A Team Like No Other
Written By Frankie Massa
Introduction - “Oh Hand Onto The Roof!”
Chapter 1 - Putting Together The Puzzle
Chapter 2 - Holy Cow!
Chapter 3 - Team Of The Decade
Chapter 4 - For The Love Of The Game
Chapter 5 - More Than A Game
Chapter 6 - A New Beginning
Chapter 7 - 96 Hours In October
Chapter 8 - The End Of An Era
Introduction - “Oh Hang Onto The Roof!”
Managed by Buck Showalter in 1995, the Yankees made it to the postseason for the first time since 1981. Led by first baseman Don Mattingly, and followed by rookies Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte, along with Paul O’Neil, Jim Leyritz, Ruben Sierra, Bernie Williams, Wade Boggs, and many others. In ‘95, the Yankees finished with an overall record of 79-65, finishing second in the AL East, which was enough to clinch the wild card. That would mean the Yankees would go on to face the deadly Seattle Mariners. The Yankees eked out a 9-6 win in game one, with the help of starting pitcher David Cone, and home runs by both Wade Boggs and Ruben Sierra. John Wetteland closed the door in the 9th, but not before the Mariners scored 2, making the deficit 3 runs.
Andy Pettitte took the mound for the Yanks in a crucial game 2. He dominated, and kept the Yankees in the game, throughout the night. The game ended up going 15 innings, and it ended with Jim Leyritz’s dramatic walk off two run home run. The underlooked aspect of that game, was Mariano Rivera pitching 3 scoreless innings, which many people easily forget about. The Mariners ended up winning the next two games, and then they ripped game 5 from the Yankees, ending their season. 1995 was the start of a beginning for the New York Yankees. Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, and Andy Pettitte, all made their major debuts. The Yankees had a plethora of young talent, and a very bright future.
Rivera wasn’t great in 1995, Jeter didn’t get much playing time, and Posada played one game, since the Yankees already had Leyritz as their full time catcher. The only proven piece of the core core, was Andy Pettitte, and he hadn’t even proved himself yet. Maybe something is brewing in the Bronx. The first puzzle piece was placed.
There was one problem though: Don Mattingly would be retiring after the 1995 season. He had suffered back injuries for the final 5 years of his career, which hurt his production. The Yankees all star first baseman was gone, which left a gaping hole in the Yankees lineup. Yankees fans were upset, but not for long. The New York Yankees were about to transition from a good team, to an incredible team. The Yankees rich history was about to get even richer.
Chapter 1 - Putting Together The Puzzle
In 1990, Gene Michael was named the Yankees new general manager. During Michael’s tenure as GM, the Yankees drafted or signed key players, such as Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Derek Jeter. They also traded Roberto Kelly for Paul O’Neil. Buck Showalter left the Yankees, since he refused to fire Rick Down, and as a result, Showalter was fired. Joe Torre was brought in.
During the 1995 offseason, the Yankees resigned David Cone, and signed Dwight Gooden. Then, came the Tino Martinez trade; the Yankees sent Sterling Hitchcock and Russ Davis over to the Mariners, for Tino Martinez, Jeff Nelson, and Jim Mecir. Yes, Tino Martinez, who was on the Mariners when they beat the Yankees in the 1995 ALDS, would be replacing Don Mattingly at first base. Yankees fans did not like that, and after Martinez struggled in his first few games as a New York Yankee, they started to boo him. A lot. To make a long story short, Martinez became one of the most productive players for the Yankees, and fans loved him.
The Yankees finished with a strong record of 92-70, which put them atop of the AL East. The Yankees would beat the Rangers in the ALDS, and go on to the ALCS, to face off with the Baltimore Orioles, who finished with a record of 88-74. Bernie Williams was named series MVP, after the Yankees beat the Orioles 6-4. The Bronx Bombers would be going to the World Series, and went up against the Atlanta Braves, and their incredibly tough pitching staff, which consisted of John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine. The Braves annihilated the Yankees in game one, and shut out the Yanks in game two, handing them an 0-2 series deficit. Joe Torre wasn’t ready to give up; “You guys see this right here? Let’s get this series back to New York. We get it back to New York - whatever the games are - if we get back to New York, we win this thing.” They won game three at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium by a score of 5-2, but they were down 6-3 after the 7th inning. Jim Leyritz came up to the plate with two men on, and just like that, he belted a three run run home run, to tie the score at six, and complete one of the greatest postseason comebacks. The Yankees ended up winning game four, and would go on to win the next two. Derek Jeter was named American League Rookie Of The Year, Andy Pettitte came second to Pat Hentgen in Cy Young voting, but more importantly, it was the start of an incredible dynasty for the historic New York Yankees.
