Glory in Pinstripes: The epic tale of the 2000 Yankees’ historic season

World Series trophies won by the New York Yankees in 1977, 1978, 1998, 1999, and 2000 are on display.
Matthew Maybloom
Thursday June 8, 2023

Table of Contents

Battling through adversity, the resilient journey of the 2000 Yankees continues to be an epic tale of baseball glory in pinstripes. Defying all odds, they rewrote history and that too in a manner unparalleled in history.

Securing three consecutive championships is considered one of the most challenging achievements in sports. And only two teams in the history of Major League Baseball have won the World Series. From 1972 to 1974, the Oakland Athletics won three consecutive championships, solidifying their position as one of baseball’s premier teams.

The New York Yankees are the other team in Major League Baseball history to win three consecutive championships. During Joe DiMaggio‘s “Golden Era,” the Yankees secured four consecutive titles from 1936 to 1939. In addition, from 1949 through 1953, Mickey Mantle and the Yankees won a record-tying five consecutive World Series titles, which remains an MLB record to this day.

In 2000, the New York Yankees had a fantastic chance to join the pantheon of great dynasties in baseball history. They intended to restore New York as baseball’s dominant force. In 1998, the Yankees had the best record in the American League with 114 victories throughout the course of the regular season. They swept the World Series against the Padres, winning every game. The next year, 1999, the squad improved to 11 victories and 1 defeat in the postseason. They ended up winning the World Series again by sweeping the Braves.

The Yankees had a challenging start in 2000

Jorge Posada, who had taken over as the starting catcher after Joe Girardi left as a free agent, reminisced about a conversation with manager Joe Torre where he expressed his thoughts on the significance of winning three consecutive championships during the season. Posada recalled, two decades later, that Torre had talked about how special it would be. Posada mentioned that although they were proud of their previous accomplishments, they believed there was still more to achieve in the year 2000.

The 2000 season was quite challenging for the Yankees, as it didn’t come easy for them. The ups and downs of their regular season were like riding a roller coaster. Overall, they went 87-74, the worst record of any playoff team that year and the fifth-worst winning percentage (.540). Despite the obstacles, the Yankees won their third straight AL East title, starting a remarkable nine-year run of domination in the league.

Despite a strong start to the season, highlighted by an outstanding eight-game winning run in April, the Yankees eventually stumbled. In May, their performance took a downturn, as they finished with a record of 13 wins and 13 losses. The situation worsened in June when they only managed to win 10 out of 25 games, resulting in a 10-15 record for the month.

Owner George Steinbrenner was quite unhappy with how things were going. Brian Cashman, the Yankees’ general manager, was assigned the task of rapidly rebuilding the squad in his second full season on the job while being only 32 years old.

According to statements made to MLB.com, Brian Cashman acknowledged that there was significant pressure from higher authorities. He mentioned that “The Boss,” a reference to George Steinbrenner, had difficulty accepting losses. Cashman believed that the team had the potential to perform better than they were currently showing. The charge given to him was to address and rectify the situation. 

The Yankees build a winning team mid-way in 2000

In response, Cashman carried out his duties diligently, engaging in a flurry of activity during a busy summer. He made several acquisitions, including Glenallen Hill, Denny Neagle, Jose Vizcaino, and Luis Sojo. In their own ways, each of these players made an indelible mark on the roster. However, the most significant move occurred on June 29, when Cashman orchestrated a trade for David Justice. He, a three-time All-Star and the 1990 NL Rookie of the Year, was acquired in a deal that Cashman regarded as “arguably one of the best deals the Yankees ever made.”

Brian Cashman shared his thoughts on David Justice, describing the 34-year-old slugger as a left-handed-hitting outfielder with power and plate discipline. The Yankees’ GM believed that Justice’s profile perfectly suited the team’s needs and expectations. He considered Justice to be incredibly influential and even mentioned that Justice’s performance had the potential to place him in contention for the MVP award in 2000.

After acquiring those new players, the Yankees began to find their rhythm following the All-Star break. They had two successful months with 18 wins each in July and August. By September 13, they had an impressive record of being 25 games above .500. They also had a nine-game division lead over the Red Sox, their greatest of the season.

However, their hopes were shattered as the Yankees experienced a sudden downfall. They finished with a 15-18 record of losses, including a streak of seven straight. The team has hit a rough patch. The Yankees were able to retain their 2 1/2 game advantage over Boston and win the AL East as a result of the Red Sox’s troubles. This allowed them to advance to the playoffs.

The Yankees came, saw, and conquered

Entering October, the Yankees saw a fresh opportunity. With a clean slate and the lessons learned from previous postseasons, they were determined to prove their dominance and show that they were still the team to beat. The possibility of achieving a three-peat remained well within their reach.

Cashman reflected on the notable players of the team, mentioning Derek Jeter, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, and Roger Clemens. He acknowledged the team’s undeniable toughness, despite the Yankees’ struggles in June and barely making it to the playoffs in September. Cashman emphasized their unwavering determination and inner strength that propelled them forward. He highlighted the Yankees’ hunger for victory and their relentless drive to win. Despite occasional slumps during the season, when October arrived and the spotlight was on, the Yankees consistently rose to the occasion, demonstrating their true competitive spirit.

