By Jason Klein
Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 11/10/09
“It’s one of the coolest things…being called a champ,” said the newly crowned Nick Swisher. “You can’t ever take that away.”
No matter what path his career takes from here, he will forever be a World Champion. According to Swisher, it is an honor he would not be enjoying without the efforts and contributions of every man to wear the pinstripes in 2009.
“For ten months straight, you work as a team to accomplish great things,” he said. “This season, we all had the right mindset, and the right group of guys working together. That’s why we were able to win the whole thing.”
Just hours removed from capturing the 2009 World SeriesTitle, Swisher found himself inside the Steiner SportsCorporate Offices commemorating the achievement. Along with other members of the 2009 World Champion New York Yankees, Swisher was there, adding his signature to team signed World Series baseballs, photos, jerseys, bats and helmets.
Swisher marveled at the new product line, referring to select pieces as “bad-ass,” and even requesting some photos for his personal collection. Feeling nostalgic throughout the signing, he was eager to discuss his first season in the Bronx and the important role team chemistry played in the Championship run.
In 2009, the Yankees made key additions to their roster, bringing in players to round out an already potent group. Coming to New York, where the team’s objective from day one always includes a parade down the Canyon of Heroes, can be intimidating for many. Over the last eight title-less seasons, many have come and gone with little success. The 2009 club was different though.
The foundation of their close-knit group can be traced back to February 23, 2009. That’s when the club united during a much publicized spring training field trip to the pool hall.
“At the time, we had a lot of work to do,” said Swisher. “We had a season to get ready for and then Skip [Manager Joe Girardi] comes in and tells us to drop everything, we’re going to play pool for the day. It was big for us. Everyone bought into it, we had a great time, and we were able to carry that onto the field.”
That’s where the Yankees won an MLB best 103 ball games, including a dominant 57-24 mark within the confines of their new home in the Bronx. Their success was the perfect blend of old and new. Though the integration of new personalities like Swisher, Sabathia, Burnett and Teixeira was important, according the Swisher, a lot of the harmony can be attributed to members of the old guard.
“It’s the big four, [Jorge] Posada, [Derek] Jeter, [Andy] Pettitte, and [Mariano] Rivera,” he said. “They are who the Yankees are. They represent the team extremely well and are real leaders. None of them came up to us new guys and said, ‘this is how we do things.’ It’s unspoken. We all followed their lead and learned from them.”
The Yankees enter this offseason with a few issues to address. Questions about the futures of Johnny Damon, Andy Pettitte, and World Series MVP, Hideki Matsui all loom. The core of this roster will remain intact for 2010 when the Yankees try to defend their title – a challenge Swisher is already anxious to take on.
“I can’t wait to go back to war with these guys.”
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