 winning walk off homerun (did they call 'em walkoffs in those days?) However that season did see Roger Maris win his first of consecutive AL MVP's, Mickey Mantle clubbed 40 HR's and second baseman Bobby Richardson became the first and only player to win a World Series MVP for a losing team.
1970: In 1970 the Yankees under the guidance of Ralph Houk finally climbed out of the depths of the American League cellar, sporting a record of 93-69, behind the World Champion Baltimore Orioles. This season saw some young Yankees begin to come of age. Catcher Thurman Munson hit .302, Leftfielder Roy White batted .296 with 22 HR's and 94 RBI, while Bobby Murcer paced the Yanks clubbing 23 bombs of his own. Mel Stottlemyre won 15 and led the staff in innings pitched while Fritz Peterson won 20 games.
1980: With a team that still had the core of a squad that had produced three pennants and two World Series in a row, the 1980 Yankees under Dick Howser went 103-59 to capture the AL East crown. It was the most wins by a Yankees team since 1963 and would be the most until the Yankees best team ever won 114 during the 1998 campaign. Reggie Jackson destroyed American League pitching with a line of .300/41/111, and Tommy John won 22 games. However it was not to be in '80 as the Yanks were swept by George Brett and the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS.
1990: In what was one of the best decades in Yankees history, 1990 had to be one of the absolute worst in team history. The team was managed by Bucky Dent and Stump Merrill, went 67-95 and was the first Yankees club to lose over (the 1967 team lost 90) 90 games since 1913 when they lost 94. The empty seats had a great view as the few bright spots were Roberto Kelly posting a .285 average, Jessie Barfield clubbing 25 HR's and Kevin Maas before pitchers learned to curve him, jacked 21 dingers in his rookie campaign.
2000: Finally to the most recent feel good era of the Yankees, the season of the three-peat. For the first time since the Oakland Swingin' A's of 1972-74, the Yankees under Joe Torre pulled off the hat trick. Going only 87-74 these Yanks would become the last club to win it all until the 2009 version. Bernie Williams slugged career highs with 30 HR's and 121 RBI and mid-season acquisition David Justice and his 20 HR's in pinstripes, helped propel the Yanks into the playoffs. After dismantiling the A's and M's the Yankees went on to defeat the New York Mets 4-1 in the first Subway Series since 1956. In that series Derek Jeter took home MVP honors with a .409 average and two big homeruns.
So will 2010 end for Joe Girardi and the Yankees the way it did for his predecessor? Or is this the continuation of a Stengel like run? In any event Yankees fans are hoping this season will be a real ten!