10 years later, Diamondbacks win over Yankees is still the best
That was the day my dad and I decided against going to Sun Devil Stadium to watch this abomination of an "NFL game", instead deciding the game downtown was more important.
You know, Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.
Indeed, I was fortunate enough to have a ticket for the game, and what transpired that afternoon is easily the greatest moment in my sports fan career.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way, either.
Now, I'd be lying if I said I remember it all vividly, because I don't. Eighteen at the time, I was perfectly aware of what the game meant and the all, just, you know, a lot's happened in the 10 years since (including college) so you'll have to forgive my fuzzy memory.
One thing I do remember is the anticipation. You see, my dad and I had tickets for Game 7 - and only Game 7. There was no guarantee that game would happen but, to be honest, I really just wanted the team to win the series. Do it in four, five, six - I don't care, just win the damn trophy.
But as Byung-Hyun Kim continued to choke away games at Yankee Stadium the possibility of a seventh game grew stronger, and after the 15-2 beatdown in Game 6 it was a reality. Game 7, here we come.
The entire day was spent waiting for the game. Who cared about Sunday school. Hell, who cared about the NFL (is it weird to use the word "hell" right after talking about Sunday school?), the Diamondbacks were about to play the Yankees in a one-game, winner-take-all showdown.
The pitching matchup could not have been any more delicious, as it was Curt Schilling vs. Roger Clemens. The D-backs pitcher had carried the team through the postseason and was going to make his third start in the series, whereas Clemens was very much at the top of his game. It was like the Super Bowl, only for baseball. It was awesome.
Not to be cliché, but the atmosphere in the building was nothing short of electric. From Jessie McGuire doing the national anthem to the white pom poms everyone was rocking, it was nothing I had ever seen before.
And through five innings the game was what we should have expected: a classic pitcher's duel.
Schilling and Clemens were tossing shutouts, making hitters look foolish for even thinking they might get a hit.
The D-backs took the lead in the sixth inning when Danny Bautista doubled in Steve Finley, but was thrown out going for third leaving the D-backs up by just a single run. The lead evaporated the very next inning, helping to set the stage for one of the greatest finishes ever, and it began with a devastating moment.
Alfonso Soriano hit a home run, and this was before he was Alfonso Soriano. The second-baseman hit a homer to left field, giving the Yankees a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning. I remember wondering how Schilling, who had been so great, could give up a home run at that moment. Replays would show the ball was at Soriano's ankles and it was not a pitch he should have been swinging at, but that didn't matter.
The air had literally been sucked out of the building, and Schilling exited to a standing ovation. Everyone was appreciative of the job he did, but in reality the general thought was "that was it" for the 2001 Diamondbacks. It was about that time it started to rain -- yeah, rain -- as the roof was open and the weather, like the game, had gone south. Mystique and aura? You almost had to start believing. It wasn't until Game 6 starter Randy Johnson entered the game a couple hitters later that excitement started to build again. I mean come on, the guy threw 104 pitches less than 24 hours earlier and now he's back on the mound?
Johnson got the final out of the inning, but then reality once again set in.
The Diamondbacks were down 2-1 and now had to deal with the prospect of Mariano Rivera…again.
Maybe this would be the time someone finally gets to the Yankees star, right? Not exactly.
Rivera struck out the side in the eighth, and it seemed like the Diamondbacks were one inning away from losing the World Series. At home. In front of their fans.
But Johnson retired the side in order in the top of the 9th, and the stage was set.
Now, we all know what happened next: Mark Grace singled, Rivera threw Damian Miller's bunt attempt into centerfield and Jay Bell's sacrifice didn't work. It was first and third with one out, and Tony Womack stepped up to the plate.
Womack doubled a 2-2 pitch to right field, tying the game. At that point I knew the D-backs were going to win. I think the rest of the stadium did, too.
Craig Counsell was hit by a pitch and Luis Gonzalez stepped up to the plate. That season's hero, it was only fitting that he delivered the game-winning hit.
The stadium erupted with a mix of excitement and surprise, as Valley fans really didn't know what winning a championship was like. We learned that day, and it was great.
Does it get any better than that? I have my doubts.