Sunday, October 18, 2009

More October Magic in New Stadium

Yankees 4, Angels 3, in 13 long, dreary, rainy, misty, error-filled but victorious innings.

Again, Alex Rodriguez saves our bacon, this time with a game-tying homer in the 11th. Then Jerry Hairston singles to start the rally in the 13th, and scores the winning run on an error. Since you don't get an RBI on an error, it was Hairston who got the cream pie from starting pitcher A.J. Burnett.

How long has that "WE WANT PIE" banner been up there? Is that the same guy (or guys) who hung the "Mystique" banners at the old Stadium? 2001 World Series: "MYSTIQUE AND AURA APPEARING NIGHTLY." 2003 ALCS: "MYSTIQUE DON'T FAIL ME NOW" -- replaced after Aaron Boone's homer with "IT'S DESTINY." Well, of course: As I've said many times, and I'm not the first to say it, "Destiny ends with N-Y."

When you're winning games in dramatic fashion, frivolities like this are okay to talk about. Very okay.

Certainly, this was better than that crushing 24-17 Rutgers loss to Pittsburgh the night before. I was there, and there was lots of terrible officiating, and RU made plenty of mistakes, but they still had a chance to at least send it to overtime in the last minute.

Pitt deserved to win anyway: They're a very good team, and although they were rough, and committed a lot of fouls that weren't caught, there was only one dirty hit.

109 Down, 6 To Go. It's gonna happen. I can feel it.

Or maybe that's just the roast beef sandwich from the Rutgers game still trudging through my digestive tract.


October 17, 1814: The London Beer Flood occurs. No, I'm not making that up. If Boston could have a molasses flood in 1918, why couldn't London have a beer flood?

It happened in the London parish of St. Giles. At the Meux and Company Brewery on Tottenham Court Road, a huge vat containing over 135,000 imperial gallonsof beer ruptured, causing other vats in the same building to succumb in a domino effect. As a result, more than 323,000 imperial gallons of beer burst out and gushed into the streets. The wave of beer destroyed 2 homes and crumbled the wall of the Tavistock Arms Pub, trapping the barmaid under the rubble.

The brewery was located among the poor houses and tenements of the St Giles Rookery, where whole families lived in basement rooms that quickly filled with beer. The wave left 9 people dead: Eight due to drowning and one from alcohol poisoning.

October 17, 1860: For the first time, The Open Championship (referred to in North America as the British Open) is held, at Prestwick Golf Club, in Ayrshire, Scotland. The winner is Scotsman Willie Park. Wait, why am I mentioning this? Golf is not a sport!

October 17, 1906: Paul Derringer is born. The pitcher was a rookie with the 1931 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals, and won the 1939 National League Pennant and the 1940 World Series with the Cincinnati Reds. He started the 1st major league night game, at Cincinnati's Crosley Field in 1935, and won 223 games in his career.

October 17, 1908: Robert Abial "Red" Rolfe is born. The starting 3rd baseman in 4 All-Star Games, he helped the Yankees win the 1932, '36, '37, '38, '39 and '41 World Series. Retiring as a player at only 34, he was immediately hired, due to the wartime manpower shortage, as both baseball and basketball coach at Yale University. He later served as athletic director at his alma mater, Dartmouth College. Until Graig Nettles, he was probably the best all-around player ever to play third base for the Yankees.

October 17, 1911: After criticizing his teammate Rube Marquard's pitching to Philadelphia Athletics third baseman Frank Baker in his newspaper column‚ Christy Mathewson takes the mound for the New York Giants in Game 3 against 29-game winner Jack Coombs. Matty takes a 1-0 lead into the 9th. With one out‚ Baker lines another drive over the right field fence to tie it. With that blow‚ he receives the nickname "Home Run" Baker.

Based on 2 home runs? Well, it was 1911, the Dead Ball Era: He only hit 96 home runs in his entire 13-season career, although he did have a .307 lifetime batting average, is regarded as one of the best third basemen of the first half of the 20th Century, and is in the Hall of Fame.

