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Are Yankees Already Team of the Decade?

This, of course, will be the final baseball postseason of the Aughts (or whatever we're calling this decade), which means for the rest of this year you will be seeing all sorts of lists of the Best This or That of the Decade. It also means we get to dish out silly, made-up titles such as Player and Team of the Decade. (Maybe some other day we'll tackle the Player of the Decade issue, but off the top of my head it's going to be hard to choose between Barry Bonds or Albert Pujols.)

Anyway, Team of the Decade ... It's not an easy thing to determine. Do you reward World Series titles above all else (in which case it would be the Red Sox, the only team that, so far, has won it all twice in the '00s)? Or do you reward steadiness -- getting into the playoffs (almost) every year, getting to the World Series a few times, and winning once (so far)? That would be the Yankees.

Other contenders? The Phillies didn't win jack in the first half of the decade, so even if they win it all this year -- matching the Red Sox with two World Series titles -- the other holes on their resume are too great to overcome. The Cardinals also have an impressive resume, including one World Series title, but it doesn't compare to the Yankees' across the board. The Angels could make a strong case if they win a second World Series this year, but they would be in a virtual tie with the Red Sox.

Here is a chart to make things easier. WST stands for World Series titles, WSA is World Series appearances, DT is division titles, PA is playoff appearances and PSW is playoff series won (all totals are up to date, through the 2009 Division Series):

Angels ..1......1......5......6......5
Cards ..1 .....2.....6.....7.....8
Phils ..1......1..... 3......3..... 4
R Sox ..2......2......1......6..... 8
Yanks ..1......3.......8.....9......9

So there you have it. To me, it looks like it comes down to the Yankees vs. Red Sox. (Even if the Angels win the World Series this year, they will have won one fewer postseason series in the decade than the Red Sox, which breaks the tie in my mind, more so than the Angels' edge in division titles. Regular season success, to me, is the least important category, particularly when you factor in the relative strength of their divisions.)

Now here is the critical question: What if the Yankees lose to the Angels in the ALCS? A Yankees fan would say it doesn't matter -- even with one fewer World Series title than the Red Sox, the Yankees' edge in World Series appearances and total postseason series wins would push them over the top. And that's not to mention the 8-to-1 lead in division titles. How could the Red Sox top the Yankees as team of the decade when they could beat them in the AL East only once (okay, twice, including 2008, when the Rays beat them both) in 10 years?

A Red Sox fan, on the other hand, would say: Two World Series titles, baby.

Here's what I say: The Yankees are Team of the Decade IF they beat the Angels and advance to the World Series. No matter what happens in the World Series, that would give them four World Series appearances and 10 postseason series wins, two more than the Red Sox in either category -- and enough to make up for the lack of a second World Series championship.

If the Yankees lose to the Angels, I'm calling the Red Sox the Team of the Decade, because the Yankees' edge in the other categories would not outweigh those two championships -- which, after all, is the whole point.

I distinctly remember the 1999 World Series, the first one I covered for The Post, being for the undisputed title of Team of the '90s. It seemed easy then. The Yankees already had two World Series titles in the decade. But the Braves, with a win, could have earned a second World Series title to add to a dazzling resume already filled with playoff appearances and postseason series wins. Of course, the Yankees won, and that was that.

It's much harder this time, because it isn't head-to-head and it's subject to a lot more interpretation and debate. Speaking of which, it's your turn to interpret and debate: Do we already have a Team of the Decade, or are the Yankees playing for the title the rest of this postseason?

By Dave Sheinin  |  October 16, 2009; 10:59 AM ET
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Yankees, team of the decade? You jest, right?

New York hasn't been in the world series of baseball since 2001. They haven't won a world series in a decade.

Good team, yes! And well the should be with the $200M+ payroll they have maintained during this time.

Greatest team? Nada...

Posted by: dickhealy | October 16, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Its hard to argue against the Yanks. But its hard to follow your logic. If you base this on Playoff appearances and PSW, would you then consider the Braves the team of the 90's? They made the playoffs every single year except for 1990, but they only won the title once. The Yanks on the other hand, made the playoffs from 95-99 and won the title 3 times. They didn't do squat in the first half of the decade but were certainly the team of the 90's.
If the Phils win this year, I agree, its hard to crown them b/c of their lack of post season apps in the first half of the decade.
In that case, you must give it to the Red Sox for now. They seem to have the best blend of post season consistency and 2 rings to show for it. If the Angles win it this year, its a virtual tie with the Sox. If and only if the Yanks win this year, they would be the team of the decade.

