2000: Mike Piazza flies out to Bernie Williams, Mets lose World Series to Yankees
Major League Baseball instituted regular-season interleague play in 1997, which featured the first-ever Subway Series between the Mets and the Yankees. It took just four seasons for those two teams to match up in the Fall Classic, one that ultimately capped the Yankees’ late-1990s dynasty rather than starting a new Mets dynasty.
Just like in 1986, the Mets found themselves matched up against Roger Clemens, though by this time he had traded in “Sweet Caroline” for “New York, New York.” The most memorable moment of the 2000 World Series, at least for Mets fans, is likely the infamous “Clemens bat-throwing incident” with Mike Piazza, which occurred in Game 2.
Unfortunately, that fiery incident was not a major catalyst for the Mets in the series, though they did win Game 3. By the time Game 5 rolled around, Andy Pettitte was on the mound for the Yanks opposing Mets ace (and former Yankee) Al Leiter. Pettitte cruised through seven innings, allowing two unearned runs and handing the ball off to Mariano Rivera in the ninth with a 4-2 lead. Leiter gave a valiant effort over 8 2/3 innings, but he could not stave off the Yankees enough, and the Mets entered the bottom of the ninth inning down 4-2.
Due up were Darryl Hamilton, Benny Agbayani, and Edgardo Alfonzo, with Piazza looming on deck as the tying run if anyone got on base. Hamilton struck out to start the inning, and Agbayani walked to follow him. After advancing to third on defensive indifference and a flyout from Alfonzo, Piazza stepped up to the plate, looking to tie the game with one swing.
Though he was initially booed when he came to Queens, Piazza quickly turned those jeers into cheers. By 2000, he was in the prime of his New York career, having finished the regular season with a .324 batting average, 38 home runs, 113 RBIs, and a 1.012 OPS, finishing third in NL MVP voting. Unfortunately, his potent bat couldn’t quite come through against the greatest closer of all time.
On an 0-1 pitch from Rivera, Piazza swung and launched a ball to deep center field. The Mets fans at Shea erupted, hoping against hope that the ball had left the park. But center fielder Bernie Williams tracked it a few feet in front of the wall, looked the ball into his glove, and secured the final out of the Yankees’ third straight World Series title. In the battle for New York’s bragging rights on baseball’s biggest stage, the Mets were still the little brother.