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Excelsior - An MVP 98 Yankees Dynasty

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EXCELSIOR
A 1998 Yankees Dynasty

 

Game: MVP Baseball 2005

Rosters: BallFour custom 1998 rosters

Difficulty: All-Pro

Fair Trades: Off

CPU Initiated Trades: On

Budgets: On

Trade Deadline: On

Energy Level Effect: On

Team Chemistry Effect: On

Variable "Stuff": On

 

 

After several fits and starts, it's BallFour here to breathe life back into MVP Baseball 2005 Dynasties! Please follow my custom created 1998 Dynasty, played wholly on the MVP Baseball 98 mod I've created.

 

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Dynasty Goals

 

Dynasty Goals TBD.

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Steinbrenner Decides to Sell

Yankees Owner to Focus on US Olympics Effort

 

George Steinbrenner, III, owner of the New York Yankees, after his ban from baseball was announced.

 

November 14, 1991
 

NEW YORK - George Steinbrenner, the brash, unpredictable owner of the New York Yankees, has decided to step away from baseball for good. In a statement released by his personal secretary Howard Rubenstein, the man known in the Bronx as "The Boss" announced his intention to sell the team to a group of current minority owners, led by investment manager John W. Henry. Any sale would require approval of the other 27 Major League Baseball owners.

 

Steinbrenner, who was banned by Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent last year for his role in the attempted blackmail of superstar outfielder Dave Winfield, announced his intention to focus more on the efforts of the United States Olympic Committee as it prepares for the 1992 Summer Olympics, slated to be held in Barcelona, Spain. "Now that the Soviets are out of the picture, it's time the USA focuses on getting back to the top of the medal table," the release read in part. "It's time to right the ship."

 

In the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, the United States placed third with 94 total medals, 36 of them gold. The former Soviet Union topped the table with 132 medals, 55 of which were gold. East Germany, which has reunified with West Germany, placed second overall with 102 medals, including 37 gold. Steinbrenner currently serves as a vice-chairman of the United States Olympic Committee. It is currently if that role will now expand.

 

For the Yankees, who haven't won a World Series championship since 1978, it adds a new question. The team finished 71-91, placing 5th in the American League East, only ahead of the Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians. It has already been announced that head coach Carl "Stump" Merrill will not return. The most likely candidate to replace him is Buck Showalter, who was on Merrill's staff last year after winning the AA Eastern League's Manager of the Year in 1989.

 

Steinbrenner's office did not return telephone messages from The Times.

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Yankees Sale Approved

27-0, Owners Approve Sale of Storied Franchise

 

John W. Henry has been named the new owner of the New York Yankees.

 

December 17, 1991

 

MIAMI, FL - Major League Baseball owners have voted unanimously to approve the sale of the New York Yankees to an ownership group led by investment firm owner John W. Henry. Henry, who founded John W. Henry & Co. in 1981, assumes ownership of the team after purchasing a small minority interest from the team earlier this year. Speaking to reporters during the Winter Meetings in Miami, Mr. Henry expressed optimism regarding the club's future.

 

"We're on the right track," Mr. Henry said. "Our record improved from last year, and I've already spoken with (team General Manager) Gene Michael about our plan for the rest of the offseason. We're very excited to put a winning baseball team on the field in 1992." When asked about his day-to-day involvement of the team, he gave a chuckle. "Well, with any change, I think there might be some growing pains behind the scenes, but hopefully I can bring an even, steady hand to the team."

 

An even, steady hand might be just what this team in particular needs. After the intense tenure of George Steinbrenner, III, Mr. Henry brings a calming presence to the top of the Yankees. He is more soft-spoken but no less confident than Mr. Steinbrenner, and has already highlighted his desire to incorporate modern technology into the game. "With more and more teams being shown on television, we have the opportunity now to see exactly how a player is trending," he explained. "A box score might say a player is 0 for 3, but television can show how hard he hits the ball."

 

However, despite the desire to modernize, Mr. Henry realizes the history behind the team. "The fact is that the Yankees are the greatest team in the history of baseball. From Ruth to Gehrig, to DiMaggio, to Mantle, to Munson, to Mattingly, winning is as much a tradition as the interlocking 'NY'. We may have had some down years as of late, but the Yankees are back."

 

With the sale approved, Mr. Henry will take over operations from Mr. Steinbrenner immediately. Players will report to spring training in February.