Posted by: PhilliesPhan | October 16, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, Dave, but your analysis is basically flawed. The Yankees have won zero World Series titles this decade. Zero. None. Nada. Zilchalicious.

That's because, as you may remember the calendar makers trying to explain amidst all the Y2K and turn of the millennium excitement, there was no "Year Zero". That means centuries and decades run from xxx1 to xx10. And this decade runs from 1/1/2001 to 12/31/2010.

So we've got about fifteen months, not three, and two more World Series, not one to create the data we need as we debate what teams deserve the nod as the best team of the decade. My preliminary pick would be the Red Sox as the only team to win it all twice; but that's an opinion open to change depending on the outcome of the 2009 and 2010 World Series, both of which will be played before the end of this decade.

Posted by: greggwiggins | October 16, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, it's gotta be the Red Sox. Two championships and the greatest playoff series of all time. No question.

Posted by: agl132 | October 16, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand how you can just completely ignore regular season success in a sport like baseball. Considering how much baseball prides itself on being a 'marathon,' you're completely ignoring 90% of the past decade of games played to declare your team of the decade. That just doesn't seem right.

Of course, if you include regular season success, the Yankees probably still qualify since they've only missed the playoffs once this decade (which would stand to reason they've been pretty good during the regular season).

Posted by: thurminator | October 16, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

If the year 2000 will be forevermore known as Y2K, then the decade starting with 2000 should be D2K. "The Aughts"? Get real. That's September 10th thinking.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | October 16, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

"New York hasn't been in the world series of baseball since 2001."

What was that series the Yankees lost 4-2 to the Marlins in October 2003 then?

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | October 16, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Clearly, then, in the NFL, the Buffalo Bills were the team of the '90s. And the etam of the '70s in the NFL was...hmmm...tough call...the Vikings or Steelers?

Posted by: bluejersey | October 16, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Even if the Yankees win this year, the magnitude of what the Red Sox pulled off against the Yankees in 2004 would have to tilt the discussion in Boston's favor.

Posted by: bluejersey | October 16, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

naturally the chowderheads want to hang the entire decade on '04. no chance. yanks have made the playoffs every year except last year. with that unprecedented consistency they are easily the team of the decade. this year will be the exclamation point. they will bookend the decade with WS championships.

Posted by: funkey | October 16, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

funkey, you've made the same mistake Dave Sheinin did in his original post.

2000 was not part of this decade. Since the calendar goes from 1B.C. to 1A.D. there is no "Year Zero" this decade runs from 2001 to 2010.

Therefore, the Yankees can't "bookend the decade" with championships. The only team which could do that is the Arizona Diamondbacks. Remember? That's the team which beat the Yankees in the first World Series of this decade, held in 2001. Only they could "bookend the decade" by winning the final World Series of this decade, which will be the one held in 2010.

Posted by: greggwiggins | October 16, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

well, we are talking about a decade - hence 10 years. '10 is not part of the aughts, as the aughts begin with a zero by definition. so i stand by it.

Posted by: funkey | October 16, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

as an addition - 1930 is not considered part of the 20s. at least not historically...

Posted by: funkey | October 16, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

I think the millenium note is irrelevant to the "decade of the aughts." 2000 was "aught-aught" while 2010 is not an aught. Y'all ought to get that.

As for the team of the decade, if the Angels go all the way, that'll equal the Red Sox WST, blow away the Sox on DT, and only be one series short in PSW.

The argument not made by Dave that I think might be most compelling is the division imbalance and regular season record. The AL East was the strongest division in baseball for most of the decade, and, it hurts me to say this, the yankees were the best in the division over that time. The LAA had no serious competition for their division most of the decade.

A long way of saying the NYY were the best regular season team of the decade (including DTs), but the Angels, if they win out, nip the Red Sox as the playoff team of the decade. If neither win, then I go with the Red Sox, based on another factor, their record in elimination games (9-3).

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | October 16, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Actually, funkey, yes, 1930 is considered part of the decade of the 1920s. Show me a calendar or a link to calendar software that features a year zero between 1A.D. and 1B.C. and I will stop saying you are wrong.

Until then, I will continue to state that you are wrong.

As I said in my original post, the makers of calendars (and people in related disciplines at places like the U.S. Naval Observatory) raised this same issue with all those folks celebrating the turn of the millennium at the end of 1999/beginning of 2000 and pointing out that the actual turn of the decade, the century and the millennium was the transition from 2000/2001. Most people preferred to use the incorrect definition.

Keep doing that if you insist, but know that it IS an incorrect definition. By current and international convention, the current decade began on January 1, 2001 and will run until December 31, 2010.

