|The List: Bliss for Yankee haters|
Page 2 staff
Fans in Houston weren't the only ones cheering Wednesday night when six Astros pitchers combined to no-hit the New York Yankees ... at Yankee Stadium nonetheless.
For Yankee haters everywhere, this was the best moment of the year ... and the best since David Eckstein and the plucky Anaheim Angels took down the mighty Bronx Bombers in the playoffs last fall.
But was the first no-hitter against the Yankees in 45 years good enough to make Page 2's list of the Top 10 moments for Yankee Haters? Not quite.
For a team that has won 26 world championship, the Yanks have also endured their share of heartbreak:
1. Maz's ninth-inning homer (1960)
In Game 7, it looked like the Yankees were on the way to victory, leading 7-4 going into the bottom of the eighth. The Pirates then rallied for five runs, which included a three-run blast by catcher Hal W. Smith. Broadcaster Jack Brickhouse described the crowd's reaction: "Forbes Field at this moment is an outdoor insane asylum."
Behind now 9-7, the Yankees came back with two runs in the top of the ninth to tie the score. It wasn't enough.
The first batter up against Yankees pitcher Ralph Terry in the bottom of the ninth was Bill Mazeroski. He was an unlikely home-run hero. Maz had hit only 11 goombahs during the regular season. But this was his moment. On a 1-0 count, Maz's blast over the left-field wall gave the Pirates a 10-9 victory and their first world championship in 35 years.
Red Smith described the moment in his column the day after: "Terry watched the ball disappear, brandished his glove hand high overhead, shook himself like a wet spaniel, and started fighting through the mobs that came boiling from the stands to use Mazeroski like a trampoline."
For sheer drama, not many World Series topped the 2001 edition. You probably remember most of the details, so we'll just recount those final sweet moments, the ones that warmed the hearts of Yankee-haters all winter long.
It's November. The series is knotted at three games apiece. AL Cy Young winner Roger Clemens starts for the Yankees, and Curt Schilling, who finished second in the NL Cy Young voting behind teammate Randy Johnson, starts for the D-Backs. Naturally, it's a pitcher's duel. The Yankees take a 2-1 into the bottom of the ninth and stand three outs away from another world championship. Mariano Rivera, he of 23 consecutive postseason saves, is on the mound to wrap things up.
"I thought the game was over," New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said. "When you have Mariano Rivera in to pitch the ninth inning, most people are thinking about spring training."
As the mayor admitted, the D-Backs weren't most people.
Back to the BOB, present-tense. Mark Grace leads off with a single to center field. Damian Miller lays down a sac bunt in Rivera's direction. He fields it, and tries to get pinch-runner David Dellucci on a force at second. It's a bad throw, off Derek Jeter's glove and into center. Men on first and second, no outs. Jay Bell, pinch-hitting, lays down an ineffective bunt.
Dellucci's forced out at third. Tony Womack doubles, driving in a run. Score's tied at 2-2. Men on second and third. Rivera hits the next batter, Craig Counsell, to load the bases. Luis Gonzalez comes to the plate. The Yankees move the infield in. Rivera jams Gonzalez, who manages to hit a little blooper over Jeter's head. Bell scores. Diamondbacks win. Yankees denied their four straight World Series title.
3. Brooklyn's long wait ends (1955)
It would be a last gasp. Podres returned to the mound for Game 7, and kept his cool in front of a Yankee Stadium crowd of 62,465. The Yankees would get eight scattered hits, but the result would be a complete game shutout for the young pitcher.
The game-saving play, the magic moment for Dodger fans and Yankee-haters everywhere, came in the sixth inning. With Brooklyn clinging to a 2-0 lead, Dodgers manager Walter Alston sent Sandy Amoros to left field as a defensive replacement. Good thing. Billy Martin, leading off for the Yankees, walked. Gil McDougald bunted for a single. Men on first and second, Yogi Berra at the plate. Amoros shaded toward center to better defend against the left-handed pull hitter. But Berra didn't pull -- he sliced. McDougald and Martin were off and running -- no way Amoros could get to it. But he did, sprinting to make an improbable grab near the left-field line. He then fired to Pee Wee Reese, who threw to Hodges, who stepped on first to complete the double play. The Dodgers went on to win the game, 2-0, and the Series, four games to three.
