2002 is, for me, the End of Baseball. Not only had I lost my favorite fellow baseball fan ( my cousin Bev ), but the lack of any real consideration for Baseball Fans in the Management-Player negotiations of August 2002 makes me feel like an exploited sucker instead of an interested fan, so I am leaving Baseball just as Baseball left Brooklyn back in 1958.
who won the World Series by sweeping the San Diego Padres, but also won more baseball games than any other team in major league history, finishing with a record of 125 wins and 50 losses. In the regular season David Wells pitched a Perfect Game, defeating the Minnesota Twins 4-0. The 1998 Yankees included Tim (Rock) Raines, who fell ill with lupus kidney disease during the next summer while playing for Oakland and did not play for the Yankees during
the 1999 baseball season. 18 July 1999 was a good day for David Cone, as he pitched a Perfect Game for the New York Yankees (a 6-0 win against Montreal), on Yogi Berra day at which Don Larsen (Perfect Game pitcher for the Yankees against the Dodgers in the 1956 World Series, winning 2-0) threw the ceremonial first pitch to Yogi Berra. There were 10 strikeouts, 9 outfield flies, 4 infield flies, and 4 infield grounders.
The New York Yankees won the 1999 (5760) World Series, their 25th, by sweeping the Atlanta Braves, finishing with a record of 109 wins and 65 losses.
In Atlanta, the Yankees won the first game, 4-1, with El Duque (Orlando Hernandez,who came to the Yankees from Cuba on a boat, and whose Orisha is Chango) pitching 7 innings with 2 walks and 10 strikeouts, and giving up only one hit (a home run by Chipper Jones).
In Atlanta, the Yankees won the second game, 7-2, with David Cone pitching 7 shutout innings with 5 walks and 4 strikeouts, giving up only one hit.
In New York, the Yankees won the third game 6-5, on a 10th inning home run by Chad Curtis (his second home run of the game). Mariano Rivera was the winning pitcher, pitching the 9th and 10th innings and exetending his streak of scoreless innings to 41 2/3 including the regular season. In post-season games, his scoreless streak is 24 1/3 innings.
In New York, the Yankees won the fourth game 4-1, with Roger Clemens winning his 250th game (against 137 losses), giving up 1 run, 4 hits, and 2 walks, while striking out 4, over 7 2/3 innings. Mariano Rivera closed the game, adding 1 1/3 innings to his scoreless streak. The ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Whitey Ford to Yogi Berra.
It was the Yankees' 12th straight victory in World Series games, including 4 in 1996 against Atlanta and 4 in 1998 against San Diego, which tied the record for consecutive victories in World Series games. The New York Yankees of 1927, 1928, and 1932 had also won 12 in a row.
The 1999 World Series Yankees had manager Joe Torre (who survived prostate cancer) and coaches Don Zimmer (who acted as manager while Joe Torre was sidelined with cancer), Chris Chambliss, Mel Stottlemeyre, Willie Randolph, Jose Cardinale, Tony Cloninger, and a 25-player roster:
During the regular season and playoffs, the Yankees used 14 more players: pitchers Dan Naulty, Hideki Irabu, Jay Tessmer, Tony Fossas, Ed Yarnall, Todd Erdos, Mike Buddie, Jeff Juden, catcher Mike Figga, infielders Jeff Manto, D'Angelo Jimenez, and outfielders Shane Spencer, Tony Tarasco, and Alfonso Soriano.
According to a 30 October 1999 article by David M. Halbfinger in The New York Times:
"... New York threw yet another ticker-tape parade for its World Champion Yankees Friday [29 October 1999] ... on the platform in front of City Hall ... Darryl Strawberry followed a number of his teammates to the podium to say a few words. After a short speech, the oft-troubled designated hitter, who recovered from a bout with colon cancer last fall only to be arrested for solicitation and drug possession early this year, began to thank his manager, Joe Torre, when he broke down and doubled over, sobbing uncontrollably. As he cried for a full minute, Torre walked up to Strawberry and put his arms around him, and the crowd began to applaud, louder and louder, until even the Yankee players were clapping in a standing ovation of moral support. Finally, Strawberry lifted his head and managed: 'I'd just like to say to Joe, thank you for caring for me." To his teammates, he added: "And I love you guys." ...".
