Thursday, October 21, 2004


"This is how the series ends... not with a bang but with a whimper." -- T.S. Eliot

OK, not really, but the (barely) modified quote from Eliot, born and raised in New England before eventually moving to England and becoming a British citizen, seems apropos for last night's game.

Really, would we have been so surprised if, say, Alex Rodriguez -- "The Slap" to his friends and enemies -- had dramatically switched allegiances by, say, knee-capping Jeter on the field in the top of the 9th while ripping off his Yankees uniform to reveal a Red Sox uniform underneath? (Yes, I've read too much Bill Simmons.) Or if seven-foot-tall left-handed-batting aliens with the ability to hit the ball into the bleachers in the short porch in right field in Yankee Stadium at will landed in the Yankees dugout and it turned out that they'd secretly been signed by George Steinbrenner two weeks ago and placed on the playoff roster and they slugged their way to a Yankees win?

Now, for family-related reasons, I was only able to watch the game from the sixth inning on. Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw the score. 8-1 Sox. Now only in this series could somebody ground into an inning-ending double in the top of the 7th and lead millions (I can't have been the only one) to think, "Oh, that's not good, they really could've used an insurance run." With a 7-run lead.

And, c'mon weren't we all thinking, "Here we go again" when the Yankees looked like they might make a real game of it in the bottom half of the inning? But Pedro didn't break, and he only gave up 2 runs. That right there was a moral victory. And then Bellhorn hit his homerun in the top of the 8th, and all of a sudden it looked like maybe this was, indeed, it.

In the end, it was the tensest 10-3 game ever played, I'm sure. I was disappointed to see, however, that the answer to the question of "how will fans at Yankee Stadium react if they lose" is "by leaving before the game actually ends."

So now the Red Sox are in the World Series, and the argument rages as to whether this "ends the curse." Is beating the Yankees -- in the manner they did -- sufficient? Do they need to win the Series? DOES IT REALLY MATTER BECAUSE THERE IS NO FREAKIN' CURSE!!??!

Which leads me, of course, to the St. Louis-Houston game, another baseball classic. Two walk-off game-winning homeruns in a row. A series that has been every bit the equal of Boston-New York in the quality and excitement of the games played. Dramatic homeruns, tremendous pitching (at times), and a generally high quality of play. I'm very happy that a Game Seven will happen, if only so the entire country can watch a game of this series in prime time.

But in the end, while the St. Louis-Houston series has been great baseball, the Boston-New York series was not only great baseball, it was a great story. The long history of those two eastern teams, recent and ancient, the course of the series itself made itself accessible to people who normally don't watch baseball or even care about baseball. It was above-the-fold in the Republic this morning, placement that the St. Louis-Houston winner won't receive tomorrow morning.

This is not to put down the St. Louis or Houston squads, two very good teams with very supportive fans who will give Boston a heck of a Series (and could easily win). And St. Louis especially has a rich baseball tradition. But as a Diamondbacks fan, I'm perfectly aware that the story will not be about you. It will be about your opponent. Which isn't great if you're supporting that (NL) team. But the story itself is great for the rest of us.

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