Jorge Posada scores the game-winner that seals the New York Yankees' 2000 World Series Championship. Photo by Associated Press.
By Evan Grant / The Dallas Morning News
NEW YORK â€“ The Subway Series screeched to its final stop Thursday night at a station called immortality.
Relying on the core of players who were there for their back-to-back World Series championships, the New York Yankees rallied for a pair of two-out, ninth-inning runs to beat the crosstown New York Mets, 4-2, in Game 5 at Shea Stadium.
With Luis Sojo, one of nine players who have been with the Yankees since the start of this dynasty in 1996, driving in the go-ahead run, the Yankees won the best-of-7 series, four games to one.
The Yankees became the first team since Oakland from 1972-74 â€“ before free agency changed the face of the game â€“ to win three consecutive world championships. They are only the fourth team in history to win at least three in a row. Two of the others also wore Yankee pinstripes.
"When you win the first one, that's just great," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "When you win two in a row, that's a special thing. But you never fathom you will be back for another one. We struggled some this year. But to win this makes this year super-satisfying."
The Yankees relied on the group that provided the foundation for this current dynasty to ride to the ultimate victory. There are nine Yankees who have been with the team for all four championships. Many of them had a hand in Thursday's win.
Start with World Series Most Valuable Player Derek Jeter, who is the heart, soul and conscience of this Yankees dynasty. A day after he slammed the first pitch of the game for a home run, Jeter ripped a game-tying home run in the sixth inning Thursday. Jeter went 9-for-22 in the series.
But it didn't end with him. This is a team that blends star power and small contributors, exemplary starting pitching with effective relief work.
Center fielder Bernie Williams, perhaps the most talented player on the team, broke out of a series-long slump with a second-inning home run that gave the Yankees an early lead.
Starting pitcher Andy Pettitte, who hasn't lost in the World Series since Game 1 in 1996, kept the Yankees in the game, even though he couldn't hold the lead. The Mets scored a pair of unearned runs in the second to take a brief lead before Jeter tied it.
The Yankees turned to the veteran members of their bullpen, Mike Stanton (who was a Ranger in 1996 but a Yankees since) and Mariano Rivera. Stanton pitched a perfect eighth to set up the ninth-inning rally against valiant Mets starter Al Leiter.
Leiter struck out the first two batters, but then Jorge Posada battled his way to a walk. Mets manager Bobby Valentine stuck with his starter, even though he was inching closer to the 140-pitch threshold. Scott Brosius, the 1998 World Series MVP, singled to move Posada to second.
That brought up Sojo, a late-game replacement for Game 1 hero Jose Vizcaino. Sojo was with the Yankees from 1996 through last year but began this season with Pittsburgh before rejoining New York late in the year. He singled up the middle, setting up a play at the plate. The throw from center fielder Jay Payton hit Posada in the shoulder as he slid into home. The ball skipped into the New York dugout. Brosius was able to walk home with an extra run.
"This is a team of MVPs," Jeter said. "Everybody did a great job."
As he has the last two years, Rivera closed it out. There was an uneasy moment when Mike Piazza, representing the tying run, lashed a ball to deep center with two outs. In the dugout, Torre screamed, "No," but Bernie Williams found it near the warning track and the ball settled into his glove.
It set off what has become a baseball tradition over the last five years. It set off a Yankee celebration in the middle of the field.
That is the prerogative of a dynasty.