|Readers: Bliss for Yankee haters|
From the Page 2 mailbag
We received more than 1,300 letters on the topic (including a couple hundred from pinstripe-protectors, strongly opposed to our sinful satisfaction). Here's how our readers ranked the top 10 greatest moments in Yankee hater history.
1. Diamondbacks win 2001 World Series (177 letters)
I was watching the final game of last year's World Series at about 6 a.m. U.K. time. I felt like the only baseball fan in the country. Three English fellows stumbled through the door after a night of carousing and saw what I was watching ... eighth inning and the D-Backs looked sure to lose. I explained this to them, and to my astonishment, one said "Yeah, I hate those bloody Yankees. They're always trying to buy your world baseball championship, aren't they?" Another followed with "Let's hope they blow this one!"
So we sat there and watched, I quickly explained the rules to three blokes who knew nothing about baseball except that they -- like all right-thinking people everywhere -- hated the New York Yankees. When Gonzo was coming to the plate, they were so enthralled by the game that one turned to me and said "I think I get it now, mate. I think I get this whole baseball thing."
When the Yankees finally lost, he screamed, "Yes, now I really get it! Go Phoenix!" ... Close enough. I didn't have the heart to correct him.
2. Maz, Pirates win 1960 World Series (111 letters)
The wall of old Forbes still stands in downtown Pittsburgh, each Oct. 13 at 1 o'clock people gather around it to play the tape of 1960's Game 7. Every year at 3:36 you can hear the home run call and feel the thrilling and traumatizing effects it had on two cities. In the moments after that revelation you may be disheartened, until you remember it's the Yankees. Who cares?
It changed one steel city forever!
Ronald F. Carnevale Sr.
It was a swift, shocking kick right in the stomach of Yankees fans everywhere. I know! I was 10 years old and a faithful fan of the Yanks at the time.
I faked illness so I could stay home from school to watch the game on the old black and white. I cried like a baby.
3. Brett, Royals win 1980 ALCS (107 letters)
In 1980, the Royals had won the first two games of the series in K.C., but the Yanks led 2-1 after six in Game 3. My 9-year-old heart was sinking at the thought of another October demise at the hands of the Yankees. In the top of the seventh inning, with two on and two outs, George Brett stepped up to the plate against Goose Gossage. The New York crowd was in an absolute frenzy. Brett turned on Gossage's first pitch -- a 98 mph fastball -- and launched a towering blast into the upper deck. I'll never forget watching Brett trot around the bases in the utter silence of Yankee Stadium. I still get "Goose" bumps.
How can you overlook this game? Brett taking Gossage into the upper deck in the seventh. He went upper deck in 1980! That was impressive before steroids came into fashion. That was the first time the Royals moved past the Yankees in postseason play. After that, baseball knew the Yankees were beatable. The Yanks returned to the postseason in '81 but did not see it again until 1995. This three-game sweep was significant and deserves some mention!
My favorite -- George Brett hits a three-run homer off Goose Gossage to all but seal the pennant.
Later on, Willie Randolph is thrown out at home plate. The cameras catch Steinbrenner leaving in disgust.
Perennial doormat finally gets their due against tormenter.
4. Angels oust Yanks in 2002 ALDS (99 letters)
Nothing was more satisfying to me as a Yankee-hater than seeing money-grubbing sellouts go down in flames to a team that had never even been to a World Series. Long live the Rally Monkey!
Watching the Yankees win so much recently, and having to hear about all that "magic" has truly turned my stomach. But seeing a hit just elude Soriano's outstretched glove, watching a ball squirting out of Mondesi's grasp, plus the hit-after-hit-after-hit-after-hit parade of the Angels -- these are all the things pompous Yankees and Yankees fans deserved to watch. ... I did so with glee.
I know it just happened, and I know I always complain when people vote for the most recent item in memory. But the fact is, I have to vote for the Angels. Not just because I grew up idolizing Mike Scioscia. Not just because the Angels obliterated the much-heralded and seemingly invincible Yankees. And not even because of the Rally Monkey.
It has to do with justice.
The Yankees always win, the Angels always choke. This notion is incredibly well-documented. The Yankees don't let the little things beat them. They play with sound defense, solid pitching and timely hitting. The Angels blow leads, can't hit enough and give up inopportune home runs to Dave Henderson. Everything in past history says Yankees win in three.
And after the first game, that's how it went (Dave Henderson played by Bernie Williams). Admit it, you wrote the Angels off. Same old Angels, same old Yankees.
Only, something funny happened on the way to the ALCS. Come-from-behind wins, solid defense, invincible relief corps: Angels. Shaky starters, countless errors and of course, the inopportune home runs: Yankees. Everything's upside-down. The student became the teacher, the child father to the man. The Angels were everything the Yankees personify, and the Yankees were dealt the fate predestined for the Angels.
That, my friends, is justice.
5. Big Red Machine sweeps in '76 (85 letters)
This time, Johnny Bench outshined Thurman Munson on both sides of the ball, hitting .533 with two dingers and throwing out Mickey Rivers in Game 1 (making the Yankees reconsider running on him the rest of the Series). And let's not forget Charlie Hustle playing Rivers so close down the third base line that he could count his pinstripes. And when Rivers finally smacked a line drive at Rose, he nabbed it out of thin air.
It had to be a slap in the face to Yankee fans everywhere to have a small market team from the Midwest beat their beloved Bombers. Actually -- "beat them" is an understatement -- they were swept into oblivion by a far superior team full of future Hall-of-Famers not interested in the mighty Yankee dollar. Come on back to Earth, Yankees fans, they did not belong on the same field as those Reds.
Sweet justice baby.
