Shop Fantasy Central Golf Guide Email Travel Subscribe SI About Us 2000 MLB Postseason
  World Series Home
Other MLB News
League Championships
Cards vs. Mets
M's vs. Yankees
Division Series
White Sox vs. M's
A's vs. Yankees
Giants vs. Mets
Cards vs. Braves
Batter vs. Pitcher
SI World Series Archive
Photo Gallery

 Sportsman of the Year
 Heisman Trophy
 Swimsuit 2001

 Fantasy Central
 Inside Game
 Video Plus
 Your Turn
 Message Boards
 Email Newsletters
 Golf Guide
 Cities GROUP
 Sports Illustrated
 Life of Reilly
 SI Women
 SI for Kids
 Press Room
 TBS/TNT Sports
 CNN Languages

 SI Customer Service
 SI Media Kits
 Get into College
 Sports Memorabilia

Nothing but zeros

Hampton named MVP after tossing 16 scoreless innings

Click here for more on this story
Posted: Tuesday October 17, 2000 12:21 AM
Updated: Wednesday January 24, 2001 8:36 PM

  Mike Hampton Mike Hampton allowed three singles, walked one and struck out eight in Game 5. AP

NEW YORK -- Now we know why the New York Mets traded for Mike Hampton last winter.

Hampton was imported from Houston to head the Mets' pitching staff and accepted the role with zest. He started the season's opener. He started the opener of the division playoffs. And he started the opener of the National League Championship Series.

And on Monday night, he pitched the Mets into the World Series, beating St. Louis for the second time. Hampton shut out the Cardinals for seven innings, allowing six hits in the opener and then came back in Game 5 with the same kind of performance. He allowed three singles, walked one and struck out eight to earn the series MVP award.

Before Game 5, Hampton said he was set to pitch the game of his life, and that's what he did.

"I really didn't see that as bold," he said, wiping champagne off his face. "I don't say things unless I feel them.

"I want to come out and pitch the big game. I want the team behind me to have an easy time."

That's how it worked against St. Louis. Hampton was never in trouble and got comfortable early, staked to a quick three-run lead in the first inning.

"That settled me down," he said. "My emotions were running high. I was really pumped up for this."

Hampton On
Most scoreless innings
in a postseason series
Year  Pitcher  Round  IP 
1905  C. Matthewson  W.S.    27.0 
1981  Jerry Reuss  NLDP    18.0 
1960  Whitey Ford  W.S.    18.0 
1991  Steve Avery  NLCS    16.1 
2000  MIke Hampton  NLCS    16.0* 
*9 hits, 4 BB, 12 K

It was that kind of competitive edge that convinced the Mets to give up two prize prospects to get Hampton, trading outfielder Roger Cedeno and pitcher Octavio Dotel to the Astros for the left-hander and outfielder Derek Bell. Hampton was the main man in the trade, coming off a 22-4 season when he was runnerup for the Cy Young Award.

There was a gamble involved because Hampton is unsigned after this season and could explore the free agent market. But the Mets were willing to take the risk after doing the same thing with catcher Mike Piazza two years ago.

Like Piazza, Hampton struggled at the start with New York. He walked nine batters opening day against Chicago in a game played in Japan. One month into the season, he was 2-4 and looking like anything but an ace.

The lefty does not handle failure very well. He is an intense competitor who punched out a water cooler in Colorado and was so enraged over a bad start in San Francisco that he walked from the ballpark back to the team hotel, about a mile, clearing his mind.

"I got back to basics," he said. "I had to trust my stuff and not try to do too much. I was pitching to impress people that those 22 wins were not a fluke. Once I got over that, I started to pitch my game."

Hampton's season turned around after that.

His approach changed, but not his attitude, and not his intensity.

"Second place is first loser," he said. "That's how I was brought up. My father played ball, played to win, played hard until the last out. That's how I was taught.

"I expect a lot of myself."

Hampton recovered from the rocky start to go 15-10 with a 3.14 ERA that was fourth best in the National League. He flourished at Shea Stadium, posting an 11-4 record and 2.05 ERA.

He threw three complete games and allowed just 10 home runs, lowest among Mets starters. In his last seven starts, he had a 2.36 ERA as the Mets closed in on the National League wild-card playoff berth.

As the Mets poured champagne on each other, Hampton glowed.

Was this moment the payoff, the reason he came to New York?

"I'm close," he said. "The way I see it, we still have four to win to fulfill that fantasy. We're content, but we're still four away."

That road starts Saturday in Game 1 of the World Series. Hampton expects to start.

Related information
NLCS results, MVP winners
Closer Look: Jumping on top
Benches clear after Payton beaned
Locker Room: Mets party at the Copa's Mark Morgan: Built to win's Donovan: A Subway Series
Game 5: Mets deck Cards for World Series berth
Visit Multimedia Central for the latest audio and video
Search our site Watch CNN/SI 24 hours a day
Sports Illustrated and CNN have combined to form a 24 hour sports news and information channel. To receive CNN/SI at your home call your cable operator or DirecTV.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

CNNSI Copyright © 2001
CNN/Sports Illustrated
An AOL Time Warner Company.
All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.