Their kids need to be dropped off and picked up. The soft greens at Pelican Hill added to the Southern California climate are a seductive exacta. The banged-up bodies eventually heal after a long season.
Yet, according to several men with ties to the Yankees who experienced baseball heartbreak similar to what happened Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the memory of the Game 6 loss will be very difficult for the Yankees to move on from.
Joe Torre was in the visiting dugout at Bank One Ballpark watching the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 in the 2001 World Series when Mariano Rivera broke Luis Gonzalez’s bat with the infield in and the ball dropped in for the game-winning hit, crushing the Yankees and making the Diamondbacks world champions.
“Just everything that was going on,’’ the former Yankees manager said by phone from Houston on Sunday. “We were going for our fourth straight World Series [title], but I never took it for granted [that] it was supposed to happen. I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked why I played the infield in instead of back. You always dwell on the bad breaks, but you forget the breaks you got.’’
Johnny Damon, then a member of the Red Sox and later a Yankee, was in center field at Yankee Stadium for Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS and had a perfect view of Aaron Boone’s game-winning homer to left off Tim Wakefield that is considered by many the biggest home run in Yankees’ history.
“We won the [World Series] the next year, so some got over it,’’ Damon said Sunday, still replaying Jose Altuve hitting Aroldis Chapman’s 2-1 slider for a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to give the Astros a 6-4 win and a ticket to the World Series. “I never got over it.’’
Pete Incaviglia, a Yankee for five games in 1997, was the Phillies’ left fielder in 1993 when Joe Carter drove a Mitch Williams slider over his head and beyond the SkyDome fence in the bottom of the ninth for a game-winning three-run homer to lift the Blue Jays to a World Series championship.
“You play 162 games and the postseason and it’s over. The ball went over my head and I didn’t know whether to run or walk off the field,’’ said Incaviglia, who manages the Sugarland (Texas) club in the Atlantic League. “It’s not until you get back on the field in spring training that you can put it behind you. That offseason, that’s all people wanted to talk about. All the talk was about Mitch and the home run. Every time I turned on ESPN, the ball was going over my head and I still see that today around this time of the year.’’
Larry Bowa was the Phillies’ third base coach in 1993 and held the same position for the Yankees in 2006-07.
“I still think about it,’’ Bowa said 26 years later. “What made it tough for the Yankees was the way they came back. It bites you because it is a walk-off. It bothers you more because you walk off the field. It’s not like they went ahead and you have another at-bat. I see [Carter’s homer] around the World Series every year when they show dramatic home runs.’’
Torre, who is MLB’s chief baseball officer, said he believed a Game 6 victory for the current Yankees would lead to a win in Game 7.
“I know Gerrit Cole was going to pitch, but the pressure to win at home when you are supposed to win is monumental,’’ Torre said of a situation that never unfolded because of something the Yankees will have a difficult time letting go of.