During the 1996 offseason, the Yankees traded the clutch Jim Leyritz to the Angels for Jeremy Blevins, and signed reliever Mike Stanton. John Wetteland left as a free agent, to go the Texas Rangers, which left a question for New York: how would Mariano Rivera fare in the closer role? The Yankees finished the season with a 96-66 record, which was good enough for a date with the Indians in the ALDS. The Indians took care of the Yankees in five games, to finish up the Yankees. It was a disappointment, after the Yankees won the world series the previous year. Their goal wasn’t to make it to the postseason for the third year straight, it was to win the World Series for the second straight year, and the Yankees did not do that. Here comes Scott Brosius.
Chapter 2 - Holy Cow!
Although Phil Rizutto ended his broadcasting career after the 1996 season, he announced for the Yankees for 40 years, which is the longest in franchise history. If he were still broadcasting in 1998, he would use his most well known expression, “Holy Cow!” to describe the Yankees historic season.
The Yankees acquired third baseman Scott Brosius from the Oakland A’s, which didn’t seem like a major move at the time, since he batted only .203 with 11 home runs in 1997. On top of that, the Yankees also acquired Chuck Knoblauch, Luis Sojo, and resigned Tim Raines, and Darryl Strawberry.
The season started off rough for the Yankees, going 0-3 in their first three games, but it was smooth sailing from there. Everyone pulled together, rooted for each other, and played baseball like it was their last game. One moment that demonstrates that perfectly, is when Tino Martinez got drilled right in the back by Orioles pitcher Armando Benitez. Benches cleared and punches were thrown, which really shows how tight this group of ballplayers really were. The Yankees finished with an historic record of 114-48, which was the most wins in a single season during the regular season by a major league team. The Core Four was finally together; Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte. Although the Yankees finished with a 114-48 record, the World Series is up for grabs to any of the teams that make it. The Bronx Bombers had won the AL East by 22 games, and with the Core Four, Paul O’Neil, Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams, along with Scott Brosius and a few other under the radar players, the table was set for another World Series ring.
The Yankees punished the Rangers in three games, to move onto the ALCS to face the Indians, once again. The World Series didn’t come easily for the Yankees, but eventually they made it. Not only were the Yankees the best team in baseball in 1998, they were one of the greatest teams to ever play. And now, they would come face to face with the 98 win San Diego Padres, led by Tony Gwynn.
Tino Martinez struggled mightily in the postseason 1996 and 1997, and it seemed to be that way again, as he hit only .105 in the ALCS against the Indians. Game one of the World Series proved how clutch the Bamtino really was. With the Bronx Bombers tied at five in the 7th with the Padres, Tino Martinez came up to the plate with the bases loaded. With Mark Langston on the mound, Tino worked himself into a 2-2 count. The home plate umpire, and crew chief, Rich Garcia made a call that would be talked about for years to come if damage was done. Langston fired the ball right down the middle, but the question was, was it low? Was that why Rich Garcia called it a ball? Bruce Bochy certainly wasn’t the happy, and Tino wasn’t complaining. All Langston had to do was throw one more strike to get the dangerous Tino Martinez out, but he failed to do that. “And the 3-2… Swung on and drilled deep to right, there it goes, that ball is gone! A grand slam into the upper deck for Tino Martinez! And the Yankees lead 9-5! Oh what a home run for Tino Martinez!” Michael Kay called the shot, as the whole Yankees team poured out of the dugout to greet the clutch Tino Martinez. That home run, that spark, was all the Yankees needed. They would go on to sweep the Padres, and Scott Brosius, who hit .471 with two home runs and six RBI’s, would be named World Series MVP. It wasn’t just Scott Brosius or Tino Martinez who won the world series for the New York Yankees, it was everyone on the Yankees team. Paul O’Neil, Bernie Williams, Chuck Knoblauch, David Cone, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Paul O’Neil, the list goes on and on. Even Shane Spencer! This Yankees team was like no other; they never quit, no matter what the score was, and they played with energy.
Not everyone believes in team chemistry, but a team with great players doesn’t magically win 114 games in a single regular season. They would all pull for each other to get a big hit in a big situation, and that’s not the case with every single team. The 1998 New York Yankees would go down as one of the greatest teams in major league history, if not the greatest of all time. If someone were to look back at that team, they couldn’t choose one person and say, “he’s the one that led the team,” because there simply wasn’t one single player that led the team. The 1998 Yankees were a ballclub that wanted to play ball, and they wanted to win.
