In the year 2000, the New York Yankees did something remarkable: they won the World Series. Out of 30 teams in baseball, through the grind of a 162-game regular season and another 16 games over three rounds in the playoffs, they came out as champions.
What made it even more amazing when they recorded the final out of the World Series (against their crosstown Subway Series rivals, the Mets, no less) is that it was their third World Series win in three years: a Three-Peat!
Now, it isn’t easy to win. In fact, the Yankees only won 87 regular season games that year against 74 losses, a mediocre (for division winners) .540 winning percentage. But it’s even more difficult to win a championship, when the lights are on and the pressure is magnified. But that’s when the Yankees found a way to perform at their best. And to win three World Series is almost unprecedented in baseball, where your focus and execution need to be flawless in the postseason.
So, what made it possible, allowing the 2000 Broadway Bombers to etch their names in baseball immortality? They obviously had talent. A great manager in Joe Torre. Comradery and leadership, on the field and off of it.
Many will point to their bloated payroll, and of course, that has something to do with success in sports. But that was more of a reflection of their ownership group, who wanted to win more than anything else and at all costs. Anything other than a Championship was unacceptable.
So, the Yankees rose to the occasion and collectively demanded more of themselves. They DECIDED to be the best. Period.
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was certainly a polarizing person. He was both celebrated, derided, and ridiculed at different times in his life. Sometimes, he was all three at once, like when his character became the brunt of ongoing jokes in the popular Seinfeld sitcom.
Steinbrenner sparred with media. He fired managers with ridiculous frequency, then hired them back, and then fired them again. He shipped off malcontent players without conscience. He spent recklessly.
But one thing was as certain as a clutch Jim Leyritz home run or a ground ball to Jeter at short’: George Steinbrenner wanted to win. To do that, he made sure that he had the best players in the game and the best TEAM in baseball, never mind the consequences.
That commitment to excellence didn’t just show up on the field; it was expected in every single aspect of the Yankee organization, no matter how big or small.
One day during the 2000 World Series, the Yankees were playing a road game at the Mets’ stadium. Steinbrenner noticed that the furniture in the visitor’s clubhouse was not up to “Yankees standards.” His players and personnel wouldn’t rest on that crap!
So, what did he do? He brought in his own first-rate furniture. Every little detail needed to be up to the team’s standard of excellence.
THAT was the Yankee way.
All of his flaws and eccentric outbursts aside, when it came down to winning, Steinbrenner went all out. He treated his people the best of any club in baseball. He spared no expense. Nothing would take away from winning: the Yankee way.
I can relate.
You see, I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by some of the best teammates anyone could ask for. Every day when I come to work, I‘m fortunate to be a member of an elite team, committed to winning through that same standard of excellence.
Our team has been together for over a decade and, in some instances, two. We all strive to make each other better, both professionally and personally. We hold ourselves accountable with the same end goal in mind.
I would like to think that some of the reason we’ve stayed together so long is due to how I treat them, how I feel about them, and how they feel about me.
Through thick and thin, good times and bad, we’re always there for each other, committed to bringing out the best and winning it all for our clients – a true team.
Just like the 2000 Yankees.