In the immortal words of Red Smith, "That's how it went because that's how it was meant to go."
The M's became only the fourth team in major-league history to win after being down two games to none in a five-game series. There was drama galore for Seattle fans in Games 3 and 4, but we'll focus on the final innings of the fifth game. The Yankees led 4-2 going into the bottom of the eighth.
Ken Griffey Jr. made it a one-run game by hitting his fifth home run of the series, off David Cone. Then Cone gave up a walk, a single, a walk and another walk to force home the tying run. The game went into extra innings knotted at 4-4.
With Randy Johnson, in fine form despite little rest, pitching in relief, the Yankees managed to scratch out a run in the top of the 11 and take a 5-4 lead. Facing Jack McDowell in the bottom of the inning, Joey Cora drag-bunted a single. Griffey hit a high-hopper out of the infield, putting runners on first and third. Then up came Edgar Martinez, who got his bat around a high, inside splitter and drove it into the left-field corner, driving in both Cora and a sprinting Griffey. The Mariners won the game 6-5, and the series.
Inside the Kingdome, 57,411 fans went nuts. "Edgar! Eddddd-gar!" the chant went, even after the Mariners left the field. Outside the stadium, it was "Ed-Gar! Ed-Gar!" also, long into the night and into the next day.
5. The Collapse (1981)
The Bronx boys couldn't get used to West Coast time. In Game 3, the Dodgers won, 5-4, thanks to a messy complete-game victory by Fernando Valenzuela and a three-run homer by Ron Cey. George Frazier, pitching in relief of Dave Righetti, took the loss.
In Game 4, Yankees starter Rick Reuschel blew a four-run lead, the Dodgers came back, the Yankees rebounded. Then it was the Dodgers turn. First, Jay Johnstone pinch-hit a two-run blast. Then, Ron Cey hit a fly to right. Mr. October, Reggie Jackson, got blinded by Mr. Sun, and Cey reached second. Then he stole third, and scored on a Bill Russell single. Score tied again.
Fortunately, dependable George Frazier was called out of the bullpen, the Yankees third reliever. He promptly allowed the Dodgers to load the bases with none out. He was on his way to the showers, and his Dodgers runners were on their way to home plate. Frazier took the loss. The Dodgers took the win, 8-7.
Game 5. Dodgers win their third one-run ballgame in a row, 2-1, with Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager hitting back-to-back solo shots off starter Ron Guidry.
Back to Yankee Stadium. With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth, Bob Lemon decides to pinch-hit Bobby Murcer for starter Tommy John. Bad decision. John thought so, as the TV cameras caught him clearly mouthing the words. ''I can't believe that," from his perch in the dugout. Murcer flies out to end the inning. Then Lemon makes another counter-intuitive move. He brings in ... George Frazier to pitch the fifth. Frazier, who had been, in part, the victim of some sloppy play and bad bounces in his previous losses, must have forgot his rabbit's foot again. He let in three Dodgers' runs, on a single, a sac bunt, a bad bouncer that got by Willie Randolph, a bloop single and a Guerrero triple. The Dodgers go on to win, 9-2. Frazier ties the World Series record of three consecutive losses, and also sets a mark for most losses in a World Series that's shorter than seven games.
Frazier's series ERA: 17.17. The only bad part for Yankee-haters was the class Frazier displayed after Game 6. He didn't duck reporters. He said he was happy with his regular season 1.29 ERA, happy to be with the Yankees. "At least I was in the World Series," he said. ''This is the greatest year I ever had."
