Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rangers Suck, But Devils Stink

The New York Rangers suck. Unfortunately, the New Jersey Devils out-and-out stink. I saw the game at the Prudential Center last night, and, sad to say, the Devils are not ready for the new season. They blew 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the first period, and lost 3-2 to The Scum.

I hate the Rangers. The only consolation is that the Ranger fans, knowing their team was only slightly less pathetic, didn’t act as cunty as they usually do.

The Devils' passing was atrocious. Their defense was awful. Their power play was hopeless – for the 2nd time in 2 games this season, they blew a 5-on-3. Their penalty kill, which allowed 2 Ranger goals, was useless.

It could be a long season – and I don't mean an Annie Savoy, "It's a long season and you've got to trust it" sense.


Did you see Tom Brady whining to the refs to get a roughing-the-passer penalty? It gave the New England Patriots a win over the Baltimore Ravens.

Damn, Tommy, if the NFL won't let your boss Bill "Hoodieman" Belichick cheat one way, you’ll cheat another, won't you? Whinging to the refs? Who the hell do you think you are, Didier Drogba? Michael Ballack? Wayne Rooney?

I know Brady is married to a Brazilian, but I'll bet the cost of a box seat at a Pats home game he has no clue who those bastards are.

Former teammate Rodney Harrison says Brady wears a skirt. I don't think he meant a kilt like a strong, macho Scotsman.

I saw Ron Jaworski on ESPN, saying that he, too, yelled at referees to give him calls, when he was the All-Pro quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. It takes a big man to admit he whines.


This is only the most recent example of a New England athlete being outed as a cheater. Cincinnati Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo, the former Captain Cornrows, was caught with pine tar on his glove. He says it was mud. His name is Mud. He was on those lying, cheating, cunty Boston Red Sox of 2004. We should not believe a word he says.


If you are a Jets fan, and I had told you before the season that, with the team's 1st 4 games being against Houston, the Pats, Tennessee (who, lest we forget, got off to an 11-0 start last season and reached the AFC Title Game before falling apart early this season) and New Orleans, the Jets would get off to a 3-1 start, would you have taken it? I'll bet most of you would.

The Jets fell to 3-1, and already people have gone from treating Mark Sanchez like the gorgeous second coming of Joe Namath to treating him like the pathetic second coming of Richard Todd. Really, people: Don't get on a rookie quarterback just because he looked bad in Game 4 after looking pretty seasoned in Games 1, 2 and 3. Yes, I'm talking to you, too, sister of mine!


Interesting weekend in the Upper Midwest: On Saturday, the University of Wisconsin beat Minnesota at Minnesota's new TCB Bank Stadium, to win the trophy known as the Paul Bunyan Axe. But just 2 days later, at the Metrodome, the Minnesota Vikings, led by Brett Favre, beat their arch-rivals, the Green Bay Packers, Favre's old team, on Monday Night Football.

And, of course, there's the Minnesota Twins, tying the Detroit Tigers for first place in the AL Central, in the final regular-season baseball series at the Metrodome. The Playoff was supposed to be held last night, but Vikes-Pack took precedence.

Well, screw you, NFL! The Twins have given the State of Minnesota two World Championships. How many have the Vikings given them? None! So the Tigers-Twins Playoff, which would be the last baseball game at the Metrodome if the Tigers win, is being played right now.


I missed a birthday yesterday: Tony Malinovsky turned 100 years old. Having played 26 games as an infielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1937, he is the oldest living former Major League Baseball player. At 96, Tommy Henrich is the 5th-oldest, and the oldest living Yankee. In 3rd, at 97, is Clarence "Ace" Parker, who was a fair baseball player but good enough as a football player to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame, playing with the long-since-defunct NFL version of the Brooklyn Dodgers, among other things.


October 6, 1923: Ernie Padgett of the Boston Braves, in only his 2nd major-league game, pulls off an unassisted triple play in a doubleheader sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies.

October 6, 1926: Game 4 of the World Series, at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. Someone got a message to Babe Ruth, asking him to hit a home run for a sick kid in a hospital. He hit one. And another. And another. It was the first time a player had hit three home runs in a World Series game. The Yankees win, 10-5, and tie up the Series with the Cardinals. The boy's name was Johnny Sylvester, and he got well, later met the Babe, and lived to be 74.

In legend, the boy was dying, and the Babe visited him in the hospital, and promised him he'd hit a home run for him, and ended up hitting 3, and, hearing the game on the radio, instantly began to get well. The truth is great enough, is Ruthian enough.

