sports: October 2004 Archives

Sox 4, Cards 0

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Michael Bérubé asks: "Do we really want this?"

And surely some of you must regard victory itself as a prize of dubious worth. Until tonight, your team was legendary, and their legend shaped and defined your self-identification as fans. If you win the World Series, you win the World Series-- and you become kin to the 2002 Angels and the 1980 Phillies. You will be elated (and drunk!) for a couple of days, sure. But then the championship will begin to sink in, and while some of you will say, as did a New York Rangers fan in 1994, “now I can die in peace,” others among you will be plunged into existential crisis.

Heh. As a lifelong Cubs fan, I regard victory as a prize of substantial worth, now that I never have to listen to Bob Ryan or Peter Gammons ever tell me again about how I don't understand--having never grown up in the New England area--the abject misery of a team that has been consistently good but hasn't won the various Series it's been to. Because, you know, it's so much worse to come close and lose than to never come close at all. Why, it must be a curse!

By the end of last night, I actually got to feeling a little sorry for the Cards, whose Series drought (in terms of getting there) was only a little shorter than the Sox. I felt bad for Jason Marquis--Tim McCarver was talking about yanking him in the first inning, and yet he gutted it out for six innings, doing better than the other three Cards starters. I felt bad for Rolen, who was surely Mr. Sucktober. I felt bad for Larry Walker, who had finally made it to a contender.

All things considered, though, it wasn't that surprising to me. Last week, I mentioned that the Cards had good pitchers, but no aces, no stoppers, and that proved to be true. In a short series, if you can get 6 or 7 scoreless innings from your pitcher, you've just about got the game, and the Sox got it three times out of four. The Cards were built for the season, but the Sox were built for the Series. It'll be interesting to see whether the Sox can keep Martinez and Lowe--if not, it'll be a short reign on top.

Another prize of substantial worth: no longer having to watch FOX do cheesy videos for 80's music. After listening Joe Buck segue into Patty Smyth's "The Warrior" (in describing Schilling) or head shots of all the players accompanied by Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes," I was just about ready to vomit. CBS always does this at the end of the NCAA b-ball tourney with "One Shining Moment," which is bad enough, but oh my god. And all those godawful puns headlining the stat sheets. Ugh. That, my friends, is the ESPNification of sports: the natural drama replaced by boo-yah. Note to FOX: we're already watching the games, and we don't watch them to see "Phat Albert" as the tagline for a summary of Pujols' impressive hitting numbers. I don't mind a little of that stuff--I know how desperate you are to show off how clever you are--but filling every second with that crap, running the commercials up to the second the first pitch of the inning is delivered, and getting sponsors for every frickin feature (The Polar Express Play of the Day?!?!)? That was a little much. I wanted to see the Series run longer, but I won't miss all the extra frosting FOX thinks it takes to make the cake taste better.

For the Ages

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Let's recap the day's events:

Red Sox 11, Cardinals 9 (World Series, gm 1)
Iowa 6, Penn State 4 (Big Ten football)

Ummm...yeah. It's actually pretty tough to score 4 points in a football game. It's impossible to score just 1 point, but after that, I'd guess that 4 is the next most unlikely. The only way to do it is 2 safeties, one of which is rare enough that it hadn't happened in almost 3 years to Penn State (Iowa did it that time, too, I think.). And yet, for all the offensive futility, it was kind of a fun game to watch--lots of big defensive plays, and I mean that in a non-Manny way. Well, except for that first long snap to the punter that almost split the uprights--that was pretty comical.

"It was a pretty obvious decision," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "Typically, if you punt off your own 1-yard line, it's almost a guaranteed three for the other team. And this type of game, I sure as heck didn't want to give them three easy ones. Just take the safety and ride our defense."

It didn't make a lot of sense to Pam Ward at the time, that difference between "three easy ones" and "two easy ones," but heck, they won. Even though the Sawx outscored both teams combined.

I present to you my own personal top 3 reasons for delight at seeing the Yankees choke away a 3-0 series lead. Contrary to the FOX graphic, this wasn't one of the all-time greatest upsets--the Sawx are way too good a team for that to be the case--but the Yankees can rest easy knowing that they've set the MLB standard once more, both in futility and in cost per LCS victory. So anyway, in reverse order:

#3. A-Rod's move last night, knocking Arroyo's glove off, was bad sportsmanship in intramural softball, much less the majors. It was obvious, it was stupid, and it was far less than we should expect from a perennial MVP candidate. For Torre to even argue it dropped my opinion of him down a notch.

#2. The Yankee fans. It's been a Wrigley tradition for years to throw back home run balls hit by the opposite team, but they do so while the hitter runs the bases, and it doesn't interfere with play. Tonight, a Yankee fan threw back a foul ball hit by Johnny Damon and interrupted a pitch. Call me a purist, but that's weak as hell. And it happened a few times.

#1. "Who's your daddy" is the single most stupid chant I've ever heard at a sporting event, and it's got plenty of competition. It was a stupid comment from Pedro, granted, but at root, he was acknowledging the fact that the Yankees had his number. To turn it into a chant, over and over, was the furthest thing from clever.

So, cursal reversal? Not quite. There's another series yet to be played. But my 4th reason for delight tonight is that, for the past few years, the Yankees and their fans have acted like they somehow "own" the so-called curse. Truth be told, the Mets, Cards, and Reds have more to do with stopping the Sox than the Yanks--they actually won World Series against them. The curse was about giving up arguably the best player in the history of the game for a song, not giving him to a specific team. But in Yankees Nation, everything has to be about the Yankees. I like some of their players, and I've generally liked Torre, but the empire as a whole is unforgivably arrogant, so I can't say that I'm sorry to see them perform the greatest choke in the history of MLB.

Go Sox!



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This page is a archive of entries in the sports category from October 2004.

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