Bernie Williams, who was the center fielder for the Yankees for 16 seasons, will deservedly have his No. 51 jersey retired by the Yankees tonight. He was an integral part of Yankees teams that won the World Series in 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2000.
He was an All-Star five times, won the Gold Glove award twice and one on Silver Slugger award. He won the batting crown with his .339 batting average in 1998, and he also scored 101 runs, hit 30 doubles, had 26 homers, drove in 97 runs, and had a career-high .575 slugging percentage. During the seven-year prime of his career (27-33), he drove in 100 or more runs five times, he had an average of .307 or better seven times, he scored 101 runs or more seven times and hit 25 or more homers five times.
According to James Smythe, Bernie “Bern Baby Bern” Williams is third on the franchise list in doubles, fifth in hits, fifth in walks, sixth in runs scored, sixth in offensive WAR, seventh in homers and seventh in RBI. He was someone who came through repeatedly under pressure and could be counted on to play everyday. He played the game the right way and had a number of clutch hits in the playoffs. He had two walk-off homers in the playoffs and his 80 RBIs in the postseason are the most of all-time.
There is a Core Fore right now, but it should really the called the “Core Five” because those four World Series championships wouldn’t have happened without Williams.
During his speech he said he wished he could be playing right now and then said maybe not. He said the 2015 version is more suited for guitar than for playing baseball. He also thanked Joe Torre for being there for him. Williams also thanked his teammates who were on the field with him for being part of the best years of his life.
He fittingly thanked the fans at the end and said that the Yankees fans are the best fans in the world. He thanked the fans for embracing him as a son as he makes his home in New York. Wiliams is happy that he is a Yankee for life. Nobody will ever wear his iconic No. 51 again.
Here is his walk-off homer against the Baltimore Orioles in Game 1 of the ALCS in 1996:
The Yankees lost to the San Francisco Giants 2-1 Sunday afternoon effectively ending the slim hopes they had of getting a wild-card spot. They are now four games back with six games left to play.
They got vintage performances from Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, who both did all they could to get a win for the team during Pettitte’s last start at Yankee Stadium and the day where there was an hour-long ceremony for Rivera before the game, but the offense was not able to come through in clutch situations.
Andy Pettitte, who will likely fall just below qualifying for the Hall of Fame based on his 3.86 career ERA and admitted PED usage, is one of the best pitchers in Yankees history. Pettitte’s 19 wins are the most in playoff history and has been able to come with clutch performances repeatedly throughout his great career. He has pitched in three All-Star Games in his career but has never won a Cy Young award. Pettitte had eight seasons where he won 15 or more games on his way to 255 career wins (as of now). He has won 102 more games than he has lost. During yesterday’s game, he pitched seven excellent innings while only allowing two runs.
Mariano Rivera, who was honored before the game with a live singing of “Enter Sandman” by Metallica will obviously be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a result of being the best closer in baseball history. The Yankees retired his number 42 (he will be the last player to wear the number) before the game with his wife and three sons right next to him. Also in attendance were Jackie Robinson’s widow Rachel Robinson and his daughter, as well as some of his former teammates including Hideki Matsui, David Cone, Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neil, Jorge Posada and Jeff Nelson. Some of the gifts from the Yankees to Rivera included a custom-designed Watorford Crystal of his glove from 2013 that even included his signature and “Phil:13” that he has written on it, a $100,000 check to the Mariano RIvera foundation, a baseball-bat rocking chair and a watercolor artwork by a San Francisco artist depicting Rivera’s appearance at AT&T Park on June 22, 2007. Rivera pitched 1.2 scoreless innings while only allowing one hit.
The game would have been even more special if Pettitte would have been able to have been awarded a win and Rivera a save but at least they did their part. Pettitte took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and the first hit that he allowed was Ehire Adrianza’s first career homer. In the top of the eighth, Pettitte allowed a lead off double to Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval, which prompted Joe Girardi to bring in David Robertson. Tony Abreu hit a double off of Abreu, which accounted for Pettitte’s second earned run. With one start left, in Houston, Pettitte is in danger of finishing under .500 for the season for the first time in his career.
Holding the Giants to only two runs should have been enough to win the game on Mariano Rivera Day, but the Yankees did not convert with runners in scoring position in four different innings. In the seventh inning, the Yankees had an opportunity to put multiple runs on the board after having runners on second and third with one out, Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells both struck out swinging. In the eighth inning, after Robinson Cano’s double put runners on second and third with no outs, Alfonso Soriano grounded into a fielder’s choice and Curtis Granderson struck out.
In the eighth inning, adding to the team’s bad luck was that Zoilo Almonte and Cano were both thrown out at home. Almonte was not even close. The only run that the Yankees scored was Mark Reynolds’s 20th homer of the season. In the past week, the Yankees have two losses to the Blue Jays and their loss yesterday to the Giants. They would still have a chance if they would have won those games against sub .500 teams.
It is unfortunate that Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte will not be able to play in the playoffs in their final season. Pettitte and Rivera have both won five World Series championships with the Yankees and Rivera has pitched in the playoffs with the Yankees every season from 1996 until 2011, except for 2008 when they missed the playoffs.