For New York baseball fans, the 2000 baseball season Mets-Yankees Subway Series was a match made in heaven. However, if you weren’t from the Big Apple, you might not have cared that much -- and that dichotomy expressed baseball’s big problem moving into the 21st century.
Some small-market franchises struggled to compete, while some felt that the balance of power had swung permanently to baseball’s biggest markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and the Bay Area. Those four areas did account for five of the eight playoff teams in 2000. But while New York and the Bay Area each produced two division champions, other big cities saw their teams sputter.
Despite the second-highest payroll in the game, the Dodgers couldn’t bring home a title. The Cubs were a sad 65-97 even though Sammy Sosa led the majors with 50 homers. Anaheim hung tough, but too many unhealthy veterans consigned the Halos to third.
However, on the south side of Chicago, the inexpensive and largely unknown White Sox, featuring veteran Frank Thomas and young Magglio Ordonez, ran away with the 2000 American League Central Division. Though the Sox lost to Seattle in the American League Division Series, they showed that not all winners needed bloated payrolls or veteran-heavy lineups.
Oakland was another such example. Featuring American League MVP Jason Giambi (.333, 43 homers, 137 RBI), Oakland’s unheralded but productive lineup, and a pitching staff featuring Tim Hudson and Barry Zito, gave them their first American League West crown since 1992.
However, the As couldn’t top the Yankees. Even though New York lost 15 of its last 18 regular-season games, the Bombers clicked in the playoffs. New York edged Oakland in five, with the clinching contest going to the Yankees after a six-run first.
The Yankees featured Bernie Williams (.307, 30 homers, 121 RBI) and Andy Pettitte (19-9), but they won largely with depth and a strong bullpen. New York’s offense flexed its muscle in an ALCS win over Seattle, whose big guns -- Alex Rodriguez (41 home runs) and Edgar Martinez (145 RBI) -- couldn’t compensate for a shaky Mariners mound staff.
Meanwhile, the Mets snuck into the National League playoffs via the wildcard, but they knocked off the favored Giants (featuring Barry Bonds and league MVP Jeff Kent) to reach the NLCS. Their opponent? The Cardinals, who also upset a favored team -- Atlanta -- in their Division Series. St. Louis battered the Braves’ moundsmen for 24 runs in a three-game sweep.
The Cardinals and Mets then hooked up in a five-game NLCS that New York took handily. The final two games were blowouts, showing that the Mets and their supercharged offense (including catcher Mike Piazza, second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo, and unheralded rookie outfielder Timo Perez) were worthy standard-bearers for the senior circuit.
The much-heralded Subway Series began on October 21. While the Yankees grabbed the trophy in five games, each game went down to the final out, with three decided by one run and the other contests decided by just two runs.
Game one, the longest game in Series history at 4:51, ended with Jose Vizcaino’s 12th-inning single and a 4-3 Yankees win. The next night, the Yanks jumped out to a 6-0 lead before holding off the Mets, who rallied for five in the ninth.
After the Mets won game three 4-2 at Shea, the Yankees took the final contests 3-2 and 4-2. Big hits from Luis Sojo and Derek Jeter (who homered in the final two games) were the difference as the Bronx Bombers became baseball’s first three-peat winners since the 1972-74 A’s.
The next page provides headlines and summaries for some of the top stories of the 2000 baseball season.
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2000 Baseball Season Headlines
In 2000, Ken Griffey Jr. went to Cincinnati to play for the Reds, and Carlos Delgado was voted Major League Player of the Year. Here are some of the headlines from the 2000 baseball season:
MLB Takes Its Show to Tokyo
The Cubs and Mets opened the regular season with two games in Tokyo -- the first major-league regular-season games ever played outside of North America. It was part of MLB’s efforts to globalize America’s game.
Giants Open With a Splash at Pac Bell
On April 11, 2000, the Giants christened Pacific Bell Park against their longtime rivals, the Dodgers. The spectacular new stadium, built on a small parcel of land on the San Francisco Bay, has a right-field waterfront porch that allows “splashdown” home runs to land in the water. Barry Bonds belted six such big flys into “McCovey Cove” during 2000.
Darin Erstad Rips 144 Hits -- in First Half
Angels outfielder Darin Erstad’s sweet left-handed swing produced 240 hits in 2000, the most by any major league player since 1985 (and unsurpassed since 1930). Erstad, who batted .355 with 25 homers and 100 RBI, laced 144 hits before the All-Star break -- an American League record. Darin bore down in 2000 after saying he “stunk” in 1999 (.253 average).