Chapter 3 - Team Of The Decade
Scott Brosius, David Cone, and Bernie Williams all became free agents after the end of the 1998 season, and they all resigned with the Yankees. The Yankees made a move, which sent Roger Clemens from Toronto to New York. Prior to coming to New York, Clemens had posted a 2.95 ERA in 15 seasons, along with five Cy Young awards, and 233 career wins. Clemens was entering the latter half of his career, but he did post a 2.65 ERA the previous year, so there wasn’t much for the Yankees to lose in this trade. After coming off a 125 win season, their goal wasn’t just to get to the postseason: they wanted to win another World Series.
On July 18th, on Yogi Berra day at Yankee Stadium, David Cone did what only 15 other major league players had done. He pitched a perfect game against the Montreal Expos, and on May 17th, on year earlier, David Wells also did it for the Yankees. Those two moments, defined just how perfect the Yankees were in 1998 and 1999.
The Yankees finished with a stellar record of 98-64, which didn’t come close to 1998, but they still managed to win the AL East by four games. Roger Clemens finished the regular season with a record of 14-10, and an ERA 4.60, which was the worst of his career. The Yankees would once again face the Texas Rangers in the ALDS, and it almost seemed unfair. The Yankees and Rangers would be separated by only three wins in the regular season, but the Yankees were built for the postseason. They took care of the Rangers in three games, allowing them to score only one run over the three game span. This time, they would go on to face the dreaded Boston Red Sox in the ALCS. The Yankees had a better record than the Red Sox, but every time these two teams got together, it seemed like anyone’s game. Game one may have been a preview of how the series may have been. Kent Mercker started for the Sox, and Orlando Hernandez got the start for the Yankees. Hernandez went the distance, giving up three runs in eight innings, while Mercker pitched only four innings, giving up two runs. Down by one in the 7th, Derek Jeter singled off of Derek Lowe, which scored Scott Brosius. After Hernandez came in and pitched a perfect 8th inning, Mariano Rivera came in to pitch the 9th, and than the 10th. With the game tied at three, Bernie Williams lead off the bottom half of the tenth, and blasted a game ending solo home run, to give the Yankees a 1-0 series lead. The Yankees took care of the Red Sox in 5 games, and the Curse Of The Bambino lived on. The 1999 World Series was no different than 1996. The New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves.
The Yankees outscored Atlanta 11-3 in the first two games, taking a confident 2-0 series lead. With Andy Pettitte on the mound for game three, the Yankees looked to take a 3-0 series lead. Pettitte gave up five earned runs in 3.2 innings, which allowed the Braves to take a 5-1 lead after the 4th. No lead was safe though; the Yankees always came back, no matter what the deficit was. It was like rain, slowly coming down, until the streets started to flood. It all started with an unlikely player, in Chad Curtis, who cut the deficit to three with a solo shot. Than in the 8th, Constantino Martinez chipped in with a solo home run, and the Yankees were only two runs from a tie game. Joe Girardi lead off the 8th with a out on single, which brought the tying run to the plate in Chuck Knoblauch. “In the air to right, Jordan going back, to the track, to the wall… And he can not come up with it, it’s a tie ball game! A home run by about half an inch!” Bob Costas called Knoblauch’s clutch game tying homer. The comeback didn’t mean anything if the Yankees couldn’t pull off a win. As usual, Rivera pitched a scoreless 9th and 10th, which set the table for an unlikely hero in Chad Curtis. A player who had five home runs during the regular season, ended the game with one swing of the bat. “In the air to left… It’s deep, it’s very deep, it’s 3-0 Yankees in the series!” Bob Costas called the dramatic home run.
That left game four. Roger Clemens did what he always did; he touched the monument of Babe Ruth in monument park, and was ready to pitch. Clemens pitched an incredible 7.2 innings for New York, and while John Smoltz was also very good, he gave up three earned runs, which was all the Yankees needed. The soon to be World Series MVP, Mariano Rivera, closed the door on the Braves, and just like that the Yankees had won two straight World Series titles; three in only a four year span. The New York Yankees were the team of the decade!
The Yankees didn’t make any fancy moves after the 1999 season, and with a few exceptions, their team stayed the same. The Yankees did make one small crucial move down the stretch, trading for David Justice who had an average of .265 in 68 games for the Indians. As soon as he put on pinstripes, he caught fire, batting .305 with 20 home runs in just 78 games. Without Justice, the Yankees very well may not have made the postseason. The Yankees finished with a record of 87-74, which put them atop the AL East by two and a half games. It didn’t end pretty though, as they lost 15 of their last 18 games, sputtering into the postseason. They eked out a five game series win against the Oakland A’s in the ALDS, and would go up against the Seattle Mariners, in hopes of going to their third straight World Series.
