An October to Remember: Part 1

The IP Sports staff has picked the Top 5 Post Season Series of the decade and we’re listing them in chronological order. First is the 2001 World Series.

Arizona Diamondbacks 4, New York Yankees 3
MVP: Curt Schilling/Randy Johnson
Game 1: Arizona 9, New York 1
WP: Schilling, LP: Mike Mussina
Game 2: Arizona 4, New York 0
WP: Johnson, LP: Andy Pettitte
Game 3: New York 2, Arizona 1
WP: Roger Clemens, LP: Brian Anderson
Game 4: New York 4, Arizona 3 (10 Innings)
WP: Mariano Rivera, LP: Byung-Hyun Kim
Game 5: New York 3, Arizona 2 (12 Innings)
WP: Sterling Hitchcock, LP: Albie Lopez
Game 6: Arizona 15, New York 2
WP: Johnson, LP: Pettitte
Game 7: Arizona 3, New York 2
WP: Johnson, LP: Rivera

Tom Daniels: This World Series will always hold an important place in my heart. First, it was the first major sporting event I ever watched out at a bar — and the night of an unprecedented pool run which saw me and my friend Matt take down 14 straight challengers before retiring. Second, it’s the topic of one of my favorite books — Last Night Of The Yankee Dynasty by Buster Olney. Third, it’s a great example of how inane “he doesn’t have any rings” is as an argument criteria for a player’s relative greatness as Mike Mussina’s lack of World Series ring is entirely in the ring-encrusted hand of Mariano Rivera.

Without looking, I think this series featured 3 walk-off wins, a rocking Yankee Stadium unlike anything I’ve ever seen, a complete game shutout by Randy Johnson in his prime, Andy Pettitte getting his shelled, and the great Mariano Rivera, to the surprise of almost everyone, committing an error trying to get the lead runner and rattling himself in a way no one’s ever seen him rattled.

And this is the FIFTH best series of the decade.

Eugene Tierney: Another part that added to this series was 9/11. Everyone was pulling for a New York win because that would “help the city”. I wasn’t in that boat, but it made for a nice story. More than anything, it was a distraction from the work, grieving, hurt that the people of NY felt (or that’s what it seemed in the Mid-West).

This was also the series that made Byung-Hyun Kim famous. After blowing 2 key games, Kim was able to bounce back and be a successful closer in 2002; unfortunately, a move to the rotation and a trade to Boston in 2003 pretty much led to his downfall in American Baseball. I believe he’s back in South Korea after a couple of failed comebacks.

Chad Jorgenson: I loved this series just because it was the end of the Yankee’s last dynasty. They’re looking like they are back for another one now, but it’s been a fun couple years without them owning the playoffs every year. The way it ended the Yankee’s dynasty was great as well. The greatest closer in the history of the postseason giving up the game winning hit, it was a completely magical series. You had one Hall of Fame lock and another strong contender for HoF honors on one pitching staff going up against the great Yanks. Johnson and Schilling owned this series on many levels and it was a great series to watch.

Aaron Cameron: I actually sat out the remainder off the 2001 postseason after my A’s gagged away a 2-0 lead against the Yankees in the ALDS. I caught a few innings of the World Series – most of them in the climactic Game #7 – but a lot of the drama, for me, was seen and heard through highlights. I know that then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani attended many ’01 WS games in the company of invited guests who’d lost friends and family members during 9/11. So I remain a bit uncomfortable in taking so much pleasure while watching all the sad-panda postgame reaction shots of Giuliani after the D’Backs won. But, not really.

Alex Schuhart: I really liked this series because of it’s amazing ending and because it brought an end to the ownership the Yankees had on the Series for the past few seasons. The Diamondbacks were the best team to beat the Yankees, too – they were a new team, one that just a few short seasons ago had lost 100 games. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Yankees hater or anything, but it was great to see someone else win it – especially in that fashion. Both teams put up a great fight, but the Diamondbacks did just a little better (and by “a little”, I mean “a lot”, statistically at least – the Diamondbacks hit .264 that series, the Yanks only .183. The D-Backs had a team ERA of 1.94 to the Yankees 4.26).

Russ Blatt: I am not sure where everyone is from, but I am from NY and as was stated before 9/11 was something that was in all of our minds here in NY and at the stadium (which I was at for Game 4). As usual, my take on baseball happens off the field.

There are some memories of this series that I have with me and will take with me for a long time. First, it was the end of the dynasty. The Yankees are they were had changed after that year and never seemed to recover. That does give a lot of pleasure to Yankees haters. But, I digress…

Living under the shadows of Ground Zero, New York needed something to hold on to. The amount of outreach that came from people, athletes, politicians and the world was amazing and almost enough to let us all see that there was hope for recovery. The Concert for New York was help by Paul McCartney and friends (I believe during a Yankees loss vs. the Mariners). Baseball season continuing, football season and sports played a big role in that recovery.

I know that I was at Yankee Stadium in the bleachers for Game 4. I do not remember the first pitch, but I remember the most intense security I have ever been part of as we went to the stadium. I remember about 50 NYPD officers walking a torn flag from Ground Zero past us to hang above the stadium. I remember hundreds if not thousands of the Stars and Stripes in people’s hands during the National Anthem and God Bless America in the 7th inning (which the Yankees still perform to this day every 7th inning stretch). People crying during those songs. I remember looking around the stadium and seeing snipers walking around the roof and seeing a police officer everywhere. I also remember people hugging the officers, shaking their hands and saying thank you to each and every one. So many memories just flood back.

I also remember Curt Shilling talking about the dancers named “Mystique and Aura” and they do not exist at the stadium. However, he learned they did at least for two nights. It was about the 8th inning and someone turned to me and said, if there is a G-d he would want the Yankees to win. I saw people look at him and I said, Dude, if there is a G-d to quote your words why the hell would we be going through what we are”. I should have said, you mean baseball gods. However, it was an emotional time for everyone. I apologized later.

Bottom of the 9th. I can remember watching the flight of Tino Martinez’s home run and just feeling, “Holy Crap, this place is about to explode” and it did. In a scene like nothing I have been part of (until two years later on the Aaron Boone home run), people were hugging, high-fiving, fist pumping, yelling, screaming and just going insane. It was almost as if all of the tension New Yorkers were feeling were released with one swing. I know that is a huge statement to make, but that is what it felt like. For a few moments, people who were living in fear, terror and shick had something to have an emotional outburst about. A positive one at that.

Later on, we all know that November baseball was played for the first time and the newly kinged Mr. November won the game for the Yankees. But those are my memories, first hand from New York.

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