The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty

Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty is a book written by ESPN sportswriter Buster Olney that chronicles the rise and fall of the New York Yankees' 1996-2001 dynasty against the backdrop of the franchise's loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. It also has multi-page accounts of several key members of the Yankees organization during this time period and during the time period of the Yankees' dynasty.

Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty
The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty
Cover of the first edition
AuthorBuster Olney
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
SubjectNew York Yankees
Published2004
Media typePrint
2001 World Series

The 2001 World Series was the championship series of Major League Baseball's (MLB) 2001 season. The 97th edition of the World Series, it was a best-of-seven playoff between the National League (NL) champion Arizona Diamondbacks and the three-time defending World Series champions and American League (AL) champion New York Yankees. The Diamondbacks defeated the Yankees, four games to three to win the series. Considered one of the greatest World Series of all time, memorable aspects included two extra-inning games and three late-inning comebacks. Diamondbacks pitchers Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling were both named World Series Most Valuable Players.

The Yankees advanced to the World Series by defeating the Oakland Athletics, three games to two, in the AL Division Series, and then the Seattle Mariners in the AL Championship Series, four games to one. It was the Yankees' fourth consecutive World Series appearance, after winning championships in 1998, 1999, and 2000. The Diamondbacks advanced to the World Series by defeating the St. Louis Cardinals, three games to two, in the NL Division Series, and then the Atlanta Braves in the NL Championship Series, four games to one. It was the franchise's first appearance in a World Series.

The Series began later than usual as a result of a delay in the regular season after the September 11 attacks and was the first to extend into November. The Diamondbacks won the first two games at home, limiting the Yankees to just one run. The Yankees responded with a close win in game 3, at which US President George W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch. In games 4 and 5, the Yankees won in comeback fashion, hitting game-tying home runs off Diamondbacks closer Byung-hyun Kim with one out remaining in consecutive games, before winning in extra innings. The Diamondbacks won game 6 in blowout, forcing a decisive game 7. In the final game, the Yankees led in the ninth inning before the Diamondbacks staged a comeback against closer Mariano Rivera, capped off by a walk-off, bases-loaded bloop single by Luis Gonzalez to clinch Arizona's championship victory. This was the third World Series to end in a bases-loaded, walk-off hit, following 1991 and 1997.

Among several firsts, the 2001 World Series was: the first World Series championship for the Diamondbacks; the first World Series ever played in the state of Arizona and the Mountain Time Zone; the first championship for a Far West state other than California; the first major professional sports team from the state of Arizona to win a championship; and the earliest an MLB franchise had ever won a World Series (the Diamondbacks had only existed for four years). The home team won every game in the Series, which had only happened twice before, in 1987 and 1991. The Diamondbacks outscored the Yankees, 37–14, as a result of large margins of victory achieved by Arizona at Bank One Ballpark relative to the one-run margins the Yankees achieved at Yankee Stadium. Arizona's pitching held powerhouse New York to a .183 batting average, the lowest in a seven-game World Series. This and the 2002 World Series were the last two consecutive World Series to have game sevens until the World Series of 2016 and 2017. The 2001 World Series was the subject of an HBO documentary, Nine Innings from Ground Zero, in 2004.

Albert Belle

Albert Jojuan Belle (born August 25, 1966), known until 1990 as Joey Belle, is an American former Major League Baseball outfielder for the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, and Baltimore Orioles. Belle was one of the leading sluggers of his time, and in 1995 became the only player to ever hit 50 doubles and 50 home runs in a season. He was also the first player to break the 10-million-dollar per year compensation contract in Major League Baseball.

Belle was a model of consistency, compiling a .295 career batting average and averaging 37 home runs and 120 RBIs per season between 1991 and 2000. Belle is one of only six players in MLB history to have nine consecutive 100-RBI seasons.

Buster Olney

Robert Stanbury "Buster" Olney III (born February 17, 1964) is an American columnist for ESPN: The Magazine, ESPN.com, and covered the New York Giants and New York Yankees for The New York Times. He is also a regular analyst for the ESPN's Baseball Tonight. He also hosts ESPN's Baseball Tonight daily podcast.

Enrique Wilson

Enrique Wilson Martes (born July 27, 1973) is a former professional baseball player. In his eight-season Major League Baseball career, Wilson played with the Cleveland Indians (1997–2000), Pittsburgh Pirates (2000–01), New York Yankees (2001–04), and the Chicago Cubs (2005) as a utility infielder. He batted switch and threw right-handed.

Wilson was a career .244 hitter with 22 home runs, with three grand slams, and 141 RBI in 555 games. Versatile around the diamond, Wilson had a rather mobile career playing (mostly as a backup) at second base, third and shortstop. Wilson was known to play hitters well and with a strong arm, had some pop in his bat, and would run occasionally, but did not to try to steal very often.