The winning pitcher in game four, Roger Clemens, gave the Yankees a 3-1 series lead, and Denny Neagle would start game five, in hopes of sending the Yankees to the World Series. That didn’t happen though; the Mariners forced a game six back at Yankee Stadium. Orlando Hernandez went up against Jose Paniagua, in what would be a nail bitter. The Mariners lead 4-3 after four innings, but that would all change in the 7th inning. If the Yankees were down in the late innings, it seemed like every time they would come back, no matter what they were down by. They were unstoppable; they were built for the postseason. Jose Vizcaino lead off the 7th with a single, Knoblauch bunted him over to second, and then Jeter singled, which put the tying run at first, and the go ahead run at first. Arthur Rhodes would come in to replace Jose Paniagua, only to face David Justice. No pitcher wanted to hear that name at the time, especially when their were men on base. “And the 3-1… Swung on and drilled deep to right field, there it goes, see ya, into the upper deck! David Justice with a three run home run, and the Yankees have come all the way back. They lead 6-4! Get your tokens ready, you might be boarding the subway… Oh what a big home run for David Justice! Michael Kay called the dramatic three home run, which gave the Yankees a 6-4 lead in the 7th inning. The Yankees would later tack on two more insurance runs, which gave them a comfortable 9-4 lead. Although the Mariners scored three runs in the 8th to make the lead 9-7, Mariano Rivera pitched a clean 9th, to send the Yankees to their 3rd straight World Series. David Justice was named the ALCS MVP, but who wasn’t expecting that? This time, It wasn’t about just going to the World Series, it was about winning the World Series. And the New York Yankees would be up against their crosstown rivals, the New York Mets.
Game 1 was a pitching duel between Andy Pettitte, and Al Leiter. After eight innings, the Mets lead the Yankees 3-2, but that lead didn’t last for long. Paul O’Neil walked with one out in the 9th which put the tying run on first. Luis Polonia pinch hit for Brosius, followed with a single, and Jose Vizcaino also singled, which left the bases loaded for Chuck Knoblauch. All Knoblauch had to do was hit a fairly deep fly ball, and he did just that. Just like that, the game was tied at three a piece. Rivera did his work, and left the 11th inning for Mike Stanton. He pitched a perfect 11th, and came out and pitched a perfect 12th, which was all the Yankees needed. The Yankees won on a Jose Vizcaino single, and just like that, the Yankees took game one of the World Series. They never looked back from there, as they swept the Mets, Derek Jeter was named World Series MVP, which could have also gone to Paul O’Neil. The New York Yankees had just won their third straight World Series, and their fourth in the past five years. The Yankees had dominated baseball once again.
Chapter 4 - For The Love Of The Game
In 2001, Paul O’Neil would play his final season in a major league uniform. In 2000, Tino Martinez had his worst season as a major leaguer and his contract ended after the 2001 season. Chuck Knoblauch would also play his last season in pinstripes. In 2001, the Yankees were looking for a 4th straight World Series title. The only significant signing for the Yankees during the offseason, was Mike Mussina. Moose had pitched a league leading 237.2 innings the previous year while posting a 3.79 ERA. With a record of 86-57 on September 9th, the Yankees looked to lock down their 6th straight postseason appearance.
On September 10th, the Yankees and Red Sox were rained out at Yankee Stadium. It was a normal day for major league baseball on the 10th, as the season was winding down. Without any notice, an unthinkable horror story broke the heart of America. On September 11th, 2,977 people lost their lives due to a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The sounds of sirens filled the streets of New York, as people were trying to get a sense of what just happened.The great game of baseball would have to be put aside. For the first time in 56 years, all major league games would be canceled
Baseball would resume play a week later, on September 18th. The United States Of America was in despair, but the attack most affected New York. The people of New York, or the whole United States for that matter, didn’t know what would happen within the next few days. At a time when help was most needed, help was received; not only from cops, other people. Baseball reunited America. The Yankees won their game against the White Sox 11-3, giving them a comfortable lead for first in the AL East. Meanwhile on the other side of New York, The Mets weren’t playing many meaningful games. On September 21st, just ten days after the attack, Mike Piazza hit one of the most dramatic home runs in Mets history. With one out in the 8th, and Edgar Alfonzo on first, Mike Piazza came up. He blasted a two run home to straightaway center which gave the Mets a 3-2 lead, but more importantly it gave the people of New York a distraction. Something to keep their minds off of what had happened ten days earlier.
This meant something different for the Yankees, since the Mets were out of postseason contention. The Yankees had just won three straight World Series titles and they were the team to beat, but all across baseball people were holding up signs of hope for New York. A sign was held up while the Yankees were playing against the White Sox at Cominsky Park, which read: “Chicago loves N.Y. God Bless America.” A sign in Fenway read: “Red Sox Fan, I love N.Y.” Is there another time when you would see a Red Sox fan showing appreciation towards the Yankees? People around the country were pulling for the Yankees to win. Even Red Sox fans. “You don’t give up until the final strike. Maybe Americans always believed until the last moment… That they can still win.”
