There was apparently more on the line for Derek Jeter in the 2000 World Series than the obvious.
“I moved to Manhattan when I was 21 years old,” Jeter said this week during an interview with the YES Network. “I’ve joked about it before, but I really mean it: If we didn't win that World Series against the Mets, I think I would have moved out of the city.”
Jeter, who retired after the 2014 season and fell one vote shy this past winter of being unanimously voted into the Hall of Fame, won five World Series titles with the Yankees. The first was in 1996 followed by the three in a row from 1998-2000. The final crown for Jeter — and the last for the Yankees — came in 2009.
“They're all special,” said Jeter, now the Marlins CEO and a part-owner of the franchise. “But the Mets series, I think from all the pressures that came outside of the action on the field, the pressures, whether it was the media or fan base in New York, that added a little bit extra to it.”
And as one of the more recognizable city residents of his time, Jeter didn’t want to envision his day-to-day interactions had the Yankees lost to the Mets.
The Yankees won the series in five games. And Jeter had a lot to do with it by collecting several memorable hits, including his leadoff homer in Game 4 off Bobby Jones on the righty’s first pitch to spark a 3-2 victory at Shea Stadium, en route to being named series MVP.
“In my mind it was a battle for New York,” Jeter told YES. “We were playing for something that was pretty special — winning three championships in a row. The Mets had a great team and all eyes were on New York that particular time, and we had to win. I felt as though we had everything to lose. I never liked to hear when some teams are playing [that] ‘We have nothing to lose.’ Yeah, you do. We had a World Series to lose. But I think for us it was a little bit more than that, so thank God we were able to win that series.”
Jeter reflected on each of the championship teams he was a part of and, not surprisingly, ranked the 1998 team, which won a record 125 games (counting the playoffs), as one of the best to ever take the field.
“It’s impossible to try and compare eras, you just can’t do it,” Jeter said. “But I'm comfortable saying that I don't think that there was a team that played together better than that particular group in 1998. There may be some teams that may have been as good, but I would sit and argue that there weren't any teams that were better than us. You go through the history of baseball, there's teams with arguably better players, but in terms of playing together as a group, I'm comfortable saying that, in my opinion, I feel as though that team was as good as it gets.”