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Three Strikes, Yer Out
Renaissance Yanks' Season Nixed

 

MLBPA President Donald Fehr has no answers.

 

 

September 14, 1994

 

 

NEW YORK - With no resolution to the MLB players strike in sight, acting Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has announced the cancellation of the remainder of the 1994 season, including the World Series. In the showdown between rich versus richer, there was only one clear loser - the fans, especially Yankee fans. After fifteen years of on-field futility, blackmail accusations, ownership turnover, and general chaos, the Yankees seemed poised to win the American League East, which they haven't done since 1981. Both Selig and MLB Players Association President Donald Fehr pointed fingers today, attempting to play the victim in a business where the average salary tops six figures.

 

The causes for the strike have been rehashed ad nauseum, and today, Selig asserted that the strike had "torn an irreparable hole in the game's fabric." Yankees' owner John W. Henry, who voted against the proposed salary cap and attempted to act as a mediator between owners and players, expressed his disappointment as well. The prospective peacemaker reached out to both sides yesterday in a last minute attempt to avert a season-ending disaster.

 

"We attempted to get both sides in the room," Henry explained. "We just couldn't get an agreement in place." Sources close to Henry have said that he's privately expressed frustration with Commissioner Selig, who refused to consider the MLBPA's counter-proposal of a 2% tax on baseball's highest payrolls.

 

The Daily News has reached out to both Selig and Fehr, and neither wished to comment at this time. 

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Big Changes Coming
Former Yank Watson in as GM, Joins Torre in Revamp

 

New Yankees GM Bob Watson answers a question as his introductory press conference.

 

 

December 23, 1995

 

NEW YORK - Former Houston Astros GM and former Yankees first baseman Bob Watson has been announced as the newest General Manager of the New York Yankees. Agreeing to a two-year deal, Watson ties his fate to new manager Joe Torre, who was announced last month as the replacement for fan favorite Buck Showalter. During his introductory press conference, Watson expressed confidence in a Yankees team that made the playoffs last year for the first time since 1981. After winning the inaugural American League Wild Card, the plucky Yankees team was eliminated from playoff contention by Ken Griffey, Jr. and the Seattle Mariners.

 

Watson replaces another former Yankee in Gene "Stick" Michael. It was Michael's decision to not renew Showalter's contract, admitting that it was the toughest decision of his tenure. Earlier this month, Michael announced he would be stepping down as Yankees GM and taking on a more diminished role in order to spend more time with his family. In his tenure, Michael traded for slugger Paul O'Neill and signed perennial All-Star third baseman Wade Boggs.

 

For Watson, it's a chance to shape the team in an image that he sees fit, working with Torre to bring what could possibly be a National League flair to the Bronx Bombers. "I take chances," explained Watson. "I do things at a different pace." Watson is the first African-American General Manager of the New York Yankees and only the second in the history of baseball. 

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CHAMPIONS!
Yankees Complete Comeback, Topple Braves in Game 6

 

New York Yankees manager Joe Torre celebrates his team's World Series victory.

 

October 26, 1996

 

NEW YORK - After 18 years, the waiting is over. The New York Yankees once again reign as kings of the baseball world. With a 3-2 victory Saturday night, the underdog Yankees ended dreams of a World Series repeat for the juggernaut Atlanta Braves. It is the Yankees first World Series victory since 1978 when the Yankees defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, also in six games. It also marks the first World Series victory under owner John W. Henry, who purchased the team from George Steinbrenner in 1991.

 

The victory also quiets critics of manager Joe Torre, who had never been to a World Series up until this year. It is a long-overdue feather in the cap for future Hall of Fame baseman Wade Boggs, who was a part of the 1986 Boston Red Sox team that fell to the New York Mets. 

 

The championship banner serves as a testament to Mr. Henry's even-keeled ownership style and the shrewd maneuverings of Gene "Stick" Michael and his successor as General Manager, Bob Watson. It was Mr. Michael who traded for Paul O'Neill and acquired Boggs, along with the trade for closer John Wetteland, who narrowly missed out on World Series MVP honors in favor of Game 4 hero Jim Leyritz. Mr. Watson picked up where Mr. Michael left off, filling the large shoes of retired superstar Don Mattingly with Tino Martinez, allowing the development of shortstop Derek Jeter, and acquiring key bullpen pieces to build a championship roster.

