Yankees no longer incite envy; how about the Giants?


WALLA WALLA - Break up the Yankees!

That was baseball's bitter battle cry that began in 1923 - the year the Yanks won their very first World Series - and echoed down the halls of the next four decades. And for good reason.

When the Bronx Bombers took the World Series from the San Francisco Giants in a memorable seven-game thriller in 1962 - remember Bobby Richardson's snag of a Willie McCovey line drive for the final out of the final game? - it marked their 20th world championship in a span of 40 years. Only 15 times in those four decades did they fail to reach the Fall Classic.

In the nearly five decades since - 48 baseball seasons to be exact - the Yankees haven't been nearly as dominant: Seven world championships in 13 World Series appearances.

After beating San Francisco in '62, the Yanks lost back-to-back World Series to the Dodgers in '63 and the Cardinals in '64, then endured 11 consecutive seasons in which they were October observers. That was during the ownership transition period when the Columbia Broadcasting System, which had bought the Yankees from Dan Topping and Del Webb in 1964, sold the club to George Steinbrenner in 1973.

Steinbrenner's Yankees got back to the World Series in 1976 and were swept by the Cincinnati Reds. But they won their first world title in 15 years by beating the Dodgers in 1977 and then repeated in '78, also at the Dodgers' expense.

The Dodgers, who had suffered World Series losses to the Yankees six times in seven tries - 1955 being the lone exception - during their years in Brooklyn, earned a measure of revenge by beating the Yanks in 1981. And that precipitated another Yankees World Series drought, this one lasting 13 seasons.

The Yanks finally returned to the World Series in 1996 and promptly lost to the Braves. But beginning in 1998, they made four consecutive trips to the Fall Classic and won the first three before losing to the upstart Diamondbacks in 2001.

The Yanks have been back to the World Series twice in the decade since, losing to the Marlins in 2003 and winning the last of their 27 world championships in 2009 by defeating the Phillies.

All of this history is offered up for one purpose. Proof that it's no longer necessary to hate the Yankees or envy them for their success.

Although they'll probably be the favorite in this year's American League East race and among the teams most likely to emerge as AL champions, they are just one of many contenders for baseball's biggest prize in 2012. With nine different franchises having won titles in the last 11 years - the Cardinals and Red Sox have each won twice - it's pretty clear that baseball parity has finally been achieved.

Now, if you are still seething with New York bias, perhaps you should channel it in the direction of that other Big Apple powerhouse. The National Football League's Giants.

When the Giants defeated the Patriots 21-17 on Sunday - and wasn't that sweet? - it was their second Super Bowl championship in the last five years and their fourth overall since the first was played in 1967. The Giants were also Super Bowl champs in 1991 and 1987, and they lost in a fifth Super Bowl appearance in the 2001.

New York also won four NFL championships before the merger with the American Football League, and the Giants lost in the pre-merger NFL finals no fewer than 11 times. One of those was the Giants' memorable 23-17 loss to the Colts in 1958 when Alan Ameche plowed into the end zone in sudden-death overtime.

It still stands as the only overtime in NFL championship game history. And it was a star-studded affair, with future NFL Hall of Famers Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore, Raymond Berry, Gino Marchetti and Art Donovan on the winning side and Frank Gifford, Roosevelt Brown, Sam Huff and Randy Robustelli among the losers.

There are some who still consider it the greatest game ever played between two of the greatest teams in NFL history.

Today, there are many who consider quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots to be the NFL's gold standard. Brady led the Pats to their first Super Bowl victory in 2002 and followed up with back-to-back crowns in 2004-05.

But losing to the Giants in their last two Super Bowl appearances has tarnished the images of both Brady and the Patriots.

There are several other NFL franchises that have flirted with the dynasty label.

Although the Cowboys haven't won it all since 1996, they have four Super Bowl titles to their credit and finished second on three other occasions. Likewise, the 49ers won four Super Bowl crowns between 1985 and 1995.

If any team deserves recognition as the NFL's premier franchise during the Super Bowl era, it's the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are six-time Super Bowl champions, twice in the past seven years, and they were Super Bowl losers in 2011 and 1996.

However, the Steelers were never a championship factor in the years before the merger.

Over the long haul, it's hard to dispute the Green Bay Packers wining resume.

The Packers won the first two Super Bowls in 1967-68. They won a third in 1997 and their fourth just one year ago. Green Bay also lost the 1998 Super Bowl.

And then their are all of those pre-merger NFL titles. Nine of them, to be exact, plus a couple of second-place finishes.

Yet there's never been a cry to Break up the Packers.

Probably because it seems a little silly to foster hate for a community-owned team from a little place like Green Bay, Wis.


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