"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Grace Slick

Mariano Rivera didn’t look to have his best stuff last night. But with one out and a runner on first, he snagged a hard ground ball and quickly pivoted his body around to second base. In that instant I thought of the 2001 World Series, 9th inning, Game 7. That was when Rivera didn’t turn a double play. It wasn’t the worst performance of his career but it may have been the most painful as the Diamondbacks scored twice to win the Serious. I couldn’t sleep that night. I replayed the inning over and over. I wondered if a loss like that would break Rivera. It didn’t, of course. The Sandy Alomar home run in the 1997 ALDS didn’t, and neither did Game 4 and 5 of the 2004 ALCS against the Red Sox.

Now, it’s almost ten full years after the loss to the Diamonbacks and only a handful of players who appeared in the Serious are still active. None of them are performing on Rivera’s level. He’s embodiment of excellence, still graceful, a later day Fred Astaire as we like to think of him around these parts, and one of the most beautiful athletes in pro sports.

Rivera was quick enough to field the hard ground ball last night and he made a difficult throw to second base look easy. It was right on target. Cano caught it and threw to first in one smooth motion,  in time for a game-ending double play. Close play. Yanks got the call.

The Yankee players smiled as they gathered to shake hands. Smiled at an old man who still has a few moments left. He was smiling too.

And so were we.


1 rbj   ~  May 11, 2011 10:25 am

Only one Nina in that sketch, right?

I watched Mo walk off the field after that game and while part of me was disappointed, it seemed to me that Mo was able to shrug off the loss as "hey these things happen to everyone, no one's immune to failure." Figured he'd be alright.

2 Alex Belth   ~  May 11, 2011 10:33 am

Yeah, I only caught one Nina.

3 Shaun P.   ~  May 11, 2011 10:36 am

[0] Only a handful, indeed. By my count, its 8: Jeter, Posada, Alfonso Soriano, Choate (!), Counsell (!!), Mo, Barajas (I forgot he was on the D'backs), and Batista.

Mo is grace personified.

4 Jon DeRosa   ~  May 11, 2011 10:40 am

I always have wondered if the poor throw in Arizona was caused by the light rain.

5 Sliced Bread   ~  May 11, 2011 10:52 am

Ah, the 2001 World Series. In the immediate aftermath I was sure of two things: Mo, and the Yankees would be back on top soon enough, and Alfonso Soriano would be a Yankee forever after bringing the team so close to a championship victory. Of course Mo proved to be the surest of those sure things.

That blown save honestly bothered me so little that night. The Yankees had hit about a buck fifty in the Series, had their doors blown off by Randy Johnson, and still made a valiant run at their 6th title in 5 years.

They gave us an absolutely thrilling postseason just weeks after the worst day in New York City history. I was grateful to be alive. Grateful to watch baseball. Grateful to see the Yankees fight until the 9th inning of Game 7. It would have been a great victory, one of the best in franchise history, but in light of the tragedies of September 11th, I was completely at peace with the outcome

6 Sliced Bread   ~  May 11, 2011 10:55 am

Fifth in 6 years, that is.

7 Alex Belth   ~  May 11, 2011 10:58 am

5) You had the right perspective. I was furious and guilty that I felt that way after the thrills they gave us AND the fact that they had just won three championships in a row.

8 RagingTartabull   ~  May 11, 2011 11:03 am

I was not at all happy after they lost, but about 6 weeks later while watching all the year-end things on ESPN and other places and really stepping back to look at the whole crazy run of those few weeks I gained a new appreciation for it. The Yankees ended up being the only thing I remember fondly from the fall of 2001.

But yeah that was the worst Monday morning ever, the next day.

9 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  May 11, 2011 11:05 am

[4] The first thing I think, every time I see that throw in my head is, "Fucking rain..."

Like Joba and the fucking gnats...

10 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  May 11, 2011 11:08 am

[5] Very well said, Sliced. And for me, the embodiment, the icon of the team's fight is of course, O'Neill, getting thrown out at third base going for a triple off Schilling.

Talk about valiant. He knew enough to know he had a better chance advancing a base right there, when he had a chance, than waiting on second for that fuck to strike out the side.

I was so proud of him there.

11 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  May 11, 2011 11:11 am

And ftr, I felt none of your perspective that night, Sliced. I felt horrifically ill. The second Womack hit that double, my guts felt kicked out.

In fact, the second Grace hit that line drive up the middle, I felt kind of sick.

12 Sliced Bread   ~  May 11, 2011 11:16 am

[7] I'm sure you had the right perspective as well I mean who could blame themselves for being caught up in the baseball? It was magnificent. November. Unheard of.
On a baseball level it was as devastating as it gets. Game 7, 9th inning. The shit you can't even make up happens, as it happened again and again in that see-saw Series.
See saw, roller coaster, time traveling De Lorean. Pick your ride. The '01 Series was more unbelievable, more exciting. Completely dizzying, and disorienting. In the immediate aftermath it would have been as easy to vomit as it was to lose grasp of the bigger picture.

13 Sliced Bread   ~  May 11, 2011 11:22 am

[11] yeah, weeping, that's what I'm talking about. Vomit city. I totally get it. I just, for whatever reason, never got there.
2002,2003, 2004? I was the fucking mayor of Vomit City.

14 Alex Belth   ~  May 11, 2011 11:25 am


15 Andyroo   ~  May 11, 2011 11:53 am

Getz never went around on the strikeout. How frustrating to have to face that cutter, along with the fact the guy throwing it is a legend who's going to get calls like that at times.

Not that I'm complaining

16 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  May 11, 2011 11:53 am

[13] Hahahah! Da Mayor!
[14] Yes, Alex, it was very, very cool. :)

17 Andyroo   ~  May 11, 2011 12:19 pm

and......it wasn't Mo that got that call, it was Robertson. My bad.

18 YankeeAbby   ~  May 11, 2011 1:27 pm

[5] took the words right out of my mouth. I could care less that they lost the WS that year - games 3, 4 & 6 were thrill enough for me

19 Alex Belth   ~  May 11, 2011 1:38 pm

18)"could not care less"

...I can't help myself, forgive me.

20 kenboyer made me cry   ~  May 11, 2011 3:19 pm

Slice does put it in perspective. After 9/11, it was almost fitting that the Yanks battled back, and took it to the 9th inning of the 7th game,just falling short. It would have felt great then if Mo made that throw to start the DP and end the game and win the series but with ten years to mellow the memory it just feels proper and "respectful" to the larger events of the time that they didn't. Grateful and melancholy were affirming then.

My son was 7 at that time watching that game, and that loss steeled his Yankee fandom for life. His Yankee crying moment.

21 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  May 11, 2011 5:11 pm

[18] 3, 4 and 5. 6 was another punch in my guts, seeing Andy get killed like that. It was horrific.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver