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The Baseball Report Volume IV Issue 16 - World Series Edition!
November 1, 2000

From The Editor,

Before you read the issue, I'd just like to remind you all to forward TBR to anyone who you think may be interested, as the more people that read, the better.

The issue covers the playoffs, so if you are here to read about the Montreal Expos or the Texas Rangers, you will have to wait until next issue.

As always, the staff of The Baseball Report encourages and welcomes feedback, so if you have an opinion or a comment on the issue, drop me a line. Similarly, if you'd like to advertise in TBR or on the website, email baseballreport@aol.com.

Now, onto the issue...

Michael Frankel
Editor-in-Chief

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Game Notes by Emily Liner

SportsCenter anchor Linda Cohn put it best: "Was there ever any doubt?" That famous catch phrase totally describes what baseball fans were thinking when the New York Yankees won their fourth World Series in only five years. The three peat was the first of its kind since the Oakland Athletics of 1972-1974. The Bronx Bombers defeated their cross-town rivals, the New York Mets from Queens, in five games.

Twelve innings were played and 396 pitches were thrown in the opener, which was nearly five hours long. Jose Viscaino's RBI single ended it, giving the Yankees a 4-3 win. For the first five innings, starting pitchers Al Leiter and Andy Pettitte did not given up a run. In the top of the sixth inning, Todd Zeile hit a deep drive that landed on top of the fence and bounced back into play. Timo Perez was thrown out at the plate. Later that inning, David Justice hit a two-run double. Pinch-hitter Bubba Trammell tied it up with a two-run single in the seventh inning, which was followed by a RBI infield single by Edgardo Alfonzo. Chuck Knoblauch hit a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning to send the game into extras. Reliever Mike Stanton got the win. Armando Benitez got a blown save, and Turk Wendell was the loser.

The biggest story of the second game was the rematch of Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza. The conflict began during an interleague game in July when Clemens beaned Piazza in the head, knocking him unconscious and making him unable to play in the All-Star Game. In the first inning of game two, Piazza faced Clemens again. He grounded a foul ball, shattering his bat. The broken barrel flew towards the mound; Clemens caught it, and threw it toward the on-deck circle while Piazza was jogging down the baseline. The two argued and the benches cleared, but no punches were thrown.

Home plate umpire Charlie Reliford said, "I don't think he threw the bat at him on purpose. He's just a competitor." The next day Clemens was given a $50,000 fine.

Clemens stayed in the game and allowed only two singles and struck out nine in eight innings, throwing fastballs at ninety-seven miles per hour. Paul O'Neill, Tino Martinez, and Derek Jeter each had three hits. Scott Brosius hit a home run and a sacrifice fly. Martinez had two RBI singles, and O'Neill and Jorge Posada each had one. In the ninth inning, the Mets rallied. Piazza hit a two-run home run off Jeff Nelson and Jay Payton hit a three-run shot off of Mariano Rivera, but it was not enough. The Yankees won the game 6-5, with Clemens getting the win and Mike Hampton getting the loss.

The Mets stopped the Yankees' fourteen game winning streak in the World Series with a 4-2 win in game three. Starter Orlando Hernandez lost his first postseason decision, even though he struck out twelve. Justice hit a RBI double in the third. O'Neill doubled and hit a RBI triple, his first three-bagger since July 23, 1999. The Mets' first run came via a Robin Ventura home run in the second inning. Zeile hit a RBI double in the sixth. Benny Agbayani hit a go-ahead RBI double in the eighth, and Trammell followed with a pinch-hit sacrifice fly. Starter Rick Reed did not get a decision; instead, reliever John Franco got the win, making him the second oldest pitcher to win a World Series game at the age of forty.

Jeter led the Yankees to a 3-2 win with a homer on the first pitch of the fourth game. Pete Rose was the last to do it, back in 1972. O'Neill had another triple in the second inning and scored on Brosius's sacrifice fly. Jeter tripled in the third inning and reached home on Luis Sojo's groundout. The Mets' got their runs on a two-run home run from Piazza in the third. Denny Neagle was taken out after 4.2 innings, and reliever Jeff Nelson got the win. Rivera got his first save of the World Series. Losing pitcher Bobby J. Jones only pitched five innings before the bullpen took over.

The Yankees got their twenty-sixth championship ring with a 4-2 win of game five, thanks to Sojo's game-winning two-run single in the bottom of the ninth inning. Bernie Williams and Jeter each hit solo home runs. It was Williams' first hit of the series. Al Leiter, who threw a 142 pitch complete game, took the loss. Pettitte did not get a decision. A run scored when he committed an error, and Agbayani followed it with a RBI infield single. Stanton got the win, and Rivera broke Rolly Fingers' record with his seventh career World Series save.

Jeter was named the MVP. He batted .409 during the Series with two home runs, extending his hitting streak to twelve. He is the first player to win the All-Star Game and World Series MVP.

