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Arizona Smiled in Bottom of Ninth

Posted November. 06, 2001 10:42,   


``It is not over until it is over.``

Ruminating one of Yankee`s legendary players Yogi Berra`s words, the Yankee players left the ground wretchedly. The `Yankees Empire`, a 26-time World Series champion in the 20th century, surrendered the first World champion of the 21st century to the 4-year-old Arizona Diamondbacks only to vanish into a legend.

At the moment when Diamondbacks` slugger Gonzalez flared a Rivera 0-1 pitch off the handle, and it sailed almost slow motion over the Derek Jeter`s head to land in center field, it made come true the dream of the Arizona players and 49,000 home fans. It was a walk-off hit in the World Series game seven. With a 3-2 victory, the goddess of victory finally smiled at the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Among the fanatic cheers of the home fans crowding the Bank One Ballpark, the Diamondback players poured into the ground and they shed tears of moving victory. Veteran pitcher Mike Morgan, who tasted a sweet victory for the first time in his 24-year baseball career, kissed on the home plate, being touched by a joy of winning the World Series title. And World Series co-MVP winner, Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, one-two punch of the Arizona Diamondbacks, embraced their teammates with their eyes moistened. Gonzalez who hit a walk-off hit hugged to relieve a closer Kim Byung-Hyun having been under the unutterable pressure.

On the other hand, the Yankees` bench was overshadowed with the dark reality of a collapsed empire. Manager Joe Torre was stupefied with a grief of losing a big fish in his hand, and Paul O`Neill shook his head as if he could not believe such a distressing result of his last major league game.

The all-time ML best closer, unbeatable Mariano Rivera, who had recorded a postseason 6 wins and 24 saves win no loss and 0.70 ERA, also looked as if he could not believe the fact that his first postseason defeat came up in the World Series game seven.

With a starting match-up between Curt Schilling (Diamondbacks) and Roger Clemens (Yankees), the game seven was the most exciting game in 97-year World Series history. As the Diamondbacks earned first a run in the sixth, the Yankees turned the table with a seventh inning timely hit of Martinez and an eighth inning solo homer of Soriano to 2-1. It was the bottom of ninth inning that the dramatic come-from-behind win took place.

Lead-off hitter Mark Grace`s single was followed by an error of closer Rivera on Damian Miller`s bunt. With runners on the first and second, Bell failed a sacrifice bunt, but No. 1 hitter Tony Womack stroke a stunning game-tying double down the right-field line. And in a full-based one-out, Gonzalez hit a game-winning single over the shortstop to bring the `Commissioner Trophy` to the D-backs.

With this memorable win, the Arizona Diamondbacks became the youngest team to win a World Champion title in the ML history, and Kim Byung-Hyun became the first Korean player who wore a champion ring.