Ken Griffey Jr. Goes Home to Cincy
Star center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. plays for the Reds, who acquired him from Seattle in a five-player deal before the 2000 season. Griffey, a Cincy native whose dad coached for the Reds in 2000, hit .271 with 40 homers, 118 RBI, and 94 walks. However, his production fell short of the perhaps inflated expectations of pennant-starved Queen City fanatics.
Troy Glaus Tops American League with 47 Home Runs
In just his second full big-league season, hulking third baseman Troy Glaus enjoyed his breakout campaign in 2000. At his best swinging for the fences, he connected for 47 home runs to pace the American League. Glaus and teammates Garret Anderson, Tim Salmon, and Mo Vaughn were the first American League foursome ever to homer more than 30 times each. Their heroics, however, couldn’t get the Angels any higher than third place in the American League West.
Jeff Kent Plates 125, Wins MVP Award
Heretofore a steady but never superstar-quality player, San Francisco second baseman Jeff Kent exploded in 2000, batting a career-best .334 with 41 doubles, 33 homers, and 125 RBI. He was voted National League MVP -- beating out teammate Barry Bonds -- as the Giants won the National League West. Kent ranked in the top ten among National League hitters in 11 offensive categories, though he didn’t lead in any.
Carlos Delgado Named Major League’s Top Player
Toronto’s Carlos Delgado wreaked havoc on American League pitchers in 2000. The 28-year-old first sacker made a run at the Triple Crown before finishing at .344-41-137. He led the league with 57 doubles and rated second with 123 walks, a .470 on-base percentage, and a .664 slugging percentage. His fellow players voted him Major League Player of the Year.
2000 Tigers: New Ballpark, Same Old Team
The overcast skies that greeted the Tigers for the first game ever at Comerica Park served as an uncomfortable metaphor for the team’s future. Unlike in Baltimore and Cleveland, the new park did not rejuvenate fans or the ballclub as much as management had hoped. After the season, the Tigers pared their payroll to help offset the cost of the stadium.
John Rocker Suspended
Braves reliever John Rocker holds a press conference at New York’s Shea Stadium on June 29. Prior to the season, Rocker had made negative comments in the national press concerning his disdain for New Yorkers and minorities, drawing fire from some teammates and opponents as well as millions of fans. MLB suspended him for two weeks.
Check out more headlines from the 2000 baseball season on the next page.
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More 2000 Baseball Season Headlines
See below for more headlines from the 2000 baseball season, including Randy Johnson winning his second straight Cy Young Award and Kaz Sasaki from Japan being named American League Rookie of the Year at age 32.
Jason Giambi Cops MVP Award
Jason Giambi of the A’s won the American League’s MVP trophy with a spectacular season that included 43 homers, 137 RBI, and a .333 average. He led the majors in on-base percentage (.474), not to mention grand slams (six). As Oakland struggled to hold on to first place down the stretch, Giambi homered five times in his last seven games, securing the West Division crown. Jason’s brother, Jeremy, also played for the A’s.
Todd Helton: .372, 42 Homers
Colorado first baseman Todd Helton posted incredible numbers in 2000, including a .372 average, 59 doubles, 42 home runs, 147 RBI, 138 runs, and 103 walks. While the thin air of Denver surely contributed to his totals, Helton did bat .353 with 15 homers on the road. He captured the National League’s Hank Aaron Award, given to the league’s premier slugger.
Randy Johnson Whiffs 347
Arizona’s Randy Johnson won his second straight Cy Young Award in 2000 after leading the majors in strikeouts (347) for the third consecutive year. The fire-balling southpaw so dominated lefties that managers routinely stacked their lineups with eight or nine right-handed hitters. Johnson opened the season 14-2 and finished 19-7.
Andres Galarraga Returns from Cancer
Atlanta Braves first baseman Andres Galarraga, who missed the entire 1999 season after undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his lower back, assumed his position on the field for the Braves in 2000. The courageous “Big Cat” cracked .302 with 28 four-baggers and 100 RBI at age 39. He also earned a spot on the National League All-Star team.
Kaz Sasaki, 32, Named ROTY
The Mariners have always had an eye out for international talent, and in 2000 they benefited from the performance of sinkerballing closer Kaz Sasaki. The Japanese-born right-hander made his major league debut with a club-record 37 saves, including 15 in a row at one point. It was enough to earn him the American League Rookie of the Year Award -- even though he was 32 years old.
