Triumph Over Tragedy

Saturday September 10, 2011

This is construction of the World Trade Center from last year. Photo Credit: turtlepatrol, Flickr.com
This is construction of the World Trade Center from last year. Photo Credit: turtlepatrol, Flickr.com

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?

derek jeter, new york yankees
The Yankees Captain Derek Jeter earned the right to be called, “Mr. November” at the 2001 World Series. Photo Credit: Keith Allison, Flickr.com

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.

Yours Truly,

Sebastian Maldonado

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/).

Copyrighted @ 2007

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10 thoughts on “Triumph Over Tragedy

  1. Awesome….sports can heal wounds!
    Congrats on 200
    So proud of you + ur work…..continue to strive to be the best you can be 🙂

  2. Today is a day of much reflection of that terrible assault on American soil, 9/11/01. But we are a strong nation and New York is and will always be a giant of a city. It survived and continues to heal, though 10 years have passed.
    Though life may not be the same, we New Yorkers are grateful for our beloved Yankees that provided us with a World Series that mended our pain, shared our tears and rose to be what they always have been in our hearts, CHAMPIONS.

  3. BTW, Congratulations on number 200! Yipee! We salute your perspective on the sports world and look forward to hundreds , thousands, more TSUs.

    • As I read your piece and having lived through that trying time I remember how sports seemed to unify and help everyone get past the horror that was with a mere hour or two of sports entertainment. I salute you in the unique way you write and and capture life and sports and bring it togetherto flow as one. Continue on your quest and may you have a million more of these great stories. Congrats on 200 and thanks!!!!!!!

  4. The sports aspect of this didn’t turn me away from it at all. You are an amazing writer and I’m actually pretty jealous 🙂 I was so young when 9/11 happened, I didn’t even remember that the World Series was that year. I haven’t seen a 9/11, sports tie in before, so it was very interesting. I will definitely keep tabs on the blog!

    ~ Marissa

  5. I admire you for triggering emotions with the topic of sports and relating it to a historic tragedy. I am not a sports fan but I could completely understand your direction to the unbelievable factor of these events. The World Series of this year will always be remembered. Thank you for attracting a non-sports fan like me to read this blog! 🙂

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