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World Series 2001
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11/06/2001 02:43 PM ET
D-Backs' parade set for Wednesday
By Gary Rausch
MLB.com
The celebrating will continue for the D-Backs on Wednesday with a parade in downtown Phoenix.
PHOENIX -- The Arizona Diamondbacks will celebrate their first World Series win with a parade Wednesday in downtown Phoenix.

Players and manager Bob Brenly and his coaches will ride atop fire engines through downtown Phoenix, beginning and ending their trek at Bank One Ballpark, where the team captured its first World Championship on Sunday with a 3-2 win over the New York Yankees. Fans will be given free tickets to assigned seats for the program inside the Ballpark.

D-Backs owner Jerry Colangelo, who is attending the Major League Baseball owners meetings near Chicago, woke up from a late night of celebrating Sunday night to an early morning phone call Monday from President George W. Bush.

"He was really excited," Colangelo said of the President. "He wanted to talk about the game and he wanted to talk about what this did for the country."

Colangelo said Bush called the World Series a great "tonic" and "diversion" for the country, still reeling from the tragic events of Sept. 11.

Bush also invited the D-Backs to the White House and Colangelo said he hoped to honor that invite sometime before the holidays.

Diamondbacks fans, meanwhile, continue to celebrate their team's triumph.

"The activity around the ballpark has just been incredible," said General Manager Joe Garagiola Jr. "I heard on the radio that people were lining up at 4:30 a.m. for the team shop and the lines have just been tremendous."

Garagiola predicted another outpouring of support Wednesday.

"I think you really saw our fans come to the front these last few days. Every seat was filled, they were out there early. They were loud. It's a city that likes its sports teams a lot and, I think, is very, very proud that one of them is a World Champion."

Sunday's postgame celebration was particularly moving for players and fans alike. Garagiola was especially taken by the emotional backing for beleaguered closer Byung-Hyun Kim, who had the misfortune of allowing New York to get come-from-behind wins in Games 4 and 5 at Yankee Stadium.

"It happens," said Garagiola of Kim's misfortune. "These (closers) are the field goal kickers of baseball. They come into a 3 1/2-hour game. They're in there for 10 minutes and they decide the outcome."

As teammates and coaches hugged each other and family members nearby, the 22-year-old Kim was a solitary figure, smiling broadly but failing miserably to hold back the tears of vindication.

Said Garagiola: "To me, that was one of the nicest moments of the whole postgame, when the Jumbotron cameraman picked up BK, just kind of wandering around the outfield with his (championship) T-shirt and cap on with this happy look on his face, and put him up on the big screen. The crowd just responded; it was like 49,000 people giving him a hug. It was just a wonderful moment."

Now the hard part begins for Garagiola, making sure the Diamondbacks remain competitive and not just a one-year wonder like the 1997 Florida Marlins. A player like right fielder Reggie Sanders is a free agent and may elect to play elsewhere in 2002, but the general manager offered some assurances.

"The core of this team is essentially under contract for next year, and in some cases through 2003," Garagiola said. Next week ... we'll begin the same process we've gone through every offseason, and that is looking at this team and seeing how we can make it better."

Garagiola said Colangelo made it clear after the inaugural 1998 season that a group of players would be put together for a four- or five-year period. The general manager said he didn't see this offseason being any different.

"I can't be any more emphatic than Jerry," Garagiola said. "This is not going to happen. This team is not going to be dismantled. It's just not going to happen. Now is that saying there will be no changes? No, we've made changes every year. We're not going to make changes certainly for the sake of making changes."

"If a situation presents itself that all sides agree will make Arizona a better ball club, there's a good chance of player movement. "But those will be baseball-driven decisions," added Garagiola, in contrast to moves made solely to ease financial burden.

But this is a time for rejoicing and reflection on what many are calling the greatest World Series ever. Garagiola wouldn't go that far, "but if you said it was one of the greatest, I'd probably be OK with that. You look at this series and you start with the fact that any time the road runs through Yankee Stadium, you've got a lot of storylines; the World Series is the biggest stage for the best players. Any time you get to a seventh game, that creates the drama. This has to make everybody's lists of great Series.

The words destiny, mystique and aura were commonplace in the pitching-dominated contests. Garagiola isn't sure which, if any, adequately applied.

"Who knows why a lot of this stuff works?" the general manager said. "Nobody knows. But I know this, that players who believe in themselves and believe in their teammates will sometimes accomplish extraordinary things. Maybe if that happens enough, you put the collective label of aura or mystique on it."

But pinning those terms on the Yankees' success in Games 4 and 5 diminished the New York club's accomplishments, Garagiola said.

"They play hard. They play first out to last out, and they've had enough success that they're in the eighth inning, they're in the ninth inning. They're two outs in the ninth inning and they're still playing hard. You can call that whatever you want, but I think that's what our guys have this year."

Garagiola believes Phoenix has taken the final step as a sports town.

"There aren't that many cities that have all four professional teams, and up until last night none of those teams had ever won a championship," he said.

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The general manager described how he kids Colangelo about wearing an Arena Football League championship ring.

"I said, 'Look at that ring. They made this sport up 10 years ago. If we win the World Series, we're going to need a 9-volt battery for the thing you're going to design.'

"We're not some place where there are cactus lining Central Avenue. We're not some cultural backwater," Garagiola continued. "When you have sports teams, there's only one goal, that's to win the last game of the year. The Suns have gotten close. The Coyotes have had some heartbreakers. The Cardinals have struggled. We got on that path in '99 and were knocked out pretty brutally.

"The ultimate is your fans care about your team. That's the best. Indifference is a bad thing in sports. For a lot of years, the people in Arizona have cared about their sports teams. To be able to deliver that trophy to them is really all about repaying that confidence and that support."

Diamondbacks attendance has dropped each of the past three seasons. Garagiola believes an event like the World Series is going to attract the attention of people that maybe hadn't focused on baseball before.

"Hopefully, those people saw some things that they liked and will want to come out next year and see more of it," he said. "If it translates into higher attendance, that's a really good thing. My view on this whole attendance question is we're all happy that people who have a lot of ways to spend money buy tickets and come out and watch the guys do what they do. So I'm never going to be critical of those people. We do this every night, so the more that want to come out, the happier we are. Opening Day is April 1st, vs. the Padres, 1:35, plenty of good seats still available."

Gary Rausch is the site reporter for azdiamondbacks.com. Carrie Muskat, a reporter for MLB.com, contributed to this report.