I don’t think there is anything better than this feeling right here. Tie game, bases loaded, bottom 9, World Series game 7. You really can’t draw it up any better.
The 92-win Diamondbacks were led by Luis Gonzalez (definitely not on steroids), and had other key guys like Mark Grace, Jay Bell, Tony Womack, Matt Williams, Steve Finley, Craig Counsell, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, and Byung-Hyun Kim. Arizona had only been around for four seasons and were going toe-to-toe with the juggernaut Yankees. New York had won 95 games and was led by Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Tino Martinez, Alfonso Soriano, Scott Brosius, David Justice, Bernie Williams, Paul O’Niel, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, and El Duque. I mean those names just scream late ’90s, early 2000s powerhouse. Them and the rest of the country were still trying to find a way to go about their life after the 9/11 terrorist attacks a few weeks earlier. Games in were delayed which ultimately pushed back the World Series into November.
This was such a classic series too, some of the best games I’ve ever seen. Arizona won the first two games, only to see New York win three straight. Game 7 is an all time classic, up there with some of the best sporting events ever. Roger Clemens vs Curt Schilling for all the marbles. Schilling was pitching on three days rest and was NAILS. He gave up 6 hits over 7.1 innings, but got in some trouble when Alfonso Soriano came to the plate in the 8th, With the count 0-2 to Alfonso, and in a 1-1 game, Schilling gave up a solo home run, Yankees led 2-1. Schilling struck out Brosius, but then gave up a single to David Justice, his day was done. Miguel Bautista came in to get Derek Jeter, and that is when Diamondback’s manager, Bob Brenly, went with his big gun, Randy Johnson. Johnson threw 104 pitches the night before in the game 6 win, but was all all hands on deck for game 7. Johnson retired Chuck Knoblauch to end the 8th and then pitched a perfect top of the 9th to leave it up to the Arizona bats.
Mariano Rivera was brought into the game for the 2 inning save. He was perfect in the bottom of the 8th, but the 9th was a different story. Mark Grace singled to lead off the inning, David Dellucci was pinch running for Grace, Damian Miller bunted for a sacrifice but was safe after Rivera had an errant throw to second, Jay Bell pinch hit for The Big Unit with runners on first and second with no outs. Bell bunted, but the runner was thrown out at third, so runners still on first and second with 1 out now, Tony Womack doubled to right to drive in a run and tie the game at 2. Counsell was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Luis Gonzalez, the rest is history.
Gonzo bloops a ball that would normally be caught by the shortstop, except Jeter and the Yankees infield were playing in on the grass to cut down a run at the plate. The ball lands in the outfield grass and Jay Bell springs home for the winning run.
Rivera with the blown save as the Diamondbacks win the World Series in arguably one of the best postseason games ever. As I wrote above, when you are a kid in the backyard, you dream of that exact moment. Bases loaded, 2 outs, World Series title on the line. Gonzo came up and delivered off of the best closer ever, what a damn game and series.
Enjoy your weekend, friends.