|11/05/2001 02:58 AM ET
|MLB.com hands out cacti awards
|By Adam McCalvy
Was it the most exciting World Series in baseball history? That argument will likely be made, and whether it's true or not the Diamondbacks and Yankees gave fans a week to remember. MLB.com does its best to pick some winners (and non-winners) from a fantastic Game 7 under rainy desert skies.
One cactus: You are snake bait.
Two cactuses: Umm, yes, that crystal pool is a mirage.
Three cactuses: You have a mouthful of cactus juice, but your face is killing you.
Four cactuses: You have a full water canteen, SPF-60 sunblock and a slick pair of Ray-Bans.
Five cactuses: Lawrence of Arabia has nothing on you.
It was the Commissioner's decision, in the wake of Sept. 11, to halt play for a week, then complete the season the right way -- by playing the full 162-game schedule and pushing the World Series into November. He looked as proud to award the World Championship trophy as Arizona owner Jerry Colangelo looked to receive it.
The fastest expansion team ever to go all the way, this Diamondbacks team found a little late inning magic of its own in a classic Game 7.
Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson. Their names were mentioned together any time anyone said "Arizona Diamondbacks," so it was fitting they accepted MVP honors together. Schilling made three stellar starts in the series and dominated throughout Arizona's postseason run. After the Yankees pushed ahead in game seven, Johnson, who pitched seven innings in the Game 6 win, and came back to win Game 7 in relief.
There were so many to recognize in that decisive bottom of the ninth. All it took was a little fist shot over the drawn-in shortstop, and Luis Gonzalez had himself a game-winning and series-winning RBI. Two hitters earlier, Tony Womack tied the game with an RBI hit of his own. And veteran Mark Grace, in his 14th Major League season, kick-started the rally with a leadoff single.
Schilling and Clemens were dueling, and the question was, who would flinch first? Bautista made sure Clemens flinched, blasting a high, inside fastball into the left-center field gap in the sixth inning, scoring Steve Finley from first and giving the D-Backs a 1-0 lead. Bautista gets bonus points for his slide as he tried to stretch the double into a triple, diving forcefully at the bag in a vain -- but gutsy -- attempt to beat the relay. He hit .583 in the World Series.
He faced as tough a call as they come. With the teams locked in a 1-1 tie after the Yankees scored in the top of the seventh inning, first-year manager Brenly had an opportunity to substitute Curt Schilling for a pinch-hitter to lead off the bottom of the inning. Brenly stuck with Schilling, who was making his third start of the series but had cruised through seven, and Schilling promptly struck out, then served up Alfonso Soriano's solo home run in the eighth. But in the end, his team was the only one left standing, and Brenly was the first rookie manager to win it all since 1961.
Love 'em or curse 'em, it was a pretty remarkable stretch of dominance. But now there's a new king of the hill.
The rookie atoned for an early inning error -- in a huge way. He reached out for a low 0-2 pitch from Schilling and managed to muscle it into the left field stands. The solo home run gave New York a lead that slipped away in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Was this his last game in a Yankees uniform? If it was, he left a lasting impression. His RBI single in the seventh inning answered a D-Backs tally in the bottom of the sixth and tied the game, 1-1.
Williams, Jeter, Brosius
They combined for a stellar relay on Batista's RBI double. Bernie Williams fielded the hit at the left-center field wall and fired to cutoff man Derek Jeter, who landed flat-footed but somehow managed to fire a strike to third baseman Scott Brosius, who applied a quick tag and held the deficit to one run.
When Yanks manager Joe Torre puts the ball in Rivera's hand with a lead in the eighth inning, it's usually lights out. Usually, but not on this night. He made it through the eighth unscathed, but committed a costly error and allowed the tying and winning scores in the bottom of the ninth and picked up a season-ending loss.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com.