 

Mr. Henry was all smiles when talking to the press after raising the Commissioner's Trophy. "From Day 1 I knew this team was special," he said while puffing a celebratory cigar. "If you're looking for a World Series MVP, you can point to any one of these 25 men." After shaking hands with Acting Commissioner Bud Selig and accepting the trophy, Mr. Henry immediately handed it to Mr. Torre, a New York native who had finally reached the apex of the baseball world.

 

"Words can't describe it," he explained. "It's been a lifelong dream, and I'm so grateful to everyone from the top down."

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has announced a victory parade in honor of the new champions to take place on Wednesday afternoon.

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Say It Ain't So, Joe
Yanks Manager to retire after '97 campaign

 

Joe Torre watches batting practice prior to Game 6 of the 1996 World Series.

 

February 9, 1997

 

 

TAMPA, FL - In the midst of preparing for the 1997 season, Joe Torre decided to get something off his chest. "I'm going to retire after this season," Torre said to assembled reporters at Legends Field in Tampa, where the Yankees will begin assembling for Spring Training. "I told John (Henry) that I didn't want to be managing into my 60s, and now that I've got a World Series with the greatest franchise in sports, I'm ready to move on from the day-to-day."

Henry, who said he was informed of this decision last week, was supportive of his manager. "Joe is a class act and there's always a home for him with the Yankees organization. We're going to give him as much time as he needs." Henry suggested that a front office role may be on the table for the skipper.

 

The Yankees have reached out to former manager Buck Showalter about the opening for 1998. Showalter, the Yankees coach from 1992 to 1995, spurned an offer from the Arizona Diamondbacks, who announced that they will not be making a managerial decision until next offseason. Showalter has not met with Yankees brass, but GM Bob Watson did not rule out a possible reunion.

 

Torre, who signed a two-year deal prior to the 1996 season, led the Yankees to their first World Series championship since 1978.

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Heartbreak in Cleveland

Torre Era unceremoniously ends in Game 5

 

Mariano Rivera walks off the field, Indians celebrate advancing to ALCS.

 

 

October 6, 1997

 

CLEVELAND, OH - In the end, it just wasn't meant to be. Despite the calls to "Do it for Joe," the Yankees were unable to overcome the high powered offense of the Cleveland Indians, dropping Game 5 in heartbreaking fashion, by a final score of 4-3. After blossoming superstar closer Mariano Rivera blew the save in Game 4 last night, the Yankees offense never clicked against rookie Jaret Wright. Cleveland, meanwhile, was able to jump on Yankees starter Andy Pettitte for three runs in the third inning, with an additional run in the fourth. While the Yankees were able to muster a fight in the middle innings, the bullpen trio of Michael Jackson, Paul Assenmacher, and Jose Mesa proved more than capable of silencing the New York bats.

 

For the Yankees, it's a bitter end to a season filled with high hopes after a World Series championship last year. Joe Torre, who announced this past offseason that he would be retiring after the season, will give way to a new manager with new question marks. Meanwhile, GM Bob Watson has accepted a position with Major League Baseball to serve as their new discipline czar. The upcoming offseason will likely be the most challenging since the 1991-92 offseason, where wholesale changes in ownership and management led to slow but steady improvement. 

 

If the Yankees hope to return to the postseason next year, they will likely do so with a much different look. Center fielder Bernie Williams and right fielder Paul O'Neill will be in the last years of their contracts, while the left field tandem of Darryl Strawberry and Tim Raines will see their contracts expire after this year's World Series. Along with the question marks in the outfield, third basemen Wade Boggs and Charlie Hayes are entering contract years, along with second basemen Mariano Duncan and Rey Sanchez, and designated hitter Cecil Fielder. As for the pitching staff, Kenny Rogers will likely seek a change of scenery after a miserable year, while the contract of Dwight Gooden is set to expire.

 

However, it's not all doom and gloom for the Yankees. Mariano Rivera has emerged as a world-class closer despite his Game 4 hiccup. Reigning Rookie of the Year Derek Jeter has all the tools to be a superstar for years to come. Tino Martinez set a career high with 44 home runs last year, while co-aces David Cone and Andy Pettitte pitched to sub-3 ERAs. 

