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With World Series title, the Yankees regain their position at the top of the baseball heap

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By Thomas Boswell
Thursday, November 5, 2009

NEW YORK

About eight New York Yankees, leaping over their dugout railing and pouring onto the field, almost beat the last throw of the World Series to first base. Score the final Phillies out 4-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3 with nine Yankees playing first base.

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So overjoyed were they, their heads spinning, their mouths open with screams of delight -- where do I run, who do I hug -- that the Yankees, for once, looked just like a normal, silly, overjoyed team. That's how nine years without something you covet, something you live and work for, will make you act.

The crowd of 50,315 sang "New York, New York," like they'd never heard it before and couldn't believe that kid Frank Sinatra had such a good voice. "We are the champions," sure they bellowed that, too, like it's not the 27th blasé time but as good as the first in 1923.

Joba Chamberlain, twirling a 10-foot pennant over his head, ran alone behind home plate so he could wave the lance of victory directly up at the owner's box. George Steinbrenner III, 79, his health always described as "failing," wasn't here. But, somewhere, the Boss was feeling good enough to fire somebody.

"To be able to deliver this to the Boss is very gratifying," said Yankees Manager Joe Girardi, who can now rest -- for three days.

They put a podium behind second base so every Yankee could make a speech and nobody had to leave, because where could be better than the Big Ballpark in the exact moment it was created for? Finally, they announced the Series MVP and the big roar began before the name was said because, when the Yankees win Game 6, 7-3, and you drive in six runs, the ballot ain't secret.

But the star, who hit .615 in this Series with three homers, took his bow. No question, now we know the definitive answer to "Who's Your Daddy?" It's Hideki Matsui, now and forever.

Once, Matsui was the three-time MVP of Japanese baseball, nicknamed Godzilla. Now, he's the Series hero who, at the expense of Pedro Martínez and Philadelphia, has become the chief ghostbuster of the new Yankee Stadium.

Thanks to Matsui's record-tying six RBI, four of them off Martinez, the Yankees can forget all the haunts and hexes that made their musty home across 161st Street akin to a spooky old attic, full of bad memories collected over the past eight lousy, costly years.

Now, with a victory here on Wednesday night, the Yanks can resume their glorious history as the most famous, formidable team in U.S. sports history. As for those scary Yankee years from 2001 to 2008, the verdict is now in. That was a bitter interlude, a long embarrassment, but not a sea change in the franchise fortunes.

"When I came here, it was to win a championship with the New York Yankees," said Matsui, 35, through an interpreter. "It's been a long road and a difficult journey. But I'm just happy that, after all these years, we can reach our goal. It's the best moment of my life."


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