Alex Rodriguez Swats 41 Big Flys
At age 25, Alex Rodriguez again had one of the best offensive seasons ever for a shortstop. A-Rod ripped .316 with 34 doubles, 41 homers, 132 RBI, 100 walks, and even 15 steals. He scored 134 runs and played superb defense. Following the season, he inked a ten-year contract with the Rangers for $252 million -- a sum that stunned the nation.
2000 Mets Knock Off Cardinals
Mets pitcher Mike Hampton tossed seven scoreless frames in the Mets’ 6-2 victory over St. Louis. In game five, he pitched a three-hit shutout to clinch the series. The Cards sorely missed Mark McGwire, who could only pinch hit due to injury and went 0-for-2 in the series.
Mike Piazza, Roger Clemens Clash in Subway Series
The biggest flap of the 2000 World Series came during game two at Yankee Stadium. In the first inning, Roger Clemens induced a grounder from Mets catcher Mike Piazza, breaking his bat. When a piece of the bat flew toward the mound, an angry Clemens tossed it in Piazza’s direction, setting off a bench-clearing incident. The two had history: Earlier in the season, Clemens drilled Piazza in the head with a pitch.
Luis Sojo’s Hit Clinches 2000 World Series
In game five of the World Series, Luis Sojo came to bat in the ninth inning with the score 2-2. Facing tired Mets starter Al Leiter, Sojo ripped his 142nd pitch for a single to plate the go-ahead run. The Yankees won 4-2 after reliever Mariano Rivera slammed the door in the bottom of the ninth. Derek Jeter called the Mets the toughest opponent in the Yankees’ four recent World Series triumphs.
The next page highlights key events and details from the 2000 baseball season.
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2000 Baseball Season Highlights
The 2000 baseball season featured some new additions to MLB as the Tigers and the Giants both opened new stadiums. Pleasing some fans and boring others, the New York Mets and Yankees squared off in the exciting Subway Series. Below, you will find the highlights from the 2000 baseball season:
- The Yankees beat Oakland in their Division Series despite allowing 23 runs and scoring 19 in five games.
- After leading the majors in runs with 978, the White Sox tally just seven times in a three-game American League Division Series loss to Seattle.
- New York needs six games to subdue the Mariners in the ALCS, with David Justice belting a key homer in the finale.
- Atlanta drops its Division Series in three straight to the Cardinals. The Braves had previously won five Division Series in a row.
- The Mets slay the Giants in four Division Series games, with Bobby Jones tossing a one-hit shutout in the clincher.
- The National League's Cy Young goes to Arizona's Randy Johnson, who notches a major league-high 347 whiffs in just 248-2/3 innings.
- Mike Hampton throws 16 scoreless innings to help the Mets defeat the Cardinals in five NLCS games.
- The Yankees win the Subway Series in five games, all of which come down to the last at-bat.
- Luis Sojo's ninth-inning single plates the winning run in the Yanks' 4-2 triumph in game five.
- Derek Jeter of the Yankees is the first player to win the All-Star Game and World Series MVP Awards in the same season.
- Yankee closer Mariano Rivera sets a major league record for consecutive scoreless innings in postseason play with 33-1/3.
- Jason Giambi of the Athletics is the American League's MVP. Giambi swats 43 homers, drives in 137, and paces the American League with 137 walks and a .476 OBP.
- Jeff Kent of San Francisco bats .334 with 41 doubles, 33 homers, and 125 RBI to win 2000 National League MVP honors.
- For the second straight season, Boston's Pedro Martinez is the American League's 2000 Cy Young Award winner.
- Martinez goes 18-6 and paces the American League in ERA (1.74), strikeouts (284), and shutouts (four).
- Japanese-born right-hander Kazuhiro Sasaki takes over closing duties for Seattle and wins American League 2000 ROTY honors.
- The National League 2000 ROTY Award goes to Braves shortstop Rafael Furcal, who bats .295 with 40 steals.
- Boston shortstop Nomar Garciaparra wins his second straight American League bat crown with a .372 average-highest mark by an American League hitter since 1980.
- Darin Erstad of the Angels raps 240 hits; no major league player has collected more since 1930. His 99 RBI set a major league record for a leadoff hitter.
- Anaheim third baseman Troy Glaus belts 47 home runs to lead the American League.
- Sammy Sosa finally wins his first National League home run crown, slugging 50 dingers for the Cubs.
- Seattle's 37-year-old Edgar Martinez paces the American League with 145 RBI (a new record for a player his age) and belts 37 home runs.
- Colorado's Todd Helton tops the National League in batting (.372), hits (216), RBI (147), SA (.698), and OBP (.463).