Chapter 5 - More Than A Game
The rest of the season was smooth sailing for the Yankees, as they finished with a record of 95-65. They would go on to the ALDS to face the 102 game winners: the Oakland Athletics. The Yankees lost the first two at Yankee Stadium thanks to 21 game winner Mark Mulder and 18 game winner Tim Hudson. Mike Mussina was the Yankees last hope, as he would go against another young pitcher in Barry Zito. Both pitchers were phenomenal, but the Yankees took 1-0 lead on a home run by Jorge Posada in the 5th inning. Mike Mussina had already pitched six stellar innings for the Yankees, and he would go out for one last inning. Jeremy Giambi singled with two outs in the 7th which didn’t seem like much of a threat, until Terrence Long rapped a ball down the right field line. Shane Spencer’s throw missed both cutoff men, and out of nowhere the shortstop Derek Jeter came running down the line, shoveled to Posada, who tagged Giambi an inch before he touched the plate. Why Jeremy Giambi didn’t slide, nobody knows, but nonetheless he was called out and the Yankees still owned a 1-0 lead. Mariano Rivera came in to pitch the 8th and 9th, and the Yankees had kept their ALCS hopes alive. They would go on to win game four, which would force a decisive game five at Yankee Stadium.
Mark Mulder and Roger Clemens would go at it again, except this time it was win or go home. Three errors were committed by the A’s which led to a total five runs for the Yankees over the course of the game. Clemens didn’t go the distance, but the bullpen was lights out for the Yanks. Rivera got the final six outs and the Yankees were headed to the ALCS.
Once again the New York Yankees would be against the star studded Seattle Mariners. Except this time the Mariners had 21 more regular season wins in 2001, and it wouldn’t be an easy task for the Yankees to advance to the World Series for the 5th straight year. The Bronx Bombers took games one and two away from the Mariners, but the Mariners came back with 14 runs in game three to put a little pressure on the Yankees. Not even the 116 game winning Seattle Mariners could worry the Yankees, as they came back and won 3-1 the very next day. Not only would they win game four, but they demolished the Mariners in game five winning by a score of 12-3. Mariano Rivera, of course, got the final out and Andy Pettitte was named ALCS MVP. The Yankees would be going to the World Series for the 5th year in a row; but this World Series was different. The Yankees felt they had a duty to fulfill. They were playing for the city of New York.
Games one and two in Arizona certainly weren’t pretty for the Yankees, as they lost both of them. That put them down 2-0 in the series which isn’t exactly how the Yankees wanted things to go, but they would be coming back home to New York to play the next 3 games. The President Of The United States, George W. Bush would be throwing out the first pitch of game three. This meant something to America though; it signified that America would be safe again. He spoke in a way that no speech could have ever done. He made a statement that New Yorkers, and the rest of America for that fact, could go on with their lives. There was an uneasy sense in the crowd, not knowing what would happen. The fear of terrorism, but at the same time there was a game to be played. With a bullet-proof life vest on, Bush walked out to the pitchers mound to thunderous applause. Prior to the game, Jeter caught up with Bush, telling him that he if he doesn’t throw from the mound he’ll get booed. And if he bounces it, he will get booed.
Bush walked out to the mound to thunderous applause. He threw a perfect strike, and the fans went berserk. Chants of, “USA! USA! USA!” defended the stadium. Bush just showed America that they were safe again, and it was time to play ball.
Roger Clemens pitched an absolute gem in game three, and just like that the Yankees were right back in it. Game fours starting pitchers were Orlando Hernandez and Curt Shilling. As advertised, both Hernandez and Shilling were lights out giving up a run a piece. Mike Stanton had troubles in the 8th though, allowing the Diamondbacks to take a worrisome 3-1 lead. Byung-Hyun Kim came in in the 8th and struck out the side, which brought the Yankees to their final three outs. Ramiro Mendoza gave the Yankees a 1-2-3 top of the ninth, and Kim would come out for a second inning of work. Jeter tried bunting his way on, but Matt Williams fielded it cleanly. One out. Paul O’Neil, who was playing in his final few games, singled with one out which brought the tying run to the plate in Bernie Williams. He struck out; two outs. The Yankees’ last hope was the struggling Tino Martinez, possibly playing his last year in pinstripes. Martinez was looking for a first pitch fast ball, and that’s just what he got. He drove it over the center field wall, and the game was tied at two! Rivera pitched a scoreless 10th which would bring up Scott Brosius, Alfonso Soriano, and Derek Jeter in the bottom half of the inning. Brosius and Soriano both flied out, and just like that there were two quick outs. The clock struck midnight, and for the first time in major league history the World Series would be played in the month of November. Jeter fouled off pitch and pitch, working a full count. Byung was set to deliver the ninth pitch of the at bat… “And the 3-2 pitch… Swung on and drilled to right field, going back Sanders, on the track, at the wall, see ya! See ya! See ya… He his Mr. November!” Michael Kay called the shot, as Jeter was mobbed by his teammates at home plate. History would repeat itself 24 hours later.
