•Never had a series included as many as 22 home runs. Only twice did the Mariner and Yankee pitchers make it through more than three full innings without a ball leaving the yard. Five homers were hit in Seattle's 11-8 win in Game 4, when not once in 17 tries did either team retire the side in order.
•Never had a game lasted as long as five hours and 12 minutes or a team overcome four deficits. Both distinctions occurred in Game 2, when New York wiped out deficits of 1-0, 2-1, 4-3 and 5-4 before winning 7-5 in the 15th inning on a home run by Jim Leyritz into the raindrops at 1:21 in the morning. Belcher threw the last of 463 pitches that night. "I wish I had a large enough vocabulary to describe it," Cone said of Game 2. "It's got to be up there with the five best playoff games of all time."
Alas, it will go down as the Best Game Almost Nobody Saw. Because of the embarrassment known as The Baseball Network, which provided regional coverage of four simultaneously played Division Series games, four out of every five households in the U.S. were unable to tune in to the game. Showalter's mother, at home in the Florida panhandle, finagling a way to watch the Yankees while also dealing with the impact of Hurricane Opal, saw the game only through extraordinary effort: She had to use a satellite dish to intercept a Canadian feed while hooking a TV set to a generator and watching by candlelight.
"It's the kind of game that should have given baseball a big boost, and it's treated like the first round of the NCAA tournament—Xavier against Indiana," Cone said.
Likewise, a stirring Cleveland victory the previous morning was similarly kept out of sight of most fans. When Indian catcher Tony Pena beat Boston with a 13th-inning home run at 2:08 a.m., some Red Sox fans in a New York bar were forced to huddle around a radio to hear the dismal news. Such an abomination is The Baseball Network that in Seattle, where people don't cross against a red light on the emptiest of streets, fans booed whenever the Kingdome P.A. announcer made mention of it.
Yes, sir, that's baseball: America's regional pastime. It was only by happenstance—the other three series had concluded—that the deciding game between Seattle and New York received national exposure. That provided an overdue spotlight for Martinez, the 32-year-old hitting machine who has won two batting titles. "The best overall hitter in the league," Piniella calls him. "I never have to talk to him much about his hitting. What I do is implore him to share his knowledge with our other guys."
Griffey and Martinez, the third and fourth hitters in the Seattle lineup, respectively, combined to hit .477 against New York (2 for 44) with seven home runs and 17 RBIs. Griffey's final homer, a one-out solo shot off Cone in the eighth on Sunday, pulled the Mariners to 4-3. Cone then retired Martinez on a grounder but filled the bases on two walks and a single. At 3 and 2 to Doug Strange, Cone missed with a forkball to force home the tying run. He immediately bent at the waist, his head hanging, the last fumes of his energy—and his season—spent.
Still, New York took its third lead of the game in the 11th, this time on a run-scoring single by Randy Velarde off Johnson. The day before and that morning, Piniella had asked Johnson, "Are you good for a couple of batters?" Admitted a sheepish Piniella later, "That was the gentleman's way of getting him out there." Johnson faced 12 batters, striking out half of them.
Now closure was left to McDowell, who upon entering the game with two runners on in the ninth fanned Martinez. "Two warriors going at it," Showalter would say of the endgame pitchers. "One guy with probably as good stuff as there is in baseball and the other guy with as good a heart as there is."
Joey Cora nicked McDowell for a bunt single to open the Mariner half of the 11th. Next Griffey smoked a single to centerfield. Then, when McDowell hung an 0-and-1 splitter to Martinez, the game was over. Martinez pulled it into the leftfield corner. Seattle third base coach Sam Perlozzo preferred not to send Griffey home from first with no outs, but when he saw Griffey near second base "running faster than I've ever seen him before," he waved him onward. Griffey scored easily.