- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 30, 2001

NEW YORK Brian Anderson remembers it like it was only a few days ago. It really wasn't much more than that.
It was November 1997, and Anderson a promising young left-handed pitcher who had helped lead the Cleveland Indians to the verge of a World Series title had just been swiped away by the Arizona Diamondbacks as the No. 1 pick in the baseball expansion draft.
From Game 7 of the World Series to Game 1 of a franchise's existence. Success seemed light years away.
"We had the white hats that looked like ice cream vendors," Anderson recalls. "We almost lost 100 games [in 1998]. We were not very good. We wear purple. All those things, and then all of a sudden, four years later, here we are in the World Series. It just happened so fast."
That's what the New York Yankees must be thinking today, their amazing run at a fourth straight Series title nearly on life-support after dropping Games 1 and 2 to the upstart team dressed in purple.
The Diamondbacks yes, the Arizona Diamondbacks are two wins from not only capturing a World Series championship in their fourth year of existence, but from doing so by beating baseball's most revered and successful franchise.
"It's exciting to have a new plan and have it work," said Arizona owner Jerry Colangelo following his team's 4-0 win in Game 2 Sunday night at Bank One Ballpark.
Colangelo's plan upon being awarded the expansion franchise in the spring of 1995 (three years before it began play) was to establish a winner right from the start. He went out and signed veteran free agents like third baseman Matt Williams, infielder Jay Bell and pitcher Andy Benes in Year One, then complemented them with a core group of talented prospects like Anderson, outfielder David Dellucci and first baseman Travis Lee.
The Baby 'Backs took their lumps in 1998, losing 97 games but captivating the Phoenix market, which poured through the BOB turnstiles to produce a season attendance total of more than 3 million.
Colangelo made his biggest splash into the free agency pool in '99, shelling out more than $100 million to bring ace Randy Johnson, right-hander Todd Stottlemyre and center fielder Steve Finley to town, and made a few deft trades (such as Karim Garcia to the Detroit Tigers for Luis Gonzalez), hoping to build his team into a quick winner. It worked; the Diamondbacks won 100 games and the NL West crown in their second season of play.
And they were just getting warmed up. After falling to the New York Mets in the NL Division Series and dropping to third place in 2000, Colangelo set out to field a true championship-caliber team this year. Much-maligned manager Buck Showalter was fired and laid-back players' man Bob Brenly was lured out of the broadcast booth. A few more pieces to the puzzle outfielders Danny Bautista and Reggie Sanders and pitcher Miguel Batista were added.
And in his most significant move since that spring day in 1995 when he unveiled the team logo, Colangelo dealt four young players Lee and pitchers Omar Daal, Nelson Figueroa and Vicente Padilla to the Philadelphia Phillies for a hard-throwing right-hander named Curt Schilling at the trading deadline in 2000.
Schilling has gone on to join Johnson as baseball's most dominating 1-2 pitching punch since Drysdale-Koufax. Schilling mowed through the vaunted Yankees lineup in Game 1, posting a 9-1 victory for Arizona. Johnson outdid his teammate Sunday night, tossing a three-hitter, the first complete-game World Series shutout since guess who? Schilling did it for the Phillies in 1993.
"He was wonderful, he was sensational," New York manager Joe Torre said. "He lived up to what he's supposed to be, that's for sure."
Torre's team, while somewhat stunned by the events of the first two games in the desert, aren't in full-scale panic mode yet. The Yankees knew they had their work cut out for them in facing Schilling and Johnson in Phoenix. They also know the Diamondbacks will have their work cut out for them over the next three nights at Yankee Stadium, with Roger Clemens and Orlando Hernandez starting Games 3 and 4.
"We haven't quit," said shortstop Derek Jeter, who is 2-for-24 in the ALCS and World Series. "We don't panic. We'll keep the same approach."
For New York to come from two games down to win the series, as it did earlier this postseason against the Oakland Athletics and in the 1996 World Series against the Atlanta Braves, it will have to go through both Schilling and Johnson again possibly through Schilling twice if Brenly elects to start him in Game 4 tomorrow and again in a possible Game 7.
The Yankees, though, seemed more concerned with Game 3 tonight, with their own staff ace, Clemens, taking the mound.
"We obviously need to break the fall right now," Torre said. "And Roger's going to be ready to go at home."
Clemens' counterpart tonight? An unassuming left-hander named Brian Anderson, the first member of the Diamondbacks, looking to move his team to within one win of its first World Series title.
"After [Brenly] told me that I was going to get the start, I was thinking about who they might start," Anderson said. "Of course, Roger falls on Game 3. And I just kind of chuckled to myself. It figures. If you're going to get a start, first one in Yankee Stadium in this series, you might as well get Rocket."

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