In this corner, we have the American League champion, New York Yankees. The winning-est team in the history of Major League Baseball! In the other corner, we have the National League champion New York Mets, the proud winners of the 1986 World Series and The Amazins of 1969. Let´s get ready to rumble! Ding. Ding. Ding.
It was Game 2 of the 2000 World Series, and somebody forgot to tell the Yankees and Mets to be neighborly. When Mike Piazza´s bat shattered and the barrel jetted toward Roger Clemens, Clemens picked it up and hurled it in the direction of Piazza, as he ran toward first base. This resulted in unkind words between the two, and both benches cleared.
But it was no surprise that the real Mets nemesis the entire series was not the fiery Clemens, but the even-tempered, lead by example series MVP, Derek Jeter. Because every time the Mets thought that they had a chance, Jeter squelched their hopes.
It started in Game 1. As the Mets Timo Perez raced toward home, Jeter gathered a relay throw, whirled around and threw off balance to Jorge Posada to nail the runner. In Game 4, with the Mets looking to tie the series, Jeter hit a lead-off home run that gave the Yankees back the momentum. In all, Jeter hit .409 in the series with two home runs.
But Jeter wasn´t the only one to come through in the clutch for the Yankees in that postseason. In the ALCS, David Justice hit two home runs and gathered eight RBI, as the Yankees disposed of the Seattle Mariners in six games. The Yankees had picked up Justice in a trade with the Indians.
And there were other major contributors that year. Besides Jeter and Posada, the lineup boasted Tino Martinez, Chuck Knoblauch, Scott Brosius, Ricky Ledee, Bernie Williams, Paul O´Neill and Shane Spencer, who spent most of his time at DH. Brosius gave the Yankees a clutch bat and third base defense that was perhaps the Yankees´ best since Graig Nettles. Williams, O´Neill and Martinez provided power and unsurpassed hustle that endeared them to Yankees´ fans.
On the mound, besides Clemens, Andy Pettitte won 19 games and Denny Neagle won 15. Orlando Hernandez and David Cone rounded out the staff. Swingman Ramiro Mendoza contributed as a starter and in the pen. Mariano Rivera had Jeff Nelson and Mike Stanton to set up his 36 saves. Nelson had an outstanding ERA of 2.45 and Stanton struck out 75 in 68 innings.
But it was Derek Jeter who led the way in the five-game World Series. While Clemens and Piazza had a battle of egos, Jeter led by example. ¨You are a person a lot longer than you´re a professional athlete,¨ Jeter said according to BrainyQuote.com. ¨People always say to me,`Your image is this, your image is that.´Your image isn´t your character. Character is what you are as a person. That´s what I worry about.¨