Game Seven finds the ABA traveling medicine show in Tokyo, Japan. Initially, a more 'alternative' location was considered, but in respect of the Japanese and their passion for the American pastime, the ABA decided to show the Land of the Rising Sun how the game is played. Plus, Aarons sluggers Sheffield and Bonds are salivating at playing in the smaller park.
The general managers all gathered for a press conference and dinner with Emperor Akihito.
The mood of the dinner was light with the usual good-natured trash talk by the ABA good 'ole boys. You know, funny barbs like, "We kicked your ass at Midway, man!" and "Harley-**cking Davidson is better 'n any rice burner!" Yeah, just some pre-game trash talking.
Things were actually progressing very well until Hartford gm Gretton threw up on the Emperor. "What the **ck!" Emperor Akihito exclaimed as he was led from the head table. "These Americans cannot hold their saki." He added, "American cars suck!" as he left the building.
So, bragging rights come down to this- one game. It's down to one game and two pitchers airing it out. The pine tar and resin bags are ready, The Aarons have their corked bats and steroids lined up. The Mayses have their whiny excuses written out. Can Brett Boone drive in another game winner? Will Sheffield tee off in Tokyo? Will Helton keep hittin'? Will Colon give the Aarons a colonoscopy? Okay, that was one too far.
As George W. Bush so elegantly said, "Bring it on."*
* It is a little known fact he was known as "Bring it on" Bush during his partying years.
The Aarons went quietly in the first inning. The Mayses decided to make some noise. Anderson led off with a single. On the next play, ironically, Ichiro botched a fly to center and the Mayses had first and third.Blalok plated Anderson and moved Tejada up with a sac fly to deep right. Pujols doubled home Tejada then later scored on a single by Helton. Magglio Ordonez followed with a two run blast and the Mayses owned a 5-0 lead after one.
Citing extreme jet lag Bartolo Colon was unable to return to the mound and the Mayses went to... who else... Bronson Arroyo. This was going to be a difficult comeback for the Aarons. Arroyo worked through the second and third without giving up any runs. In the bottom of the third Soriano and Helton led off with back-to-back singles. After Pineiro uncorked a wild pitch Ordonez scored Soriano on a fielder's choice. Later in the inning Arroyo continued his charmed season with an RBI single bringing home Helton. After three innings the Mayses held a 7-0 lead.
The Aarons finally got cooking in the fourth. A leadoff double from Bonds was followed by back-to-back singles by Delgado and Sheffield which scored Bonds and left runners at the corners. Brett Boone brought in Delgado with a fielder's choice. It was 7-2, Mayses.
Turnbow came in for the Aarons in the fourth and kept the Mayses bats quiet. Arroyo had a 1-2-3 inning in the fifth.
The Aarons kept fighting back in the sixth. Insanely, the Mayses brought in Marte to pitch and it got ugly. A double by Bonds and a two-run homer from Sheffield made it a 7-4 game.
The Mayses nearly scored another run in the sixth but Ordonez was thrown out at the plate by Bonds.
Marte got the Aarons in order in the 7th by striking out the side. In the bottom of the seventh the Mayses added an insurance run when Helton hit his third home run of the series.
The Mayses then turned to John Smoltz to start the eigth. But, the Aarons weren't done. With one out and no one on Barry Bonds hit his first home run of the series and the Aarons were within three. Delgado followed with a double and the mighty Sheffield stepped to the plate. He had already put together a good series and was ready to take it t the next level, but Smoltz struck him out. Brett Bone walked to bring the tying run to the plate, but Pierzynski hit an easy grounder to Soriano to end the threat.
The Mayses put two runners on in the eighth, but Helton flied to right for the final out and the Aarons had one last chance.
Smoltz was to face Scott Rolen, a pinch hitter, and the top of the order in the ninth. But, maybe it was getting late and players were all looking forward to getting home. Rolen grounded to Tejada for out number one. Rodriguez, pinch hitting for Borowski, fanned. Calos Beltran was called on to hit for Ichiro- a move that delighted the Tokyo crowd (NOT!)- and went down swinging to bring this up and down series to a close.
The Mayse took the series in seven games and bring home the Braggers Trophy for another year.