|12-31-2001, 11:49 AM||#1|
Baseball 2001: What were your brightest or most significant moments?
This article from BaseballWeekly.com has some of the brightest moments, including quite a few which we've debated here:
By Seth Livingstone, USA TODAY Baseball Weekly
2001: A year like no other
No crystal ball could have forecast the stunning events of 2001 — on the field or off.
Baseball fans were mesmerized by the early-season success of the Twins, Cubs and Phillies, not to mention the season-long splendor of the Mariners.
The stories of rising stars such as Albert Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki and Roy Oswalt were second only to the historic achievements of old pros such as Barry Bonds and Rickey Henderson.
Then, as the sport planned to bid adieu to legends Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn and braced for the exhilaration of a pennant race, the unthinkable happened.
America was attacked, and baseball, like the rest of the world, stopped in its tracks.
Nothing was the same when play finally resumed. It might never be the same again. But in a shining tribute to the country's spirit and with a solemn salute to its fallen, the sport went above and beyond, producing patriotic moments to remember and a postseason to embrace forever.
Emotions continued to ebb and flow even as the Arizona Diamondbacks savored their first World Series title. "Contraction" suddenly came into the baseball lexicon, and the sport hunkered down for a difficult offseason as labor issues took center stage in December.
What lies ahead for 2002? In 2001, we all learned our lesson — we can never be too sure.
When the world stood still
By the morning of Sept. 11, the Mariners had reduced their magic number for clinching the AL West to two games, and the Diamondbacks, Astros and Braves clung to slim division leads in the NL.
Things were heating up in New York, where the Yankees, 13 games up in the AL East, were making postseason plans and the Mets, winners of eight of their last 10, were making noise.
Then, the world stopped.
Like the rest of America, baseball was jolted by unforgettable acts of terrorism. The events of Sept. 11 would force baseball to reconsider all facets of its daily existence. No more could safety nor security be taken for granted.
"We get caught up so much in what we do, it almost becomes do or die," Atlanta pitcher Tom Glavine said. "It's not do or die. It's a baseball game. This puts it into perspective."
In its shock and horror, baseball stopped to reflect — and to help any way it could.
Players reached into their pockets, delivered supplies and pumped up rescue workers by visiting them on the job and donning their hats in tribute.
Commissioner Bud Selig suspended play until Sept. 17, with the week of postponed games tacked on to the end of the season. In turn, the playoff schedule was delayed one week; the World Series pushed into November.
Play resumed in a new environment. Bomb-sniffing dogs patrolled stadiums and fans, searched at the gate, were presented with flags to wave. Many came to the park sporting red, white and blue rather than the colors of their favorite team.
A moment of silence preceded every first pitch, and God Bless America replaced Take Me Out to the Ball Game as the preferred anthem of the seventh-inning stretch. Players sported American flags on their uniforms.
"I think we have to let the cowards who did this know that they've knocked us down but they didn't knock us out," Phillies manager said Larry Bowa as play resumed. "This is not something that we are going to forget in three days, five days or two years. We're scarred for life. But the country has to start the healing process, and we have to do our part."
As America tried to get back to normal, it remained difficult to remember what "normal" was like in New York. The Mets, scheduled to host the Pirates, shifted their series to Pittsburgh, in part because Shea Stadium's parking lot was being used as a staging area for rescue efforts.
Baseball resumed in New York the night of Sept. 21. Diana Ross sang God Bless America, Marc Anthony sang the national anthem and Liza Minelli, belted out New York, New York during the seventh-inning stretch.
Players from the Mets and Braves — many of whom made it a point to visit Ground Zero, shook hands and embraced before the first pitch and even New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, an unabashed Yankees fan, was welcomed at Shea. Baseball was back, but nothing was quite the same.
What didn't Bonds rewrite?
Barry Bonds made an early-season splash when he belted his 500th career home run into the waters of San Francisco Bay's McCovey Cove on April 17.
But becoming the 17th player to reach that lofty plateau was just the beginning of the most memorable slugging season of all time.
"I just had the greatest season there ever was," Bonds said.
No brag, just fact.
Bonds not only broke Mark McGwire's single-season record by hitting 73 home runs, he finished with the highest slugging percentage of all time (.863).
All of this while seldom seeing good pitches to hit. Bonds also set a record by walking 177 times, leading to an amazing .515 on-base percentage.
"I can't imagine any player being better than he is," Houston's Jeff Bagwell said as Bonds closed in on McGwire's mark. "I love baseball history, and I know people talk about Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, but I find it hard to believe anyone has ever been better than Barry."
"I've never faced anyone who was that good for so long over the course of a season," Arizona's 22-game winner Curt Schilling said. "He never missed."
Even though Dodgers pitchers walked him seven times in a series in Los Angeles the last week of September, Bonds still managed to clout his 69th homer of the season, tying Reggie Jackson for seventh on the all-time home run list.
After hitting No. 70 — a 480-foot shot against Houston's Wilfredo Rodriguez — he broke McGwire's three-year-old record Oct. 5 by hitting homers 71 and 72 in the same game against Chan Ho Park. No. 73 came in the season finale against knuckleballer Dennis Springer.
Bonds finished the season with 567 career home runs, six behind Harmon Killebrew and 16 behind McGwire.
But 2001 was not without disappointment for Bonds. Unlike McGwire, Bonds' record run came during the heat of a pennant race in which the Giants fell short. They were eliminated from playoff contention the same day Bonds broke the record.