6. Brother, can you spare a run? (1963)
Such was the case in 1963, when the Dodgers' Sandy Koufax threw complete-game victories in Games 1 and 4 for the Dodgers, silencing Yankees' bats with 23 strikeouts. Don Drysdale, the Game 2 winner, and Johnny Podres, victorious in Game 3, also proved themselves masters. The Bronx Bombers didn't talk during the 1964 series, they whispered. Four games. Four runs. The Dodgers bullpen barely stirred.
It seems like only yesterday that 45,067 fans in Anaheim, on their feet in the ninth inning for every pitch thrown by reliever Troy Percival, chanted those magical words. To the tune of the Bronx cheer, "Let's Go, Yankees!", they shouted "Go home, Yankees! Go home, Yankees!" What they meant was this: Your season is over, Bronx boys. No World Series for you!
When the Yankees won the first game of this year's ALDS at The Stadium, we heard lots of talk -- the Angels had been a nice September story, but October was a time for experience. The Yankees had a lot. The Angels had almost none. End of story.
Then, the Angels came from behind to win Game 2. And came from behind again to win Game 3. And in front of a home crowd in Game 4, the Halos, behind again 2-1, served up a heavenly feast of fifth-inning runs. Eight of them, to be exact. Shawn Wooten led off the inning with a mouth-watering appetizer, a solo blast to tie the score. Before the inning ended, the Angels sated Yankee-haters everywhere, adding eight singles and a double to the 10-hit onslaught that put them ahead for good.
A league-best 103 wins. World champs four of the last six years. It didn't matter to the Angels. "We never cared about history," Anaheim first baseman Scott Spiezio said. "We're trying to rewrite history."
8. Indians come back to win (1997)
Rivera was unfazed by the loss. "It won't affect us," Rivera said. "We feel confident we can win."
You felt wrong, dude. On to Game 5, and the heroics of Jaret Wright, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez and Jose Mesa. Wright, a 21-year-old rookie, pitched 5 1/3 innings and surrendered only two runs, earning his second victory in the series. Ramirez hit a double over the head of New York center fielder Bernie Williams in the third to drive in two runs. Thome executed just the second sacrifice bunt in his career in the fourth inning to set up a run on a sac fly, and then made a great play in the seventh, stopping a Paul O'Neill line drive and, on his knees, throwing out Derek Jeter at second base to stop a potential Yankee rally. The Indians won, 4-3, the Jacobs Field crowd went wild.
9. The end of an era (1964)
On Oct. 15, 1964, the St. Louis Cardinals rendered that negotiating tactic obsolete. With the Series knotted at 3-3, Bob Gibson took the mound at Sportsman's Park. Cards hitters spotted him six runs in the fourth and fifth innings. It was enough to thwart the Yankees, who tried, and failed, to come back. They were old, they were injured, they were finished: It would be the last October for veterans Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Bobby Richardson, Tony Kubek and Clete Boyer.
Gibson surrendered five runs over the last four innings, but held on for a complete-game 7-5 win. For the next 12 years, Yankee-haters would rest easy: When the leaves changed colors, the Yankees went home.
10. Babe Ruth thrown out stealing to end Series (1926)
In Game 7, the Cards led 3-2 with two outs in the seventh inning, but the Yankees had star rookie Tony Lazzeri up with the bases loaded. One version of the story says that Alexander, sleeping in the bullpen at the time, was loaded, too. But when he got the call, Alexander "staggered a little, handed me the pint, hitched up his britches, and walked as straight as he could to the mound," said teammate Flint Rhem. Alexander then struck Lazzeri out to stop the Yankee rally, and got out three straight Yankees in the eighth and another two in the ninth.
Up came the Babe, who walked for the 11th time in the Series. Cleanup hitter Bob Meusel came to the plate, but never had a chance, as catcher Bob O'Farrell connected with second-baseman Rogers Hornsby to nab Ruth trying to steal second. The game was over, the Series was over, the Cardinals had their first world championship, and the Yankees had turned the Bronx into Loserville.
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