Rookie of the Year

Hunches almost sunk Bob Brenly. But in the end, they defined his legacy.

Brenly would likely have escaped criticism if the unthinkable had not happened.

The Diamondbacks' mercurial young closer Byung-Hyun Kim gave up a two-out, two-run homer to Tino Martinez in the bottom of the ninth to tie the score. An inning later, Derek Jeter blasted another home run off Kim to give the Yankees a 4-3 win and even the series at two games apiece.

Schilling's seven-inning, three-hit, one-run performance was wasted.

Critics had another field day at Brenly's expense, saying the Diamondbacks would now have to start Schilling in Game 7 on only three days' rest for the second time in the Series instead of the normal five-day rotation, leaving Arizona vulnerable to Yankee hitters.

The sniping reached a crescendo the next night in Game 5.

Once again, Brenly sent Kim back into a crucial situation in the bottom of the ninth inning with the Diamondbacks up by two runs.

Lightning struck again.

This time, Scott Brosius hammered Kim's pitch into the left-field stands of Yankee Stadium for a two-out, two-run home run to tie the score, leaving the 22-year-old Korean shell-shocked on the mound. The Yankees won the game in the 12th inning on Alfonso Soriano's single to right field that drove in Chuck Knoblauch from second for a 3-2 victory.

The Diamondbacks had just suffered two of the greatest World Series defeats ever and appeared to be on the ropes.

The team limped back to Phoenix, trailing the series 3 games to 2.

Many teams would have collapsed at that point.

"A lot of us have been playing too long to get in this situation and let it slip away," Gonzalez says.

The veteran Diamondbacks, guided by their gutsy manager, responded with a resounding 15-2 thrashing in Game 6.

Game 7 of the World Series. The pinnacle showdown in sports.

Gonzalez, who smashed 57 regular-season home runs plus three more in the playoffs, chokes up on the bat for the first time this season.

"I don't want to try to go out there and do too much," Gonzalez said before the series began. "If I do that, I'm not helping the team at all."

The Yankees infield draws in tight, hoping to cut down the winning run at the plate.

Right-handed pitcher Mariano Rivera delivers strike one.

On the next pitch, Gonzalez's bat barely connects, but he gets enough of the fastball to send it looping lazily just beyond the infield.

Time slows down, way down, as the ball sails over the head of shortstop Derek Jeter before falling to the ground and rolling untouched into the outfield in front of center fielder Bernie Williams.

The magnitude of the hit unleashes a crescendo of images sending time crashing fast forward.

Jay Bell crosses home plate and leaps into the arms of Matt Williams, uniting two of the original Diamondbacks who suffered through 97 losses in the team's first season.

The crowd unleashes a prolonged roar louder than the B-2 stealth bomber that passed over the ballpark at the end of the national anthem.

The Diamondbacks' general managing partner Jerry Colangelo is speechless. Tears well up in his eyes.

Rivera slowly walks toward the Yankee dugout, tasting World Series defeat for the first time.

The Arizona Diamondbacks had won their first World Series championship in only their fourth year of existence with a 3-2 Game 7 win over the New York Yankees.

"That was a dream come true for me," Gonzalez says.

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