Yanks sweep into history 3-0 win over Padres gives N.Y. 24th title, second in three years 125 wins, including playoffs

1 run in 6th inning, 2 in 8th back Pettitte

October 22, 1998|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

SAN DIEGO -- It is time for a new monument at Yankee Stadium. The ones there now are all devoted to the individual exploits of the greatest players in club history. There should be one for the most accomplished team.

The 1998 New York Yankees capped their amazing season last night by defeating the San Diego Padres, 3-0, at Qualcomm Stadium and completing a four-game sweep of the 94th World Series.

In winning the franchise's 24th world championship, the Yankees sailed through the Fall Classic the same way they had sailed through the regular season and two American League playoff rounds. They won a major-league record 125 regular-season and postseason games. To find another Yankees team that won with more regularity, you have to go back to the 1927 Murderers' Row Yankees that featured Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, and that team is well-represented in Monument Park.

Of course, the 1998 Yankees will happily settle for the world championship trophy and the right to make the argument that they are -- just possibly -- the greatest team in baseball history, if you're talking single-season performance. The Yankees won the most games in American League history and they did what the winningest regular-season team, the 1906 Chicago Cubs, could not.

They won the World Series and they did it in such resounding fashion that it would be impossible not to rate them among the greatest teams of all time -- even though the roster isn't crowded with potential Hall of Fame players.

"I've only been around for about 40 years of history, but this is the best club I've ever been around," said manager Joe Torre. "The '27 Yankees, they may be the best club, but we have the best record. We have to take a back seat to no one in my lifetime."

Left-hander Andy Pettitte combined with relievers Jeff Nelson and Mariano Rivera to shut out the Padres on six hits, and the Yankees' offense chipped away at San Diego ace Kevin Brown in the late innings until it became apparent that there would be no tomorrow for the most exciting baseball season in recent memory.

The Padres, who won 98 games and defeated 100-win clubs from Houston and Atlanta to reach the World Series for the second time in franchise history, were swept in a series for the first time all year.

"It has just been an incredible year for them," said Padres manager Bruce Bochy. "They did it all season and in the postseason. We had them on the ropes a couple of times, but they came back each time. That team has to go down as one of the greatest teams of all time. There just are no weaknesses on that club."

The crowd of 65,427, the largest to see a baseball game in San Diego, maintained a deafening roar as Brown and Pettitte hooked up in a scoreless pitching duel into the sixth inning, but Bernie Williams finally brought home the first run of the game with an RBI chopper back to the mound. The Yankees added two runs in the eighth on an RBI single by Scott Brosius and a sacrifice fly by rookie left fielder Ricky Ledee.

Brosius batted .471 and drove in six runs in the series, completing the one-year transition from a struggling third baseman on a struggling team in Oakland to the Most Valuable Player in the World Series.

"I think every player dreams of getting to the World Series and feeling you played a part in that," said Brosius, who drove in a total of 15 runs in the postseason. "There obviously is a lot of satisfaction in the way things worked out. I also feel very lucky to be in this position, considering where I was a year ago."

The Yankees won an American League record 114 games in the regular season and went 11-2 in the playoffs, the combined total of 125 wins far and away the most by any major-league club. The 1906 Chicago Cubs won more regular-season games (116), but won just two games in the World Series against the Chicago White Sox.

No doubt, the more popular comparison will be to the 1927 Murderers' Row Yankees, who won 110 games in a 154-game regular season and swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series to finish with a .722 winning percentage in regular-season and postseason play.

This year's model had a slightly lower overall winning percentage (.714), but the '98 Yankees had to win three postseason series to win the world title. Babe Ruth and Co. played in an era where there was only the regular season and the World Series.

The Padres entered the game faced with an all-but-impossible task. No major-league club has rebounded from a three-game deficit in a best-of-seven postseason series, and surprisingly few 0-3 clubs have managed to stave off elimination for even one game in the World Series.

In fact, of the 18 clubs to win the first three games of the Series -- going into last night -- 15 (83 percent) went on to complete a four-game sweep. The three remaining teams that survived Game 4 all were eliminated in the fifth game.

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