2000 World Series
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The 2000 World Series was the first Fall Classic to feature two teams from New York City since the Yankees beat the Dodgers in 1956. A lot had changed since then, but the New York Yankees were still baseball's most dominant team. Before losing to their cross-town rivals in Game 3 of the 2000 subway series, the Bronx Bombers reeled off a record streak of 14 consecutive World Series victories. They swept the San Diego Padres in 1998, the Atlanta Braves in 1999, and they also beat the Braves in six games in 1996 - including taking the last four; that made the Yanks winners of three of the previous four World Series.
The New York Mets may have been New York's second team, but many were pulling for their favorite cast of characters. John Franco and Al Leiter were two of the most beloved people in all of Queens. Under their quirky manager, Bobby Valentine, the Mets looked to win the franchise's first title since 1986. Benny Agbayani predicted victory on the radio, but it was not to be. The rivalry brought out crazed fans, and tensions were high at New York's stadiums. The games were close, exciting, and eventful. The powerful Yankees were threatened, but not toppled, in a battle of boroughs.
The Yankees had an experienced cast of veterans. They achieved playoff success several years in a row and were used to the October pressure. Bernie Williams led the team with 30 home runs and 121 RBIs. Jorge Posada hit 28 dingers and Paul O'Neill drove in 100 runs. Derek Jeter had a team-best .339 batting average and swiped 22 bases. It was not an overwhelming offense, but the group knew how to come through in the clutch.
Andy Pettitte was the most consistent contributor in the rotation. He posted a 19-9 record and tossed three complete games. Roger Clemens won 13 games and struck out 188 opponents. Orlando Hernandez went 12-13 and Denny Neagle was 7-7, showing some weakness at the back end of the starting rotation. Mariano Rivera and Jeff Nelson anchored the bullpen. Rivera saved 36 games, while Nelson posted a 2.45 ERA in 73 appearances.
Mike Piazza powered the Mets' potent offense. The star catcher hit 38 home runs in addition to a mighty .324 batting average. Edgardo Alfonzo also hit .324 and tacked on 25 dingers. Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile hit 24 and 22 home runs respectively. The Mets were not fast on the basepaths; Derek Bell and Lenny Harris were the team leaders with only eight stolen bases each. Timo Perez served as the lead-off hitter for most of the World Series after hitting .286 in 49 regular season at-bats.
Mike Hampton and Al Leiter were the aces of an experienced Mets rotation. Hampton won 15 games with a 3.14 ERA, while Leiter won 16 and owned a 3.20 ERA. Rick Reed and Bobby Jones each won 11 games at the back end of the staff. Jones opened a lot of eyes in the NLDS when he allowed just one hit during a complete game shutout against the San Francisco Giants. Armando Benitez compiled 41 saves as the closer.
This was the first year during which Major League Baseball operated with a single staff of umpires covering both leagues. As a result, the umpires were taken from the major league staff as a whole, and not provided half and half by the two leagues as had been the case in all World Series held until then.
Game 1 @ Yankee Stadium
Yankees: 4, Mets: 3
|WP: Mike Stanton (stantmi02) (1-0), LP: Turk Wendell (0-1)|
- Attendance: 55,913
Game 1 featured two strong left-handed starters, Al Leiter and Andy Pettitte. For Leiter, this was his first World Series appearance since starting Game 7 of the 1997 series. In his five previous World Series games, Leiter had only one decision: a win in 1993. Pettitte had four previous appearances in the fall classic, his record was 2-1. Both would pitch well in Game 1, but neither figured in the decision.
The game was scoreless until the Yankees punched open a two-run lead in the 6th. Jose Vizcaino singled, but was forced out on a bunt by Chuck Knoblauch. Derek Jeter walked, giving the Yankees runners at first and second base for David Justice. Justice doubled in both Knoblauch and Jeter to put the Yanks ahead. The Mets came back in the top of the 7th. Singles by Benny Agbayani and Jay Payton and a Todd Pratt walk loaded the bases for Bubba Trammell. Trammell hit a single that scored Agbayani and Payton. Edgardo Alfonzo singled in Pratt to give the Mets a 3-2 lead.
