I have never been a fan of the New York Yankees. From my earliest days as a sports fan, I have hated the team I came to know as "The Evil Empire." That feeling is still in me, just not to the extent it was when I was growing up.
But it was a duo of pitchers that really drew my attention in 2001 and made me believe that they were capable of taking down a team that had won three consecutive championships.
The combination of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling is what powered the Diamondbacks' pitching in 2001, and, in a way, they fueled a team to play above its ability level. Through the playoffs it was obvious that this good team had become a great team, with the assistance of two future Hall of Fame pitchers.
I can still vividly remember slandering and cursing Byung-Hyun Kim's name at school on consecutive days for his failure to close in this series. In Game 4, Derek Jeter earned the nickname "Mr. November" for hitting the first World Series home run in the month of November; his game-winning homer in Game 4 came after midnight had passed to start November 1. Around 24 hours later, it was Scott Brosius giving the Yankees a 3-2 series lead by tying the game in bottom of the ninth with a homer off of Kim. The Yankees won in the 12th.
Game 6 turned into a comedy as the Diamondbacks seemed refueled when they got back home. Randy Johnson gave up only two runs, but by the time he gave them up, the Diamondbacks had scored 15 to make the game a landslide. This was a trend in the series that was noticeable as it was happening; the Yankees won all three games at home by a total of three runs while the Diamondbacks won their first three games at home by a total of 25 runs.
A great World Series Game 7 is the perfect end to any baseball season, and that's what was the end to the 2001 season turned out to be.
With Schilling and Roger Clemens on the mound, it was destined to be a struggle. Through the first five innings, that's exactly what it was. Clemens cracked first in the sixth, but Schilling would soon reach his wall and the Yankees took the lead because of it.
It was then up to Johnson to heal the wound, and he did by shutting out the Yankees in a little over one inning of work. This set the stage for one of the best finishes in World Series History.
Against Mariano Rivera, already known as the best closer in baseball, the Diamondbacks' bats somehow started working. Rivera also committed a rare error in attempting to throw out David Delluci at second that put two men on. Two batters after the error, Tony Womack doubled and brought in the tying run. Two batters after Womack, Luis Gonzalez hit his now-famous walkoff single to give the Diamondbacks their first and only World Series title.
To this day, I believe that Johnson alone should have gotten the MVP for this series instead of he and Schilling splitting it.
When Gonzalez hit that last pitch from Rivera, my basement was a sea of jubilant yells and slapping hands as my brother (who had a shared hatred for the Yankees) and I couldn't contain our excitement. It wasn't just that the team we were rooting for won, but it was about the fashion in which it won. And about the intense, suspenseful, and memorable series that had just finished.
I am a sports fan who has been watching baseball for nearly twenty years. My earliest World Series memory was Joe Carter's Game 6 home run to win the 1993 World Series. The first Series I can remember watching fully was the 1995 installment between the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians. I have not missed watching a World Series since.
- Sports & Recreation
- Curt Schilling
- Randy Johnson