SAN DIEGO, Calif. — On this date, the 1998 New York Yankees cemented themselves as the best team in baseball history. The historic season culminated with a 4-0 World Series sweep at the hands of the San Diego Padres. A 3-0, Game 4 victory at San Diego, gave the Yankees their twenty-fourth title in franchise history.
Following a then American League regular-season record of 114 wins, the team went 11-2 in the postseason for a combined ledger of 125-50. They eclipsed other legendary squads in franchise history, and baseball history most notably the 1961 and 1927 clubs.
Following a devastating loss to the Cleveland Indians in the 1997 ALDS and a slow start to the 1998 campaign, the Yankees took off.
The 1998 club spent 135 days in first place. Their largest lead was 22 games. The high-point was 66 games above .500. Their longest winning streak was 10. They shutout their opponents 16 times. Plus they had seven walk-off victories. The team clinched the AL East on Sept. 9.
It marked Brian Cashman’s first year as general manager and Joe Torre’s third as manager. Bernie Williams earned the batting title, batting .339. Derek Jeter collected 203 hits. David Wells pitched a perfect game. David Cone won 20 games. Darryl Strawberry hit two pinch-hit grand slams. Mariano Rivera pitched to a 1.91 ERA. They won a “home game” against the Anaheim Angels at Shea Stadium, after a beam fell at Yankee Stadium. Shane Spencer tore it up in Sept. I could go on and on and on with this team!
The Yankees carried out a 3-0 sweep of the Texas Rangers in the ALDS. In the ALCS, the Yankees exacted revenge on the Indians with the help of Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez and Wells the ALCS MVP. In the Fall Classic, Chuck Knoblauch hit a redemption three-run homer and Tino Martinez smashed a grand slam. El Duque continued dealing. Ricky Ledee hit .600 against the Friars. Scott Brosius wrecked Trevor Hoffman with his big Game 3 homer on his way to a World Series MVP, capping off his magical season. Andy Pettitte tossed 7.1 scoreless frames in Game 4 and Rivera sealed the deal.
It was the start of a dynasty run that won three consecutive World Series titles and four straight AL pennants.
I could be wrong but I’m not sure we’ll ever see a better, more complete team in my lifetime, one that in this baseball era that will actually attempt to challenge that wins record.