From one juggernaut to potentially another, members of the 1998 Yankees still believe it’s premature to compare their record-setting squad to the current edition of the Bombers.
“Not yet. The season isn’t over. No, no, no, it’s way too soon,” David Wells said on the red carpet at Sony Hall before the 20th anniversary celebration of his 1998 perfect game for the Yankees. “At the end of the year the record will speak for itself, but they do have a hell of a team right now.
“To me, they’ve got the ability to do it, the manpower, but it’s the pitching that’s gonna win you ballgames…If the pitching is solid, they’ve got a hell of a chance.”
Despite opening this season with a middling 9-9 mark, Aaron Boone’s Yanks have won 19 of their last 22 to reach a .700 winning percentage (28-12). That puts them on pace for 113.4 victories, a shade behind Joe Torre’s squad from two decades earlier.
The ’98 Yanks started the season losing four of their first five games before finishing with a then AL-record 114 regular season victories. They notched 11 more wins in the postseason – including a four-game sweep of San Diego in the World Series for a stellar 125-50 overall record, which was emblazoned on their championship rings. (Seattle won 116 regular-season games in 2001).
“I don’t think too many teams can compare to ’98, that team was amazing,” Mariano Rivera said. “We had a lot of veterans on the team, too, in ’98, and you have barely any veterans here now. But a lot of homegrown players. It’s exciting, and it’s amazing seeing them play day in and day out. That’s what I like. They’re young, but they’re electrifying and it seems like they’re enjoying it. That’s what I like about them.”
Added Bernie Williams: “I would probably venture to say that they are more potent than us, we were more a group of consistent hitters all across the board…There’s not a big bopper that we were hanging our hopes on to hit a five-run homer. But I still feel like I’m a Yankee at heart and I want the team to do well, no matter what. I hope this new generation of players and everybody who’s coming in are in the same boat mentally and that this could be the start of something great happening for the franchise again.”
DRINKS ON THE HOUSE!
In his 2003 book, “Perfect, I’m Not,” Wells conceded that he pitched his gem “half-drunk, with bloodshot eyes, monster breath, and a raging, skull-rattling hangover,” claiming he went to bed around 5 a.m. with no more than an hour of sleep, after attending a Saturday Night Live after-party the previous night. The lefty later claimed he was misquoted in his own autobiography, but he recounted those stories again on Thursday.
“It’s amazing that it happened, especially the state of mind I was in those first few innings. I was like holy s—, how am I going to do this? It was a rough night, but that’s probably why it happened,” said Wells, whose anniversary celebration benefitted his Perfect 33 foundation as well as catcher Jorge Posada’s Puerto Rico relief foundation. “Joe (Torre) always said that’s Boomer being Boomer, but I think I overdid it that day.
“But it worked out, right? Sleep when you’re dead, I guess. It’s weird how those things happen. You’d never in a million years think you’d go out hungover as s— and go out and throw a perfect game. It just wasn’t supposed to happen and it really did.”
Source: Ny Daily News