However, Baker's homer only ties the game, and it goes to extra innings. Errors by 3rd baseman Buck Herzog and shortstop Art Fletcher give the A's 2 unearned runs in the top of the 11th. New York scores once‚ but the A's win 3-2 behind Jack Coombs's 3-hitter.

October 17, 1915: Arthur Miller is born. In his play Death of a Salesman, he quoted his lead character, Willie Loman, as exulting in the fact that, "We're playing football at Ebbets Field!" Football? At Ebbets Field? Yes, it happened in real life, as the NFL had a Brooklyn Dodgers from 1930 to 1944.

October 17, 1918: Margarita Carmen Cansino is born in Brooklyn. Better known as Rita Hayworth. Although she was a huge star, for a lot more than two reasons, her personal life, including marriages to Orson Wells and a manipulative, skirt-chasing Muslim prince named Aly Khan, was a mess. She said, "Basically, I am a good, gentle person, but I am attracted to mean personalities." She also said, citing her best-known film role, "Men fell in love with Gilda, but they wake up with me."

What does she have to do with sports? Nothing, as far as I know, although her ex-husband Aly Khan was a noted breeder of racehorses. She's just one of the most magnificent women who ever lived.

After so many years of martial abuse, alcoholism and Alzheimer’s disease, she finally found peace in 1987. Her daughter, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, is a major fundraiser for Alzheimer’s research.

Also on this day, Ralph Wilson is born. The Detroit native ran an industrial firm and was a minority owner of the NFL's Detroit Lions during their glory years in the 1950s, when he had the chance buy a franchise in the fledgling American Football League. His first choice was Miami, but he was turned down. He got his second choice, and the Buffalo Bills were born.

Of the original 8 AFL owners, a.k.a. "The Foolish Club," only he and Bud Adams of the Houston Oilers are still in charge of their teams, although Adams moved his team to become the Tennessee Titans. When the naming rights to the Bills' Rich Stadium ran out, the board of directors renamed it Ralph Wilson Stadium. Under him, the Bills won 2 AFL Championships, 1964 and ’65, and 4 AFC Championships, 1990, '91, '92 and '93. But not, as yet, a Super Bowl.

October 17, 1927: Ban Johnson‚ in failing health‚ retires as President of the American League, after heading the League he started for its 1st 28 years. His endless battles with Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis and the team owners had eroded his power. Detroit's president, Frank Navin, is named acting President, until Ernest Barnard, longtime general manager of the Cleveland Indians, is named President.

October 17, 1929, 80 years ago today: In the wake of the death of manager Miller Huggins, and interim manager Art Fletcher's desire to remain as third base coach (a post he held from Huggins' arrival in 1918 until Joe McCarthy's resignation in 1946), Yankee owner Jacob Ruppert hires former pitcher Bob Shawkey as manager.

In 1917, Ruppert had made Shawkey his 1st big acquisition. This would be paralleled 67 years later, as George Steinbrenner made another A's pitcher, Catfish Hunter, his 1st big free-agent signing. But Shawkey will only manage the 1930 season, and with the Cubs having fired McCarthy, Ruppert snaps him up, and the Yanks get back on track.


October 17, 1930: Jimmy Breslin is born. As much as anyone – not a word, Ed Koch; shut up, Rudy Giuliani; put a sock in it, Donald Trump; sorry, Regis Philbin – he was the voice of New York City. He wrote for the New York Journal-American in the Fifties, and moved on to the New York Herald-Tribune in 1962, writing a book about the horrendous first year of the Mets, borrowing for his title a line from manager Casey Stengel: Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?

When the Trib folded in 1966, he became one of the cornerstones of "New York's Hometown Paper," the Daily News. He remains best known for receiving letters from David Berkowitz, the serial killer known as the Son of Sam, after the 6th of the 8 killings in 1977, publishing them, and writing an editorial whose title was blasted on the front page: "Breslin to .44-Caliber Killer: GIVE UP! IT'S THE ONLY WAY OUT." After Berkowitz was caught, Breslin and his former Trib teammate collaborated on a novel based on the case, titled .44.

Unfortunately, like his Daily News stablemate Dick Young, and his Chicago counterpart Mike Royko, he got crochety and conservative in his later years, taking his image as the voice of his city's common man too seriously. He moved on to the Long Island paper Newsday, and received a Polk Award and the last of his four Pulitzer Prizes.

