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Weekend Watch: 2001 World Series, Game 7

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May 8th, 2020

With nearly every major sports league suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic, fans around the world are yearning for a return to normalcy.

The sports we love will be back, but in the interim, as we wait out the virus that has turned our world upside down, it's important to stay connected to the games we love.

Our Weekend Watch feature touches on the most significant moments in sports history, and luckily for us in this modern age, many of them are viewable online, in their entirety.

2001 World Series: New York Yankees vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, Game 7

As a certified Yankee hater, this was a pleasure to watch back almost 20 years later.

But even now, knowing the result, it seems impossible.

Arizona manager Bob Brenly let Curt Schilling go out for one inning too many — simple as that. Schilling, who started on three days rest, was untouchable through six innings (albeit with the benefit of umpire Steve Rippley's absurdly wide strike zone), but showed signs of slowing in the seventh. He escaped with just one run allowed in the seventh, but Steve Finley needed to race into left center field to catch a hard-hit fly ball from Shane Spencer to avoid a complete blowup.

In the eighth, a very young Alfonso Soriano golfed a Schilling pitch over the left-field wall to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead, and Schilling finally got the hook.

Miguel Batista and Randy Johnson recorded the last two outs of the inning, but based on what we knew was coming, the game was over. It had to be.

Mariano Rivera would pitch the last two innings of the game. He came in with a 0.70 ERA in his postseason career, and had converted 24 of his 25 playoff save opportunities.

And Rivera summarily struck out the side in the bottom of eighth.

Done. No chance. Another revolting Yankees celebration for this young Orioles fan to watch.

But Brenly turned out to be Nostradamus. During his mound visit to remove Schilling, he made a prediction, presumably to relieve the pitcher's frustration for being in line for the loss.

"That ain’t going to beat us," Brenly said. "We’re going to get that back and then some."

After Johnson cruised through the top half of the ninth inning, everything came together in the bottom half.

The 37-year-old Mark Grace singled up the middle, then Damian Miller got a bunt down, in an attempted sacrifice to move the tying run to second. Rivera fielded the bunt, but instead of getting the sure out at first, he chucked the ball into center field, in an attempt to get the lead runner at second.

Pinch hitter Jay Bell put down another bunt, but this time Rivera gunned down the lead runner at third. Now, with a runner at first and second with one out, a double play could end it.

Tony Womack had other ideas. The shortstop whacked a double down the right field line to tie the game.

Rivera hit Craig Counsell with a pitch to load the bases, and the infield was in to face Luis Gonzalez.

Rivera struck out Gonzalez in the eighth, but the outfielder got just enough of the ball in the ninth. The jam-shot bloop over shortstop Derek Jeter's head would have been easily fielded if the infield wasn't in, but it landed softly, a step onto the outfield grass, to score Bell and give the Diamondbacks their only World Series victory.

The Yankees dynasty that began in 1996 was mercifully over.

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