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Top Moments Tournament: 1980-99 (#1) vs (#4)

Was a perfect game or a game-winning World Series slam the bigger highlight for the late-'90s dynasty Yankees?

Al Bello and USA Today Sports

The Pinstripe Alley Top Moments Tournament enters the second round of the 1980-1999 bracket. Vote for the moment that deserves to move on in the poll below.

#1: David Cone's Perfect Game

On July 18, 1999, the Yankees held "Yogi Berra Day" in the Bronx, celebrating Berra's terrific career in pinstripes, a career that saw him make 18 All-Star teams and win 13 World Series championships as a player and coach. Don Larsen, the very man who had tossed a perfect game with Berra behind the plate in the 1956 World Series, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

While memories of that perfect performance began the afternoon, fans would leave with another pitching masterpiece fresh in their minds. On that day, David Cone turned in the best game of his career, throwing just the third perfect game in Yankee history. Coming off a season in which he'd won 20 games, posted a 3.45 ERA and a 5.2 fWAR, Cone hadn't quite replicated those levels of success in 1999. Still, he was 9-4 when the Montreal Expos (remember them?) came to the Bronx, although the Detroit Tigers had roughed up Cone is his last start to the tune of six earned runs in seven innings.

In the top of the first, the Expos' came as close to a hit as they would all afternoon. Center fielder Terry Jones smacked a pitch up in the zone to right-center field, and Cone himself later said, "I was thinking triple, right off the bat." But Paul O'Neill robbed Jones with a diving save, and Cone retired James Mouton to end the inning.

Cone stuck out the side in the third before a 33-minute rain delay halted the game. But even a break in the action couldn't knock Cone out of his rhythm. Once the weather cleared, Cone went back to work, proceeding to strike out ten on the way to retiring 27 straight batters. It was the highlight of his career, made even more special by taking place in front of Yankee legends Larsen and Berra.

Yankees GIFs: Cone's perfect game


Entry written by Scott Davis on December 3, 2013.

#4: Tino's 1998 Game 1 slam

As I did during my last post in the Top Moments Tournament series, I actually happened to cover Tino Martinez's amazing slam in my three-part series on the iconic moments of the Yankees' 27 championships. Here's how Tino's slam went down and crushed the San Diego Padres' hearts:

The '98 Yankees were an amazingly good team that seemed to dominate everyone they faced. They just didn't have any weaknesses. They romped to a then-AL record 114 victories with an outstanding +309 run differential, swept the Rangers in the ALDS, and rebounded from an unexpected 2-1 ALCS deficit to beat Cleveland in six games. The World Series was not much of a contest, even though the Padres were a fine team. It still brought some memorable moments, especially in Game 1.

ALCS MVP David Wells did not bring his good stuff to Yankee Stadium for the opener, as San Diego touched him up for three homers to take a 5-2 lead. Padres ace Kevin Brown allowed just the two runs through six, but the Yankees knocked him out of the game and put two runners on for Chuck Knoblauch. He was the goat of ALCS Game 2 when he argued with the umpire rather than throwing out the game-winning run. Knoblauch atoned for his mistake by smashing a three-run homer, knotting the score at 5-5.

The rally was already exciting, and a few batters later, Tino Martinez had a chance to make it unforgettable with the bases loaded and the score still even. He has struggled in his playoff history to date, but after a close 2-2 pitch called a ball, Tino launched Donnie Wall's next pitch to the upper deck in right for a go-ahead grand slam. Yankee Stadium, now 75, literally shook. The Yankees won the next three games to sweep and secure their 24th World Series title.

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Entry written by Andrew Mearns on December 6, 2013.