Through all the drinking, smoking, inhalation of New York smog, rides in cabs with crazy drivers, health problems, and a particularly nasty Mob beating in 1970, he still lives. His books include the Mob novel The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, the Watergate-themed book How the Good Guys Finally Won, an expose of the priestly-abuse scandal titled The Church That Forgot Christ, and biographies of racehorse trainer Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons and sportswriter Damon Runyon.

He appeared as himself in Spike Lee's film Summer of Sam, and in another film based on life in New York in 1977, The Bronx Is Burning, he was brilliantly played by Michael Rispoli.

Also on this day, Dr. Robert Atkins is born. The nutritionist was the creator of the Atkins Diet, which emphasized lowering your carbohydrates and eating more protein, especially in vegetables. Contrary to urban legend, he did not die an ironic (or hypocritical) death, from a heart attack from being too fat. On April 8, 2003, following a rare April snowstorm in New York, he slipped on some ice, fell, and hit his head. He was on his way to work, at age 72, so that’s to be admired. But I like my carbs. Pasta! Mangia!

October 17, 1946: Bob Seagren is born. He won the pole vault at the 1968 Olympics, and the 1st ABC Sports Superstars competition in 1973.

October 17, 1948: Margot Kidder is born. The Canadian actress is best known for playing Lois Lane in Christopher Reeve's Superman movies.

"Don't worry, Miss," Superman says when meeting Lois in-costume for the first time. "I've got you." Her classic response: "You've got me? Who's got you?"

Also on this day, George Wendt is born. Who? "Good afternoon, everybody." Norm! What’s goin' on, Norm? "My birthday, Sammy. Gimme a beer, put a candle in it, and I'll blow out my liver." Actual exchange from a 1991 episode of Cheers, in which Wendt played occasionally-employed accountant and beerhound Norm Peterson.

"Bars can be sad places," Norm once said. "Some people spend their whole lives in a bar. Yesterday, some guy came in, and sat down next to me for 11 hours."

Wendt got his big break on M*A*S*H, playing a Marine (a guy that fat, playing a Marine?) who tried to stick an entire pool ball in his mouth, and, unfortunately for him, he succeeded, and, having to treat him, Major Winchester, played by David Ogden Stiers, got to do something he rarely did: Have some fun.

That episode was written by Ken Levine and David Isaacs, who would go on to co-create and write for Cheers, and remembered Wendt. They also remembered Shelley Long from a M*A*S*H episode they'd written. Come to think of it, there are some similarities between Dr. Charles Emerson Winchester III and Dr. Frasier Crane, although we later found out that, unlike Charles, Frasier was not actually from Boston.

Norm is a Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins fan. In real life, though, Wendt is from Chicago, and roots for the Cubs, the Blackhawks, and, as reflected in his character Bob Swerski on the Saturday Night Live sketch "The Super Fans," he also loves "a certain team which is known as… Da Bears!' And another "certain team which is known as… Da Bulls!"

October 17, 1957: Steve McMichael is born. Speaking of Da Bears, he was a defensive tackle on their 1985-86 Super Bowl Shuffle team, and made 2 Pro Bowls. Nicknamed "Mongo" after the Blazing Saddles character played by another legendary DT, Alex Karras, he later became a pro wrestler, and has twice been married to WWE "Divas."

He hosts a talk show on Chicago radio station ESPN 1000 (the former WLUP and WMVP), and coaches an indoor football team, the Chicago Slaughter.

October 17, 1960: The birthdate of the New York Mets and the team now known as the Houston Astros, even if they didn't begin play until April 11, 1962. This is the date both franchises were granted by the National League.

October 17, 1966: Bob Swift, manager of the Detroit Tigers, dies in office. He had replaced Charlie Dressen earlier the year, after Dressen had died in office. As far as I know, no other MLB team has ever had two managers die on them in a single year.

October 17, 1970: John Mabry is born. He has played 1st base, 3rd base, left field and right field, and has even pitched twice in the major leagues. His 96 home runs make him the all-time leader… for players born in the State of Delaware, in his case Wilmington, although he grew up 25 miles away in Chesapeake City, Maryland.

