By MARC TOPKIN, Times wires
Published October 27, 2003
NEW YORK - Three consecutive seasons without a World Series championship is apparently too many.
At least in Steinbrenner years.
George Steinbrenner, the Yankees principal owner, issued a statement Sunday confirming what everyone expected: that in the wake of Saturday's stunning loss to the Marlins, things will be different.
"Of course I was disappointed, but we will be meeting soon to make whatever changes are needed to bring back a stronger, better team for New York and our fans," Steinbrenner said. "You can count on it."
The statement was different than the last time the Yankees lost a World Series at home. After the 1981 loss to the Dodgers, Steinbrenner issued an apology to the City of New York.
Steinbrenner didn't have much to say when he left the stadium, telling the dozen or so reporters who were waiting that Joe Torre would return as manager and declining to answer a question about the fate of general manager Brian Cashman.
As the players moved through the solemn clubhouse Saturday, they, too, expected moves to be made.
"There'll be changes, I'm sure," pitcher Andy Pettitte said.
WELCOME BACK: Thousands turned out to welcome the Marlins home, chanting and shouting until every player, coach and team official passed for a quick wave, handshake or picture.
The crowd started chanting as the team's plane began its descent, and cheers nearly drowned out the noise of the jet's engines.
"It's got to be uplifting for the community," manager Jack McKeon said after he stepped off the plane. "This is a great story, maybe the story of the century."
Rookie pitcher Dontrelle Willis, a fan favorite, enjoyed the show of support.
"You can't get enough of this," he said. "You see this and you just want to keep playing hard for these people."
Across the region, fans spent Sunday the same way they spent the moments after the Marlins' 2-0 clinching win over the Yankees the previous night: celebrating.
Newly printed World Series merchandise was selling as quickly as it could be delivered, and drivers took to the streets with Marlins flags attached to their cars. Some fans already were admitting they were planning to call in sick Tuesday, when the team will be feted with parades and rallies in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
"Our fans have been incredible," said owner Jeffrey Loria, the first to step off the plane. "They've been behind us the whole way and they deserve this."
FISH TALES: The Marlins have two World Series titles but have never won a division title. ... In their 11 seasons, the Marlins have won two World Series and had a losing record the other nine times. ... They are the most successful team in postseason history, winning their first six series. ... They are the second team to come from 10 or more games under .500 to win the Series, joining the 1914 Miracle Boston Braves.
ZIM GONE: Bench coach Don Zimmer confirmed he is leaving the Yankees, but he didn't blast Steinbrenner as he hinted he would. The reason? His wife, Soot, told him not to: "She said, "Don't make yourself a little man.' " Zimmer plans to return to his Treasure Island home and see if any teams, such as the Devil Rays, are interested in him.
BORN FREE: So much for the joys of victory. Florida closer Ugueth Urbina and middle reliever Rick Helling were among 35 players who filed for free agency Sunday, the first day they could. Backup catcher John Flaherty was the only Yankee to file. ... Rays DH/outfielder Al Martin also filed.
MISCELLANY: McKeon joined Bob Lemon (1978 Yankees) as the only managers to win a Series after taking over during the season. ... The five hits Josh Beckett allowed in his complete-game shutout were the fewest in a deciding game since Baltimore's Scott McGregor in 1983. ... The Marlins were the third team in the past 18 years to win the Series without having homefield advantage. ... They are the first team since the 1985 Royals to win a Series of six or more games with two or fewer homers. ... The Yankees' 2.13 ERA was the lowest for a losing team since 1944, when the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Browns. ... Florida's 17 runs were the fewest for a winning team since the 1992 Blue Jays had 17 vs. Atlanta.