What are your top five worst losses remembered as Yankees fans? Although I have read a lot and due to that know much about the history of our Yankees, I am only 19 and have not seen much throughout the history of the Yankees. Since we as Yankees fans experience losing much less than winning, it is harder for us to deal with it. I wondered what people felt were the top 5 losses they watched the Yankees suffer over the years that hurt the worst.
The five worst losses I've ever seen while watching the Yankees are:
1.) Yankees vs Mariners (1995 ALDS game 5): Sticks out because I was only 10 at the time. I had never seen the Yankees in the playoffs in my lifetime, and being 9 when it happened, the strike had rolled right off my back. 1994 had been the first time I had checked the standings every day and I remember them being in first when the strike hit; so when the next season started I thought they'd go right back to the top of the league.
The wild card was their first playoff appearance in 15 years, and it was great as the Yankees took the first two games at the Stadium (the division format has since changed and if that series took place today games 4 and 5 would have been at the Stadium). Game 2 was a masterpiece that Leyritz won with a homerun in extra innings. When the Mariners came back to tie the series, the finale was set.
The game was amazing, and the Yankees took the lead in extra innings. But the Mariners came back to win it amazingly, saving baseball in Seattle and pretty much giving birth to the idea for Safeco Field in the process. I almost cried, and even at 10 that would have been embarrassing.
2.) Yankees vs Diamondbacks (2001 World Series game 7): Who can forget? Oh how fresh the pain still is from this one; and looking back on it, the Yankees shouldn't even have been in position to win that series, and yet they were. They had miraculously won games 4 and 5 (some all-time Yankees wins, which would have been higher on the list had game 7 not been a loss) and taken momentum going to Arizona, but it wasn't too last.
Everyone remembers the Yankees for not hitting in that series (and they didn't, which had less to do with Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling than from a genuine slump. Even Brian Anderson and Miguel Batista looked great against the Yankees in that series.) but what I remember is the lack of good pitching. Mussina had a whopper in game one, and Pettitte was medicore in game 2 and absolutely imploded on the mound in game 6. If one of those three games had been a true quality start, then game 7 wouldn't even have been necessary.
Yet in that game, the Yankees DID have quality pitching. Clemens outpitched the younger Schilling and the Yankees went into the bottom of the 8th up by one. In came Rivera who had a 1-2-3 inning; it looked like everything was in the bag. However, it wasn't meant to be; and while Luis Gonzalez's hit got all the press, to me (after Rivera's error) the big moment for the D-Backs was Tony Womack's double. That tied the game and gave the D-Backs the momentum firmly, just as the Yankees homeruns in the 9th of games 4 and 5 had done the same. Was there any doubt the Yankees would win games 4 and 5; none for me.
I felt the same when Womack knocked in the tying run; the momentum had switched SO strongly to Arizona because they didn't get the tying run in game 7 off of just any pitcher, but off Mariano Rivera, perhaps the greatest postseason pitcher (not just reliever, pitcher) to ever play the game. Gonzalez's hit was just the nail in the coffin, and the Yankees sat in silence, realizing that their amazing run had come to and end, and that the quest for 4 in a row had ended, but they held themselves like Champions to the end, realizing they didn't lose their crown, no one could take their three straight championships away from them, the Diamondbacks just won one championship their own.
As for me? I sat in stunned silence in the same spot I'd watched the game, staring into the emptiness of a blank TV that I turned off after the Yankees left the dugout. I sat there for a half hour thinking of the place in history of the Yankees 3 titles in a row; and that cushioned the blow a little. It wasn't until a few days later until I really forgot about how bad the loss had been, remembering instead the three that lead to it, and how great those were. But oh, how painful that game 7 was.
3.) Yankees vs Indians (1997 ALDS game 4 tie with game 5): It was a two game process. The euphoria of being on the verge of a second straight trip to the ALCS; (That was to be a big thing in the pre-dynasty days, 1996 didn't seem like the start of a dynasty) and the crash of the defense of the 1996 coming to an end the very next night.