George Steinbrenner, the owner of the Yankees, said, "The Mets gave us everything we could want. It was great for the city of New York."

It may have been great for the city of New York, but the rest of the country did not enjoy the first Subway Series in forty-four years nearly as much. The World Series received the lowest ratings ever this year. The average national rating per game was 12.4. The best national rating was 13.2 in game five. The only big market that really paid attention to the championship was New York, of course. In addition to high ratings in the Big Apple, there was an average attendance of 55,571 each game.

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Series Wrap by Eric D. Larson

The 2000 season's subway series was a fairy tale experience for most New York baseball fans. The outcome, however, was the same old story. The Yankees knocked out their cross-town rival in only five games, becoming the fourth team in history to win three consecutive World Series decisions.

Despite their speedy exit, the Mets did not roll out the red carpet for another Yankee milestone. The run difference was ridiculously small, and every game kept fans on the edge of their seats. Players like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera proved the difference, allowing fans in the Bronx a chance to leave their seats for a fourth celebration in five years.

"The Mets are the best team we've faced in the five years I've been here," Jeter said after the final game on Thursday. His humble attitude and field leadership earned his status as a fan favorite and an overwhelming choice for the World Series MVP award.

Aside from his quiet leadership and intense motivation, Jeter provided something that the Mets lacked: a quality hitter at shortstop. Never before has a player earned an MVP award for the All-Star Game and the World Series in the same year. At age 26, Jeter already owns four championship rings. More importantly, if he can continue his brilliant career, he will soon earn a coveted spot in Yankee lore.

Joe Torre and the Yankees have done what many said was impossible. They have crafted another dynasty. It is especially impressive in the modern league, amidst a seemingly uncontrollable surge of expansion that has left the Majors with 30 professional teams.

In fact, much of the credit belongs not to the long list of stars that occupy the Yankee roster, but to their manager, who has put it all together. Torre endured a disappointing regular season and an exhausting struggle in the American League Playoffs, only to finish the year victorious against a highly motivated Mets team. He kept his team focused, away from the media hype and the controversial personal issues that speckled the Fall Classic this year.

"It is really super satisfying, because it's never easy, and we had a lot trouble putting things together this year," a relieved Torre told reporters on Friday morning.

The Mets, on the other hand, have the winter to lick their collective wounds and think about the "what ifs." What if Armando Benitez had not suffered a blown save in Game 1? Could the momentum from an opening game win in Yankee stadium have vaulted the Mets to a championship, perhaps even a series sweep? What if Timo Perez had played like he had all throughout the playoffs? Could his bat have proved the difference?

Perhaps the only consolation for the Mets is that they did what no other Major League team had done in the last three years - they beat the Yankees in a World Series game. In all, the Yankees scored only three more runs that the Mets, with just seven more hits, and cleared the fences in even numbers.

It was a fitting end to the season when Mike Piazza, acting as the Mets' tying run in the ninth, swung mightily at the final pitch and lofted a menacing drive to deep center field, exactly at the stroke of midnight. Both Yankees and Mets fans alike felt their hearts leap within their chest. Even in their final hour, this signified the Mets resilience that had been present all year and echoed a resounding promise for the 2001 season.

"I think we'll be back next year," Piazza later commented. You can bet all of New York will be waiting.

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When Kids Were King by Hollis T. Russell

The Mighty Yankees from the world's most vibrant city have done it again! They clinched the 96th World Series Thursday night in Shea Stadium in true Yankee fashion. This victory guarantees the 2000 Bronx Bombers membership in the most elite club in Major League Baseball, teams that have won at least three consecutive World Series.

This Yankee team, led by Derek Jeter who has now put to bed the "whose the best shortstop in the Bigs" question, joins the 1936-39 Yankees, the 1949-53 Yankees and the 1972-74 Oakland A's as the only teams in World Series history to accomplish this feat.

Now here is the kicker. This incredibly patient group of underachievers becomes the first team to win three in a row since free agency was established in 1976. Call it luck or give credit where credit is due, Joe Torre has been able to hold his core players together and motivate them to win championships in an era where money has made some of the most talented major leaguers lackadaisical and blasť.

That is not the way it was when "Johnny Came Marching Home" after World War I. From 1921 through 1964, the Yanks played in twenty-nine World Series. They won the championship twenty-one times and every spring, each man had to make the "traveling team" leaving Florida on his own merit. Yes, there were big stars like Gehrig and DiMaggio. They were expected to set an example for the other players, especially the younger guys. Nobody in the history of any major league club played harder and nobody else got better results. Both men were part of the 1936-39 Yankees and "Joltin' Joe" was on the 1949-51 Yankees after which he retired and his club went on to capture rings in 1952-53. This type of determination and commitment is seldom seen today.

