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The Best Game (not Games) I Know: Yankees

It's pretty amazing that I've been doing this for two years now and have yet to write about July 10, 1999. If you were going to rank the Mets best wins over the Yankees, and we promise that someday we will, this game would have to rank No. 1 on the list.

I have some regrets about this game, mainly because its lasting 3 hours and 47 minutes and an obligation I had to broadcast a summer league baseball game caused me to miss the viewing of its conclusion.

Some unusual things happened in this game. Consider that:

* The Yankees homered 6 times. The Mets homered once. The Mets still won.
In the last 50 years, the Yankees have hit 6+ HR 13 times. They are 12-1 in those games. In fact, the Baseball-Reference PI tool tells us that in the last 50 years, teams hitting 6+ HR are 214-15.

* A guy named Beltran (Rigo) pitched for the Mets (he allowed a home run to Chuck Knoblauch)
The Mets were 10-23 in 1999 when Rigo Beltran pitched

* Derek Jeter was held hitless
Derek Jeter has started 56 games against the Mets. He's been held hitless in only 9 of them

* A current Met homered in this game for the Yankees (Ricky Ledee)
One of the reasons the Mets are currently struggling is because Ricky Ledee is a current Met

And then of course, there's the unusuality of the last of the 9th inning, and we'll speed through our description of the game to get to that rather quickly.

The lead in this one changed hands four times. It went from 2-0 Yankees to 4-2 Mets, to 6-4 Yankees, to 7-6 Mets, to 8-7 Yankees. Mike Piazza hit a ridiculously long 3-run homer to give the Mets the lead in the 7th inning but Jorge Posada's 2-run shot in the top of the 8th (his 2nd of the game...Paul O'Neill also hit 2) wiped that out rather abruptly.

The Yankees got the ball to Mariano Rivera with a 1-run lead in the bottom of the 9th inning but the Mets proved to be up to the task of facing the best closer in the history of the game. After Brian McRae grounded out, Rickey Henderson drew a 5-pitch walk, and the ever-clutch Edgardo Alfonzo doubled to send the tying run to third base.

This put Rivera into a hole in which there was seemingly little room to escape and yet he almost did. You would have a hard time finding a spot in which John Olerud failed the Mets but on this occasion he did. On an 0-2 pitch, Olerud grounded to first, and both Henderson and Alfonzo were forced to hold their ground at 2nd and 3rd. Mike Piazza was up next, and there was no way in the world that the Yankees would pitch to him, so the intentional walk loaded the bases, with Melvin Mora due up.

Bobby Valentine then pulled out his ace, sending Matt Franco up as a pinch-hitter. Rivera got ahead in the count 1-2 but threw to good of a pitch and Franco pulled it into right field for a hit. Henderson scored the tying run and Alfonzo slid home safely with the winning run, giving the Mets a rather incredible 9-8 triumph, the best of their victories over the Yankees in the history of the rivalry.

True Metvalrys know...Derek Jeter, a career .372 hitter against the Mets, has had 6(!) seasons in which he's hit .400 or better against the Mets, but in 1999 they held him to a .190 batting average.


Anonymous said…
Friday night, Gary Cohen called the Mlicki shutout the best or most exciting (I forget the exact phrasing) moment for Mets fans in the past quarter-century. I'll forgive Gary's math (quarter-century would encompass 1986, never mind some playoffs and such later), but I understand the sentiment.

That said, the Matt Franco Game gets the nod from me. It is not to spoil any future lists to say that this was a one-of-a-kind affair. If the exact same script had played out between the Mets and any other opponent it would be hotly memorable. But because it was the Yankees, it's an all-timer. It's the best counterpoint to those who would flush Interleague play. In fact I don't think this script plays out in any other uniforms.

If you think about it (and we do), the Mets and Yankees have played more thrillers per capita than probably any two teams regardless of league since 1997.

Oh, and I was at the MFG, so I am very biased in its favor.

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