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World Series 2001
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11/02/2001 06:38 AM ET
Browne: Yankees create their own destiny
Chuck Knoblauch, who re-appeared from his benching to collect a crucial single in the 12th inning, celebrates after scoring the winning run.
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NEW YORK -- There wasn't just a buzz in Yankee Stadium after the second maddeningly outrageous World Series comeback in the last two nights was complete. There were buzz words and phrases.

And they came gushing out following the Yankees' 3-2, 12-inning victory in Thursday's Game 5 of the World Series.

Destiny. Deja vu. Miraculous. Fairy tale. Sequel. Top this.

Here's another one for you. Baloney.

There's something deeper and more substantial than the obvious expressions you seemingly hear after every sports miracle is finished.

For the second time in as many games, the Yankees were down to their last out in the bottom of the ninth inning. They were down two runs.

Once again, a hometown hero -- this time it was Scott Brosius instead of Tino Martinez -- sent a Byung-Hyun Kim pitch skying into the Bronx night for a two-run homer to tie up a ballgame that seemed all but over. Once again, a historic Stadium reached the highest of decibel levels.


"Everybody contributed in some way or another. That's what makes this such a great team. Hopefully in the dictionary, maybe Webster or whoever makes it will change the definition of team and just put Yankees next to it."

--Chuck Knoblauch

Again, there was an extra-inning hero. This time it was Alfonso Soriano (game-ending single) instead of Derek Jeter.

Put two of the most mind-blowing finishes in World Series history back-to-back, and suddenly the Yankees lead a truly classic Fall Classic 3-2 and need just one victory for a fourth consecutive world championship. Is this the same World Series the Yankees trailed 2-0.

Sure. It's just that fate -- or all of those other cutesy cliches -- has nothing to do with how quickly everything has turned around.

It's called greatness. This Yankee team is one of the great units ever. They are on the verge of collecting a fifth championship in the last six years to drive that point home.

"Everybody contributed in some way or another," said Chuck Knoblauch, who re-appeared from his benching to collect a crucial single. "That's what makes this such a great team. Hopefully in the dictionary, maybe Webster or whoever makes it will change the definition of team and just put Yankees next to it."

In that definition, there is nothing about mystical powers. Or fairy tale endings.

Nobody is watching over these Yankees.

It comes down to this. They play winning baseball, almost as it was drawn up in a textbook. They don't get down, even when they should.

You know who knows this better than anyone right now? Rookie Diamondbacks Manager Bob Brenly. He enjoyed the Yankee accomplishments far more when he was a broadcaster.

So imagine the pained look on Brenly's face when the first question at the post-game press conference was, "Have you become convinced that the Yankees have some supernatural powers?"

Instead of searching for the nearest barf bag, Brenly gave a telling answer.

"I think that's cheapening what the Yankees are all about," he said. "They are a great baseball team. Trying to play it off to something supernatural takes away from the ability of these players."

And not just athletic ability. With this Yankees juggernaut, the key has been a near uncanny ability to perform in the clutch.

Never during this run has it happened as emphatically as it did in the late stages of Game 4 and 5.

"This is the most incredible couple of games I've ever managed," said Yankees Manager Joe Torre. "You're sitting there, you have another breath left and Brosius hits the ball out of the ballpark. I mean, you shake your head and all of a sudden the wheels have to start spinning again and I said to (pitching coach) Mel (Stottlemyre), what about (Mariano Rivera) here."

Torre's ability to stay calm and focused in the center of such drama explains in large part why these Yankees have been able to rise out of even the most unthinkable holes these last few weeks, not to mention the last few years.

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His players, initially joyous when the Brosius launch landed well over the left field fence, came right back down to reality. There was still the matter of winning the game.

"I don't think shocked is the right word," Jeter said of the Brosius blast. "You're excited but all of the sudden you have to turn your attention to trying to score another run. That only tied the game. That's the thing about this team. We're pretty professional. There's a lot of emotion there, everyone was excited. But then everyone was saying we have to get it done."

And they did, even when it got as harrowing as bases loaded and one out for the Diamondbacks against Rivera in the 11th. Rivera has as calm a demeanor as any athlete in sports. So he battled his way out of that jam, thanks in large part to a tremendous stab of a looping liner by rookie second baseman Soriano, who would be heard from later.

How do the Yankees react to such a miraculous victory? Virtually the same way they react to the routine ones.

Sure, there was excitement after it was over. And a sense that another trophy will be claimed when the series goes back to Arizona for Games 6 and 7. But there was no glow or gloat.

Instead, the Yankees looked ahead instead of back.

Championships aren't won in the past.

Said Jeter: "I'm sure when this series is over, if things pan out the way we want them to, you'll get a chance to reflect and realize how special it was."

"It looked like we were going to lose there for a while, but we had a lot of confidence. We thought we could win and we're able to come back and win."

Because they are great champions. They have created their own destiny.

Ian Browne is a columnist for MLB.com