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10 years later, Diamondbacks win over Yankees is still the best

My career as a sports fan peaked 10 years ago, on November
4, 2011.

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.