Blame the curse and bad calls or El Duque and Derek.
Blame any Yankee from DiMaggio to Dent.
In the end the story was the same: New York wins, Boston loses.
MVP Orlando Hernandez pitched shutout ball into the eighth inning and Derek Jeter hit a two-run homer as the Yankees won their record 36th pennant and a return trip to the World Series, beating Boston 6-1 Monday night in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series.
"I tried to warn the club in spring training that we cannot compete against ourselves because it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing," he said. "We had to earn it this year. It was probably more satisfying this year."
The wild-card Red Sox brought out all their good-luck charms at Fenway Park, and yet it did no good against their longtime tormentors.
Babe Ruth's 82-year-old daughter threw out the first ball trying to reverse the Curse of the Bambino and Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez roused the well-behaved crowd of 33,589 from the dugout and bullpen.
And still, it will be the Yankees heading off to defend their World Series title while the Red Sox, after an eighth-inning rally fell short, and their fans are left hoping for better luck next century.
"We really had a fine year I told those kids in there we had a fine year all year long," Red Sox manager Jimy Williams said. "They really did a lot for this city this summer."
Game 1 of the World Series will be Saturday night at the home of the NL champion. Atlanta leads the New York Mets 3-2 in the NLCS, with Game 6 Tuesday night at Turner Field.
The Yankees played both teams this summer and this will the first tme World Series opponents have met in the regular season.
Coming off its record 125-win season, New York became the AL's first repeat champion since Toronto in 1992-93 and earned its third trip to the World Series in four years.
The Yankees will have a chance to win their 25th title. All of them have come since the Red Sox won their last championship in 1918, two years before they sold Ruth to New York.
"We didn't have all the miracles all the other teams were having, but we just hung in there," Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said. "It always feels good to be in the World Series. No matter how you get there, it feels great."
Certainly it was special to Torre, who missed the first 36 games of the season while recovering from prostate cancer surgery.
"You're never sure you're going to care once you get back," Torre said.
Hernandez, blowing on his hand to keep warm on a chilly night, improved to 4-0 with an 0.97 ERA in five career starts in the postseason. Two years ago, his half-brother Livan was MVP of the NLCS for the Florida Marlins.
"This is a beautiful moment," El Duque said through an interpreter.
Hernandez got a no-decision in Game 1, allowing two earned runs in eight innings.
Mike Stanton relieved, setting off a series of mix-and-match moves by Torre and Williams.
Ramiro Mendoza, New York's fifth pitcher of the inning, came in from the bullpen and kept it at 4-1, striking out pinch-hitter Scott Hatteberg on a 3-2 pitch that bounced and getting Trot Nixon on a foul pop.
This first-ever postseason meeting between the Yankees and Boston ended up the same way regular-season duels did for so may years, from the days when Joe DiMaggio led New York over Ted Williams and the Red Sox, to the afternoon when Bucky Dent's homer won a 1978 AL East tiebreaker.
Despite the disappointment, the Red Sox fans did not let their frustration spill over. Maybe a heavy security presence was responsible but it was quite a different scene from Sunday night, when the Fenway faithful littered the field with debris after an umpire's bad call.
|Orlando Hernanez pitched the Yankees in to the World Series and won the ALCS MVP.|
Rather, all that promise the Red Sox held they rallied from an 0-2 deficit to beat Cleveland in the best-of-5 division series, then roughed up former star Roger Clemens in Game 3 of this series went to waste.
Chuck Knoblauch led off the game with a single against Kent Mercker and Jeter homered into a stiff wind for a center-field shot that made it 2-0. After only eight pitches, Bryce Florie was warming up for the Red Sox.
"We wanted to score early and give El Duque some breathing room," Jeter said. "All he needed tonight was two runs."
It was a cold night 48 degrees at gametime with a 17 mph wind. During batting practice, a few Yankees players in left field tried beat the chill by stepping through a door into the Green Monster itself.
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