World Series 2001 |
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World Series 2001
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10/16/2001 05:18 AM ET
Mayo: Division Series was a postseason classic
The Seattle-Cleveland series was full of exciting action.
SEATTLE -- Let's try to pace ourselves here.

It's only the end of the first round, the Division Series. But if the postseason continues at this rate -- with drama this intense -- I'm not sure any of us will last into November.

Three Game Fives would have been enough. Having just one of them be an exciting, well-played nail-biter would have been plenty. But not wanting to be outdone by the Arizona-St. Louis series, the finale here in Seattle also was a classic.

It wasn't two aces throwing in the mid-to-high 90s. This one was more old school. There were 76 years of experience on the mound battling to extend each team's season. In the end, it was the Mariners' aging lefty that bested the Indians' aging lefty for the second straight time, sending Seattle to the American League Championship Series for the second straight year.

What made this Game 5 even more dramatic is that few, if any, thought it was remotely a possibility. We all know how the script was supposed to read: Seattle juggernaut steamrolls Indians.

But there we were, traveling overnight from Seattle to Cleveland after the Tribe figured out a way to win Game 1 in Seattle, thinking the Indians had a legitimate shot at stealing this series.

The Mariners were embarrassed in the first game at the Jake, and we marveled at how this 116-win team was on the brink of elimination. Maybe we even started to think about how the Indians matched up against Oakland and New York.

Then the Mariners woke up in their first must-win game of the season to send this dizzying series back here to Seattle. There we were, traveling early in the morning from Cleveland to Seattle for the deciding game, feeding off the adrenaline of this surprisingly terrific series.


Watching Jamie Moyer and Chuck Finley duel made it even more entertaining. Most 38-year-olds were at home watching this game on their couch or from here in the press box. (One more starter in his upper-30s took the hill in another Game 5, in New York).

It was an elimination game for both teams. A bad bounce, a bad call, a well-timed hit could mean the difference between going on or going home. It's wearing for us watching; I can't even imagine how exhausting it is for those participating.

"It's one of those games that was mentally draining," Finley said. "The game was riding on every pitch. You were always one bad pitch, two bad pitches away from one team winning."

Unfortunately for Finley, he's the one who threw the one or two bad pitches. I don't mean to sound summer camp-y here (where everyone is a winner!), but it seems a shame someone had to draw the short straw here.

We've seen just about everything in this series, and every minute provided another story worth following, another subplot that kept you at the edge of your seat.

Game 1, which seems like it was played sometime in the 14th century, featured an overpowering pitching performance. Bartolo Colon was throwing harder in the eighth inning than he was in the first. A stunned SAFECO Field -- and press box -- had to suddenly consider the idea that Cleveland could win this thing.

Moyer came out with his slow stuff for the first time in Game 2, throwing change-up after change-up through the shadows to fool the Indians. The Mariners told us they weren't worried, and then backed it up.

We moved on to Cleveland, unsure of where the momentum lay. It was indicative of this series: One pitch, one inning and that pendulum swung wildly in another direction.

There was no question who grabbed it after Game 3. You don't score 17 runs and not feel like you have some control, especially with the guy who was nearly perfect to start the series taking the mound the next day. An Indians series victory moved from slight possibility -- a novel idea to tinker with in our columns -- to near probability. How would the Mariners, untested all year, bounce back against Colon?

Much to our amazement, our astonishment and, to those who were hoping not to make another cross-country trip, disappointment, the Mariners scratched and clawed their way to tie the series. Bewildered, we scurried back here bleary-eyed to take in the grand finale.

Maybe I was too tired to appreciate what this meant. Maybe after making dozens of incorrect predictions, I was numb. What would happen at SAFECO Field? Who could be sure after all that had transpired?

We weren't disappointed. Just as Arizona and St. Louis played a dandy, Seattle and Cleveland provided us with a masterpiece, a fitting end to this grueling series. The outcome was in doubt until Kaz Sasaki recorded the final out of the game.

"You're still thinking in the ninth that you're a walk and a bomb away [from tying it]," Finley said. "If you're going to go out, that's the way to do it. It went all the way to wire."

Quick, catch your breath, because we're about to start up again. And if this first week of the postseason is any indication of what's to come, I'm not sure I'll have the stamina to keep up.

But I'm loving every minute of it.

Jonathan Mayo is a columnist for The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.