He reached the postseason with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998, the Oakland Athletics in 2002, and the Cardinals again in 2004, this time reaching the World Series. He last played with the Colorado Rockies in 2007, although he was released before they won the Pennant that year.

October 17, 1971: Steve Blass hurls a 4-hitter and Roberto Clemente homers, as the Pittsburgh Pirates win Game 7 of the World Series, 2-1 over the Baltimore Orioles at Memorial Stadium‚ becoming World Champions for the 4th time, the 1st time since 1960.

After the game‚ 40‚000 people riot in downtown Pittsburgh. At least 100 are injured‚ some seriously. Earlier in the season, the Pirates had become the 1st team ever to field an all-black-and/or-Hispanic starting lineup.

Clemente and Bill Mazeroski are the only men to have played for the Pirates in both the 1960 and the 1971 World Series, although Danny Murtaugh managed them in both, and 1960 player Bill Virdon was one of Murtaugh's 1971 coaches.

October 17, 1972: Quite a day to be born. Marshall Bruce Mathers III is born, a.k.a. Eminem and Slim Shady. As far as I know, he has nothing to do with sports, but he does often wear a cap of his hometown Detroit Tigers. Say what you want about Em, and I don’t like him much, but at least he's funny every once in a while, and he's still got more class than that other redneck Detroiter who wants us to think he's got streed cred, Rob "Kid Rock" Ritchie.

Wyclef Jean, lead singer of the Fugees, is born. I don't think he has anything to do with sports, either, but he was in Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" video, which had to require some athleticism.

Sharon Leal is born, best known as a teacher on Boston Public. I don't think she's involved with sports either, but she’s so beautiful that I don’t care.

And Joe McEwing is born. He played for the Mets, so he doesn't have anything to do with sports, either. (Ba-dump-bump-tssssh!) He did help the Mets win the 2000 National League Pennant, though, and is now the manager of the Winston-Salem Dash, a Chicago White Sox farm team.

October 17, 1973: The Mets even the Series with a 6-1 win over the A's at Shea. Rusty Staub goes 4-for-4 with a homer and 5 RBI. The New Orleans chef was really cooking that night.

October 17, 1974: At the Oakland Coliseum, Oakland's Vida Blue and L.A.'s Don Sutton are tied 2-2 going into the bottom of the 6th, when Mike Marshall relieves Sutton and retires the side. In the 7th‚ a shower of debris from the fans halts the game for 15 minutes. When play is resumed‚ Joe Rudi hits Marshall's first pitch for a homer to give the A's a 3rd 3-2 win‚ clinching a 3rd straight World Championship for the team.

The A's thus become only the 2nd major league franchise to win 3 straight World Series, and remain the only one other than the Yankees to have done it.

Also on this day, John Rocker is hatched from his pod in Macon, Georgia. He rose quickly to become a power pitcher, then fell apart, both competitively and physically. At first, we thought it was because, following all his insulting, ignorant, bigoted comments about the Mets and Met fans, that the furious reaction from the Flushing Faithful had gotten into his head. Certainly, there was room in there. (Not entirely a joke: The dope’s head is huge.) But, eventually, it was revealed that he was a steroid user. Which explains a lot of things.

He did pitch for the Atlanta Braves in the 1999 World Series, after pitching against the Mets in the NLCS. But here’s the difference: The Mets and their fans talked about how they wanted to beat him, while the Yankees actually did it.

October 17, 1978: The Yankees complete their last of many comebacks in this amazing season, taking Game 6, 7-2 at Dodger Stadium, and winning their 22nd World Championship, their 2nd in a row, having taken the last 4 games after dropping the first 2.

Reggie Jackson has his chance for revenge over Dodger rookie Bob Welch for striking him out with the bases loaded to end Game 2, and his revenge goes to right field, halfway to the San Gabriel Mountains.