In 2001, he was scheduled to be on American Airlines Flight 587 that crashed in a New York City neighborhood. However, when the Yankees lost the 2001 World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks (and thus there was no Yankees victory parade), Wilson flew home a few days earlier and was not on the flight.In 2003, Wilson was involved in an incident where Manny Ramirez missed a game claiming to have a sore throat, but was later found to actually have been partying in a hotel room with Wilson. At the time, Wilson played for the rival New York Yankees.

During Wilson's time with the Yankees, he was often placed in the lineup over superior players when the team faced Boston Red Sox ace Pedro Martínez. This was due to his inexplicable ability to hit Martinez well over his career. In 25 at bats, Wilson had a .440 career batting average against Martinez.

Wilson was signed by the Baltimore Orioles to a minor-league contract before the 2005 season. He was released in May, and subsequently signed with the Cubs. After appearing in fifteen games with the Cubs, he was released a second time. In 2006, Wilson played for the Boston Red Sox's Triple-A team, the Pawtucket Red Sox, and retired in August.

Harmonica Incident

The Harmonica Incident took place on a New York Yankees team bus on August 20, 1964, en route to O'Hare International Airport. Infielder Phil Linz, slightly resentful at not being played during a four-game sweep by the Chicago White Sox that was believed at the time to have seriously set back the Yankees' chances at that year's American League pennant, began playing a harmonica in the back of the bus. Manager Yogi Berra, feeling that Linz's behavior was inappropriate given the team's recent poor performance, angrily called on him to stop, whereupon Linz threw the harmonica and loudly complained about being singled out despite not having been at fault for the losses.Journalists on the bus following the team reported the incident in the next day's newspapers, and it became national news. Although Linz was fined for the incident, he received an endorsement contract from harmonica manufacturer Hohner after the company saw an increase in sales. The contract more than made up for Linz's lost money from the fine. Radio stations in Boston urged fans of the Red Sox, whom the Yankees played immediately afterward, to greet Linz at the plate in Fenway Park with a harmonica and kazoo serenade. At an exhibition game against the crosstown New York Mets, Mets players tossed harmonicas onto the field.

The incident had divergent effects on the team. For the players, it ended well: Berra's authority as their manager was decisively established and they went 30–11 through the end of the season, clinching the pennant that had seemed out of reach. For the team's management, which had been dogged all season by reports that Berra could not control his former teammates, it confirmed that impression, and efforts to find a replacement for Berra (that had reportedly already been underway) succeeded shortly afterwards, with Johnny Keane, who was considered likely to be fired from his position as St. Louis Cardinals' manager after the season concluded, secretly agreeing to become the Yankees' manager. His team also came back from deep in the standings to win the National League pennant, and then defeat the Yankees in that year's World Series. The day afterwards, Berra was fired and Keane shocked his superiors by resigning instead of accepting a contract extension. Keane took over for Berra a few days later.

Despite its role in catalyzing the team that season, the incident has been seen as the beginning of the end of the Yankees' 15-year postwar dynasty, since it also coincided with the announcement that the CBS television network was buying the team. Keane was never able to fully earn the respect of either the aging, injury-plagued stars or the few promising younger players, and in the 1965 season the team failed to win the pennant after recording its first losing season in 40 years. When the subsequent season started with even worse results, Keane was fired, though that did not prevent the Yankees from finishing in last place. They would not return to the World Series until 1976, after CBS had sold the team to George Steinbrenner.

History of the New York Yankees

The history of the New York Yankees Major League Baseball (MLB) team spans more than a century. Frank J. Farrell and William Stephen Devery bought the rights to an American League (AL) club in New York City after the 1902 season. The team, which became known as the Yankees in 1913, rarely contended for the AL championship before the acquisition of outfielder Babe Ruth after the 1919 season. With Ruth in the lineup, the Yankees won their first AL title in 1921, followed by their first World Series championship in 1923. Ruth and first baseman Lou Gehrig were part of the team's Murderers' Row lineup, which led the Yankees to a then-AL record 110 wins and a Series championship in 1927 under Miller Huggins. They repeated as World Series winners in 1928, and their next title came under manager Joe McCarthy in 1932.

The Yankees won the World Series every year from 1936 to 1939 with a team that featured Gehrig and outfielder Joe DiMaggio, who recorded a record hitting streak during New York's 1941 championship season. New York set a major league record by winning five consecutive championships from 1949 to 1953, and appeared in the World Series nine times from 1955 to 1964. Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Whitey Ford were among the players fielded by the Yankees during the era. After the 1964 season, a lack of effective replacements for aging players caused the franchise to decline on the field, and the team became a money-loser for owners CBS while playing in an aging stadium.

George Steinbrenner bought the club in 1973 and regularly invested in new talent, using free agency to acquire top players. Yankee Stadium was renovated and reopened in 1976 as the home of a more competitive Yankees team. Despite clubhouse disputes, the team reached the World Series four times between 1976 and 1981 and claimed the championship in 1977 and 1978. New York continued to pursue their strategy of signing free agents into the 1980s, but with less success, and the team eventually sank into mediocrity after 1981. In the early 1990s, the team began to improve as their roster was rebuilt around young players from their minor league system, including Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. After earning a playoff berth in 1995, the Yankees won four of the next five World Series, and the 1998–2000 teams were the last in MLB to win three straight Series titles.