The Yankees faced their first challenge in the Division Series against the A’s, led by Jason Giambi, the AL Most Valuable Player. After losing Game 1, the Yankees bounced back with wins in Games 2 and 3, thanks to impressive performances by Andy Pettitte and Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez. However, in Game 4, the A’s dominated Roger Clemens, resulting in a blowout with six runs scored against him. This set the stage for a crucial Game 5 in Oakland.

In the decisive Game 5, the Yankees quickly took control by capitalizing on A’s starter Gil Heredia in the first inning. They scored six runs in that frame, with Martinez delivering a key bases-clearing double. With that victory, the Yankees advanced to the AL Championship Series. There, they faced the Mariners, who had secured the Wild Card spot and were led by the 24-year-old superstar, Alex Rodriguez. The top-seeded White Sox were about to face a Mariners team that had just swept them.

A few years ago, Joe Torre reminisced about the 2000 Yankees’ relentless drive for victory, stating that they never grew weary of winning. According to Torre, the players’ mindset was to keep pushing forward without stopping to bask in their accomplishments. Their determination to continually strive for more success was a defining characteristic of the team. The Yankees of 2000 possessed an insatiable hunger for victories and were always hungry for more achievements.

Following a loss in Game 1, the Yankees rebounded strongly by securing three consecutive victories in Games 2-4 against the Mariners in the ALCS. During this impressive stretch, they outscored their opponents 20-3, with wins attributed to Hernandez, Pettitte, and Clemens. The Yankees lost Game 5 after Seattle scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth. However, there was still a chance for them to advance to the World Series when the series went to New York for Game 6.

Trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Yankees found themselves in a crucial situation with two runners on base and only one out. Stepping up to the plate was David Justice, a player well-acquainted with significant moments, having previously won a World Series with the formidable Braves five years earlier. With evident enthusiasm, Justice swung at a 3-1 fastball and crushed it into the upper deck of right field at the historic Yankee Stadium. The go-ahead three-run homer not only propelled his new team to victory but also secured Justice the title of the eventual ALCS MVP.

Cashman, reflecting on the moment, remarked, “I’m not sure if I ever heard the stadium louder.”

Jorge Posada, who had a remarkable All-Star season and emerged as the team’s standout player, acknowledged that the Yankees faced various challenges and immense pressure during the 2000 season. However, they managed to triumph when it mattered most. Posada believes that their triumph in 2000 marked the culmination of one of the most extraordinary dynasties in the history of baseball.

Joe Torre is carried by Yankees players after 2000 World Series win.
Amy Sancetta — The Associated Press

The Yankees win the Subway series

The Yankees had one final obstacle to overcome in order to achieve their ultimate goal: a highly anticipated and long-awaited Subway Series against their crosstown rivals, the Mets. This showdown between two New York teams was a rare occurrence, as the last time such a battle for baseball’s ultimate prize took place was in 1956. The city was buzzing with excitement as the stage was set for an epic clash between these baseball titans.

The first game of the series between the Yankees and Mets was super exciting. It went on for a long time until the 12th inning. When Vizcaino came up to bat with the bases loaded, he hit the ball really hard to left field and won the game for the Yankees! In the second game, the Yankees almost lost in the ninth inning, but Clemens pitched really well and didn’t let the other team score. There was also a bit of a commotion when Clemens threw a broken bat toward Mike Piazza.

When the series moved to Shea Stadium for Game 3, the Mets finally won a game and broke the Yankees’ 14-game winning streak in the World Series. But in Game 4, Jeter, who was the first batter for the Yankees, hit a home run right away on the first pitch. 

As Game 5 approached, the Yankees were so close to making history. It was a tense moment in the top of the ninth inning with the score tied at 2. There were two outs, and two Yankees players were on base. Sojo stepped up to the plate and decided to swing at the first pitch. It turned out to be a fantastic decision because Sojo hit a line-drive single right up the middle. As the ball was relayed home by the Mets, it accidentally hit Posada, who was sliding into home plate and then bounced into the Mets’ dugout. This allowed both runners to score, giving the Yankees the winning play they needed to secure the World Series title. 

Derek Jeter, the World Series MVP, shared in a 2020 interview that the significance of winning the World Series against the Mets was immense. He expressed that if they hadn’t won that series, he might have considered moving out of the city. In Jeter’s mind, it was a battle for New York, and they were competing for something incredibly special – the opportunity to win three championships in a row. Recognizing the strength of the Mets’ team and the intense focus on New York during that time, Jeter felt a great sense of pressure. He believed that they had everything to lose and that winning was essential for the team’s legacy.

Yankees celebrating after world series win in 2000.

A true rollercoaster ride for the Yankees

The 2000 season for the Yankees can be described as a true rollercoaster ride. There were moments when it seemed like they could have lost everything, but instead, they made the right decisions and showed incredible determination when it counted the most. Their ability to persevere and rise to the occasion was truly remarkable. As a result, they achieved something truly special, joining the ranks of the greatest teams in baseball history by winning three consecutive championships. It was the perfect way to end their dynasty and solidify their place in baseball lore.

David Justice expressed his belief that the team he was a part of was among the greatest in baseball history. Justice acknowledged the difficulty in comparing teams from different decades but firmly stated that this team was undoubtedly one of the best ever assembled. He also emphasized that their remarkable run was one of the best in the history of the sport.

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