It was fun being a kid when those great teams of 1947-64 were dominating all-comers. The biggest thrill was taking a transistor radio to school and putting the earplug on as the World Series game began. Of course the teachers knew but they were kind enough look the other way. That Monday afternoon in October of 1956 when Don Larson pitched his perfect game, Mrs. Weddington attained sainthood by assigning a reading exercise and then leaving the classroom while the tension built inning by inning. All the kids rushed home after school to see the finish, mostly at two different houses because of a lack of televisions in those days, but after the final out everybody went nuts. Baseball was the topic of conversation for days after the Series was over.

Baseball was known as the "National Pastime" for many years. It no longer has that prominence. It has been passed on to the National Football League. The reason why is that MLB now bows and scrapes before the alter of "Television Money." People were baseball fans because they grew up with it. It was part of the fabric of their lives. It was played during the day when kids could listen in on the radio.

Today, MLB has no fan base because by the time the game starts, kids have gone to bed. In a few short years, baseball will have no younger generation to draw on because they cannot identify with a sport they have never become attached to. The media says that the problem with baseball is that too few teams can compete with the Yankees because they cannot afford to do so. The bitter truth is that the Yankees have always had the money and the talent, but now, every team gets a slice of the television money and television wants to broadcast the big games in primetime. The greatest game in the world is not being seen by the next generation of fans. This is the modern day equivalent of the fall of the Roman Empire.

Octogenarian and half owner of the New York Football Giants, Wellinton Mara, said last week that he thought he remembered Casey Stengel's inside-the-park home run during the first game of the 1923 World Series won by the Giants 5-4. This was the first World Series game ever played in Yankee stadium. If Derek Jeter's homer on the first pitch of game four is fondly remembered in 2077, then baseball will have realized its errant ways and wooed the youth of America to return to the smell of hot dogs and peanuts and the fun to be had at the ballpark without the lights on. Come on Bud; give kids a break. Sell Wheaties instead of detergent.

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Playing The Short Hop by Michael Frankel

Some Random World Series Thoughts

"Yankees in five." I will go for two in a row next year.

Pitching, pitching, pitching
   Interesting how before the series, everyone talked about the Mets bullpen being far better than the Yankees pen. Right away, there is a battle of the bullpens in game one. And who won? The Yankees. Interesting...

So Roger Clemens gets fined?
   This makes no sense. If Frank Robinson thinks Clemens threw the bat intentionally, he should have been suspended. If he thinks Clemens meant no harm, then Clemens gets fined because he could have injured someone. But, could the same case not be made when a player slams down his batting helmet? Those things fly up at weird angles just as much, and frankly, they can probably hurt just as much too.

Who says defense is overrated?
   Posada vs. Piazza. Game one Jorge Posada properly blocks the plate, and Timo Perez gets thrown out. Game five Mike Piazza fails to block the plate, and the Mets lose. Defense, defense, defense.

Fundamental baseball
   There is no better reason for the Mets' losing game one. Those base running mistakes by Timo Perez, Jay Payton, and Todd Zeille are simply inexcusable. Sure, it's an obvious point, but at the same time one that cannot be repeated enough.

Managing
   Joe Torre had to be questioned for starting Jose Vizcaino in game one. He came threw. Same applies to not starting Chuck Knoblauch at Shea.
   On the flipside, Bobby Valentine was thinking what exactly? Everyone harps on the fact that Leiter should not have faced Louis Sojo in the 9th inning, but why was he in the game at all? Not from a pitching standpoint, that was ok. But, in the bottom of the 6th inning, tied at two, with runners at first and second and one out, Valentine had Leiter bunt. He gave away an out in a game in which the Mets had to score the third run. Yes, Leiter was pitching well, but the Mets had to score. Rather than taking two chances at a single, Valentine gave Benny Agbayani one chance at a hit. Slightly reminiscent of the NLDS, game four, Giants vs. Mets, when Dusty Baker refused to pinch-hit for his pitcher in a big spot.


*Got some random thoughts or one-liners? Send them in to baseballreport@aol.com.

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Questions
   &
Answers

Questions & Answers will return next issue!

*To submit a question, email baseballreport@aol.com, subject question

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TRIVIA QUESTION

Last Issue: In the 1995 American League Division Series, Game 2, the Yankees    beat the Mariners in 15 innings. Who was the winning pitcher?

Answer(s): Mariano Rivera
   
   This Issue's Question: The New York Yankees have now won 4 out of 5 World Championships. How many players on the 2000 Championship team were a member of the 1996 Championship team, and who were they?

To answer, email baseballreport@aol.com subject trivia answer.

To submit a question to be asked, email baseballreport@aol.com subject trivia question.

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Email baseballreport@aol.com with any comments, suggestions, or opinions you may have.

That's all for this issue.

Till next time,

Michael Frankel
Editor-in-Chief

Feel free to forward this to anyone and everyone.

copyright 2000 The Baseball Report