Both halves of the Yankee double-play combination, Bucky Dent and Brian Doyle (subbing for the injured Willie Randolph) collect 3 hits. Dent batted .417 for the Series and is named MVP, capping a month that began with his Playoff homer over Boston; Doyle bats .438, and, along with third base wizard Graig Nettles and reliever Goose Gossage, also makes a pretty good case for Series MVP. The final out is Gossage popping up Ron Cey behind home plate, where Thurman Munson catches it.

Unfortunately, as with the year before, my parents waited until the Yankees were winning, and then sent me to bed, so I didn't see it. Despite being a fan of the greatest franchise in the history of sports, I was almost 27 years old before I saw my favorite team win a World Series while it was actually happening. And I don't think it was until that 1996 Series that I got over that fact.

October 17, 1979, 30 years ago today: The Pittsburgh Pirates complete their comeback from 3 games to 1 down, and defeat the Baltimore Orioles, 4-1 at Memorial Stadium. First baseman Willie Stargell, known as "Pops" not just for his age (39) but because of his playing of Sister Sledge's hit disco song "We Are Family," hits his 3rd homer of the Series, and is named Series MVP, after having also been named MVP of the NLCS.

This is the Pirates' 5th World Championship, and the parallels with their 4th are uncanny: It was on October 17, against the Orioles, in Baltimore, in Game 7, holding the Birds to just 1 run. Stargell, pitcher Bruce Kison and catcher Manny Sanguillen are the only players to have played for the Pirates in both the '71 and the '79 Series, although Sanguillen had left and since returned. But in the 30 years since, the Pirates have never won another Pennant, though they reached Game 7 of the NLCS in 1991 and '92, losing to the Atlanta Braves both times.

After the season, it will be announced that there is a tie vote for the regular-season MVP, between Stargell and the NL's batting champion, St. Louis Cardinal 1st baseman Keith Hernandez. Stargell becomes the first man, and remains the only one, ever to sweep the regular season, LCS and World Series MVPs in a single season.

October 17, 1982: Robin Yount records his 2nd 4-hit game of the World Series to lead the Brewers to a 6-4 win in Game 5 at County Stadium, and give Milwaukee a 3-2 lead overall. Yount is the 1st player ever to have two 4-hit games in one World Series.

This night is the high-water mark of the Brewers franchise: Not only is this the closest they have ever gotten to winning a World Series, but they have never played a World Series game, or even an LCS game, since.

October 17, 1987: In the 1st indoor World Series game ever, at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis‚ Dan Gladden's grand slam caps a 7-run 4th inning and leads the Twins to a 10-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1. It is the 1st World Series grand slam since 1970.

October 17, 1989, 20 years ago today: Game 3 of the World Series is postponed when an earthquake strikes the San Francisco Bay area a half hour before game time‚ causing minor damage to Candlestick Park but major damage to the surrounding area.

The official World Series highlight film shows fans at Candlestick reacting with a sense of fun, since they survived. One fan, who'd brought white cardboard signs and magic marker to make up signs on the spot, had on one side, "That was nothing, wait till the Giants bat," and on the other, a jagged line, supposed to be a quake-caused crack, and, "Welcome to Candlestick."

But then the camera shifts to a man in a Giants cap with headphones on, and he develops a look that shows he's just found out how serious this is. There are fires all over the city. Many houses in the Marina District are burning. A section of the upper level of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge collapsed onto the lower level, killing 3 people.

Worst of all, a section of the double-decked Nimitz Freeway, Interstate 880, collapses in Oakland, killing several. The quake registers 7.1 magnitude‚ killing 67 people, and does $7 billion in damage.

Commissioner Fay Vincent has Candlestick evacuated, and the remainder of the Series postponed. Everyone was lucky: The stadium then had a baseball seating capacity of 62,000, and if it had collapsed, the death toll would probably have exceeded the World Trade Center attacks of 12 years later.

Just how bad it could have been is illustrated by a sporting event from earlier in the year. On April 15, in English soccer, an FA Cup semifinal was held at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, chosen as a neutral site, between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. Several thousand fans who didn't have tickets tried to get in, and a horrible mistake was made when a gate was opened when it shouldn't have been, and people were crushed against walls and wire fencing. Hundreds were injured, and 96 died.

