In 2000 the Mets made it to the World Series for the fourth — and, so far, final — time, but were beaten by the Evil Empire in the Bronx in five games. After that the team declined, and wouldn’t see postseason play again until 2006.
Record: 94-68, Wild Card and National League Champions.
The Mets make the postseason back to back for the first time in club history. Mike Piazza enjoys another superb year with 38 home runs and 113 RBIs, while Edgardo Alfonzo hits 25 and drives in 94. Robin Ventura hits 24; Todd Zeile, replacing John Olerud at first, hits 22.
On the mound, newcomer Mike Hampton is 15-10 and Al Leiter is 16-8 to lead the staff. Armando Benitez saves a club record 41 games.
The most memorable game of the year is an 11-8 win over Atlanta at Shea on June 30, when the Mets score 10 runs in the bottom of the 8th inning to overcome an 8-1 deficit. They also beat the Yankees 12-2 on June 9 in the Bronx, as Piazza hits a long grand slam off Roger Clemens, which prompts the Yankee hurler to bean Piazza in the head a month later on July 8. That day the Amazin’s and Bombers play a day-night double header, with the first game at Shea and the second at Yankee Stadium.
In the Division Series against San Francisco, the Mets drop the first game 5-1, then win games 2 and 3 in dramatic fashion: in Game 2, they score two in the 9th to take a 4-1 lead, only to see the Giants tie it on a three-run homer; the Mets then win in the 10th on Jay Payton’s hit. In Game 3 at Shea, the Mets spot the Giants an early 2-0 lead, but tie with runs in the 6th and 8th. They finally win on Benny Agbayani’s 13th-inning home run. In Game 4, Bobby Jones is perfect in eight of the nine innings and settles for a one-hitter, as the Mets win 4-0.
In the League Championship Series against the Cardinals, the Mets win the opener 6-2; Game 2 becomes almost a carbon copy of Game 2 of the Division Series. With the score 3-3, the Mets score two in the 8th to take a 5-3 lead, but the Cardinals score two in the bottom of the frame to tie it, before Payton’s 9th-inning hit wins it. After the Cardinals take Game 3 8-2 in New York, the Mets close it out with a 10-6 win in Game 4 and a 7-0 win in Game 5, the latter coming on a three-hitter by Hampton, who is named LCS MVP.
The Mets’ World Series opponents are none other than the crosstown rival Yankees. Game 1 in the Bronx is a heartbreaker, as the Mets take a 3-2 lead into the 9th, only to see the Bombers tie it. The Yankees then win 4-3 in the 12th on a hit by ex-Met Jose Vizcaino. In Game 2, the Yanks take a big 6-0 lead, then hold off a furious Met rally in the ninth to win 6-5. The Mets win Game 3 at Shea 4-2 on Agbayani’s 8th-inning hit, but the Yankees, led by Derek Jeter, take games 4 and 5, 3-2 and 4-2, respectively, to win their 26th World Series. Piazza hits two home runs in the series and drives in 4 to lead the Mets, while John Franco is 1-0 and is not scored upon.
Record: 82-80, third in National League East.
As of Aug. 17, the Mets are 54-68; they then win 22 of 27 to climb into the Wild Card race, only to go 6-7 the remainder of the season and finish third.
Piazza carries the offensive load with 36 home runs and 94 RBIs. Leiter and newcomers Steve Trachsel and Kevin Appier tie for the club lead on the hill with 11 wins, while Benitez saves 43 in 46 opportunities.
The season is highlighted by an 8-7 win over the Yankees on June 17, in which the Mets score six runs in the bottom of the 8th, capped off by Piazza’s two-run homer, to overcome a 7-2 deficit.
But that game is overshadowed by what is one of the most memorable nights in the history of New York sports: On Sept. 21, the Mets and Braves play the first game in New York following the cataclysmic events of 10 days earlier. With the Mets players wearing police and firefighter caps, and donating their salaries for the evening to the victims of the tragedy, they win 3-2 on Piazza’s two-run eighth-inning homer.