During the post-season playoffs, when the Yankees were playing the final game of the series with the Texas Rangers in Texas, the Texas fans were jeering Darryl Strawberry when he came to bat, chanting "Just Say No!". Darryl then hit a 3-run home run that won the game 3-0, and in the Yankee dugout, Chris Chambliss yelled "Just Say Yes, Baby, Just Say Yes!". Roger Clemens (whose mother was in the stands) was the winning pitcher, giving up 3 hits over 7 innings, with Jeff Nelson facing one batter and Mariano Rivera closing the last 2 innings.
During 2000 spring training (still in 5760), Tim (Rock) Raines tried to recover from lupus and make a comeback to the team he helped to World Series Champiionships in 1996 and 1998, but decided on 23 March 2000 to retire from active playing. ( In the following season, 2001, Raines did play actively at Montreal. ) Darryl Strawberry was suspended for a the season for a positive cocaine test, and suffered a recurrence of his colon cancer, losing a kidney in an operation to remove cancer from his adrenal gland. Joe Torre and Mel Stottlemeyer continued their battles against prostate cancer and bone marrow cancer. The Yankees won the AL East, but their 87-74 record was the worst of any of the 8 teams that made it to the post-season, and they were the only one of those 8 teams that did not win 90 games. Even the Cleveland Indians, who did not get into the post-season, won 90 games.
In October ((after 5760) the Yankees met the Western Division champion Oakland As in the AL Division playoffs. The 5-game series, which the Yankees won 3 games to 2, was a nerve-wrackingly close contest between very different styles of play:
After Oakland, the Yankees played the ALCS against the Western Division runner-up Seattle Mariners, and won the series in 6 games, with Roger Clemens winning game 4 ( a 1-hit complete game, 15 strikeouts, 2 walks ) by a 5-0 score.
In the World Series against the Mets, the Yankees won game 1 in 12 innings by a 4-3 score. In the first inning of game 2, Roger Clemens faced Mike Piazza for the first time since a regular season interleague game in which Piazza was knocked unconscious by a pitch from Clemens. Piazza's bat broke, and the barrel (just over the ML of MLB in the image below) flew toward Clemens like a bouncing ground ball.
Clemens fielded the bat barrel
and threw it off the field across the line to first base near where Piazza was running.
The ball went foul, and the game continued with the Yankees winning 6-5 and Clemens pitching 8 shutout innings with 9 strikeouts, giving up only 2 hits and no walks. Clemens was fined $50,000.00 for throwing the bat barrel.
The World Series winning streak of the Yankees ended at 14 games when the Mets won game 3 by a 4-2 score, with El Duque (despite striking out 12) losing in the post-season for the first time after 11 post-season appearances, 8 of which were wins. Mike Stanton struck out 1 in relief for the Yankees, and the Mets pitchers struck out 12. The game total of 25 strikeouts for both teams was a World Series record.
Derek Jeter hit the first pitch of game 4 for a home run, and the Yankees held on to win by a 3-2 score.
In game 5, Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter hit home runs, and 2 more runs were scored by a walk to Jorge Posada, a single by Scott Brosius, another single by Louis Sojo, and 2 bases granted to runners with the throw to the plate hit Posada and went into the dugout. Andy Pettitte gave up only 2 runs (on 2 errors), and Mike Stanton and Mariano Rivera pitched shutout relief as the Yankees won the game, 4-2, and the series 4-1, making the Yankees the first team since the 1972-73-74 Oakland As to win the World Series 3 times in a row. The Yankees also won the World Series
4 times in the 5 years 1996-2000, something that Oakland did not do in its run in the 1970s.