October 6, 1927: Bill King is born. Along with Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons, he was a member of the San Francisco Giants’ first broadcast team in 1958. He moved to the cross-Bay Oakland Athletics in 1981, and is best remembered as their announcer, staying with them until his death in 2005. He also announced games for the Raiders in both Oakland and Los Angeles, for the NBA’s Warriors in both San Francisco and Oakland, and for the University of California’s football and basketball games.

At his funeral, Raiders owner Al Davis remarked that King had brought all 3 Oakland teams together, and that his dream was to have a stadium with one million fans, all with transistor radios, watching the Raiders and listening to Bill King.

That this man has not received the broadcasters' equivalent to induction into any of the Halls of Fame of the sports he covered – baseball's Ford Frick Award, football's Pete Rozelle Award, and basketball's Curt Gowdy Award – is a crime against sport itself.

October 6, 1934: The Detroit Tigers defeat the St. Louis Cardinals, 10-4. Jay Hanna "Dizzy" Dean – or Jerome Herman "Dizzy" Dean, depending on which story Ol' Diz liked to tell on any given day – enters the game as a pinch-runner, and is hit in the head by a throw.

He is taken to a hospital, examined, and released. He tells the press, apparently without realizing what he’s saying, "They examined my head, and they didn't find anything." A newspaper says the next day, "X-rays of Dean's head show nothing." Dean will have the last laugh, though.

October 6, 1935: Bruno Sammartino is born. If "professional wrestling" is a sport, the 72-year-old Sammartino remains its greatest ever.

October 6, 1936: The Yankees defeat the Giants in Game 6, 13-5, and clinch their 5th World Championship at the Polo Grounds. At this point, the following teams have won 5 World Series: The Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, and the Philadelphia Athletics. By beating the Giants, who have 4, the Yankees move ahead of the Giants into first place in New York, and they have never relinquished it. Now, they are tied with the Sox and A's for first among all teams. They have never been second again.

October 6, 1938: The Yankees defeat the Chicago Cubs, 6-3 at Wrigley Field, and take a 2-games-to-0 lead in the World Series. Dizzy Dean, the sore-armed Cardinal ace now with the Cubs, takes a 3-2 lead into the 8th inning, but Frank Crosetti's homer gives the Yanks a lead they will not relinquish. 

The winning pitcher is Lefty Gomez, making him 6-0 in World Series play. Although Whitey Ford with 10 and Bob Gibson with 7 will win more Series games, Gomez has the best winning percentage in Series history to this day.


October 6, 1941: The Yankees beat the Dodgers, 4-1, and win their 9th World Series, clinching in 5 games at Ebbets Field. The Brooklyn Eagle's headline reads, "WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR." A catchphrase is coined. It will take another 14 years before "Next Year" arrives.

This is the last Major League Baseball game before World War II, although some players, including Detroit Tiger Hall-of-Famer Hank Greenberg, are already in the U.S. armed forces. Not until April 1946 will baseball again be played without players missing due to military service.

This is also the 1st Yankees-Dodgers World Series. There have now been 11: Seven all-New York "Subway Series," four Coast-to-Coast N.Y./L.A. series. There hasn't been one in 28 years, but maybe this is the year for Number 12.

October 6, 1943: Robert Cooper, father of St. Louis Cardinal pitcher Mort Cooper and their catcher Walker Cooper, dies during the World Series. But the brothers play on, and in Game 2, Mort goes 1-for-3 at the bat and pitches the Cards to a 4-3 win over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. He leaves for home, Independence, Missouri, after the game. The Yankees win the next 3 games to take the Series, at which point Walker goes home, too.

October 6, 1945: Game 4 of the World Series is held at Wrigley Field in Chicago. William "Billy Goat" Sianis is the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, across from Chicago Stadium, at the time the home of the NHL's Blackhawks and the Midwest's premier boxing venue. He has a goat as his bar's mascot, and he buys 2 tickets to this game, one for himself and one for the goat. There is no rule against this. But fans around him complain to the ushers that the goat smells bad, and he is kicked out of the ballpark.

A Greek immigrant and a superstitious man, Sianis puts a curse on the Cubs. The Detroit Tigers win the game, 4-1, all their runs coming in the 4th inning, after Sianis and the goat are kicked out. The Tigers win the Series in 7, and afterward, Sianis sends a telegram to Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley, asking, "Who stinks now?"