"I just want that ring," Bonds said. "I just want to get to the World Series."
In addition, as the year drew to a close, Bonds found himself in contractual limbo.
"I don't know what I'm supposed to feel," Bonds said on the season's final day. "I don't know what I'm supposed to think. I don't know if this is my last day in a Giants uniform. I don't know if I'll be here the rest of my career."
Meanwhile, San Francisco fans made their preferences known to owner Peter Magowan that final week, chanting: "Sign him," and "four more years."
Not getting the kind of free-agent offers he'd hoped for, Bonds agreed to remain in San Francisco for at least one more year by accepting salary arbitration.
Mazeroski finally gets his due
Bill Mazeroski had planned to read a 12-page speech to the 20,000 assembled on the lawn at Cooperstown the first weekend in August.
"I don't think I'm going to make it," said Mazeroski, so moved by the fans' long ovation that he cut his speech short after several paragraphs.
Mazeroski, selected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee, joined Dave Winfield and Kirby Puckett on the podium. Negro leagues pitcher Hilton Smith was inducted posthumously.
Winfield, listed on 84.5% of the ballots, finished his career with 3,110 hits and 465 home runs. Puckett, named on 82.1% of the ballots, was an 10-time All-star and a Gold Glove winner six times in a 12-year career cut short by glaucoma. Both were elected by the Baseball Writers' Association of America in their first year on the ballot.
MOD NOTE: [Yog - I think your pasting repeated - - so, I'm snipping it here - - the link itself is fine - -if anyone wants to read the whole feature. - XD.]
|12-31-2001, 01:13 PM||#2|
Renounced Membership 1/6/02
Re: Baseball 2001: What were your brightest or most significant moments?
Good article: Thanks for sharing, Yog!
Last edited by timconnelly : 12-31-2001 at 01:16 PM.
|12-31-2001, 02:08 PM||#3|
Join Date: Sep 2001
Lowest moment-McGwire's decline and retirement.
Brightest moment-Arizona winning world series
Surprising moment-Mazeroski getting into HOF
Last edited by nightal : 12-31-2001 at 02:31 PM.
|12-31-2001, 05:28 PM||#4|
NetShrine Creator & Curator
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: NetShrine WHQ
All 3 were low moments for me!
|12-31-2001, 05:45 PM||#5|
Inducted Into The NetShrine Assembly of Fame
My Personal Highs & Lows
High: My 2 teams, the Twins & Cubs, staying in the race until well past the break.
Low: Although technically after the season, Bud's shameful press conference in Chicago.
Surprise: See my high - who would have thought either of those teams would have hung around so long. That and Mark Grace winning a World Series.
It's not a real HOF until Pete and Bert are in it
|12-31-2001, 05:58 PM||#7|
High - Bud and all other sports postponed games for a week (including lightweight title fight) after 9/11 tragedies
Moose's near perfect game
Bonds hitting 73
Big Mac retiring gracefully, especially after refusing $30M over 2 years
Low - Game 7, 9th inning, just when I was ready to uncork the champagne
Big Mac having to retire
Gwynn & Cal retiring
Paulie, Tino, Brosius retiring
|12-31-2001, 06:55 PM||#8|
Membership Suspended 4/11/04
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Tacoma, WA
High: Bonds reaching the home run record. Close second is the Diamondbacks winning, but that series was a rollercoaster, and almost too much for me to stand consistently. Rickey Henderson possibly confirming that he is the greatest of all time should be worth a mention. (Rickey doesn't sound so arrogant 10 years later because he's backed it up) Also, I'll give honorable mentions to the Twins and Cubs, and I gotta give love to the Mariners winning 116 games in this space. Although...
Low: Mariners crash landing in the playoffs. That hurts. Oakland crash landing in the playoffs did too, even though I hate the A's. Most of the lows are Bud Selig's doing, though. Yeah, he smartly postponed games a week after 9/11 (I don't wanna talk about my opinions of it, I do not wish to think about them), but this bulls*** about contraction REALLY, REALLY, REALLY does not make me happy one bit. Let's get a real commissioner. One who actually fixes baseball instead of promising it for 9 years.
Surpising: That Bud Selig looks dumber than Jesse Ventura when talking to Congress. Also, that Randy Johnson is now a big-game postseason pitcher...never thought I'd see that. Plus, the fact that Mariano Rivera blew a game in the postseason. And that Ichiro Suzuki, for all his hype, was STILL not the best pure rookie, seeing how Albert Pujols was ungodly this year. The Twins and Cubs could fit here as well, I think. And that Brosius retired after "only" 11 years was kinda weird as well.
That's my opinion, and you probably know that your mileage may vary.
|12-31-2001, 08:06 PM||#9|
My favorite moment was Tony's retirement. He has meant so much to game and 100 fold more to me... I was a pleasure to see him play the last 20 years.
|01-01-2002, 11:28 PM||#10|
|01-02-2002, 08:36 AM||#11|
Join Date: Dec 2001
Brightest/Lowest/Surprising Moments - Bud Selig Version
Brightest - prompt and proper handling of September 11 and the aftermath.
Lowest - d'oh. Contraction/Congress/etc.
Surprising - ... oh darn, I knew I couldn't get through this. What things that were done this year, given the past record, could possibly surprise people?
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