During the regular season, New York won "just" 98 times, a far cry from their 114 victories of 1998. Considering the circumstances, however, it was a tremendous accomplishment. Manager Joe Torre was diagnosed with prostate cancer, DH Darryl Strawberry was arrested for drug possession, and pitchers Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte struggled through subpar seasons.
Yet the Yanks marched on. Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill, Derek Jeter, and Tino Martinez each knocked in more than 100 runs, and closer Mariano Rivera didn't allow a run after July 21. Pitcher Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, signed after defecting from Cuba, led the staff with 17 wins and shined in October.
Chipper Jones had a
batting average of .319,
45 homers, and 126
walks in 1999.
And when Greg Maddux "slumped" to a 3.57 ERA, and Tom Glavine fell to 14-11 and 4.12, young Kevin Millwood came through with an 18-7 season. The Braves' pitching was the difference in the Division Series, where they beat Houston in four, and in the NLCS, where Atlanta outlasted New York in six tough games.
The Mets, who smashed the major league record for fewest errors (68), featured four offensive stars: catcher Mike Piazza and infielders John Olerud, Edgardo Alfonzo, and Robin Ventura. The veteran pitching carried the Mets to victory over Arizona in the Division Series, but their bats failed against Atlanta in the NLCS.
Home runs were again a big part of the game in 1999, but they didn't always lead to wins. Despite 65 jacks from Mark McGwire, the Cardinals could do no better than fourth in the National League Central, and the Cubs were last despite Sammy Sosa's 63 dingers.
In the American League playoffs, the Yankees breezed past both the Rangers and Red Sox. New York rendered the Rangers' lineup impotent, negating MVP Ivan Rodriguez and sluggers Juan Gonzalez and Rafael Palmeiro (47 home runs).
Boston, the American League's wildcard team, defeated perpetually disappointing Cleveland in their Division Series but was no match for New York in the ALCS. The Red Sox boasted Pedro Martinez (23-4, 2.07) and a deep bullpen, but aside from shortstop Nomar Garciaparra (.357, 42 doubles, 27 homers) lacked the horses to run with the Yanks.
Game one of the 1999 World Series saw the Yankees explode for four runs in the eighth en route to a 4-1 victory. Following a 7-2 Yankees win, in which David Cone allowed just one hit over seven innings and Millwood was blown out, New York led the 1999 World Series 2-0 with the action shifting to the Bronx.
Game three was the Braves' best chance. Up 5-1 after four innings, Atlanta appeared to be back in the series. However, the Yankees' bullpen threw 6-1/3 scoreless frames and the offense slowly climbed back into the game, tying it by the eighth. Chad Curtis's tenth-inning blast catapulted the Yankees to a 6-5 win.
The next evening, Roger Clemens won his first World Series ring after yielding just one run in 7-1/3 innings. The Yankees prevailed 4-1, leaving no doubts that they were the best team not only of the year, but of the decade and the century as well.
The next page provides headlines and summaries for some of the top stories of the 1999 baseball season.
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