I heard about this on the evening news, but since it didn't involve Americans, we all quickly forgot about it. Had but one American been among the dead, no doubt the U.S. media would have featured the story day after day after day, practically flogging it, as they did with the World Series Earthquake.

October 17, 1991: The Braves advance to the World Series for the 1st time since their move to Atlanta – for the 1st time since they were in Milwaukee in 1958 – with John Smoltz leading the way as he hurls a 6-hit‚ 4-0 shutout.

The Pittsburgh Pirates fail to score in the last 22 innings of the series. Steve Avery is named the MVP of the NLCS. Worst of all, for this Pennant-deciding game, only 47,000 fans come out to the 59,000-seat Three Rivers Stadium. That's a disgrace for such a good sports city as Pittsburgh.

October 17, 1992: In the 1st-ever World Series game involving a team from outside the U.S., the Atlanta Braves defeat the Toronto Blue Jays, 3-1. Catcher Damon Berryhill hits a 3-run homer in the 6th inning.

The pitching matchup of Tom Glavine and Jack Morris is the 1st time that a pair of 20-game winners starts the opening game of a World Series since 1969. Glavine goes all the way for the win‚ while Joe Carter homers for the only Toronto run.

October 17, 1995: The Cleveland Indians shut out the Seattle Mariners‚ 4-0‚ behind the pitching of Dennis Martinez‚ Julian Tavarez‚ and Jose Mesa‚ to clinch their 1st American League Pennant in 41 years.

To give you an idea of how long it was: This game was played at the Kingdome in Seattle, and the Indians were moving on to play the Atlanta Braves; in 1954, the last time the Indians won a Pennant, the Braves had just moved from Boston to Milwaukee, Seattle was home to a minor-league team (which had, not that much earlier, been one of their farm teams and named the Seattle Indians), and the only person thinking much about a domed stadium for traditionally outdoor sports was Walter O'Malley, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who had just proposed a new home for Dem Bums, what he called the Brooklyn Sports Center and others mocked, not as an engineering or architectural impossibility, but as a monument to O'Malley's greed and self-promotion, as "O'Malley's Pleasure Dome." (Which, of course, ended up never being built; when O'Malley finally got his stadium, it was across the country, and looked like a baseball stadium.)

October 17, 1996: The Yankees finally find out who they’ll be playing in their 1st World Series in 15 years. The Braves complete their comeback from being 3 games to 1 down in the NLCS‚ winning their 3rd in a row‚ 15-0‚ to defeat the Cardinals and win the NL Pennant. Homers by Fred McGriff‚ Javy Lopez‚ and Andruw Jones support the shutout pitching of Tom Glavine.

October 17, 1998: Game 1 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium, the way God intended it. Down 5-2 in the bottom of the 7th, the Yankees explode for 7 runs to blow away the Padres‚ 9-6.

Chuck Knoblauch completes his redemption from his ALCS Game 2 "brainlauch" with 3-run homer in the inning to tie it‚ off Padre starter Kevin Brown, who had a reputation as a "Yankee Killer" while pitching for the Texas Rangers. (Yankee Killer? We hadn’t seen nothin' yet.) Then, after reliever Mark Langston (himself rather successful against the Yankees while pitching for the Mariners and Angels) loads the bases, Tino Martinez, who's also been struggling lately, comes up.

With a 2-2 count, Langston throws a pitch that's juuuust low. To this day, Padre fans will say that it was strike 3, and Tino should have been out, and that this "fixed" the Series for the Yankees. Now, we don't have much reason to get upset with Padres fans, but if you blow a 3-run lead in the 7th inning of a World Series game, you don't deserve to win the Series. Tino takes the full-count pitch, and cranks it into the upper deck in right field for a grand slam. San Diego native David Wells notches the win against his hometown team.

October 17, 1999, 10 years ago today: The Mets edge the Braves in a 15-inning thriller at Shea‚ 4-3‚ to move within 1 game of Atlanta in their NLCS. Robin Ventura's grand slam in the bottom half of the 15th wins it‚ but his Met teammates mob him before he can reach second base. He never completes his round of the bases and gets credit for a single instead of a grand slam. The Braves leave a postseason-record 19 players on base in the contest. The Mets use 9 pitchers in the game‚ with rookie Octavio Dotel getting the win. No "Heartbreak Dotel" in this game.