 

The rumor mill continues to swirl around Buck Showalter stepping in as Torre's replacement, especially after a last ditch effort by Arizona Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo was spurned. The Diamondbacks have also been linked to Davey Johnson, Bob Boone, and Jim Fregosi. Any managerial announcement from either team would come after the World Series.

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In Latin, excelsior means "ever upward". In this unique dynasty, an alternate universe will be explored. One where George Steinbrenner has sold his ownership stake in the Yankees, where Joe Torre retires after two seasons (as he had originally planned to do), and where the team needs to find stability. We'll pick things up in the 1998 offseason, using accurate 1998 rosters through my custom MVP '98 Total Conversion Mod.

 

Since this mod is not true to life, you can expect some major differences from the real life Yankees. I've been looking for a convenient way to sign whomever I want without worrying about facial hair requirements, so with the Steinbrenners out, facial hair is back in. You'll see players wearing single digit numbers, as I'm returning numbers 1 and 9 back into the rotation, along with 23 and 37. For those that disagree, I'll say that I've never believed in retiring numbers for managers, and since Stengel never played a game for the Yankees and Martin only hit above .270 once in his career, those are going back in. As for Maris, hitting 61 home runs is certainly something, but after that season, he never hit over 35 homers again. As for Mattingly, who retired in 1997, I'm thinking this retired number austerity began in 1992 and while Donnie Baseball would surely be honored as a long time captain and the heart of the team, you only have so many numbers to distribute.

 

Another factor that led me to do this is that I've believed video games to be a great escape from real life. We all know that the 1998 Yankees were one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, team to ever take a Major League Baseball field. But that's already been done. We've got plenty of records of it. I'd rather forge a new path, make mistakes along the way, and explore an alternate future. So for these 1998 Yankees, there will be no Steinbrenner, no Torre, and no certainty.

 

The Yankees will have different farm teams as well. The Syracuse Chiefs will return as their AAA club, after previously serving in that capacity from 1967-77. The new AA Eastern League team will reside in Glens Falls, NY as the Adirondack Lumberjacks. The Single-A Tampa Yankees will rebrand early as the Tampa Tarpons. You'll learn all about these teams from news reports. Joining the New York Times and the Daily News will be the Syracuse Post-Standard, the Glens Falls Post-Star and the Tampa Tribune.

 

In addition to news reports, I'll also provide screenshot highlights and audio commentary for each game. The audio will be uploaded to SoundCloud and linked through posts, while the screenshots will be edited and inserted into posts.

 

I hope you enjoy this dynasty as much as I'm enjoying the creative process around it. Once the MVP '98 mod is more complete, I'll resume posting with more 1998 headlines, some of which will be copy/pastes from the previous dynasty I was going to start, but opted to nix after coming up with this idea.  Stay tuned for more!

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MLB Announces Next Three All-Star Venues
Midsummer Classic to visit Detroit, Denver, and Atlanta

 

 

 

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December 5, 1997

 

NEW YORK - Major League Baseball, in an effort to boost sagging revenues since the 1994 players' strike, took the unusual step of announcing the next three All-Star Game venues, which will carry the Midsummer Classic into the new millennium. Next season's All-Star Game will come from Tiger Stadium, one of the oldest parks in the major leagues. Then, newer parks will be rotated, first with Coors Field in Denver next year, and Turner Field in Atlanta in 2000.

 

Tiger Stadium, which opened as Navin Field in 1912 and later known as Briggs Stadium, will host the All-Star game for the fourth time overall, and the first time since 1971. With a new downtown ballpark being built, this will likely be one of the last "marquee events" to be hosted at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. The game will take place on July 7 of next year.

 

Next in the order will be Coors Field, the home of the Colorado Rockies. Built in 1995, it was modeled similarly to Oriole Park at Camden Yards in the "retro-classic" style. While the All-Star Game is the premier event of the mid-week schedule, the thin air in Denver may shatter records in the annual Home Run Derby. It will be the first All-Star Game hosted in the Mountain Time Zone.

 

The last park to be announced was Turner Field in Atlanta. The home of the Braves, Turner Field was built for the 1996 Olympics and served as the main stadium for the Games. After the closing ceremony, it was converted into a baseball-only facility and opened this past year. The stadium was built across the street from Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, which served as the Braves home field since their move from Milwaukee in 1966. Atlanta last hosted an All-Star Game in 1972.

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