Saturday September 10, 2011
The world was stunned in the early hours of the day when the towers went down. People were in shock, lives were lost, and nothing would ever be the same again. Through the turmoil, one thing kept the world going. One thing got New York and the United States slowly back on their feet: sports.
Baseball and football resumed two weeks after 9/11, but it was baseball that truly lived up to its moniker “America’s Pastime.” The postseason became thrilling to watch. The New York Yankees, who were vilified for their number of championships elsewhere, became a team on a mission: bring a World Series to New York. That mission statement never meant more to them than that year. They made it to the Fall Classic, and one team stood in their way.
Unlike the Yankees who were favorites (and coming off a three-peat), the Arizona Diamondbacks were a new franchise with hungry veterans. They were the underdogs and the last team to stand in the Yankees’ way. As these teams battled, something amazing happened. Not just New York, Arizona and The United States were watching. The whole world witnessed the greatest World Series of the 21st century. What made this series great?
For starters, the pitching made it exciting and scary. Arizona had its 1-2 punch in starters Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. They shut down the scary Yankees offense every time they took the mound. However, Arizona’s closer Byung-Hyun Kim would become the victim of the Yankees. Thanks to him, Derek Jeter became “Mr. November.” In fact, Kim was responsible for blowing saves in back-to-back games. As Johnson and Schilling won both home games in Arizona, the Yankees mounted a comeback and took the series lead 3-2. Game 6 featured the D-Backs winning and tying the series at three apiece. This led to one of the greatest moments in World Series history.
The Yankees would take a 2-1 lead in Game 7. At the bottom of the eighth, Yankees manager Joe Torre brought in Mariano Rivera for a two-inning save. Rivera got the job done in the eighth but had trouble in the ninth. The score would be tied at two. The bases were loaded with one out, and the infield was playing in. Enter Arizona outfielder Luis Gonzalez, who became a home run hitter that year. Gonzalez didn’t go for the home run. Instead, he went for the hit. Gonzalez drove a single over Jeter’s head, and the winning run scored. The Diamondbacks were the underdog no more. They were the champions of the world. The Yankees failed to bring another title to New York.
This series isn’t remembered for the hitter battling a closer who is arguably called the greatest of all time. This series isn’t about the birth of “Mr. November.” This is the World Series that brought everyone away from the turmoil and grief that was felt. We all needed this series, and both teams needed that championship. But it became something more than a need. The end result was not what everyone wanted, but the series itself is what we deserved. We saw both the Yankees and Diamondbacks fight until nothing was left. You couldn’t ask for a better effort from either team.
Ten years later, the country is on its feet. New York is stronger than ever. The Yankees and the Diamondbacks are still in playoff contention. Imagine if these two teams fought again in the fall classic. However, the 2001 World Series became the backbone in getting the world back on its feet. Thank you New York and Arizona for helping us get back on track.
P.S. If you want to take a look at how things coincided with 9/11 and the Mets, check out Mirrors: Sports and Life (https://sebastiantsu.wordpress.com/2011/05/15/mirrors-sports-and-life/).
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