World Series 2001 |
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World Series 2001
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11/05/2001 06:00 AM ET
D-Backs report: Game 7
By Gary Rausch
Bell scored the winning run in the ninth, delivering the D-Backs their first World Series Championship.
PHOENIX -- Never one to mince words, Mark Grace wasn't holding back after finally experiencing the nirvana of playing on a World Series champion.

"What really feels good is I wasn't good enough to play first base for the Chicago Cubs, but I was good enough to play first base for the World Champions and that feels really good," said the 37-year-old, who spent 13 seasons playing home games at Wrigley Field. "I still can't believe it. I never thought I'd see National League champions let alone World Champions. I've got one more year left on my contract, but if I die tomorrow, I'll die a happy man."

Grace said he was briefly overcome when Jay Bell scored the winning run.

"A feeling went through me that I've never felt before," he said. "And probably, knowing the way this game is, and that I've waited this long and how hard it is, odds are that I'll never feel it again. But I've had that feeling, and it's still going through me."

Grace, who singled three times in Sunday's 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees, said the wait was worth it.

"Oh yeah," he continued. "Don't get me wrong. I owe the Chicago Cubs my whole career, but having gone through 13 years of struggles, this makes it all worth it. Every ground ball I've ever taken, every batting practice swing I've taken all these years, it's all worth it now. Every time I've broken a bone or pulled a muscle or got hit by a pitch, it's all worth it now. This is what's it's all about. Now I understand how the New York Yankees feel every year."

Grace was so ecstatic during the postgame ceremonies on the field at Bank One Ballpark that he invited all 49,589 fans to a party at his house.

It's been said no team with at least three former Cubs ever won a World Series. Consider the "Curse of the Cubs" a dead issue today.

"It's over," Grace said. "Three ex-Cubs come through with tonight's game, myself, Luis Gonzalez and Miguel Batista -- and who can forget the fourth, the Mo-Man, Mike Morgan. He deserves this more than any of us."


Grace was replaced by the quicker David Dellucci after his third hit opened the pivotal ninth inning. Dellucci reached second, but was thrown out at third on Jay Bell's bunt. So how did Grace like being pinch run for in the final game of the World Series?

"Hell, I could've gotten thrown out at third, so I was kind of disappointed," Grace said. "You know what makes it tough is now you're not a part of the game anymore. You've got to sit over in the dugout and go, 'Come on guys, let's go.' Even that blowout game last night, it was so much harder to watch than play."

SOME ROOKIE SEASON: Much was made of Bob Brenly's managerial decisions during the postseason. He was probably given too much flak for the ones that went awry and not enough credit for those that succeeded.

But what do you expect for a first-year manager, not just at the Major League level but at any level. He's never even managed one of son Michael's Little League teams, just helped out when he could.

"Like Michael said, I helped out with some of his teams as a part-time guy because I couldn't devote full-time to it because of my job (Diamondbacks' TV analyst and Fox commentator)," Brenly said. "Even back to my last few years as an active player and then the years I coached in San Francisco and some of the great managers I learned from, I always felt it was something I could do.

"Especially taking over this ball club, that's what made my job easy, having guys that didn't care who got the credit as long as we won."

FINLEY ON TEAR: Center fielder Steve Finley was barely hitting his weight through the season's first half, but finished on a scorching roll. Finley went 2-for-4 Sunday, finishing as the World Series' leading hitter at .368 (7-for-19). In the postseason, he batted .365 (19-for-52).

"We've been winning with pitching and defense," said Finley, one of the few hitting stars in the seven-game series. "We did it the whole season. We had the fewest errors in the Majors and we didn't make mistakes in the postseason. And we took advantage of the other team's mistakes."

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was virtually unbeatable, "but it happened tonight," Finley said. "They had their ghosts in New York. We've got our ghosts here. We came into the dugout in the eighth inning (trailing 2-1), saying 'It's going to happen. We've got to believe it's going to happen.' "

NEAR SPEECHLESS: "The moment it happened was a moment of disbelief, a moment of 'It did happen, it actually did happen,'" said managing general partner Jerry Colangelo, describing his emotions as Jay Bell touched home plate to deliver a World Championship to Arizona.

"You never lose the faith, but there times when I wondered. Think of the odds, with Rivera coming in there, as great as he is, for us to win makes the story even better."

LEFTOVERS: Arizona outscored the Yankees, 37-14, despite four games being decided by one run...The D-Backs posted a 1.94 earned run average, the lowest in more than a decade...The Yankee batted just .183 (42-for-229), the lowest average in a Fall Classic going seven or eight games...Arizona became the 19th team to win the World Series after trailing, 3-2, the 11th time a team has won Games 6 and 7 at home.

Gary Rausch is site reporter.