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August 12, 2004

Looking back.
by sj

Greetings all, it is sjohnny, your fourth or fifth favorite member of the Yankee Chatter crew. Today, I am ranking the greatest Yankee games of the Torre era. There have been many, many, many great games, but I am going with these 5 nominees…

1996 WS Game 4
2000 WS Game 1
2001 ALDS Game 3
2001 WS Game 7
2003 ALCS Game 7

I know, I know, what about Game 4 of the 2001 World Series? Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS? Game 5 of the 2000 World Series? Well, I am not writing a book. I had a really hard time leaving off game 5 of the 96 series, but I felt two 1-0 games would be overkill. I am scoring them in 5 categories, 20 being the highest, and 1 being the lowest

Importance of the Game
Closeness during the Game
Quality of Play
Individual Performances
Memorable Moments

1996 World Series Game 4
Wednesday, October 23, 1996
Kenny Rogers vs. Denny Neagle

Importance of the Game 15.

Game 4 is always an important game, but neither team was facing elimination.

Closeness during the Game 9.

6 innings were played before the Yankees scored; it wasn’t within a run until the eighth. For nearly a third of the game it looked like a laugher.

Quality of Play 8.

Ugh. Kenny Rogers only had one bad inning, unfortunately for him; he was only in there for 2. His game score… I don’t know, it broke my spreadsheet. I am guessing mid-teens. Neagle’s was a little better, 36.

Yanks made one very poor play; Mariano Duncan didn’t cover second on an odd bouncer to the pitcher, allowing Jeff Blauser to reach. The Braves scored runs with 2 outs in that inning, so it may have made a difference in Rogers’s performance, but it is unlikely. The Yankee pen was really outstanding. They combined for 8 innings of 4 hit, 1 run baseball. Only David Weathers was touched for a run. Their combined game score was 59. Can you have a combined game score? Well, I just did it anyway. The Braves pen was less than outstanding. Not only did Wohlers hang the slider, he loaded the bases in the ninth.

The Braves made a couple of very costly errors. Jermaine Dye (wow, that was one hell of a young outfield in Atlanta) kicked a ball and then compounded it by airmailing the cutoff man in the 6th, allowing Bernie Williams to score. A non-error that really hurt the braves occurred in the 8th; Duncan grounded Belliard, who bobbled the ball. It cost the Braves a GIDP, and allowed Jim Leyritz to represent the tying run, and represent he did.

In umpiring news, Tim Welke interfered with a Derek Jeter popup, prohibiting Dye from making a play. Jeter of course singled later in the at bat, and came around to score.

Individual Performances 15.

Nearly everyone had the opportunity to shine in this game, as dozens of players had a hand in this game. Mike Aldrete? He has a World Series ring? Andy Fox? Really?

Boehringer was great, it was important to stop the bleeding. And he threw 2 innings worth of gauze. Charlie Hayes was 3-5 with a walk. Cecil Fielder had his typical fine game, going 2-4 with an RBI. McGriff had a good game, as was his wont that series. A 14 year old Andruw Jones also had 3 hits.

Memorable Moments 19.

This is why this game is on the list. Jim Leyritz lived for the spotlight. Wohlers threw Leyritz a few fastballs that where in the wheelhouse, but Jimmy’s bat was simply too slow. I can’t recall if Perez called for the slider or Wohlers shook him off, but it was thrown, and Leyritz deposited it into left. The rest is history.

The Boggs/Avery AB in the tenth was very good, especially considering the Yankees used nearly their entire bullpen, and really had to score, or Zimmer was going to pitch.

Total Score 66.

2000 WS Game 1
Saturday, October 21, 2000
Al Leiter vs. Andy Pettite

Importance of the Game 14

First in a series is the least important, but it was the World Series.

Closeness During game 20.

Yanks scores in the 6th, Mets took the lead in the 7th. Yankees tied it in the bottom of the 9th and won it in the 12th.

Quality of Play 15.

Starting pitchers were great for a while, nobody scored through 6 and ½. Their final game scores didn’t reflect how well they pitched, especially when they were in trouble. Leiter’s game score was 49. Pettite’s 38. In retrospect, Pettite wasn’t that good, but the Mets helped him

This score would be much higher if the rules allowed for ghost runners. The game was errorless, in stats alone. On four separate the Mets made borderline retarded base running plays. In the fourth, Piazza got on base to lead off the inning, he was then picked off. That is somewhat acceptable, as Pettite has one of the best moves in the history of sport. In a wacky play later in the inning, Todd Zeile hit a roller that went foul, then darted fair, Zeile was out at first because he stopped running. In the fifth, with a runner on second and no outs, Jay Payton hit a ball that was clearly fair. Payton never ran, and decided to argue the mere concept of fair and foul balls. Posada threw him out at first; Pettite got Pratt and Bordick on strikes to end the threat. See memorable moments for the final boneheaded play of the quartet.

Individual Performances 14

Jose Vizcaino had four hits, including the game winner. He is the sjohnny player of the game. Stanton was dominating in 2 innings of relief. He would later say, “I don't know if they're the best two innings I have ever done, but I can't really say they weren't.”

Memorable moments 14

The play everyone remembers was the homer that wasn’t. With Timo Perez on first, Zeile hit a ball that everyone thought was gone, and they cruised around the bases. Unfortunately for the JV, it hit the top of the wall and bounced fair. David Justice made an offline throw to Jeter, who made an incredible relay thrown to nail a now sprinting Perez at the plate by a couple of steps. Jeter defense is much maligned, but I believe if I need a relay throw, I want Jeter to throw it. He is the best in the league.

