I’d imagine that many of you reading this column played baseball growing up.
I did, as well as playing softball, and stickball, and Wiffle ball, and
stoopball…basically anything that looked, smelled, or tasted like baseball
was a good use of my time. Well, I thought so, anyway.
In playing those games when I was very young, I would usually pretend to be
Chris Chambliss, In my teens, Don Mattingly became my favorite
player. I even aped Mattingly’s early-career crouch for a couple of Pony
Other times, my future would be at the center of my imagination. Come on,
we’ve all done it in our backyard ballgames…"Sheehan steps to the
plate…bases loaded, two outs, bottom on the ninth…the crowd is on its
feet…. The pitcher winds, he deals the pitch…a line drive!…TWO RUNS
ARE GONNA SCORE…THE CROWD IS GOING CRAZY…JOE SHEEHAN HAS JUST WON THE
So today, be happy for Luis Gonzalez. The dream we all dreamed came
true for him last night. Bases loaded, World Series-winning run on base, ace
reliever on the mound, home crowd going crazy, a cut
fastball…contact…pandemonium. Gonzalez is, by acclamation, the nicest
guy in baseball, so it’s not hard to enjoy the sight of him with a
champagne-wet jersey and a smile that may just be permanent.
Be happy for Mike Morgan, who’s been playing professional baseball
since, well, since Chris Chambliss was a Yankee. His first trip to the World
Series featured a great outing under pressure in Game Five and ended with a
dogpile between first and second base.
Be happy for Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, the two best
players in baseball’s postseason, and deserving co-MVPs of the World Series.
They did whatever they were asked to do, and they did it well, coming up
with 8 2/3 innings of two-run baseball on the biggest night of their
Be happy for Arizona’s baseball fans. Sure, the franchise is four years old,
but look at the week they just endured. I spent my weekend with some D’backs
fans, and those guys are just as passionate as fans of teams with a lot more
history. To the extent that fans can "earn" something, Snakes fans
earned Sunday night’s celebration with the agony of Games Four and Five.
Be happy for us baseball fans, because we all got to take a wild ride. This
wasn’t the best-played World Series, but it sure was a lot of fun.
Just remember something as this World Series moves into the history books:
the Diamondbacks had to beat the Yankees six times, and they had to do so
because Bob Brenly kept making the wrong decision at the wrong time for the
wrong reasons. What Brenly did over the last nine days shouldn’t be
whitewashed because he happened to have two amazing pitchers on his side; it
needs to be a part of the record as much as Gonzalez’s RBI and Schilling’s
strikeouts and the Yankees’ errors.
The Diamondbacks won because of Johnson and Schilling. They nearly lost
because of Brenly. There are a lot of reasons to be happy that it turned out
this way, but if the fact of winning overshadows the way it happened, well,
that’s a shame, because other than Mariano Rivera, nobody did more in
the attempt to bring a fourth straight World Series title to the Bronx than
- Sorry for the lack of a Game Six column. Fortunately, there wasn’t much
to write. For my money, Brenly didn’t mishandle Randy Johnson: once he
started and threw a couple of innings Saturday, he wasn’t going to be
available for more than a few batters Sunday regardless of how far he went.
He threw 17 pitches in Game Seven, getting four easy outs and setting the
stage for Gonzalez’s heroics.
- The Yankees didn’t play well enough to win this series. Even beyond
their being outscored heavily and their terrible performance with the bats,
they just didn’t play good baseball.
Last night, there was Paul O’Neill, who apparently forgot he’s old
and slow and tried to stretch a first-inning double into a triple, with
predictable results. The last 40 feet were actually painful to watch: you
could see O’Neill hit the wall at around shortstop.
Then, in the seventh inning, Bernie Williams didn’t go to third base
on the game-tying RBI single to right field by Tino Martinez. With
one out and the ball hit to right field, Williams, a fast runner, had to
take a chance there, even acknowledging that Danny Bautista has a
It was a final questionable baserunning decision by Williams, who had a
terrible postseason. I love Williams, but his whining about called strikes
got way out of hand in the World Series. He had a case sometimes, but after
watching him whine and roll his eyes a dozen times, it’s hard to dredge up
sympathy for his cause.
Finally, there was The Throw. Mariano Rivera is a good fielder, but
his decision to try and get the force at second base on Damian
Miller‘s sacrifice attempt in the ninth inning was ill-considered. As
hard as it had been for the D’backs to hit Rivera all series long, taking
the out and challenging them to get the run home with a hit was the right
move. Rivera made the more aggressive play, and his bad throw set up the
rest of the inning.
The decision to get the lead runner on the subsequent bunt was a bit more
defensible, and not just because Rivera made a good play on a ball bunted
too hard and too close to the mound by Jay Bell. That kept the
winning run out of scoring position (for the moment, at least), while being
a shorter throw for Rivera.
If there’s one memory from this game I’ll have trouble shaking, it’s my
screaming, "No, no!!" at the television as Rivera releases his
throw to second base.
- You know what’s even worse, for me as a Yankee fan, than tonight’s loss?
Waking up to find that there’s no game tonight. Or tomorrow. Or the next
I already miss baseball.
Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by