Jeremy Giambi could have been the hero of the 2001 ALDS between the A’s and the Yankees. Sure, Derek Jeter had what the commentators called “one of the most unbelievable plays you’ll ever see by a shortstop” so yeah, he’s going to be a hero no matter what. But Jason Giambi’s little bro could have been the hero. I’ll explain.
In Game 3, the Yankees were down two games to none, facing elimination. That’s right the team that had won five rings in six years was in danger. In the 7th inning, they were winning the game 1-0, so if they could hold on, they’d live to see another day.
And Derek Jeter showed just what it takes to hold on and made that “most unbelievable” play, running to the first base line and flipping the ball to the catcher, nailing Jeremy Giambi, who did not slide, at home. So the Yankees, by the grace of Jeter’s intelligence, speed, and athleticism, maintained their 1-0 lead.
Now, I’m not saying Giambi could have been the hero if he slid, I mean, sure, that probably would have gotten him a lot of praise and high fives, and the A’s definitely would have gone for pizza afterwards — but even with his no-slide, he still could have been the hero. Because you see, Jeter’s flip did not end the game.
In the bottom of the 9th, the score was still 1-0. There were two outs. Jermaine Dye was on second. And Jeremy Giambi was up to bat with a chance to redeem his no-slide, and devalue the flip.
Because if the A’s won and sent the Yankees home, we’d remember Jeter made a cool play when the Yankees five-ring dynasty fell to the new young kings of the American League. Giambi would get his revenge, and, I’m assuming, his pizza.
There’s more to this game than one amazing play. So we have to rewind.