Posted by: greggwiggins | October 16, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Dear Greggwiggins---

Please stop. That is the silliest - and most irrelevant and geekiest - argument I've ever heard. This is a discussion about baseball from 2000 through 2009. If it gets you all riled up that 99.9999999% of the world calls that a decade but your nerd data does not, fine. Be that way. But it's ridiculous to try to "argue" the point. If it's so darn important to you, you officially won the semantics argument. And now we can continue the baseball argument....

Posted by: Urnesto | October 16, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Urnesto - it is the only argument he has, so he isn't gonna abandon it easily.

wiggins - anyways, as the author said, this is the last playoffs of the *aughts*. which it is. 2010 is not part of the aughts, as the definition of being an aught year is having a leading zero., e.g. '01, '02, '03, etc. this disqualifies 2010. but if we go back 10 years (that is a decade to you wiggins!) we find ourselves at 2000. that is the time span we are discussing. and in that time, yes, the Yankees have been the most dominant team.

Posted by: funkey | October 16, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

That is a ten year period, you may even call it a decade, but it is not THE decade according to the international bodies coordinating weights, measures and time scales. And so I stand by my argument that there remain fifteen months and two World Series before all the information is in to determine the best team of the first decade of the 21st Century as that time period is officially defined.

However, from the incomplete data that is already available, I would not pick the Yankees as the best team of the decade so far. In my opinion they're second with a chance to fall into third. The Red Sox and (depending on how they do this year and next) the Angels are likely to make stronger cases for that title than the Yankees. As a Nationals fan I wish I could include a National League team on that list but I can't even put one in my top five.

And a baseball discussion that goes too deeply into statistics? In a world that includes sabermetrics, is that possible?

Posted by: greggwiggins | October 16, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

"If neither win, then I go with the Red Sox, based on another factor, their record in elimination games (9-3)."

Actually, that's Francona's record. If you add in 2003, the record is more like 13-4.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | October 16, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

ok wiggins, you hold onto your tuck rule if you must...

Posted by: funkey | October 16, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

funkey, you've been trying to play fast and loose with the facts and I've called you out on it.

To me, any contender for the title "Baseball Team of the Decade" has to have won at least one World Series title. And it is a fact that the Yankees have played a lot of postseason games but they have not won a World Series title during this decade, as decades are defined by the international standard-setting bodies who do that.

You're declaring a different and arbitrary ten year period to be "the decade" in order to strengthen a weak case that the Yankees are the team of the decade. That's an example of why Benjamin Disraeli observed "there are three kinds of falsehoods: lies, Damned lies, and statistics."

Of course the way the game with the Angels is going this evening, the Yankees may be in the process of making your stronger case for you. But to get my vote for "Team of the Decade" they're going to have to win at least one and preferably both of the two World Series that remain to be played this decade.

Posted by: greggwiggins | October 16, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

i have no need or desire to argue this with you. you are welcome to any weird semantic technicality - it is obvious from the comments that most, including the author, don't agree with your point of view regarding the timespan. but you hold onto that lifeline if it suits you.

in any event, the yanks are obviously the team of the decade starting from 00 or from 01. or even 02. take your pick. and they will place a couple of nice bookends for the years starting with 0 - that is, '00-'09.

Posted by: funkey | October 16, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse


Any ten-year period is a decade. Repeat, A (meaning: one) Decade. From (and gregg, please note #2):

1. a period of ten years: the three decades from 1776 to 1806.
2. a period of ten years beginning with a year whose last digit is zero: the decade of the 1980s.
3. a group, set, or series of ten.

So "the decade of the aughts" (or whatever you want to call it) is 2000-2009.

Now 2001 is the first year of the first decade of the 21st Century (and I'll bet gregg was just as ticked off as I was when journalists referred to January 1, 2000 as the start of the new century. It was the last of the 20th, guys). But the twenties is 1920-29; the thirties, 1930-39; etc.

This isn't a "stats" thing - it's a LANGUAGE thing.

Posted by: MikeH0714 | October 18, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

What are you talking about Dave? Did you look at your own numbers? The ONLY category the Red Sox are better than the Cards in is World Series Titles. The Cards are better than or equal to the Sox in the rest of the categories.

Granted the Yanks would probably be the team of the decade still, but the Cards would be next in line, not the Red Sox.

Posted by: NatsNut | October 19, 2009 5:21 AM | Report abuse

It's funny, because the value of the Yankees in New York is based on WS wins.

This was the decade it all fell apart for the franchise, remember? All that wailing and gnashing of teeth? They haven't won a WS since 2001! The horror!!

Posted by: JohninMpls | October 21, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

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