The only other teams to win as many as 3 World Series in a row are:
Even after the Yankees won 5 World Series in a row, 4 of the following 5 involved the Yankees:
In 1958, the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, and Dodger catcher Roy Campanella's car hit an ice patch and then a telephone pole, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. It was the end of an Era.
During the 2001 regular season, Roger Clemens:
The Yankees won the AL East pennant in 2001.
In the 2001 AL Division playoffs, Oakland won the first two games in Yankee Stadium, but, according to an article in The New York Times:
"... Mike Mussina pitched seven scoreless innings in a 1-0 victory over Oakland in Game 3 of the American League division series. ... in the seventh ... Jeremy Giambi singled to right field. Terrence Long hit a ground ball inside the first-base line, into right field, down into the corner. ... Giambi would try to score. Spencer dug out the ball, Alfonso Soriano set up in short right field, Tino Martinez about 20 yards behind him, backing up in case Spencer overthrew Soriano. ... Spencer's throw sailed far over the head of Soriano, and Martinez took a step back and reached up with his glove but could not get to the ball. Spencer had overthrown both cutoff men, and Giambi was running home with the tying run, the ball bounding in foul territory between home and first. But Derek Jeter, sprinting from his position at shortstop, caught the ball on a hop running toward the Yankees' dugout on the first-base side and flipped the ball to his right, the way a quarterback flips a football on an option play.
Posada reached to catch the ball, swiped with his glove at Giambi, who was nearing the plate standing up - and Posada appeared to tag a millisecond or less before Giambi's right foot came down on home plate. Umpire Kerwin Danley pumped his fist, out. ...".
The Yankees won the next two games and defeated Oakland 3 games to 2.
In the 2001 ALCS, the Yankees defeated Seattle 4 games to 1. Seattle had won 116 games during the 2001 regular season, and had won 3 games defeating Cleveland in the AL Division playoffs. If Seattle had won the ALCS (4 more wins) and then won 3 games in the World Series, Seattle would have won 116+3+4+3 = 126 games and would have broken the record of 125 total wins in a season held by the 1998 Yankees. However, the 2001 Yankees held Seattle to only 1 win in the ALCS, leaving Seattle with a total of 116+3+1 = 120 wins, thus preserving the 1998 Yankees 125 wins as the most total wins in a baseball season.
In the 2001 World Series against Arizona, Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson of the Diamondbacks won the first two games ( 9-1 and 4-0 ) in Arizona.
Games 3, 4, and 5 were in Yankee Stadium.
Roger Clemens pitched 7 innings, giving up 1 run and striking out 9 for the Yankees, and Mariano Rivera pitched 2 perfect innings in relief striking out 4 for the Yankees, as the Yankees won Game 3 ( 2-1 ) with Roger Clemens getting the win and Mariano Rivera getting the save.
(water vapor 2 Nov 2001 image from kauai.nrlmry.navy.mil)
Hurricane Michelle was forming south of Cuba.
Game 4 in Yankee stadium on Halloween night (baseball schedules having been set back a week because of 911) had Curt Schilling against El Duque, who has been recovering from surgery on a toe broken by a line drive (recall Dizzy Dean's career-ending broken toe) during the 2001 regular season. According to accounts of the game in The New York Times: "... El Duque ... has the best winning percentage of any pitcher in postseason history, a 9-2 record for an 81.8 percentage. ... His contract is up at the end of this season, and ...[Halloween]... may have been his last game for the Yankees. ....
... He left in the seventh with one out ...[with the game tied 1-1, the Yankees' run coming on a Shane Spencer home run off Curt Schilling in the third inning]... the crowd gave ...[El Duque]... a warm cheer as he jogged off the mound,
stopping to chat and smile with [Umpire] Rapuano ... If this was his last Yankee start, the man known as ... Señor Octubre helped the Yankees advance to a new month ...