In 1963, Sianis would move his bar, a precursor to today's sports bars, to its current location on Michigan Avenue, just north of the Loop, near the Tribune Tower and the Sun-Times Building, making it a popular watering hole for journalists. He died in 1970, about a year after the Cubs’ 1969 September Swoon.

His nephew Sam Sianis now runs the place, and when William Wrigley Jr. sold the Cubs to the Tribune Company in 1981, he offered to lift the Curse of the Billy Goat. A number of times, Cub management has allowed Sam to take his bar's current mascot onto the field in an attempt to lift the Curse. It hasn't worked: Apparently, Billy’s curse is stronger even than his own flesh and blood. The Cubs haven't been back to the World Series in 64 years.

Is the goat the reason? Well, let's put it this way: In 1945, the Cubs had already not been World Champions for 37 years, and had already had a number of weird things happen to them in Series play, including a 10-run inning by the A' in 1929, Babe Ruth’s "called shot" in 1932, and Stan Hack leading off the 9th with a triple with what would be the tying run and then getting stranded there to lose Game 6 and the Series to the Tigers in 1935. The goat can't explain that.

So what's the real reason the Cubs haven’t won the World Series in 101 years now? Your guess is as good as mine.

October 6, 1946: In their 1st World Series game in 28 years, the Boston Red Sox defeat the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-2 at Sportsman’s Park. In the top of the 9th, the Sox tie the game when an easy grounder goes through the legs of normally slick-fielding Card shortstop Marty Marion – foreshadowing not just Boston's own shortstop "problem" later in this Series, but also a problem at first base in a Series 40 years later. Rudy York hits a home run off Howie Pollet in the top of the 10th, and Boston wins.

The Sox had won 105 games that season, a record for any Boston team. No Boston team had ever lost a World Series: The Red Sox had won in 1903, '12, '15, '16 and '18, the Giants had chickened out on facing the Sox in 1904, and the Braves had won in 1914. At this point, despite the Cards having won 106 games and being by far the more experienced team in postseason play, it looked like the Sox were going to win this one, too.

October 6, 1947: The Dodgers threaten in the top of the 9th at Yankee Stadium, but a double play clinches the 5-2 win for the Yankees in Game 7 of the World Series. It is the Yankees' 11th World Championship. The next-closest team is the just-dethroned Cardinals with 6.

This was the 1st World Series to be broadcast on television, on NBC, although it wasn't baseball on coast-to-coast TV; that wouldn't happen until 1951. This was also the 1st integrated World Series, with Jackie Robinson playing for the Dodgers. However, it was Italians who were the major figures in the Series: Yogi Berra for hitting the 1st pinch-hit home run in Series history in Game 3, Cookie Lavagetto for breaking up Floyd Bevens' no-hitter with one out to go in Game 4, Joe DiMaggio for coming through for the Yankees again with a homer in Game 5, Al Gionfriddo for robbing DiMaggio with a spectacular catch in Game 6, and Phil Rizzuto for starting the game-ending twin killing in Game 7.

An interesting note is that, while Bevens, Lavagetto and Gionfriddo were the biggest names to be featured in this Series, none of them would ever play another major league game.


October 6, 1957: Eddie Matthews becomes the 1st National Leaguer to hit what we would now call a "walkoff" home run in a World Series game, and the 1st player in either League to do it in extra innings, hitting one out of Yankee pitcher Bob Grim in the bottom of the 10th, to give the Milwaukee Braves a 7-5 win and even the World Series at 2 games apiece.

This was the Shoe Polish Game, in which Braves pinch-hitter Vernal Leroy "Nippy" Jones claimed to have been hit on the foot by a Tommy Byrne pitch, and a smudge of polish on the ball reveals him to be telling the truth, leading to a Brave run.

This would happen again, in favor of the Mets in 1969, with Cleon Jones – although they are not related, as Nippy was white and Cleon is black.

Nippy, who had been sent up to pinch-hit for Warren Spahn, was replaced by pinch-runner Felix Mantilla, who was sacrificed to second by Red Schoendienst (who, like Jones, had also played on the 1946 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals), and then came Mathews’ blast.

October 6, 1959: A crowd of 92,706, the largest ever for a baseball game that counts, plows into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for Game 5 of the World Series. Dick Donovan shuts out the Dodgers, and Sherm Lollar grounds into a double play that forces home a run, and the White Sox win, 1-0. This will remain the last World Series game won by a Chicago team for 46 years.

Also on this day, Dennis Boyd is born. The Red Sox pitcher will be nicknamed “Oil Can,” because that’s what people in his native Meridian, Mississippi called a can of beer. Despite helping them to the 1986 World Series, Boyd will be remembered for his eccentricities more than his pitching.