- Helton is the first National League player ever with 200 hits, 40 homers, 100 walks, 100 runs, 100 RBI, and 100 extra-base hits.
- Seattle deals Ken Griffey Jr. to Cincinnati in a five-player deal.
- At age 30, Griffey becomes the youngest player ever to hit 400 home runs when he reaches the milestone on April 10 at Colorado.
- The Elian Gonzalez custody battle touches baseball, as several players boycott games on April 25 to protest the government's decision to return Elian to Cuba.
- Kansas City's Johnny Damon leads the American League with 46 steals and 136 runs.
- Atlanta's Tom Glavine paces the majors in wins (21). It is his fifth 20-win season and the fifth time he has led the National League in victories.
For more 2000 baseball season highlights, see the next page.
To learn more about baseball, see:
More 2000 Baseball Season Highlights
Below are more highlights from the 2000 baseball season, including the Major League Umpires League dissolving and the World Umpires Association starting up:
- Florida second baseman Luis Castillo steals 62 bases, tops in the National League. He also bats .334.
- Seattle shortstop Alex Rodriguez rips .316 with 41 homers, 132 RBI, and 100 walks.
- Kevin Brown of the Dodgers leads the National League with a 2.58 ERA.
- Atlanta pitcher John Rocker ignites a scandal with his uncomplimentary comments in a national magazine about homosexuals, immigrants, and New Yorkers.
- Years of labor strife with umpires finally result in the dissolution of the Major League Umpires Association, which comes after the union miscalculates its bargaining strength.
- American League umpire John Hirschbeck is voted the first president of the World Umpires Association, which promises to work more closely with MLB.
- Florida's Antonio Alfonseca leads the majors with 45 saves.
- Detroit's Todd Jones and Boston's Derek Lowe save 42 games each to pace the American League.
- David Wells of the Blue Jays and Tim Hudson of the A's tie for the American League lead in wins (20).
- Mark McGwire plays only 89 games due to knee injuries, but he still clouts 32 homers for the Cardinals.
- The Tigers open the new Comerica Park on April 11.
- A May 16 altercation at Wrigley Field between the Dodgers and several Cubs fans results in fines and suspensions for 16 Dodgers.
- On May 29, Oakland's Randy Velarde turns an unassisted triple play against the Yankees.
- Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium shuts its doors. It had been home to the Pirates since 1970.
- The surprising White Sox roar to the American League Central crown. Chicago takes over first place for good on April 19.
- Milwaukee tears down venerable County Stadium.
- Manny Ramirez, in his last season with Cleveland, paces the American League with a .697 slugging average.
- Houston's new Enron Field yields a barrage of home runs.
- Atlanta first baseman Andres Galarraga returns from a year's absence due to cancer and bats .302 with 28 home runs.
- Toronto slugger Carlos Delgado finishes fourth in the American League in batting average (.344), home runs (41), and RBI (137) and leads with 57 doubles.
- The Hall of Fame elects five men, including Tony Perez, Carlton Fisk, and Sparky Anderson.
- Fred McGriff of Tampa Bay slugs his 400th home run on June 2.
- Rafael Palmeiro of Texas blasts his 400th homer on September 23.
- Minnesota shortstop Cristian Guzman's 20 triples lead the major leagues.
- Frank Thomas of the White Sox enjoys a spectacular comeback season, hitting .328 with 43 homers, 143 RBI, 115 runs, and 112 walks.
- Cal Ripken Jr. of Baltimore collects his 3,000th hit in Minnesota on April 15.
- San Francisco posts baseball's best record (97-65) in its first season at new Pacific Bell Park.
- Jeff Bagwell scores 152 runs for the Astros -- most in the majors since 1936.
- KC's Mike Sweeney becomes the first American League player to hit .330 with 200 hits and 140 RBI since Al Rosen in 1953.
- Colorado's Mike Lansing hits for the cycle on June 18 against Arizona -- and completes the cycle in the fourth inning.
- Rockies catcher Brent Mayne pitches on August 22 and gets the win over Atlanta. He is the first position player to post a win since 1968.
- Jose Lima of Houston serves up 48 home runs, the most ever by a National League pitcher.
- Preston Wilson of Florida, baseball's only 30/30 man, strikes out 187 times, just two whiffs short of the major league record.
- LA's Dave Hansen clubs a major league-record seven pinch-hit home runs during the season.
- On October 1, Detroit's Shane Halter plays all nine positions in one game. He also cracks four hits.
- In December, the Rangers sign free agent Alex Rodriguez to a ten-year, $252 million deal.