No, if it's heartbreak you're looking for, head up to Fenway Park. The Yankees defeat the Red Sox‚ 9-2‚ to take a 3-games-to-1 lead in the ALCS. Andy Pettitte gets the victory for New York‚ with home run support from Darryl Strawberry and Ricky Ledee.

It was only 3-2 Yankees going into the top of the 8th, but the Boston bullpen (Ledee hits a grand slam off Rod Beck) and defense collapse – some would say aided by some poor umpiring. The Sox fans, angry about the calls, throw garbage onto the field in the 9th, for about 5 minutes until the umpires get the public-address announcer to ask the fans to stop or else the game will be forfeited.

But with all the errors the Sox have been making, and with all the bullpen failure, Sox fans have no one to blame but their own players. For years, I'd heard Boston described as "the Athens of America," and Red Sox fans described as the most knowledgable in baseball. This proved both a lie. Even Tony Massarotti, then writing for the Boston Herald, ripped the Fenway faithful, saying that this was not the Curse of the Bambino, but "the Torment of the Drunks."

October 17, 2000: The Yankees defeat the Mariners‚ 9-7 at Yankee Stadium‚ to win the ALCS and their 37th American League Pennant. David Justice's 3-run homer in the 7th inning gives New York a lead it never relinquishes.

Justice wins the ALCS MVP award. Seattle catcher Dan Wilson's single breaks his 0-for-42 hitless streak‚ the longest ever in postseason history. Since the Mets have already wrapped up the National League Pennant, New York will have its 1st Subway Series in 44 years.

October 17, 2003: It was 12:16 AM when Aaron Boone became the newest in a long long of unlikely postseason heroes for the Yankees. But aside from another homer that turned out to be meaningless, he barely hit in the World Series against the Florida Marlins, and in the offseason injured his knee so badly he'd be out for the 2004 season. So the Yankees got Alex Rodriguez. How did that turn out? Uh, to be determined.

Aaron Boone recently underwent open-heart surgery, and returned to his current team, the Washington Nationals, and got back into games. Think about that: Aaron Boone came back from open-heart surgery faster than Jose Reyes came back from a bad hamstring. Once a Yankee, always a Yankee; once a Met...

October 17, 2004: The Red Sox stay alive in the ALCS with a 6-4‚ 12-inning win over the Yankees. David Ortiz's 2-run walkoff homer wins it in the 12th after the Sox tied the score off Mariano Rivera in the 9th, with a walk by Kevin Millar, pinch-runner Dave Roberts' steal of 2nd, and Bill Mueller singling him home with the tying run.

Ortiz drives home 4 runs for Boston‚ while Alex Rodriguez homers for New York – his last positive contribution to a Yankee postseason effort for 5 years. (Millahhhh? Mueller? Ortiz? Cough-steroids-cough.)

The Sox jumped on Ortiz as if they'd just won not just one ALCS game, but the World Series. They had good reason to call themselves "Idiots." Aw, what the heck, it's only one game, right? The Yankees will wrap up the Pennant tomorrow, right?

They're still waiting for that next Pennant.

October 17, 2005: Albert Pujols' 3-run homer off Brad Lidge, practically smashing through the outer wall beyond left field at Minute Maid Park, with 2 outs in the 9th inning gives the Cardinals a 5-4 comeback win over the Astros and keeps their Pennant hopes alive. Lance Berkman's 3-run homer in the 7th had given Houston a 4-2 lead.

The Astros still lead the Series‚ 3-games-to-2. Jason Isringhausen gets the win in relief for St. Louis. Legend has it that Lidge was never the same after giving up this mammoth home run, but his performance for the Phillies in 2008 proves that not to be true.

October 17, 2008: Levi Stubbs, lead singer of the Four Tops and the voice of Audrey II in the film version of Little Shop of Horrors dies. As far as I know, he had nothing to do with sports. I'm just mentioning him to set up this question: Why do I watch sports, when it costs me so much time, money and energy? 'Cause, sugar pie, honey bunch, I’m weaker than a man should be. I can't help myself.

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