October 6, 1962: Rich Yett is born. He would pitch a few years for the Minnesota Twins and the Cleveland Indians.

October 6, 1963: At Dodger Stadium, the Los Angeles Dodgers complete a 4-game sweep over the New York Yankees, winning 2-1, and win the World Series for the 2nd time – the 3rd time if you count their win in Brooklyn (and you shouldn't).

This was the 1st time they had ever clinched at home: They won at Yankee Stadium in 1955 and at Comiskey Park in Chicago in 1959. Sandy Koufax outdueled Whitey Ford twice, winning Games 1 and 4 and earning the Series MVP.

The Dodgers became the 1st team ever to win a World Series without a single offensive player being elected to the Hall of Fame. Unless you count pitcher Don Drysdale, who could hit a little (and was offensive in other ways). Like the 1980s Cardinals, the 1960s Dodgers were a team that scratched out runs any way they could, like by Tommy Davis, the unrelated Willie Davis, and Maury Wills, although Frank Howard had quite a bit of pop in his bat, and the Dodgers had Bill "Moose" Skowron, who had been a member of the Yankees' Pennant winners of 1955-58 and 1960-62. But they were not a great offensive team. They didn't have to be.

October 6, 1965: Game 1 of the World Series at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota. Koufax, being Jewish, does not pitch today, because it is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. So he is pushed back to Game 2, and Don Drysdale is started. No problem, right? Big D is also a future Hall-of-Famer, right?

Not today: Don Mincher and soon-to-be AL MVP Zoilo Versalles (who hit only 2 homers in the regular season, and got the MVP for his contact hitting, speed and defense) hit home runs off Drysdale, and when manager Walter Alston comes to take him out in the 3rd inning, Drysdale says to him, "I bet you wish I was Jewish, too!"

Jim “Mudcat” Grant allows only one hit, a home run by Ron Fairly, and the Twins, in the 1st World Series game in their history (unless you count their Washington Senators days, in which case it's their 1st in 32 years), win 8-2. To make matters worse for the Dodgers, Koufax loses Game 2 as well.

The Dodgers will come back, though, and win the Series in 7 games. The Twins will not get this close to a World Championship again for another 22 years.

Also on this day, Ruben Sierra is born. Like many Puerto Rican ballplayers, he usually wore Number 21 to honor Roberto Clemente. Despite an All-Star talent, Sierra did not have Clemente's maturity. He played for the Yankees twice (not wearing 21 because Paul O’Neill had it, and later because it has been unofficially retired for O'Neill), but didn't win a Pennant. In fact, the Yankees got rid of him for Cecil Fielder in mid-1996, and then won the World Series; while, following an attitude adjustment that led Joe Torre to ask for him to be reacquired, he made the last out in the 2004 ALCS that ended the hex the Yankees had over the Red Sox. He hit 306 home runs in his career, including an absolute bomb in the Jim Leyritz Game of October 4, 1995, but none that really mattered.

October 6, 1966: Dodger outfielder Willie Davis, having trouble seeing a white baseball against the smog-gray L.A. sky, commits 3 errors in 1 inning, enabling the Baltimore Orioles to win 6-0, and take both World Series games at Dodger Stadium, and head back to Memorial Stadium with a 2-0 lead. Jim Palmer outduels Koufax, who struggles with the Oriole bats, Davis’ fielding, and the pain in his elbow.

No one knows it yet, but this is the last major league game for Koufax. He is not yet 31, Palmer is just 20. This could be called a "generational hinge" game.

On this same day, LSD is declared illegal throughout the United States.

Also on this day, Niall Quinn was born. Most Americans don't know who he is. He is an Irish-born soccer player who was a reserve on Arsenal’s 1989 League Championship team. He moved on to Manchester City, where he got in an altercation with teammate Steve McMahon, pulled off his bloodstained T-shirt so he wouldn't be denied entry into a dance club, danced his arse off (as they'd say in the British Isles), and, seen wearing only a pair of cutoff jeans by a Man City fan, heard that fan sing…

Niall Quinn’s disco pants are the best!
They go up from his arse to his chest!
They are better than Adam and the Ants!
Niall Quinn’s disco pants!

Quinn has called it "the song that will follow me to the end of my career." He finished his playing career for Sunderland, and went into management, eventually buying a part-ownership of the team and being made its chairman.