6. Seattle wins 1995 ALDS (76 letters)
I had just started my senior year of high school, in fall 1995. Inexplicably, the M's were on their way to actually getting into the playoffs. After a stunning one-game playoff against the then-California Angels, we were off to the ALDS against the Yankees. Cue the ominous cellos.
I will never, ever forget the sight of a then-rookie A-Rod standing in the on-deck circle, screaming like a mad thing as Ken Griffey Jr. sprinted around the basepaths like a bat out of hell, sliding into home to complete what was the most unexpected -- and delightful -- eventuality. Bye-bye Yankees, hello M's. The ensuing pileup on top of Griffey was pure baseball bliss.
It doesn't matter much that all three of our much-vaunted superstars left in the seasons thereafter. That moment is still one of the biggest highs for any Mariners fan and any true Yankee-hater.
When Randy Johnson came strolling out of the bullpen to "Welcome to the Jungle", music blaring, the crowd erupting -- I had chills running down my spine. Then when Edgar Martinez roped the double down the line, I just focused on Ken Griffey. I swear, he never ran so fast in his life. The game was awesome ... and the fact the Yankees were on the other end was the icing on the cake.
I will never forget how I felt watching Edgar double down the line. I can see it in my head. I can hear Brent Musburger call, "Grif-feeeyy's flying around third!" and the delirium that ensued.
The rest of the series was unbelievable too, including the 15-inning Game 2 loss for the M's and Seattle's comeback from a five-run deficit in Game 4 on an Edgar grand slam. The Yankees must have felt that they had finally triumphed after getting a run off the unhittable Big Unit in the top of the 11th in Game 5 ... only to be stunned by Edgar's heroics.
It was a thoroughly glorious win for the Mariners in their first ever playoff appearance and a demoralizing loss for the Yankees. And (as if we forgot) ... it led to the retirement of Don Mattingly without ever playing in a World Series.
7. Indians come back, take '97 ALDS (56 letters)
The comeback kids of '97 rallied to win Game 4 in their last at-bat and hold on to a one-run win in Game 5. The Indians rode a wave of relaxed enthusiasm that carried them to within two outs of their first World Series win in 50 seasons. Unfortunately, Jose Mesa was afraid to throw his fastball inside, and the Indians eventually lost.
But the 1997 ALDS remains as a glint of light in yet another dynasty of ultimate failure and continued heartache for the ever-faithful Cleveland sports fans.
I was at game 4 -- Sandy Alomar's opposite-field homer against Rivera ... what Yankee hater didn't love the game-tying HR going just out of the reach of Paul O'Neill? Great series all-around for Yankee haters, magical series for Indian lovers.
8. Red Sox rattle Clemens in Game 3 of '99 ALCS (52 letters)
Roger Clemens, the Sox's former ace, was now a pinstriper and any residual goodwill toward him was used up because 1) he left Boston for Toronto after telling the media that wherever he went next would be determined by how close he would be to his kids (who live in Houston!). And 2) by bolting from the Great White North as soon as it became obvious he'd never win a ring there and then siding with the hated Bombers. Couple this knife in our backs with the fact we now had a new ace to revere -- the dominant Dominican -- Pedro Martinez.
That fateful day, he was facing the Rocket on a perfect sun-dappled day at Fenway. Long story short -- Pedro baffled and befuddled the Yankees en route to a blowout win, and Roger was gone by the third inning, having been knocked around stupid by Sox batters and by the fans in the bleachers ... beautiful!
John Valentin hit a homer into the net in just the second at-bat and Clemens was pulled in the third inning after already giving up five runs, and the Sox went on to win 13-1. It was the only game the Yankees lost en route to their title, and as a huge Sox fan, it was nice to have seen the "immortal" Yankees humbled to such an extent on this day.
It was a beautiful thing to see Roger get dominated in the stadium he once called home, all before the eyes of a national stage.
Since that fateful day in October 1978 when the Yankees made this Boston area schoolboy cry, the most gratifying moment of pain inflicted on the Bronx Bombers was the shelling that Pedro and the Sox dealt Roger Clemens at Fenway Park. Never before had I heard a crowd ride an opposing player like the Fenway faithful did that day. The, "Where is Roger?" ... "In the shower!" chant was classic.
Remembering his meltdown and implosion on the mound that day still brings a smile to my face.
9. Brooklyn's long wait ends 1955 (41 letters)
After lifetimes of suffering, the Dodgers come from behind with the help of an incredible double play -- "Amoros to Reese to Hodges!" -- a win and, for the first time, the Series. The joy in Brooklyn, was wonderfully startling, for a change, we got the big break and we finally beat the Yankees!
10. The 1981-1993 years (37 letters)
I can remember the truly awful Yankee teams of the late '80s and early '90s. Some of those players really bring me back. Position player starters include names like "Pags", Steve Sax, Don Slaught, Alvaro Espinoza, Roberto Kelly, Andy Stankiewicz, Kevin Maas and the infamous Steve Balboni!
The pitchers were much worse. Only the most astute of baseball minds would remember some of their starters ... Clay Parker, Dave LaPoint, Scott Kamieniecki, Tim Leary, Chuck Cary, Jeff Johnson, Wade Taylor and Dave Eiland.
Top that off with the drafting of the can't-miss prospect Brien Taylor, and I have to say that period was my favorite moment in Yankee-hating history.
Just take a look after 1981. They had Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield but couldn't seem to do anything with them. George Steinbrenner traded away young pitchers such as Doug Drabek and made many managerial changes chasing away Yogi Berra.
What a decade. Then baseball did the unthinkable and banned Steinbrenner from baseball. Oh those were the days. So, decade of the '80s -- as a Yankee hater, I salute you.