It’s hard to comprehend that it was 20 years ago since the New York Yankees beat the New York Mets in the Subway Series. Sure, there were news and highlights from the series at large, from Clemens throwing a piece of a baseball bat at Mike Piazza, to “El Duque” Orlando Hernandez being handed the first postseason loss of his stellar Yankee career. Even Derek Jeter hitting that leadoff home run during Game 1.
But when you look at how the Yankees limped into October, it’s amazing the team got out of the Championship Series at all.
A Terrible Finish
The Yankees, playing only 161 games that season (one game was rained out against the Miami Marlins that could never get rescheduled), were arguably one of the weakest teams on paper. Bouncing back from a dismal June (playing 5 games under .500), the team was 74-56 going into their September 1st game against Minnesota. They would then go 13-18 between September and October, losing 15 of the final 18 games they played.
It also hurt that Clemens was trash in the ALDS against the Oakland Athletics. Going 0-2, with an ERA over 8 (Dwight Gooden was the only one worse on the rotation), the Yankees were absolutely trashed in Game 4, setting up Game 5 in Oakland.
Now, you’re probably wondering why I’m bringing all of this up. Well, it’s always much more about HOW you finish the season than how well you did that season. The Chicago White Sox had the best record in the American League that year. Both the A’s and Mariners had better records and stronger finishes than the Yankees had. Hell, even the 2019 Washington Nationals ended up finishing only 4 games behind the Atlanta Braves last season, finishing red hot. They finished so hot, it carried them all the way to upsetting the Houston Astros at home in Game 7.
So when the Yankees, who had won 3 World Series titles in 4 years at this point, limped as poorly as they did into October, with such a lackluster performance from their All-Star pitcher they had acquired the year before from Toronto in Clemens, all we can do is raise a glass and toast the way the Yankees capped off that 2000 season. Because all logic would dictate that the Yankees should have been bounced in that ALDS against Oakland.