July 08, 2007
'77 Yanks: Jan Brady Champs
With Old-Timer's Day at Yankee Stadium yesterday (saluting the World Champs of 1977) and the ESPN "Bronx Is Burning" series coming up, the 1977 Yankees team may be on the minds of many these days. It makes sense. But, why were the '77 Yanks not already at the front of most Yankees fans minds...in terms of being a team for the ages?
To me, the '77 Yanks suffer somewhat like the '99 Yanks - in that they lose some attention being the middle child of nice runs.
Think about it. The 1998 Yankees were a super-team. They had one of the best seasons in the history of the game. The 2000 Yankees were the team that beat the Mets in the World Series. How about the 1999 Yankees? They were a great team. But, few consider them as the team that must always be remembered. In some ways, I would bet that the '99 Yankees look at the '98 Yankees and say "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!"
For me, the 1977 Yanks fall into the same sort of "Jan Brady, Middle Child" hole.
Sure, the 1976 Yankees did not win a ring - and, they got waxed by the Reds on the World Series. But, the '76 Yanks were a big story. It was the first year of the new Stadium. They won the pennant on a huge homerun during the bottom of the 9th in the last game of the ALCS. Their team leader, Thurman Munson, won the MVP that season.
And, we all know about the 1978 Yankees place in baseball history.
One would think, with the exciting Game 5 of the ALCS and Games 1 and 6 of the World Series that the 1977 World Series Champs would stand out more? Maybe they do to some - with the Reggie three-homer game and all? But, to many, if you had to rank recent Yankees World Series champs, the 1977 team would be behind the teams from 1978, 1998, 1996, 2000 - and fall in with the 1999 team near the bottom of the pile. Heck, the 1977 Yankees may even fall behind the 1976, 2001 and 2003 Yankees teams - in the hearts of some Yankees fans.
However, the 1977 Yankees were a great team. They had to beat out strong teams in Boston and Baltimore to win the A.L. East. Heck, on August 7, 1977, the Yankees were in 3rd place, behind the (first place) Sox and the (second place) O's - five games out of first. (Just about 2 weeks later, on August 23rd, New York took over first place.)
And, let's not forget about the 3-run rally in the 9th inning of the last game of the '77 ALCS to win the pennant. Mickey Rivers' single in that inning may be one of the bigger hits in Yankees post-season history...but, few reflect back on that one.
If not for Reggie's three-homer game in the World Series, the 1977 Yankees might fall off the map completely - and end up somewhere with the "memorable" champs like the 1983 Orioles, 1959 Dodgers, or 1940 Reds.
And, being sandwiched between the 1976 and 1978 Yankees has something to do with the '77 Yankees getting lost in the shuffle - at least to me. How about you?
Posted by Steve Lombardi at July 8, 2007 08:04 AM
Admittedly, the games in 1977 were largely unspectacular, save for Reggie's performance in gm 6.
In '78, you had Reggie vs Welch, you had the "sacrifice thigh" play and you had Nettles' glovework all in that series.
Personally , the '76 team never did that much for me. I was happy the Yanks were back, but the waxing by the Reds underscored they were not yet
prime time. I loved the '77 team in a Marcia way and admittedly the drama of '78 stole from them.
I tend to forget about '76 quite honestly.
You are right about '99. Totally Jan .