... in the top of the eighth ... Arizona ...[went]... ahead, 3-1 ... With two out in the ninth inning ... with O'Neill leading off first base,
Martinez slammed a two-run homer ...
... In the 10th inning ...[just after midnight when October turned into November]... Jeter ... sliced a home run ... for a 4-3 victory that squared the Series at 2-2 ... "I've never hit a walk-off home run before; it was pretty exciting," Jeter said later. ...
... a prescient ... fan held up a sign: "Mr. November." ...". Mariano Rivera was the winning pitcher in relief.
Game 5 began in Yankee stadium on All Saints Day. According to accounts of the game in The New York Times: "... Former Yankees stars Reggie Jackson [Mr. October] and Don Mattingly threw out the ceremonial first balls ... [Yankee pitcher] Mike Mussina ... did fine in pitching eight innings ... with 10 strikeouts ...[leaving trailing 2-0]... in the ninth ... Jorge Posada ...[led]... off with a double ...
... Scott Brosius saved the Yankees with a two-out, two-run homer ...
... Chuck Knoblauch opened the 12th ...[after midnight when All Saints Day had turned into All Souls Day, the last day of Los Dias De Los Muertos (The Days Of The Dead)]... with his first hit of the series and moved up on Brosius' sacrifice ... then Alfonso Soriano singled ...
... and Knoblauch scored ...
... to give New York a 3-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks and a three games-to-two edge. ...". Sterling Hitchcock was the winning pitcher in relief.
According to a 3 November 2001 article by Buster Olney in The New York Times:
"... Ten days before the stock market crash of 1929, Mule Haas's game-tying two-run homer in the ninth inning led to the Philadelphia Athletics' victory over the Cubs in Game 5 - the last time a game-tying home run in the ninth had led to a World Series victory.
The Yankees accomplished the feat on consecutive nights, in games virtually identical in content and drama, as they took a lead of three games to two over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Games 4 and 5 will undoubtedly be remembered as two of the greatest in a World Series; the question is whether anyone who participated or watched will ever fully believe or comprehend what took place at Yankee Stadium. ...
... "This is the most incredible couple of games I've ever managed, obviously," the Yankees' manager, Joe Torre, said. ...
... [in] the bottom of the 12th [of Game 5] ... Soriano slammed a single to right, Knoblauch rounded third base sharply on his way home, slid and was safe when Sanders's throw bounced off the catcher. ... Knoblauch jumped to his feet - the highest he has jumped since he tried to dunk a basketball as a boy, he said - and the Yankees' fans exploded, many staying to sing along to Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" five or six times.
Torre kept shaking his head afterward as he tried to describe the finish, his face filled with the same silly smile that all the Yankees wore. "I don't know; I really don't," he said. "I don't know. Sorry." ...".
Games 6 and 7 of the 2001 World Series were played in Arizona.
Arizona won Game 6 ( 15-2 ) with Randy Johnson getting the win.
Game 7 was played on 4 November 2001. According to a 5 November 2001 report on spaceweather.com: "... Twisted magnetic fields near sunspot 9684 erupted Sunday, Nov. 4th, at approximately 1620 UT. The explosion sparked an X1-class solar flare and hurled a bright coronal mass ejection ...
... toward Earth. The expanding cloud could trigger geomagnetic activity and Northern Lights ...
...[ image from sec.noaa.gov
images from spaceweather.com gallery by Brian Klimowski, Rapid City, SD; Vesa Sarkela, Kemijarvi, Finland; Rick Davis, Dalton, GA ]...
... when it hits our planet's magnetic field on Nov. 6th or 7th. ... Protons accelerated by Sunday's X-flare and coronal mass ejection have reached Earth, and an S3-class solar radiation storm is in progress. ...".
Roger Clemens (who won Game 3, and who won the 2001 American League Cy Young Award (his 6th)) pitched 6 1/3 innings giving up 1 run and striking out 10 for the Yankees.
