Yankees and the AL East: 25 years as baseball’s best division

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) /

What was he Thinking

All those disembodied voices emanating from crowded rooms were now loud and agitated, and they wanted Pedro out of the game. Even the TV announcers openly questioned the wisdom of leaving Martinez in to face his message-mate from game three, Jorge Posada.

Even I thought Little should pull his starter, and I wanted the Yankees to win.

But, at that moment, Little decided to leave Pedro in the game. It’s the type of decision he made many times throughout the season, only this time it cost him a career.

With every voice, I could hear—from the muffled, anxious voices seeping out from doors left ajar, to the shouted slurs of imbibing fans, to the calm, quiet confusion of the TV announcers—everyone watching that game could tell it was time to remove Pedro Martinez.

Only the baseball voice emanating from Grady Little’s gut said leaving in Pedro was a good idea. Grady went with his gut and gave all of New England indigestion.

The Other Good Book

What happened next seemed to Sox fans to come directly from the Bambino Curse playbook. Posada hit a double. It sent Bernie and Matsui-san home and left Jorge on second, arms raised and screaming with passion. Those two runs tied the score and sealed Little’s fate.

All the energy and excitement around me dissipated before Posada’s ball landed. And then they knew, as their fathers and grandfathers knew before them, that the curse was to live on for at least one more year.

With the game now tied and the Yankees at home, then-manager “Saint” Joe Torre brought in closer Mariano “Toyota” Rivera. He proceeded to throw three innings of two-hit ball.

In that pressure cooker, for a man who now rarely threw two innings and never three, in a career filled with great performances in the biggest moments, this was Mariano’s single best outing. He would later say he was ready to go back out for the twelfth.

The Yankees offense did even worse, getting not even a hit, as Little kept changing his Sox. He went from Alan Embree to Mike Timlin (yes, the same Timlin from those early 90’s WS winning Blue Jays teams) to knuckleball starter Tim Wakefield.

It was game seven, and everyone was available. Boomer, starter David Wells, would have been next for the Yankees.