Armando Benitez came in to close out the game in the bottom of the 9th. He got Jorge Posada to fly out, but walked Paul O'Neill. Singles by Luis Polonia and Vizcaino loaded the bases for Knoblauch, who tied the game with a sacrifice fly.
The Yankees loaded the bases in the bottom of the 10th with nobody out, but Glendon Rusch pitched out of the jam. The team from Queens finally met their end in the 12th inning when Vizcaino singled with the bases loaded and two outs to give the Yankees a 4-3 victory.
Game 2 @ Yankee Stadium
Yankees: 6, Mets: 5
|WP: Roger Clemens (1-0), LP: Mike Hampton (0-1)|
- Attendance: 56,059
Fans have suspected that Roger Clemens started Game 2 of the series because Yankees manager Joe Torre did not want him to bat at Shea Stadium. An incident with Mike Piazza earlier in the season could have certainly warranted retaliation against the Yankee right-hander from the Mets' pitchers. So Clemens was sent to the hill with the protection of the DH. His opponent, Mike Hampton was one of baseball's best southpaws. It was a highly anticipated match. For Clemens, it was his fourth World Series start; it was Hampton's first.
Jitters may have impacted Hampton in the 1st inning. After retiring the first two batters, he walked David Justice and Bernie Williams. RBI singles from Tino Martinez and Jorge Posada gave the Bronx Bombers a quick 2-0 lead. Scott Brosius hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the 2nd inning, making the score 3-0. A strange incident took place in the top of the 4th, when Piazza broke his bat hitting a foul ball; Clemens picked up one of its broken ends, and then tossed it at Piazza, who was ambling down the first base line. Given the pre-existing animosity between the two, the incident almost caused a bench-clearing brawl. There were long stares exchanged between the two protagonists, but no blows. Clemens would later claim that he was simply meaning to throw the broken bat away from the field, although that did not convince everyone that he was not trying some sort of strange intimidation tactic. In any case, Clemens pitched 8 scoreless innings, giving up only two hits and striking out nine.
The Yankees added more runs to their lead when Martinez doubled in the 5th inning, and was knocked home by Paul O'Neill. Clemens had a four-run cushion. The big Texan was dealing bullets all night long. A Brosius sacrifice fly in the 7th and a Martinez RBI single in the 8th gave the Yankees a seemingly comfortable 6-0 lead, but the Mets still had some fight left in their tank. In the 9th, Jeff Nelson gave up a single to Edgardo Alfonzo and a home run to Mike Piazza to make the score 6-2. Robin Ventura followed Piazza's blast with a single, forcing Torre to bring in Mariano Rivera. Jay Payton hit a three-run home run later in the inning to make the score 6-5. The rally ran out of juice when Kurt Abbott struck out to end the inning. The Yankees had a two games to none lead in the series. The win also ran the Yankees' record winning streak in the World Series to 14 games.
Game 3 @ Shea Stadium
Mets: 4, Yankees: 2
|WP: John Franco (1-0), LP: Orlando Hernandez (0-1), SV: Armando Benitez (1)|
- Attendance: 55,299
Orlando Hernandez was the Yankees' October magician. He was 2-0 with 17 strikeouts in two prior World Series appearances, and entered 2000 with a 5-0 postseason record. After a rather nondescript regular season, Hernandez sparkled during the first two rounds of the 2000 postseaon with a 3-0 record. His adversary on the mound was Rick Reed, a right-hander with no previous World Series experience.
Robin Ventura took Hernandez deep for a home run in the bottom of the 2nd inning to put the Mets ahead, 1-0. The Yankees responded with a rally in the top of the 3rd. A Derek Jeter single got things started with two outs and David Justice drove in the Yanks' shortstop with a double. The Yankees scored again in the top of the 4th when Paul O'Neill knocked a triple that scored Tino Martinez.