Curt Schilling (who won Game 1, and who was the runner-up for the 2001 National League Cy Young Award) pitched 7 1/3 innings giving up 2 runs (one an 8th inning home run by Alfonso Soriano) and striking out 9 for the Diamondbacks,
in the bottom of the 9th inning, the Diamondbacks scored 2 runs (1 earned, 1 unearned) off Mariano Rivera (who won Game 4) to win Game 7 (3-2), so that Arizona won the 2001 World Series 4 games to 3.
Randy Johnson (who won Game 2 and Game 6, and who won the 2001 National League Cy Young Award (his 4th)) relieved Curt Schilling and was the winning pitcher.
According to articles from AP, and by Jack Curry, in The New York Times of 5 November 2001: "... The Diamondbacks were the first team to rally from a deficit to win in the ninth inning of a World Series Game 7. The only comparable thriller came in 1912, when the Boston Red Sox rallied to beat the New York Giants in the 10th inning of Game 7. ...
... The home team won every game, just the third time that has ever happened. ... The other two all-home victory Series were both won by Minnesota, 1987 and 1991 ...
... David Justice ...[who] singled as a pinch-hitter in the eighth [for the Yankees] ...played [against Minnesota] ... in 1991 ... Game 7 ... with [the] Atlanta [Braves] ...
... [Yankee] Chuck Knoblauch ...[played]... for the Minnesota Twins ... at the Metrodome on Oct. 27, 1991 ... in Game 7 of the World Series ... Jack Morris gave an unbelievable performance and held the Braves without a run for 10 draining innings; he finally exhaled when Gene Larkin's bases-loaded single vaulted the Twins to a 1-0 victory. ... Fay Vincent, the commissioner of baseball at the time, said the  Series was "probably the greatest World Series ever." ... the 1991 Series ... was the first to have four games decided as a result of the last pitch, the first to have five games decided in a team's last at-bat, the first to have three extra-innings games and the first to have a Game 7 that was scoreless through nine innings. ... "Game 6 and 7 then, now these two," he [Knoblauch] said, reflecting back to the last two games in 1991 and the two extra-inning victories in this Series. "I'm sure they're four of the greatest World Series games ever played. I was there for all of them. I'm very fortunate." ...".
All three all-home victory World Series were played after the American League instituted the designated hitter in 1973, so that the rules of the game were determined by the home field, and each team won all the games played under the rules under which it won its pennant.
The Game 7 loss ended the Yankees' Era of 4 World Series championships during the 5 years 1996-2000. It was a nice run, but you can't win them all. As the Brooklyn Dodgers used to say prior to 1955:
"Wait 'till next year."
I am very proud of the 2001 Yankees.
In the 2001 World Series they won all their home games in Yankee Stadium and their opponent had to come from behind in the bottom of the 9th inning of 7th game.
Their Halloween - All Saints Day - All Souls Day Midnight Magic wins in Games 4 and 5 were to me the most memorable baseball games I have ever seen.
That the 2001 World Series might represent the End of an Era was indicated in a 4 November 2001 article by George Vecsey in The New York Times:
"... Joe Torre ... knows that ... this Yankee team will not remain. ... the Yankees are about to receive a massive dosage of the old Branch Rickey formula for moving players - better a year too soon than a year too late. ... changes are coming:
- The peppery little guy who started the Yankees' 12th-inning rally in the fifth game: Chuck Knoblauch. His contract is up and he's gone.
- The solid guy who clubbed the two-out, two-run homer that tied Thursday night's game: Scott Brosius. His contract is up and his fielding has disintegrated. ...
- The smooth first baseman who on Wednesday slugged one of the most memorable home runs in Yankee history: Tino Martinez. His contract is up, and he could be gone ...
- The intense right fielder who started Wednesday night's rally with a single, and whom everybody in Yankee Stadium honors as "Paul-ie! Paul-ie!": Paul O'Neill. He wants to stay home with his kids, and is retiring.