The Yankees were once again down by two runs in the 9th inning, but Posada led off with a double. There was a hope. Not much, but it was there. Two quick outs were recorded by the Diamondbacks, which brought up the Yankees last hope; Scott Brosius. Brosius had always come up clutch for the Yankees, and November 1st 2001 was no different. On the second pitch that Byung-Hyun Kim delivered, Brosius blasted a two run shot over the left field wall, which tied the game at two. Three innings of clutch relief work by the Yankees bullpen, and a walk off single by rookie Alfonso Soriano, gave the Yankees a 3-2 win. They were headed back to the desert up three games to two.
Andy Pettitte got rocked by the D-Backs in game six, en route to a 15-2 loss. The Diamondbacks forced a game seven.
The Yankees would rely on starting pitcher Roger Clemens, as the Diamondbacks would rely on the incredible postseason performer Curt Shilling. Both pitchers pitched their heart out, until Roger Clemens finally gave up a run in the 6th inning, giving the D-Backs a 1-0 lead. That didn’t last long, as Tino Martinez singled in the 7th, which scored Jeter. With Shilling still on the mound for the 8th, he served up a lead off solo home run to Alfonso Soriano, which gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead. Bob Brenly came to take out Shilling with one out, who left trailing 2-1. Even though the Diamondbacks were losing, and had just six outs of their season left, Bob Brenly was staying optimistic as he took out Shilling, and congratulated him: “You’re my hero, you’re my hero. They ain’t gonna beat us, we’re gonna get that back. They ain’t gonna beat us big man.” Once Rivera came in, it seemed as if the game were already over. He pitched a scoreless 8th, and would come in to pitch the 8th; to try and complete a string of four straight World Series titles.
Mark Grace led off the bottom of the 9th with a single, which didn’t seem like much trouble until Rivera’s throw sailed past Jeter on a bunt attempt by Damian Miller. One out later, Tony Womack laced a double down the right field line which tied the game at two. Rivera hit Counsell, which brought up Luis Gonzalez with the bases loaded and only one out. Luis Gonzalez was just able to muscle Rivera’s cutter in very shallow center field. The New York Yankees had lost the opportunity to win a 4th straight World Series. Mariano Rivera had always been so dominant, but this time he failed to impress in the World Series. Even though the Yankees had lost, it was a World Series for the ages. It brought back America, and showed everyone that baseball was more than a game.
Chapter 6 - A New Beginning
After the 2001 season, Tino Martinez left New York to go to Saint Louis. Both Paul O’Neil and Scott Brosius retired after 2001, so the Yankees had a bit of shopping to do during the offseason. The Yankees acquired Robin Ventura, David Wells, and signed Jason Giambi to a seven year $120-million megadeal. The New York Yankees weren’t ready for another postseason appearance, they were ready to win another World Series.
The Yankees improved their regular season record by eight wins, which put them atop the AL East by ten and a half games, finishing with an impressive 103-58 record. The Bronx Bombers would be up against the 99 game winners, the Anaheim Angels. They easily took away game game 1 from the Angels, with an 8-5 win; Rivera getting the save of course. The Angels outscored the Yankees 26-17, which helped the them beat the Yanks in four games. Although the Yankees had won 102 games during the regular season, they failed to make it to the World Series, let alone the ALCS.
In December of 2002, Hideki Matsui signed a multiyear deal with the Yankees, which gave the Yankees lineup an extreme improvement from 2002.
. The Yankees would be against their long time rivals, the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS. The Red Sox won game one by a score of 5-2, the losing pitcher being Mike Mussina. Andy Pettitte would pitch a fantastic game two, helping the Yankees win 6-2. Everything started in game three when Pedro Martinez, the starting pitcher threw at Karim Garcia’s head. After everything settled down, a half inning later Roger Clemens threw inside to Manny Ramirez, but looking to start a fight Ramirez started yelling at Clemens, and the benches and bullpens cleared out. 72 year old Don Zimmer went into Pedro Martinez’s face, and without hesitation Martinez threw Zimmer to the ground; it wasn’t a pretty sight. Nonetheless, there was a ball game to be played, and shortly after the game would go on without any interruptions. The Yankees ended up winning by a score of 4-3, and game four would be on it's way. Games four and five would be played at Fenway Park, which the Yankees would split, and the series was headed back to New York. With the Bronx Bombers up 3-2 in the series, the Red Sox showed no signs of defeat as they won game six by a score of 9-6. Game seven would be a rematch of game seven; Clemens against Martinez.
