TSG Presents: Great World Series Moments!
Today TSG goes back just 8 years to one of the most memorable World Series in recent memory. If you’ll recall the baseball playoff race was in full swing when the September 11th attacks happened. A lot of things much bigger than baseball were followed and watched and the nation was in shock. Major League Baseball games were canceled and Americans weren’t sure how to proceed.
Eventually, the MLB and the NFL took the field again and the nation had something to do besides worry about our country’s men and women, those we lost and our financial situation caused by that day’s events. However small it actually was, driving to the stadiums, stepping on the field, watching the games on TV; this was huge.
It was looking as though the Yankees, America’s team in part because of their name, their dynastic roots in the game and their shared location with the center of the attacks, would make the World Series again this year. Non-New Yorkers started to cheer for this for the city of New York. They would end up facing one of Major League Baseball’s newest teams at the time, the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The World Series this year started later than any other – October 27th and it was full of fanfare, ceremonies and chill-inducing events. Military choirs and bands performed the Star-Spangled banners at various games, Blue Angels flew over every start, and the 7th inning tradition still done to this day of singing ‘God Bless America’ started in this World Series. New York City firefighters and police were ever-present at every game played at Yankee Stadium and even some played at Bank One Ballpark (now Chase Field).
The series itself had as much, if not more drama and exciting moments in it. It went a full 7 games and that 7th game came down to the wire. This was a home-field series. Arizona took the first 2 games of the series played on their field easily (9-1, 4-0). But, when the series shifted to New York and the ground-swell of emotion and pride Americans and New Yorkers felt arose, the Yankees eked out three 1-run wins bringing the series to 3-2 in favor of the Yankees.
When the series returned to Arizona, the Diamondbacks took back home-field advantage with a Game 6 blowout win (15-2) to tie the series at 3 games a piece and force a Game 7.
Game 7 would be the only game played at Bank One that would be a close one. A pitcher’s duel between 2 of the league’s premier pitchers of the day, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling. No runs were scored until the 6th inning when the Diamondbacks put one across when Danny Batista doubled home Steve Finley and would be thrown out at third trying for the triple.
The Yankees would come back with a run of their own in the top of the following inning when singles by Derek Jeter, Paul O’Neill and Tino Martinez would manufacture a run. In the 8th inning, the Yankees would go ahead on a solo home run by Alfonso Soriano which would chase Schilling from the game and bring in Diamondbacks starter and co-ace, Randy Johnson who had thrown 104 pitches from the start the night before.
With the Yankees ahead 2-1 the Diamondbacks were blanked in their half of the 8th inning. Johnson held the Yankees scoreless in the top of the ninth keeping the game within reach. If the Diamondbacks were to come back, they’d have to do it against one of the best closers in the history of baseball, Mariano Rivera.
But, he had already pitched the 8th inning, where hed struck out the side. In the top of the ninth, Mark Grace led off with a single to center. D-Backs catcher, Damian Miller would come up and attempt to sacrifice bunt Delluci (pinch running for Grace) into scoring position, this almost looked like a sure double play until Rivera made an errant throw to second leaving runners on first and second with no outs. The next batter, Jay Bell, also bunted but Delluci was thrown out at third this time leaving runners on 1st and 2nd, this time with 1 out.
Tony Womack would then double down the line scoring pinch runner, Midre Cummings and tying the game at 2 and potential winning run Jay Bell on 3rd. Rivera then hit Craig Counsell which loaded the bases. Diamondbacks outfielder and fan favorite Luis Gonzalez came to the plate. With the infield drawn in due to there only being 1 out and a play at the plate, Gonzalez hit a gentle bloop over shortstop, Derek Jeter and the Diamondbacks became the fastest team to win the World Series doing it in only their 4th year of existence, beating the previous record holder, the Florida Marlins, by 1 year.
For the Yankees, that ended their consecutive streak of World Series titles at 3 and capped one of the most exciting World Series to have ever been played since the early 90′s. Even though “America’s Team” didn’t win, a young, brand new team did. This was a World Series in which both teams were underdogs. It felt like everyone involved, teams, fans, commentators, crew, everybody – were underdogs in this World Series. It played a part in bringing our country back to our routines, our traditions.
That’s all it took to make that a great World Series moment.