As the 2000s progressed, the Yankees' rivalry with the Boston Red Sox increased in intensity as the sides met multiple times in the American League Championship Series (ALCS), trading victories in 2003 and 2004. New York regularly reached the postseason, but were often defeated in the first two rounds. In 2009, the Yankees opened a new Yankee Stadium and won the World Series for the 27th time in team history, an MLB record. The furthest the Yankees have gone in the postseason since then is the ALCS, in 2010, 2012, and 2017.

List of Arizona Diamondbacks seasons

The Arizona Diamondbacks are a Major League Baseball team based in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks are part of the National League and play in the West Division. Since beginning play in the 1998 season, the Diamondbacks called Chase Field (formerly named "Bank One Ballpark") their home. The name "Diamondbacks" was inspired by the Western diamondback snake and was chosen among thousands of entries in a contest to name the team.Arizona made their Major League debut in the 1998 baseball season when they became the 14th expansion team. After going 65-97 in their first their first season, the Diamondbacks were the National League West Division Champions in the 1999 baseball season when they went 100-62. They made it to the National League Division Series but they lost to the New York Mets. The early success of the franchise was exemplified in 2001 when the Diamondbacks defeated the New York Yankees in a dramatic seven game World Series in 2001. In the 2002 baseball season, Arizona returned to the playoffs but were defeated by the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series. Post season baseball did not return to the desert until the 2007 season when Arizona lost to the Colorado Rockies in the National League Championship Series. The following season, Arizona narrowly missed the playoffs, when they finished 2 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 2011, the Diamondbacks won their division but were ousted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Division Series. In 2017, the Arizona Diamondbacks finished 2nd in the NL West, and they played in the National League Wild Card Game against the Rockies. This would be the team's first appearance in the postseason as a Wild Card team. Arizona won 11-8 and played the Dodgers in the NLDS that year but were swept in 3 games.

Mariano Rivera

Mariano Rivera (born November 29, 1969) is a Panamanian-American former professional baseball pitcher who played 19 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Yankees, from 1995 to 2013. Nicknamed "Mo" and "Sandman", he spent most of his career as a relief pitcher and served as the Yankees' closer for 17 seasons. A thirteen-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion, he is MLB's career leader in saves (652) and games finished (952). Rivera won five American League (AL) Rolaids Relief Man Awards and three Delivery Man of the Year Awards, and he finished in the top three in voting for the AL Cy Young Award four times. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as part of its class of 2019 in his first year of eligibility, and was the first player ever to be elected unanimously by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA).Raised in the modest Panamanian fishing village of Puerto Caimito, Rivera was an amateur player until he was signed by the Yankees organization in 1990. He debuted in the major leagues in 1995 as a starting pitcher, before permanently converting to a relief pitcher late in his rookie year. After a breakthrough season in 1996 as a setup man, he became the Yankees' closer in 1997. In the following seasons, he established himself as one of baseball's top relievers, leading the major leagues in saves in 1999, 2001, and 2004. Rivera primarily threw a sharp-moving, mid-90s mile-per-hour cut fastball that frequently broke hitters' bats and earned a reputation as one of the league's toughest pitches to hit. With his presence at the end of games, signaled by his foreboding entrance song "Enter Sandman", Rivera was a key contributor to the Yankees' success in the late 1990s and early 2000s. An accomplished postseason performer, he was named the 1999 World Series Most Valuable Player (MVP) and the 2003 AL Championship Series MVP, and he holds several postseason records, including lowest earned run average (ERA) (0.70) and most saves (42).

Rivera is regarded as one of the most dominant relievers in major league history. Pitching with a longevity and consistency uncommon to the closer role, he saved at least 25 games in 15 consecutive seasons and posted an ERA under 2.00 in 11 seasons, both of which are records. His career 2.21 ERA and 1.00 WHIP are the lowest in the live-ball era among qualified pitchers. Fellow players credit him with popularizing the cut fastball across the major leagues. Along with his signature pitch, Rivera was known for his precise control, smooth pitching motion, and for his composure and reserved demeanor on the field. In 2013, the Yankees retired his uniform number 42; he was the last major league player to wear the number full-time, following its league-wide retirement in honor of Jackie Robinson. A devout Christian, Rivera has been involved in philanthropic causes and the religious community through the Mariano Rivera Foundation.

Old-Timers' Day

Old-Timers' Day (or Old-Timers' Game) generally refers to a tradition in Major League Baseball whereby a team, most prominently the New York Yankees, devotes the early afternoon preceding a weekend game to celebrate the baseball-related accomplishments of its former players who have since retired. The pattern has been copied intermittently by other sports but has failed to catch on.

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