Leading up to game 1 of the World Series, I listened to the radio, television, and print as Sportswriters and broadcasters touted their baseball knowledge of what to expect from the series opener.
“A classic pitching duel”
“An even match-up that would go extra innings to be decided”
“The Yankees will prove why they are the World Champions”
So with all of the hype being mounted upon this series and this game, it was time for all of the talk to cease and baseball to begin. Being a National League fan and specifically a Diamondbacks fan, I was not quite sure what to think. Everyone talked about the Yankees in hushed respectful tones. I had to keep reminding myself that they were discussing a baseball team and not some type religious figure. The way in which they spoke of this team almost had me buying into the fact that they Yankees were destined to be in this place and to repeat as champions. How else could you describe the fact that two much more talented opponents in the Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners were able to lose against them?
As the Yankees took the field before the game, they had an aura of arrogance and smugness about them as they carried themselves around the field. Writers and announcers looked down upon the Diamondbacks and their fans with disdain. Playing four games was merely a formality before the Yankees clinched this series at home in front of their fans and once again held their annual parade down the center of New York. They would make quick work of Arizona and in the process would show that neither the Diamondbacks nor their fans deserved to be spoken of in the same sentence as their New York counterparts.
The top of the first inning helped resolved these sports pundits arguments when Derek Jeter was hit by a pitch (deservingly so since he had planted himself directly on top of the plate) and then scored on one of the most pathetic “forgive me for swinging” hits in Bernie Williams career. Surely this was the beginning of the end to the Diamondbacks run at a title. They had scored and scored easily against Arizona’s ace and it be the beginning of a very long night.
Well, in that sense they were right. It was a very long night. Beginning with the bottom of the first when little Craig Counsell hit a shot over the right field fences beyond the much maligned swimming pool, the beating began. I had to keep reminding myself; Mussina was their most dominating pitcher, right? That guy got hammered more than a nail at Habitat for Humanity. In what was supposed to be a pitcher’s duel, it turned out to be a pitching demonstration. Mussina did not even last long enough to record an official game in Little League. The Diamondbacks teed off on him like a long drive contest at a local golf course. The one piece of good news is that Mussina should be well rested for his next start (should there be one). I guess it is true, you can take a guy out of Baltimore but you can’t take the Oriole out of a guy.
I guess all that talk about how bad the bullpen was seemed pretty accurate. The only problem was, they were referring to the wrong team. With the Yankees trailing 4-1, I am sure they felt they were still in this game. But to allow the opposition to nearly bat around their line up in consecutive innings, that has got to hurt. The one bright spot came from that punk Sterling Hitchcock who struck out 6 hitters and did his best Roger Clemens impression by throwing a bat away from Tony Womack. Nice karma Sterling. No wonder you only get in games that have no meaning.
Granted this was only one game of a seven game series but if all these so-called sports authorities are correct and game one was critical, this was a huge win for the Diamondbacks. They faced the hottest pitcher the Yankees had and took him to school. With Randy Johnson on the mound for game two, maybe the Yankees need to be held back a grade.