Fifteen months after celebrating the 16th perfect game in Major League history, David Cone’s right arm appeared to be out of magic bullets as his Yankees prepared to battle the Mets in the 2000 World Series, the first true “Subway Series” since the Brooklyn Dodgers faced the Bombers in October 1956.
More than any Yankee, Cone welcomed the end of a regular season in which he went 4-14 with an unsightly 6.91 ERA, knowing that his statistics would reset for the playoffs. As Joe Torre debated his options for Game 4 at Shea Stadium, Cone volunteered to work out of the bullpen, advising the manager that left-hander Denny Neagle might be a better choice to start.
“That was one of the first times I was really honest with him,” Cone said. “I said, ‘Physically, I don't think I can give you much as a starter, but I can pitch out of the bullpen if you need me to.’ Sometimes we’re the last ones to know; my overall skills diminished almost overnight. But I could still drop down and throw sliders to be effective against a power right-handed bat.”
Via Kiswe cloud technology, Cone and his YES Network teammates are offering a fresh look at the 2000 Subway Series with a one-hour special that premieres at 10 p.m. ET on Thursday, sandwiched between airings of Game 1 at 7 p.m. ET and Game 5 at 11 p.m. ET. Jack Curry, Michael Kay, Al Leiter, Meredith Marakovits and Paul O’Neill are also participating.
“We all were able to pick our spots and relive our own personal kind of points of interest throughout the 2000 Series,” Cone said. “For me, it's pretty easy -- I got one out. There was a lot of hype in the city over the Yankees-Mets dynamic, and we told some great George Steinbrenner stories along the way. I think people will be surprised once you peel back some layers.”
In Game 4, Torre and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre favored the matchup that Cone presented against Mike Piazza, especially after the Mets slugger mashed a deep first-inning drive off Neagle that hooked foul, then connected for a two-run homer in the third inning.
With Piazza due up third and the Yanks guarding a 3-2 lead, bullpen coach Tony Cloninger had instructed Cone to begin warming as the fifth inning began. Neagle retired Timo Perez and Edgardo Alfonzo on four pitches, so Cone said he did not expect to enter for Piazza. Torre had different plans, emerging from the third-base dugout and raising his right arm.
“I knew that if Piazza came up with men on base against Neagle, I would come into the game,” Cone said. “That would be the matchup you'd be looking for, but I was surprised with nobody on base and two outs. I know Denny Neagle wasn't too happy about it, probably to this day.”
Then 37, Cone started Piazza with a fastball that tailed up and in for ball one, then dotted the outside corner with a heater for a strike. Piazza swung through an outside slider for the second strike, and Cone tried a slider even further outside that Piazza flicked foul. The next pitch was a fastball that Piazza popped up to second baseman Luis Sojo, ending the inning.
“I was banking on him taking a strike. He usually did,” Cone said. “I threw ball one with a fastball and then came back with another fastball because I was really gambling that he would just take it, and he did. That was probably the best pitch he had to hit, the 1-0 fastball.
“Piazza was very confident and a lot of times he would take a strike. Once he did that, then I could throw sliders and I threw a couple sliders, got to 1-2 on him. [Catcher Jorge] Posada called a fastball in and I guess I got it in enough; it was probably about 85 miles an hour. I think it just surprised him enough.”
As Cone departed the field, he expected to return to the Shea mound in the sixth inning, but Scott Brosius’ two-out single brought up the No. 9 spot in the Yanks order. Instead, Jose Canseco was summoned as a pinch-hitter, marking Cone’s final act in a Yankees uniform.
“I spent six years with the Mets [from 1987-92], so just to get at least one appearance in the Series meant everything to me,” Cone said. “Especially for somebody who has lived in the city and understands both sides of the aisle, it just seemed like the city was almost still for the Subway Series. We felt like we were on center stage, and that was pretty remarkable.”