In a lot of ways, those 1998 Yankees are a fair model for these 2006 Yankees to aspire to. That team had just acquired a classic leadoff hitter (Chuck Knoblauch) who needed time to acclimate himself to the rest of the lineup. That team started out the season with some find front-line pitchers (David Cone, Andy Pettitte) and lots of unknowns beyond, since it wouldn't be until later that David Wells and Orlando Hernandez became who they became.
Of course, right now, these aren't the parallels that jump off the page at you right now. Things got so bad at the start of that '98 season that the Joe Torre Watch officially began in earnest, and some actually wondered if he'd make it to New York for the home opener.
"I'm fine," Torre kept insisting. "What's the worst that can happen?"
"You could be fired," someone asked, before game six, with the record sitting at 1-4, with Mariano Rivera having just been placed on the disabled list, with the owner stewing and steaming and speculation swirling everywhere, all of this when Joe Torre had yet to become Joe Torre, before the Yankees had become the Yankees, when there was just that one title in 1996 to fall back on, one that was looking like more and more of a fluke as they days passed.
"Been fired before," Torre said. "What else?"