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|Paul O'Neill can only watch as the Diamondbacks celebrate on the field after winning Game 7.
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PHOENIX - Ding-dong the dynasty is dead.
At least for a year it is anyway.
It certainly looked like the Yankee juggernaut was going to keep on rolling, didn't it? With a lead and Mariano Rivera on the mound in the ninth, I refuse to believe there were too many people who thought the Yankees weren't going to add to their legend and win a fourth straight title.
But the Diamondbacks had other plans and improbably took the Series out from under the three-time defending champs. The reign in the Bronx is over. Let the desert dynasty begin.
"We are living proof that as sure as the Roman Empire fell, the Yankees can fall," Miguel Batista said. "Things change, the Yankees change, baseball can change.
"At least until 2002. If these teams stay together, maybe they will meet again next year. They will have to come to the desert and beat us. Right now, it's a party in a desert."
It's good to be the king. It's even more satisfying when you dethrone the long-standing rulers, the despots who appeared poised to close their grips on their empire of titles for one more season.
"You know, two teams get to the World Series, and it was very fitting that the Yankees be in the World Series because if we are going to be champions you want to face the best, and we did," Randy Johnson said.
"We went through sports' greatest dynasty to win our first World Series," Curt Schilling added.
It was a popular refrain for the D-Backs: In order to be the best, you have to beat the best. Sure, they had myriad chances to do it more quickly and efficiently. But where's the drama in that?
The Yankees did their darnedest to hold on to their kingdom. They must have seen it slipping it away. Of course, news of the Yankees' demise has been grossly exaggerated for the last couple of years. Yet New York always found a way to continue their reign somehow.
This time seemed different. With warriors like Johnson and Schilling leading the way, a coup appeared to be on the horizon. The Diamondbacks took the first two games and then had ninth-inning leads in Games 4 and 5.
But the Yankees refused to yield the throne. They clung to their power with late-inning heroics. Coming back here with a 3-2 lead, many thought that even though Arizona posed the greatest threat to the Yankee dynasty in years, the Yankees would find a way to repeat again.
Even after a 15-2 rout to tie the series, I have to think most people thought the Yankees would find a way to win. And with a 2-1 lead in the ninth, and Rivera in control, it was inevitable. But within a span of minutes, there was a stunning reversal. The Diamondbacks had out-Yankeed the Yankees.
"We gave them a little taste of their own medicine," Damian Miller said. "It's a little bit of revenge. It wasn't a dramatic home run like they had, but it was a run, and that's what matters."
"It was fitting," Brian Anderson said. "They left us on the field a couple of times in New York, why not us? Why not one time here?"
The king is dead. Long live the king.
To their credit, it ended up a peaceful abdication once the war was concluded. How could it not be? After long, drawn-out battles, it appears there will be a smooth transition of power.
"I thought it was an incredible series," Scott Brosius said. "An unbelievable series. We're obviously disappointed to be on the losing side but we played a great team over there. They deserved to win the series."
The respect goes both ways. There is a changing of the guard, but no one on the Diamondbacks is ready to proclaim the Yankees are done once-and-for-all.
"I don't know about dynasty killers," Miller said. "We're Yankee-beaters this year, that's for sure."
Even Schilling, Mr. Confident Guarantee, wanted to pay homage to the once and possibly future kings.
"Tip your hat to the City of New York and the New York Yankees, they have represented baseball to the umpth degree. And to win it makes it incredibly special," he said. "I believe this is not our last and we have the makeup and the chemistry and the talent and personnel to do it again. And maybe it will go through New York again, who knows?"
That kind of respect is impressive, but the Diamondbacks have to get one thing straight. Now that they are champions, now that they have at least temporarily ended the Yankee dynasty, they don't have to bow down to the gods in pinstripes.
The road to the championship now goes through the desert, not New York.
And they can lay claim to that at least until this time next year.
Jonathan Mayo is a columnist for MLB.com. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.