The score remained 2-1 until the 6th, when the Mets were able to plate their second run. Mike Piazza doubled, Ventura walked, and Todd Zeile evened up the game at 2-2 with a single. Hernandez got two strikeouts and a grounder to end the inning. Benny Agbayani put the Mets ahead in the 8th with an RBI double, and Bubba Trammell added to the lead with a sacrifice fly. Armando Benitez held the Yankees scoreless in the 9th to seal a 4-2 Mets winner.
Hernandez took the loss, but did record 12 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. Reed did not factor in the decision and struck out eight Yankees. 25 strikeouts were recorded in the game, that number tying the previous World Series high. The Yankees' loss finally ended their record World Series winning streak at 14.
Game 4 @ Shea Stadium
Yankees: 3, Mets: 2
|WP: Jeff Nelson (1-0), LP: Bobby Jones (0-1), SV: Mariano Rivera (1)|
- Attendance: 55,290
Jeff Nelson and Mariano Rivera were the two most consistent performers in the Yankees' bullpen; both came up big in Game 4. Shea Stadium was rocking as the Mets' faithful hoped to even up the series, but Derek Jeter and the Yankees had other plans. Denny Neagle took the hill for the Bronx Bombers while the Mets turned to Bobby Jones.
Jeter led off the game with a home run in the top of the 1st inning. Mets fans wondered whether they were going to see the Bobby Jones that dominated the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS, or the one that was shelled by the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. After the lead-off dinger by Jeter, it looked like the latter. Paul O'Neill tripled in the top of the 2nd and scored on a Scott Brosius sacrifice fly. Jeter tripled and scored in the top of the 4th to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead.
The last of the runs came in the bottom of the 3rd. Timo Perez led off the frame with a single and Mike Piazza blasted a home run to narrow the Yankees' lead to 3-2. That might as well have been the end of the game for the Mets. Neagle and four relievers befuddled the team from Queens for the remainder of the night. The win went to Nelson (Neagle did not pitch long enough to qualify for the victory), while Rivera picked up the save.
Game 5 @ Shea Stadium
Yankees: 4, Mets: 2
|WP: Mike Stanton (2-0), LP: Al Leiter (0-1), SV: Mariano Rivera (2)|
- Attendance: 55,292
It was fitting that Andy Pettitte started Game 5. Who else but Pettitte, who had been with the team for the previous three championships, should take the mound the night that the Yankees won their fourth title in five seasons ? The Mets only used two pitchers in this game of desperation, two men who were key to the resurgance in Queens: Al Leiter and John Franco. And finally, a struggling star, Bernie Williams, was able to claim some redemption.
Williams was hitless in the first four games of the series, but drove a Leiter offering out of the park in top of the 2nd, giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead. The Mets answered in the bottom half of the inning. Bubba Trammell walked and Jay Payton singled to give the Mets runners at first and second base. Kurt Abbott moved the runners over with a ground out to Derek Jeter. Leiter pressured the defense with a bunt, and the Yankees failed to beat Leiter to first base; Trammell scored and the game was tied 1-1. Benny Agbayani singled in Payton to give the Mets a 2-1 advantage.
Jeter hit a home run in the top of the 6th to tie the game, 2-2. The Mets put runners at second and third with two outs in the bottom half of the 6th inning, but Agbayani failed to drive them in. With the game still tied in the top of the 9th, the Yankees went to work. Leiter struck out Tino Martinez and Paul O'Neill to start off the inning. Jorge Posada walked and Scott Brosius singled. Luis Sojo drove in Posada with a base hit. The throw home got a piece of Posada and rolled away, allowing Brosius to score. Franco took over for Leiter and stopped the bleeding.
Rivera was brought in to pitch the bottom of the 9th inning. He struck out Darryl Hamilton and then walked Agbayani. Edgardo Alfonzo and Mike Piazza, the Mets' two best hitters, were due up. Agbayani swiped second base, but neither Alfonzo nor Piazza could drive him in. The Yankees were once again on top of the baseball world.
- Jerry Beach: The Subway Series: Baseball's Big Apple Battles And The Yankees-Mets 2000 World Series Classic, Sports Publishing LLC., New York, NY, 2020. ISBN 9781683583424
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