Steve Wynn's three highly distinguished decades in the ornery field of rock and roll have established him as master songwriter and musician. His work in the Dream Syndicate, Miracle 3, and most recently with the Baseball Project (a group which includes Scott McCaughey and Peter Buck) has delighted and inspired generations. You would think these honorariums would be sufficient to keep him from talking baseball—but you'd be wrong! Steve, a devoted Yankees obsessive (friends have expressed concern) weighs in here with his feelings about the 2009 Yankees and what we can expect from a truly intriguing series.
The L: Well, you're Yankees have gone and done it. The team with the NASA like budget has finally commingled massive talents, enormous egos and various ancillary components into a bona fide juggernaut. [Ed. Last night's game notwithstanding.] In particular A-Rod has excelled this post season. Given how his year began, with injury, the steroids controversy and attendant scrutiny, did you see this coming? How do Yankees fans feel about A-Rod now?
Steve Wynn: I've said from the start that this is the make-or-break year for A-Rod in terms of his legacy. You might remember that when the season began it was almost a given that he had thrown away his chances to make the Hall of Fame. I said then and still say now that a strong season, a good attitude and—most of all—a World Series ring just might make people think less about the steroid story. And sure enough it has almost been forgotten. I've really enjoyed watching him this post-season. He has been very serious, not hot-dogging in any way and has become a leader. I'm most certainly down with A-Rod these days.
The L: In addition to A-Rod, this post-season, and in many ways the entire year, has been about CC Sabathia. Sabathia stabilized the front of the Yankees rotation and has been a dominant stopper in the playoffs. He justified Girardi's decision to start him on three days rest against the Angels in what might have been the pivotal decision of the post-season to date. What is it about Sabathia that has allowed him to excel as a Yankee, when so many other high priced saviors have failed to in this capacity? Is it too soon to talk about him as a potential Hall of Famer?
SW: He's the only active pitcher right now that has a shot at 300 wins. He has the stamina and the right offense behind him. He just might do it. And that would get him in the Hall of Fame (don't get me started about Blyleven, Jack Morris, Tommy John, Jim Kaat and maybe Mike Mussina—I think they all should be in the Hall). I wanted to lynch Cashman when he didn't go for Johan Santana but he's looking pretty smart right now. I think CC vs. Johan might be the big rivalry for the coming years. And I'd love to see him win three games in the series—when's the last time THAT happened (I'm guessing Lolich but I'm too lazy to look it up)? [Ed. Yeah, well, good luck with that happening.]
The L: Even a non-Yankees fan like myself can reflect upon the significance of a final World Series adventure for the great Mariano Rivera. Rivera has always struck me as having the temperament and ability of an artist. It's also interesting that he essentially throws only one pitch. Supposing this is Mariano's final chance to close out the World Series, are there singular artists who come to mind by comparison? I think somehow of Leonard Cohen—stolid and unimpeachable in his brilliance over a seemingly endless term. Your thoughts on Mariano?
SW: Ha ha. I love questions like these. I try to think of someone who basically does one thing, does it flawlessly and with little or no fanfare. It wouldn't be Dylan or Lou or Neil, that's for sure. I guess it wouldn't even be ME. Maybe you're right. Maybe Cohen is the one and Mariano just might be entering his "Dear Heather" phase. Uh oh.
The L: The Phils are no walkover. As defending champs with a great deal of character, do they worry you? Or is this current iteration of Yankees feel like a sure thing? You must like Rollins, Howard and Charlie Manuel—everyone does. Remarkable to see Pedro pitching at Yankee Stadium again, although it is the new, 2/3 sized 'model home' Yankee Stadium. Anyway, thoughts on your opponents?
SW: How did Pedro become a "sure thing," number-two man in the rotation? He was out of baseball. He was finished. The Phillies were seen as insane for picking him up. He will get by on guts but he could just as easily get knocked out in the first inning. It will be exciting though. The Phillies lineup is terrifying. I'm especially worried about Werth. That guy killed the Dodgers. The pressure is mostly on Burnett. He can't go and walk five or six guys and expect to win against these guys.
The L: Finally, a prediction?
SW: Yankees in six—although I'd love to see it go seven with CC winning three. And lay off the payroll. Money alone does not a champion make.