Roger Clemens gave up four runs by the 4th inning, while Pedro Martinez would dominate, as usual. Mike Mussina, who was making his first relief appearance of his career would replace Clemens in the 5th, and pitch two scoreless innings. Jason Giambi who wasn't supposed to be in the lineup, hit a solo home run in the 5th inning to put the Yankees on the board. Giambi would mimic what he did in the 5th, going deep once again. David Wells replaced Jeff Nelson in the 8th inning and David Ortiz, the first batter Wells faced, hit a solo home run to erase the run Giambi put on the board in the 7th. The Yankees’ season was in jeopardy, as they trailed 5-2 with only six outs remaining. David Wells was distraught when Ortiz hit that home run, but the game wasn’t over until the last strike was thrown.
Down by three in the bottom of the 8th, and Pedro Martinez still on the mound, Derek Jeter came up with one out and started the rally with a double. Bernie Williams would follow with a single to center field to drive in Jeter, and Hideki Matsui would rap a ground rule double down the right field line a to put the tying runs on base, and put the go-ahead run at bat. In between at bats, Grady Little came out to check on Pedro. He left him in the game. Jorge Posada came up to bat with a chance to tie the game, and he didn't miss his chance. Posada dropped the ball perfectly in shallow center field, and both the shortstop and second baseman tried to go for it, which allowed Posada to reach second base. The game was tied at five, which meant the departure of Pedro Martinez. Mariano Rivera pitched the 9th, 10th, and 11th innings, and he absolutely dominated; not allowing any runs. Tim Wakefield came in in the 10th, and pitched a scoreless inning for the Red Sox, but Aaron Boone got the best of the knuckle ball specialist in the 11th. Leading off in the bottom of the 11th, Aaron Boone took Wakefields pitch to deep left field… “As Boone hits it to deep left… That may send the Yankees to the World Series. Boone, a hero in game seven!” Once again the Yankees would be going to the World Series. The Curse of the Bambino would live on.
The Marlins won game six of the World Series, sending the Yankees home a day earlier than they had hoped. For the third time in a row the Yankees had failed to win a World Series. It wasn’t the same without Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius, and Paul O’Neil. And now, Andy Pettitte would leave to go to his hometown team, the Houston Astros.
Chapter 7 - 96 Hours In October
“Don’t let us win today. And we got Peety tomorrow. And we got Shill game six. And game seven anything can happen. We can have you out there. I’ll put you at second base. Dan Shaughnessy hitting 9th, and than you can take that fraud comment back, and we’ll be in the World Series,” Kevin Millar told sports writer Dan Shaughnessy before game four. “This is it. Don’t let the Sox win this game.” Kevin Millar was letting everyone know why people love the game of baseball; Yogi Berra said it best, “it ain’t over till it’s over.”
The Yankees were three outs away from going to the World Series once again. It seemed almost impossible to even get a hit off Rivera, and he would be facing the bottom of the Red Sox order. The clock struck midnight; day two.
Kevin Millar walked, and Terry Francona sent Dave Roberts to pinch run for Millar, who then stole second on the first pitch from Rivera. Bill Mueller took the pitch from Rivera right back up the middle, and the score was tied up at four. There was still more baseball to play though; that run just kept the Red Sox alive, it didn’t win the game for them. Curt Leskanic, who had a 5.19 ERA between two teams in 2004 came in to get the last out of the 11th with the bases loaded. He would than pitch the 12th, which set the stage for David Ortiz to be the hero. With Paul Quantrill on the mound and Manny Ramirez on first, David Ortiz came up clutch once again. He drove Quantrill’s pitch over the right field wall, and the Red Sox forced a game five. “Don’t let the Sox win this game…”
Pedro Martinez kept the Red Sox in the game, giving up four runs over the course of six innings. After nine innings it remained tied at four, and it would stay that way until the 14th when David Ortiz came up with two runners on. He came up clutch for the second night in a row, and dropped a single into shallow center field which scored Johnny Damon from second base. Curt Shilling would get the chance to force a game seven.
There were questions as to whether Shilling would start game six, as he had just had surgery on his ankle. For Shilling, there was no doubt that he would start game six. He took the mound, as the blood soaked through his sock, and throughout the game the blood stain gradually got larger. Curt Shilling pitched his heart out, giving up one run over seven innings of stellar work. Curt Shilling basically told the Yankees to go home. Nobody could have done what Shilling did on October 19th in the year 2004. Shilling won game six; but there was still game seven to be played at Yankee Stadium.
