Let’s be honest: being a Yankee fan this season has been like being in a bad relationship. We’ve had ups and downs, and right when we’re ready to give up and leave, they go ahead and acquire Gallo and Rizzo. Sigh, we said, I guess I’ll give them another chance. And it paid off, for a while. The Yankees stormed through most of August, posting a 13-game winning streak.
Life couldn’t get any better. We weathered the storm, and our loyalty paid off. In your face, to everyone who doubted the Bombers. End of story — right? Right? Of course not, because now we’re at the conclusion of a seven-game losing streak (including a dismal 10-3 defeat to the Mets) and only three wins in the last ten games.
Alexa, play “Hot n Cold” by Katy Perry.
So, instead of stewing in our despair, let’s turn our attention to more light-hearted times in years past, when some of the quirkiest, weirdest, and bizarre events happened during the Subway Series.
1. El Duque Fires Ball- And Glove- To First
On June 5, 1999, the Mets led the Yankees 1-0 in the top of the second. With one out and a runner on third, Rey Ordóñez slapped a one-hopper back to Orlando “El Duque” Hernández, who made a fantastic stab to field the ball. With plenty of time, he reached into his glove, only to realize he couldn’t extract the ball from between the fingers. Calm, cool, and collected, El Duque fired his glove (overhand) to first baseman Tino Martinez, who caught it with both hands. Ordóñez was still out by a mile, and we were left to chuckle and shrug; baseball, man.
2. Roger Clemens “Mistakes” A Bat For A Ball
Leading up to perhaps one of the most controversial moments in a Subway Series, Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza faced off against one another on July 8, 2000. Piazza launched a grand slam against Clemens. During his next at-bat, Clemens drilled Piazza in the helmet, resulting in a concussion and one week out of commission for the beloved catcher.
Later that season, however, tensions escalated between the two stars. On October 22, 2000, Clemens and Piazza faced off again, this time in Game 2 of the World Series. After swinging at a fastball on the hands, Piazza’s bat splintered, sending the barrel towards the mound. Clemens picked it up, and completely unnecessarily, chucked it at Piazza, who was standing in foul territory.
Understandably, benches cleared. The most odd, most obscure moment of the altercation occurred when Clemens attempted to defend his actions by claiming he thought the bat was actually the ball. Why he thought it was appropriate to throw anything at Piazza is completely unbelievable, but it will go down in history as one of the weirdest, most tense events in Subway Series history.
3. Koo Dae-Sung Doubles Off Of Randy Johnson
Koo Dae-Sung is perhaps one of the most obscure players to make an appearance in a Subway Series. A Korean pitcher who spent 1993 - 2000 playing professionally in Korea, and then 2001 - 2004 in Japan, Koo did not make his Major League debut with the Mets until 2005. During his entire professional career, he was never asked to hit, until the middle of May, when he was sent up to face the Reds’ Todd Coffey. During this at-bat, Koo stood as close to the outside of the batter's box as humanly possible and watched three strikes go by without even flinching. It is perhaps the worst MLB at-bat in history.
So, later that week, when Koo was sent up to face five-time CY Young winner Randy Johnson, everyone thought it would be just another farce. Mike Piazza swore that if Koo got a hit, he would donate $1 million to charity. Broadcaster Tim McCarver said this was going to be the biggest “give-up at-bat” of the season.
And then, crack. Koo launched a fastball deep into center field and over Bernie Williams’ head. He was safe at second with time to spare.
But that’s not all. José Reyes dropped a sacrifice bunt, advancing Koo to third. With home plate unoccupied, Koo accelerated again, sliding into home headfirst. A close call, Koo was called safe, drawing an end to a completely bizarre outing.
4. The Missed Catch
Ah, yes. Who could forget Luis Castillo’s missed catch that won the game for the Yankees?
On June 12, 2009, down 8-7 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, runners on first and second, Alex Rodriguez popped a ball up to shallow right, an apparently easy play for Mets’ second baseman Luis Castillo. A-Rod threw his bat down in disgust and headed begrudgingly to first. That’s when the baseball gods stepped in.
Castillo wavered. The ball came down and miraculously hit the heel of his glove and popped back out. Mark Teixeira scored the winning run from first, popping up right into the arms of Derek Jeter. What a strange way to win it, but hey, a win is a win — and certainly something we don’t see enough of nowadays.
Honorable Mentions: Mariano Rivera’s bases-loaded walk against Francisco Rodríguez; the Mets walk-off at Yankee Stadium; Mets completely fall apart after Thairo Estrada nearly makes last out of game at third