- And the crafty pitcher of indeterminate age who willed himself into the seventh inning on Wednesday: Orlando Hernández. El Duque's contract is up and he may be too fragile to exist as a spot starter.
... Torre knows this group of players will never be in the same clubhouse again. ...".
* - Here I am including the non-regular season Perfect Game (Don Larsen's 1956 World Series game) and also two non-standard Perfect Games:
No-hitters and perfect games are not the same. The pitcher who pitched the most no-hitters was Nolan Ryan (7, ahead of Sandy Koufax at 4). Nolan Rayan never pitched a perfect game (unlike Sandy Koufax, who did pitch a perfect game for the Dodgers against the Cubs in 1965). However, Nolan Ryan does hold career records for most strikeouts (5,714), most walks (2,795), fewest hits per game (6.56), lowest batting average by opposition (.204, just ahead of Sandy Koufax at .205), and most strikeouts per game (9.55, just ahead of Sandy Koufax at 9.28). Also, for the time since 1900, Nolan Ryan holds the record for strikeouts in one season (383, just ahead of Sandy Koufax at 382). Nolan Ryan pitched one game (he lost) in 1966, the year Sandy Koufax won 27, lost 9, and retired. For the 26 years from 1968 to 1993, Nolan Ryan pitched for the Mets, the Angels, the Astros, and the Rangers. He was disciplined and worked hard, maintaining good health until 23 April 2000 when he suddenly had chest pains and shortness of breath, and had to have an emergency double bypass heart operation.
(See Perfect Games article at infoplease.com; Total Baseball, Fourth Edition, Viking 1995; and an AP article 24 April 2000 and other articles in The New York Times.)
Next to the Yankees, the Brooklyn Dodgers are my favorite team because they were the parent club of the Valdosta Dodgers in the Georgia-Florida League, and my grandparents used to rent rooms in their house on College Street to ballplayers. When I was a small child, I had my own Dodger uniform.
The Dodgers abandoned Brooklyn in 1958, moving to Los Angeles, and the 1958 World Series was (for the second year in a row) between the Yankees and the Braves. Unlike 1957, the Yankees won the 1958 World Series.
In 1960, both Joe Torre and my cousin Bev (Robert Beverly Irwin, Jr.) went to their first Spring Training with Braves. Joe went on a great career as player and manager (now of the Yankees), but Bev, not having much luck hitting curve balls, did not become a Braves player. However, Bev continued to work for the Braves for many years, and got to know a lot of people with the Braves, like his good friend Paul Snyder. On 22 September 2001, the last day of Summer, Bev died of colon/liver cancer after battling it valiantly for over three years. Ironically, Bev came down with cancer about the same time that Joe Torre and Darryl Strawberry came down with it. Bev loved baseball, his Frank Torre bat, his Hank Aaron weights, and his baseball from Hank Aaron. A few days before he died, Bev described Hank Aaron as the greatest baseball player of all time in all aspects of the game ( even including pitching, because Bev saw Hank pitch during Spring Training ) ).
The day of Bev's burial in the Episcopal cemetery in Marietta, Georgia,
Monday, 24 September 2001, (according to weather.unisys.com) a cold front came through
and (according to a 25 September 2001 BBC article by David Whitehouse) "... at 1038 GMT, a huge explosion occurred on the Sun above sunspot region 9632, which hurled a giant cloud of magnetic superhot gas towards the Earth. The first arrivals from the explosion, a mass of energetic protons, reached the Earth a few minutes later. The magnetic cloud travels more slowly and is expected to disturb the Earth's magnetosphere on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning GMT. ... Another solar disturbance buffeted the Earth on 23 September, prompting a magnificent display of aurorae
captured in this stunning picture by Juha Kinnunen in Finland. ...". Bev would have been 61 years old if he had lived until 26 September 2001 ( 9 Tishri (Erev Yom Kippur) 5762 ).
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