Commentary

Yankees' Top 5 Stories of 2010

In the year George Steinbrenner died, his team fell far short of his lofty standards

Updated: December 21, 2010, 12:39 PM ET
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com

George Steinbrenner 1981AP PhotoGeorge Steinbrenner was born on July 4 and died on All-Star Game Tuesday.

We asked ESPNNewYork.com's beat writers to rank their five top stories of 2010. First up: Wallace Matthews, who covered the Yankees through a season of loss and then a tempestuous offseason. Check out Wally's picks and vote for yours in the poll at right.

1. George Steinbrenner dies

Whether you loved or hated George Steinbrenner -- and you can probably make a strong case either way -- there is no dispute that his death at age 80 on July 13 was the most momentous event of the 2010 New York Yankees season, an event that will have consequences for the team probably for years to come. For instance, would the Derek Jeter negotiations had gone differently if The Boss had still been alive and in command? Would Cliff Lee be a Yankee? Would A.J. Burnett? Born on the Fourth of July, dead on All-Star Game Tuesday, for every day of his baseball life, Steinbrenner was bigger than the game itself.

2. Derek Jeter's contract talks get messy

Hal Steinbrenner proved remarkably prescient when he said the Derek Jeter negotiations could get "messy,'' which they certainly did. And they reached their messiest stage the day GM Brian Cashman casually mentioned to me in a phone conversation that if Jeter didn't think the Yankees' three-year, $45 million offer was fair, he should "test the market.'' Those turned out to be fighting words for everyone concerned and a turning point in the negotiation that finally ended with everyone getting what they wanted. Once the mess was cleaned up, of course.

3. Alex Rodriguez hits No. 600

It took Alex Rodriguez 12 games and 46 at-bats to go from 599 to 600 home runs, and when he finally did it on Aug. 4, this is what greeted him the next day: A slug of reality potion from Ian O'Connor on why, for A-Rod, 600 homers isn't what it could have been. Hate to admit it, but I couldn't have said it better myself.

4. Bob Sheppard dies

By the time he passed away in July at age 99, two days before The Boss, Bob Sheppard hadn't been around Yankee Stadium much in recent years. In fact, he never once introduced a batter in those authoritative, mellifluous tones in the new Yankee Stadium. And yet, his voice will live on every time Derek Jeter comes to bat as a Yankee, and a lot longer than that in the memories of anyone who ever attended even one game at the old ballpark. Here's a tribute to a man who repeated his delivery impeccably for more than 50 years:

5. Dallas Braden's grandma pops off

Win or lose, it seems as if it always comes down to A-Rod, and on April 22, it did again, even in a game in which the Yankees' bats were turned to stone by a little-known Oakland pitcher named Dallas Braden. A-Rod's unauthorized venture across the pitcher's mound that day drew a sharp rebuke from Braden. In turn, Rodriguez made sure to mention Braden's lack of credentials as a pitcher. But Braden had the last word when he threw a perfect game on May 10 against the Tampa Bay Rays, which drew the perfect barb from Braden's tough-gal grandma: "Stick it, A-Rod!'' Here's Andrew Marchand's account:

Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

Coming Tuesday: The New York Mets' Top 5 Stories of 2010

Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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