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World Series 2001
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11/05/2001 07:38 AM ET
D-Backs GM praises club's character
By Gary Rausch
MLB.com
Garagiola's replacing of Buck Showalter with Bob Brenly proved a sound move.
PHOENIX -- Diamondbacks General Manager Joe Garagiola, Jr. was drenched from head to toe Sunday night, courtesy of a champagne shower from right fielder Reggie Sanders.

"Sanders is 4-for-4 now," said Garagiola, who got similar dousings when the D-Backs clinched the NL West and won their division and league championship series. "He got me in Milwaukee, here after St. Louis, in Atlanta -- and ruined my phone -- and here tonight."

After only four seasons, the Diamondbacks were World Champions. And as the club celebrated its dramatic 3-2 Game 7 victory over the New York Yankees, Garagiola, with champagne running down his face, talked about Arizona's success.

"It's vindication and validation, use whatever word you want," Garagiola said in the hallway outside manager Bob Brenly's office. "Not that the Yankees aren't a team of really good guys. They don't get any better than Derek Jeter, Paul ONeill and those guys. (But) a lot of good guys on this team have paid some dues. Bobby Witt and Mike Morgan just took a picture. That's 40 years of Major League time between them.

"Just go around the clubhouse, Gracey and Matty and Randy. It's hard to remember now, but when this postseason started, the whole thing was 'Geez, Randy Johnson isn't too good in the postseason.' Now he's co-MVP.

"Schilling with his teams in Philadelphia got to the Series once. He came over here and after last season said 'They brought me here to get to the World Series and I didn't do my job.' How was he tonight? Him and Johnson in this World Series.

"I'm so proud of this team, the character they displayed right from the beginning," Garagiola said. "This was as close to an impossible situation as you could have. Mariano Rivera, the guy nobody ever gets in the postseason and we get him. We get him when we had to get him."

The GM never lost hope. Even after a pair of extra-inning losses in New York. Even trailing Major League Baseball's most storied franchise, 2-1, in the bottom of the ninth Sunday.

"Not with this team, not with this team," Garagiola said. "Nope. These guys were going to find a way. They were going to do something."

Garagiola knows the Yankees intimately. He was general counsel and assistant to the president of the Yankees in the 1970's. "They're the three-time defending World Championship, the greatest franchise in the history of baseball, what they've accomplished, their records," he said. "To go to Yankee Stadium, and have happen what happened there. No team, no team has ever taken consecutive shots like that. That's like Carlton Fisk hitting his home run in back-to-back games.

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"For us to come back here and do what we did last night ... And tonight, you knew this game was going to turn on a handful of points," he said. "Schilling and Clemens were just going to line up toe-to-toe and that's it. We scratch one out and they get it back. Schilling in, just running on fumes out there. Soriano hits it out. They bring in their guy and they had to be thinking that it was over; that we had been a tremendous opponent, fought them harder than anybody's fought them their whole run, but in the end they had prevailed. And the next thing you know we're the World Champions."

In an era of escalating costs at all levels, how will managing general partner Jerry Colangelo keep this championship team together?

"Jerry will find a way," Garagiola answered.

Who would have thought the Arizona's first world title would come from the last professional sport to arrive in the state.

"That I will say makes me personally feel pretty good, that I was involved in Jerry winning his first championship," Garagiola said. "There's not a guy in that clubhouse that did not want to win this for him; how he treats people, who he is, how lives his life. He's a good, decent man, who runs his business in a principled way. People like that deserve all the nice things that happen to them."

Gary Rausch is the site reporter for azdiamondbacks.com.