The Yankees were 4 outs from proving yet again how a wildcard team could be very deadly in the short series. First year closer Mariano Rivera (pre-cut fastball...He relied on his high fastball in 96 as a set-up man and 97 as a closer) gave up a game tying home run to Sandy Alomar Jr. The Indians would score the winning run in the 9th to bring the series to a deciding game 5. In that game, rookie Indian pitcher Jaret Wright again beat up on the Yankees, and the game ended with Paul O'Neill stranded on the bases and the Yankees going home.
At first it was a little frightening wondering how Rivera would bounce back from that homerun to Alomar. But since then he has become the most dominant postseason pitcher ever. Quite an improvement from the first year closer who aimed for strikeouts to the veteran he is now who goes for broken bat groundouts and weak flies; one pitch is an easier out than three.
4.) Yankees vs Marlins (2003 World Series game 4): Pretty intense game, for a while thought to be Roger Clemens last in the majors. The Yankees trailed by 3 for most of the game, and 3-1 going into the 9th. That was when pinch hitter Ruben Siera hit a two run double and tied the game for the Yankees, seemingly handing them the 9th inning momentum they'd been handed so many times before. Only this time they didn't quite know what to do with it.
It was Aaron Boone, ALCS hero (although he had a pathetic series) who came to the plate in the 10th with a chance to take the lead on, at the least, a sac fly. Boone's inability to even get the ball out of the infield led to the Yankees resorting to Jeff Weaver. If Boone had driven in the go-ahead run, Rivera would have come in, and he was untouchable last postseason. Weaver survived the bottom of the 10th, but he and the Yankees wouldn't be so lucky in the 11th. Again being furstrated and held scoreless in the top of that inning by Braden Looper, the Yankees came in trying to just hold the Marlins for as long as they could. However, the first batter, Alex Gonzalez, hit a homerun that just barely escaped over the leftfield wall (it wouldn't have been a homerun in Yankee Stadium, perhaps just a fairly deep line out).
When the ball cleared the wall, the series went from 3-1 and in the Yankees firm grasp (could the Marlins have beaten them 3 in a row with 2 in a row at the Stadium? I don't think so) to tied at 2-2. It was anyone's series. However, it was game 5 that gave the Marlins the hold of the series for good as David Wells's back started spasming and Torre was left bewildered, having used nearly everything he had the night before in the extra inning game. The Yankees would lose game 5 and then the series; but it all turned in game 4 when Aaron Boone couldn't lift the ball out of the infield off Braden Looper.
It was a painful loss, the kind the Yankees have inflicted on teams so many times over the years. They went from being down and out in the 9th, to having the momentum in extras, to having been better off to never have tied it in the 9th in the first place (the pen would have been fresher for Torre the next night when Wells went down). The series turned in a bad loss for the Yankees; a hard one to swallow.
5.) Angels vs Yankees (2002 ALDS game 2): A come from behind win from the Angels that materialized during the late innings and would mark the overall frustration of that series. The Yankees held the lead late into the game and then the relentless; wait, wait, wait Angels offense pulled through and won the game, as a young pitcher named Francisco Rodriguez (with help from Ace Closer Troy Percival) held the Yankees high powered, 6 runs per game during that series, offense in check.
It was more painful and frustrating if taken as a series; the Angels would come back from deficits to win the next two games as well as game 2. During game 3 they just kept coming back, no matter how much the Yankees would punish the Angels starters, the Angels bullpen would hold; while both the Yankees bullpen and starters would not. But game 2 started it all, as it was the last time the Yankees were truly in control during the series. Once they lost that lead, every other lead vanished before it could stand for long enough to matter.
In retrospect the game was a microcosm of the series, and of the entire postseason for the Angels. The Angels would take the pesky, comeback at all costs ways to the World Series against the San Francisco Giants; and when they were thought to be down and out, down by five runs in game 6, they mounted to take the game and tie the series at 3 games a piece. And in the end they'd win the World Series; and yet it all started in game 2 of the series against the Yankees. That was when the heavily favored Yankees slipped and the Angels saw blood in the water.
They never looked back the rest of the way, and that was what led to the 2002 World Series Championship for the Anaheim Angels. One would figure that had game 2 stayed in the hands of the Yankees, championship 27 would have been toasted two years ago.
I'm sure other fans who're older than me will have much better losses to share, but those are mine, for what they're worth. They're recent enough that all of them should be remembered; even the one from way back in...(gasp) 1995; the PRE- Joe Torre era.