Work in Sports
A great run
Yankees' World Series streak ends at 14 games
Updated: Wednesday October 25, 2000 7:51 AM
NEW YORK (AP) -- The streak is over.
Love 'em or hate 'em, the New York Yankees inspired awe with their World Series winning streak.
Baseball is the most humbling of sports, where a team is terrific if it plays .600 ball during the season. In the NFL and the NBA, winning only 60 percent of the time can get coaches fired.
Yet in the most pressure-packed part of the year, playing against the best team in the National League each season, the Yankees took a record 14-game World Series winning streak into Game 3 Tuesday night against the Mets and finally saw it end with a 4-2 loss at Shea Stadium.
"It's quite an accomplishment, but it doesn't mean anything right now," Derek Jeter said. "We just have to start a new streak."
The Yankees took pride in the streak and how long it lasted.
"When you think about all the teams you had to beat and how tough it is to win four out of seven, much less four in a row every year, it's pretty incredible," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "That's a streak to be proud of because of who you have to beat to get there."
The best streak in the history of the NBA Finals is a mere six, put together by the Houston Rockets in 1994-95. In the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens won 11 consecutive games in the Stanley Cup finals from 1973 to 1978.
In surpassing the record of 12 consecutive set by Babe Ruth's Murderers' Row Yankees of 1927, '28 and '32, the current Yankees came back from 0-2 to win four straight against Atlanta in 1996, then swept San Diego in 1998 and Atlanta last year, before winning the first two against the Mets.
"It can become a little overwhelming, when you think about all the teams you've played and winning every game," Torre said. "And sometimes you were leading, and sometimes you weren't. But you always end up winning, which is incredible to me if I allow myself to think about it."
To win so many games in a row, a team has to be good and it has to be lucky. The Yankees have been both.
Six of the victories in the streak were by one run.
The Yankees caught a break in the 4-3, 12-inning Game 1 victory last Saturday when Mets rookie Timo Perez dawdled around second base in the sixth inning, thinking Todd Zeile's liner to left was a home run. Turned out it wasn't, and Perez was cut down at home by a relay throw from David Justice to Derek Jeter. In the 6-5 Game 2 win, the Mets threw a scare into the Yankees with five runs in the ninth, but fell short.
"A lot of teams that lose think they got the bad end of the breaks," Zeile said Monday. "That's a loser's mentality. You make your own breaks. That's what the Yankees do and that's why they've won 14 straight World Series games. It's not all luck."
Balance has been a key to the streak, just as it has been to the Yankees' success during the regular season the last few years.
Instead of a Babe Ruth or a Lou Gehrig who can carry a team, they have a whole lineup of hitters who nick away with singles and doubles. These Yankees don't make a lot of errors in the field or on the basepaths. And their pitching, from the starters to the bullpen, has mostly been solid, and on occasion, spectacular.
Roger Clemens gave up only two hits while striking out nine in eight shutout innings in Game 2. And before reliever Mariano Rivera was roughed up in relief in the ninth, he had pitched 14 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings in World Series play over nine appearances.
Last year in Game 1, four Yankee pitchers combined on a two-hitter. Orlando Hernandez allowed one run and struck out 10 in seven innings that game, the most strikeouts by an AL pitcher in a World Series game since Oakland's Blue Moon Odom had 11 in 1972.
Baseball is a game of continuity, threads reaching across time. The Yankees have inspired as much hatred as love in their decades of dominance, one dynasty after another, and 25 World Series championships since their first in 1923.
After Ruth and Gehrig departed, Joe DiMaggio's Yankees won 10 consecutive in the World Series in 1937, '38 and '39. The only other team to come close was Cincinnati, when the Big Red Machine won four consecutive in 1976 after taking Game 7 in 1975. The Reds won four consecutive the next time they reached the Series in 1990, so they're riding on a rather choppy nine-game streak.
The game keeps changing, going through periods of power hitting and power pitching, but one thing that doesn't seem to change much is the Yankees' winning tradition. And right now, Torre's Yankees can claim they are the best ever.