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The Marlins’ chance to spoil Roger Clemens’ Yankees farewell needs a deep rewind

It’s the bottom of the 12th, Alex Gonzalez up to bat... welcome to a moment in history.

The 2003 World Series presented a weird matchup in several ways. We had the historic, big-money, championship-laden New York Yankees against the brand-new, super-young, cheap-o Florida Marlins. The Yankees still had so much of the core that won them titles throughout the ‘90s, with several more superstars and promising up-and-comers piled on top. The Marlins had won a miraculous championship in 1997, only to dismantle that roster entirely, leaving scarcely any sign of it when they made another miraculous run 6 years later.

Game 4 of this series was supposed to be all about Roger Clemens, the legendary pitcher making his final career start for the Yankees.

But well into extra innings of that Game 4, the people deciding the outcome were a flamed-out, down-on-his-luck Yankees pitcher and a batter in an unbelievably deep postseason slump.

This moment is a strange fork in the road of baseball history, and to understand everything that follows, we first need to rewind.