The game was over after 3 innings. After the Red Sox scored six runs. After the Red Sox had just embarrassed the entire city of New York. In the biggest game of his career, pitching on two days rest, Derek Lowe showed the Yankees that The Curse of the Bambino was broken whether you believed it or not. No team has ever come back after being down 3-0, and for the Red Sox to come back after being down to the most historical MLB franchise of all time was historic.
96 hours after the start of game four, the Red Sox stunned the Yankees. It seemed game after game, a new hero would emerge for the Red Sox. Like punches being thrown, knocking the person each time they got up until they were completely still. The Boston Red Sox did just that to the New York Yankees.
Chapter 8 - The End Of An Era
Roger Clemens, Bernie Williams, Orlando Hernandez, Mike Mussina, Mike Stanton, Joe Torre… All the key players from the dynasty years were gone, except for the core four. Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, and Andy Pettitte were all that remained. Tino Martinez played one final year in the pinstripes in 2005, but other than that only the core four remained. From 2005-2007 the Yankees had failed to make it past the ALDS, and in 2008 they failed to make the postseason for the first time in almost two decades.
During the offseason of 2008, Brian Cashman made multiple standout moves, signing first baseman Mark Teixeira, starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett. The Yankees also acquired Nick Swisher, and resigned Andy Pettitte to a one year deal. The Yankees were ready to win another World Series, this time under the management of Joe Girardi. This time would be different though; the Yankees would be playing their first year in the, “new,” Yankee Stadium.
The rebuilt Yankees finished with an impressive record of 103-59, finishing eight games in front of the second place Red Sox. The Yankees would go on to sweep the Twins in the ALDS, and beat the Angels in six games in the ALCS. C.C. Sabathia was named ALCS MVP, and for the first time in five years the Yankees would be going to the World Series. This time, they would be up against the reigning World Series champions, the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Yankees beat the Phillies in six games, which was the Yankees 27th franchise World Series title. For one last time The Core Four would be World Series champions. Hideki Matsui was named World Series MVP, hitting a monstrous .615 with three homers. The Yankees historical dynasty was coming to an end.
In 2010, the first of The Core Four retired; Andy Pettitte. Jorge Posada later followed with his retirement after the 2011 season. Tired of being away from the great game of baseball, Andy Pettitte came out of retirement in 2012, signing a one year deal with the Yankees. Mariano Rivera’s last season was going to be 2012, but while fielding fly balls in center field on May third, he crashed into the wall at Kauffman Stadium. That injury would keep him out for the rest of 2012, and his retirement would have to wait until next year. The Yankees made the playoffs once again, and while Raul Ibanez put on an incredible show in both the ALDS and ALCS, the Yankees fell short to the Tigers, as they got swept in the ALCS. Derek Jeter injured himself in game one of the ALCS, which would keep him out almost all of 2013.
Mariano Rivera announced that his retirement would be at the end of 2013, and he would finish his career with 652 saves and 952 games finished, which are both major league records. On September 26th, Mariano Rivera would walk out to Enter Sandman one final time. After recording the last two outs in the 8th, and the first two outs in the 9th, Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte came out to take Rivera out. He sort of smiled at first, but as reality hit him, he cried into Andy Pettitte’s shoulder. Not only would the greatest closer of all time be leaving the great game of baseball, but the most dominant postseason pitcher of all time would be leaving the great game of baseball. More importantly, one of the classiest players was about to leave the game.
On September 28th, Andy Pettitte would start his last major league game against his hometown team the Houston Astros. He would go the distance, pitching a complete game allowing only one run. Andy Pettitte’s record of 19 postseason wins seems like an untouchable record. Baseball would lose another one of its finest players.
One year later, on September 26th 2014, Derek Jeter played his final game at Yankee Stadium. He ended his career with 3,465 hits; he was also the MVP of the 2000 all star game and World Series. The list of achievements goes on and on. The game was tied going into the bottom of the ninth, as Bob Sheppard’s voice would be heard one last time at Yankee Stadium. He shot the ball the other way which scored Antoan Richardson from second base. The Yankees incredible postseason run was officially over.
With 27 World Series titles under their belt, the Yankees are the most successful sports franchise. Even though they didn’t make it past the wild card game in 2015, they are currently rebuilding for the future. Brian Cashman has stockpiled great prospects in the Yankees organization in hopes of winning their 28th World Series title. The Yankees may have a great team in five years, but no matter how good they are they won’t come close to what the Yankees of the 90’s and early 2000’s did. Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, David Cone, Paul O’Neil, Bernie Williams, Chuck Knoblauch... That team was incredible.
Now, only one player from the 2004 Yankee season remains. And his name is Alex Rodriguez.