The Mets made the 9.1-mile trip from Shea Stadium to Yankee Stadium in two chartered buses under police escort, with Franco in the lead car. A crowd 15 people deep, kept at bay by police barricades, jeered the team as it entered the ballpark; one Yankees fan held a sign that read WE NEVER TRADED NOLAN RYAN. Mets first baseman Todd Zeile and outfielder Darryl Hamilton pressed camcorders to their faces to record the carnival.
As Perez discovered, sometimes posterity is bigger than 8 mm. He and the other Mets had appeared loose, with third baseman Robin Ventura giving new meaning to the term by taking batting practice sans undergarments. With two outs in the sixth inning and the game scoreless, Zeile smacked a fly ball deep to leftfield off Yankees lefty Andy Pettitte. Perez, the dynamic rookie who had reached first on a single, unwisely ran in low gear, thrusting an arm in the air to signal that Zeile had homered. Zeile, too, pumped a fist in celebration, while rounding first base. One problem: The ball didn't leave the park. It hit the top of the padded wall and caromed to leftfielder David Justice. "Where's Jeffrey Maier when you need him?" Zeile would crack later, referring to the 12-year-old boy whose reach turned a fly ball out by Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter into a home run in the Yankees' win over Zeile's Baltimore Orioles in Game 1 of the 1996 American League Championship Series.
The 5'9" Perez tried to outrun his blunder, but Jeter would not allow him to get away with it. He took a throw from Justice and, wheeling toward the plate and throwing off one foot (think Joe Montana to Dwight Clark), fired a strike to catcher Jorge Posada to nail Perez. "I'll gain experience from it," the humbled Perez said. "If I'd left at full throttle, I would have scored easily." The new Lonnie Smith ( Smith's baserunning blunder cost the Atlanta Braves Game 7 of the 1991 Series) was chastised by several teammates, who told him never to be so careless again.
The missed run loomed large in the ninth inning, when the Mets asked closer Armando Benitez to protect a 3-2 lead. Benitez did get one out and came within one strike of the second, but rightfielder Paul O'Neill, in the most important and stubborn at bat of the young Series, drew a 10-pitch walk. Not even the IRS takes as much as the Yankees; they outwalked the Mets in the first two games 15-1.
Then lefthanded-hitting pinch hitter Luis Polonia laced a single off Benitez with a bat on which he had written A. BENITEZ and T. WENDELL in anticipation of facing Benitez and Turk Wendell, the Mets' top righthanded relievers. Another single, by second baseman Jose Vizcaino, set up a game-tying sacrifice fly by designated hitter Chuck Knoblauch.
It wasn't until the 12th inning that the Yankees won, on a bases-loaded single by Vizcaino off Wendell. New York had waited 38 years for a Mets-Yankees Subway Series, and Game 1 seemed to take just as long. At four hours, 51 minutes, it was the longest of the 560 World Series games ever played and only five minutes shorter than the two previous Subway Series games combined, in '56 between the Yankees and the Dodgers. Not even Torre's Yankees had won a game like this. The franchise had been 0-54 when trailing after eight innings in World Series games since... Owen dropped mat third strike.
Game 2—and a piece of Series history-belonged to Clemens. His pregame intensity exploded in an angry spray of 98-mph fast-balls. He whiffed the first two batters, all the while spitting and snarling and huffing and puffing. "My feet were flying off the ground," he said.
Then, in a blip of time, all his tightly strung circuitry went haywire. On a buzz saw of a fastball, Piazza's bat shattered in three pieces. The largest part, the barrel, bounced to Clemens, who fielded it with two hands as if it were the baseball—which, unbeknownst to both Clemens and Piazza, had fallen foul wide of first base. In this instant the synapses became overloaded. Clemens heaved the daggerlike piece of wood toward the Yankees' on-deck circle. ("I didn't even know [Piazza] was running," Clemens would say.) The bat, its sharp end tumbling end over end, cartwheeled only about a foot in front of Piazza. "What's your problem?" Piazza yelled.
Clemens at first indicated that he thought he had fielded the baseball. Piazza kept yelling for an answer—fishing for Clemens to defuse the situation by passing it off as an accident—but Clemens would not address him. Clemens stalked toward home plate umpire Charlie Reliford, wanting only to get another baseball and get back on the mound. Both benches emptied, though without incident.
On the next pitch Clemens retired Piazza on a grounder. He ducked into the clubhouse, where he ran into Stottlemyre. "You've got to settle down," Stottlemyre told Clemens.