The ninth was full of drama, in the top half, Todd Pratt was hit by a pitch with one out and Kurt Abbott doubled over O'Neill's head in right. But Rivera got Perez on a bouncer to second with the infield in before striking out Edgardo Alfonzo.

In the ninth, the Yankees needed to score, and Armando Benitez was willing to help. O’Niell was up with one out and nobody aboard. He worked a ten pitch walk. Everyone watching knew that Paulie couldn’t hit the fastball, but he just kept fouling them off. A wonderful at bat by an overmatched aging ballplayer. Said Torre, “That was unbelievable, it was a sensational at-bat.” Luis Polonia, who I completely forgot was on the team pinch hit for Brosious, and singled. Vizcaino singled again, and Chuck Knoblauch hit a sac fly to tie it up. Captain Dreamboat had a chance to win it, but failed miserably, striking out. But I thought he was clutch? What happened Jetes?

Vizcaino had yet another single, his fourth, to win it with the bases loaded and two outs in the twelfth.

Total Score 77.

2001 ALDS Game 3
Saturday, October 13, 2001
Mike Mussina vs. Barry Zito

Importance of the Game 17.

The Yankees were down 2-0, going back to Oakland.

Closeness during the Game 20.

It does not get much closer than 1-0.

Quality of Play 19.

An error on the first play of the game, and a would have been error on the Shane Spencer twirl and throw on the Jeter flip play, other than that, perfect.

This game was an incredible pitching duel Mussina’s game score was 58. I thought he was better than that, but he only K’d 4, and walked one. Zito was amazing, only 2 hits, a lone homer by Posada and a double by Spencer that AB after. Zito’s game score was 63.

Individual Performances 16

Dye on Mussina: "He worked both sides of the plate and he came right at us. He hit his spots and he was on the top of his game."

Zito and Mussina were great. Jermaine Dye had 2 hits, other than that, nothing stands out.

Memorable Moments 15

Nothing really stands out, oh, there was some play by Jeter, a flip or something, I don’t remember. Johnny Damon did though, as he said after the game, “What in the heck is Jeter doing running over there? That is pure instinct. That is why he is such a great player. There is no way that many shortstops would go to back up a play like that. He made perhaps their best play of the season today."

Total Game Score 87.

2001 World Series Game 7
Sunday, November 4, 2001
Roger Clemens vs. Curt Schilling

Note: I get ill when I think about this game for more than 10 minutes, so I will gloss over this one.

Importance of the Game 20.

I can only give it a 20, so that’s what it gets.

Closeness during the Game 20.

Always tight, no one had a lead by more than a run, for more than 2 innings.

Quality of Play 12.

O’Neill was thrown out trying to extend a double into a triple. Posada threw out Womack trying to steal second in the seventh.

Among the good plays, Spencer was robbed of an RBI, and an insurance run, with 2 outs in the sixth.

I will always be very disappointed in the Yankee defense in the ninth. Mo Rivera should have just taken the out at first. Instead, 2 runners reached. I will maintain until I die that Brosious held the ball, afraid to lose instead of trying to win. I have forgiven him, because they wouldn’t have been there without him.

Individual Performances 16

The Starting pitchers were great. Clemens GS: 51, Schilling 52.3

Clemens would have been World Series MVP had Brosious thrown the ball to first. Sigh.

Memorable Moments 20.

You don’t get more memorable than a couple of broken bat hits to win the World Series. Alfonso Soraino’s homer was also great, it was a pitch even Yogi Berra couldn’t hit. He hit a splitter that was less than a foot off the ground.

Total Game Score: 88.

2003 ALCS Game 7
Thursday, October 16, 2003
Pedro Martinez vs. Roger Clemens

Importance of the Game 20.

Did they even play a World Series after this game?

Closeness during the Game 12

It wasn’t close for a while, but it did go extra innings.

Quality of Play 19

One error, one bad pitching performance, one horrendous managerial decision. Walker made a great play that many, many people forget about in the very busy 8th. After the score was tied, Soriano hit a grounder; Todd Walker made a play far beyond his normal range. Nixon may have misplayed Jeter’s double in the 8th.

Individual Performances 18

Clemens, well, he wasn’t good. Mike Mussina was asked to do save the Yanks and he did, pitching 3 scoreless innings. Moose came into the game with runners on first and third with no one down, and didn’t allow a runner to score. Roger Clemens’ postseason ERA sent a note of thanks after the game. Felix Heredia also had a 1-2-3 inning, far and away the most amazing thing about the game. Mo Rivera threw three outstanding innings, picking up a well deserved win.

On the offensive side, Matsui made a great read on Posada’s base hit in the eighth, breaking for home immediately. A gimpy and struggling Jason Giambi hit 2 home runs against one of the greatest pitchers in the world. Kevin Millar and Trot Nixon were the offensive stars for Boston.

Memorable Moments 20.

Among the greatest moments in broadcasting, McCarver and Buck finally shutting up in the eighth, letting America hear the crowd.

Boone’s home run ensures that he will never be forgotten. Matsui’s double was great, a shot down the right field line, I still have the Washington Post sports page from the next day. On it, a large picture of Matsui jumping in the air next to a stunned Jason Varitek after he scored.

Total Game Score 89.

This is just one man’s opinion. You may now tell me all the ways I wrong.