In 2006, Sunderland, then in English football’s second division, were playing away at Cardiff City, along with Swansea City one of two teams from Wales in the 92-team English Football League. Sunderland won, and Quinn got on the plane that was to take him, the players, and a few fans back to Sunderland. Already, there was a problem, as Cardiff’s airport wasn't willing to take them. They had to go 40 miles across a bay to Bristol, England. Recognized by some fans, who’d already had a few drinks that night, they started singing "Niall Quinn’s Disco Pants." At the top of their lungs. A few of the other passengers complained, and the pilot had 80 people thrown off the plane. The airline, EasyJet, told them they could have seats on the first plane out the next morning, but wouldn't give them a place to spend the night. They were really in a bind.

Quinn pulled out the club checkbook – since it's Britain, I should say "chequebook" – and hired taxis. He paid 8,000 pounds, about $15,000 at the time, to take them over 300 miles from Bristol in the southwest of England to Sunderland in the northeast. This would have been chump change for a big club like Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester United. But for Sunderland, it was a pretty penny. Sunderland fans – a.k.a. "Mackems" – have never forgotten this act of generosity, and adapted the song, including taking a pot-shot at Freddy Shepherd, then owner of their arch-rivals, Newcastle United, a.k.a. the Magpies or Mags (and since replacing him with Mike Ashley, current Newcastle owner):

Niall Quinn's taxi cabs are the best!
So go shove it up your arse, EasyJet!
Fat Freddy/Fat Ashley would do it for the Mags!
Niall Quinn’s taxi cabs!

I don't like Sunderland, but, using the U.K. vernacular, Niall Quinn is a top man.

October 6, 1969: The New York Mets defeat the Atlanta Braves, 7-4 at Shea Stadium, and sweep the 1st-ever National League Championship Series. As they did after the NL Eastern Division clincher on September 24, the Met fans storm the field.

It is the 1st Pennant won by a New York team in 5 years. A long time by New York standards. But for Met fans, the children of a "shotgun wedding" between two groups of fans who once hated each other, to use the late scientist and former Giant fan Stephen Jay Gould's phrase, "with that love that only hate can understand," it is the 1st Pennant in either 13 years (Dodgers) or 15 years (Giants).

After 7 bad years, 5 of them absolutely horrible, in Year 8 the Mets have won the Pennant. It is the fastest any team has reached the World Series since the early days of the competition. It will be 1980 – or 1973, if you count the Mets' 2nd Pennant – before a team other than one of the "Original 16" reaches the World Series again.

October 6, 1970: Darren Oliver is born. He pitched in the only 3 postseason series the Texas Rangers have ever played, in the Division Series of 1996, '98 and '99, but the Yankees hit him hard every time.

October 6, 1973: As Egypt attacks Israel, starting the Yom Kippur War (which Israel will win), what might be the best day of postseason pitching in baseball history takes place. In Game 1 of the ALCS, Jim Palmer strikes out 12 and shuts out the Oakland Athletics, as the Baltimore Orioles win 8-0.

In Game 1 of the NLCS, Tom Seaver of the Mets fans 13 Reds, in Cincinnati, but is beaten 2-1 on a pair of 8th-inning solo homers by Pete Rose and Johnny Bench. And yet, neither of the Game 1 winners will end up winning their League’s Pennant.

October 6, 1978: Game 3 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium. Winner takes a 2-1 lead in the series. George Brett of the Kansas City Royals hits three home runs off Catfish Hunter, the only 3-homer performance in LCS play in either league – in fact, the only 3-homer performance in any postseason game since Reggie Jackson in the previous season's World Series.

But in the bottom of the 8th, with the Yankees trailing 5-4, Thurman Munson steps up against Royals reliever Doug Bird, and crushes a pitch 470 feet to left-center field. On ABC, Howard Cosell, who admired Munson a lot, laughs: "Ho-ho! The damaged man!"

Goose Gossage finishes it off for Catfish, and the Yankees win, 6-5. Reggie Jackson had also homered, his 2nd of this series, after taking KC closer Al "the Mad Hungarian" Hrabosky deep in Game 1 at Royals Stadium.

This is what I love about Munson: At the moment when the Yankees most needed him to hit a home run, the banged-up Captain hit the longest home run of his career. Appropriately, it went into Monument Park. At this point, the only players honored there were the big four: Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle – along with owner Jacob Ruppert, general manager Ed Barrow, managers Miller Huggins, Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel, and the plaque honoring the Mass delivered by Pope Paul VI. The next plaque to be dedicated would be the one for the Mass delivered by Pope John Paul II, but the next one for a Yankee would be, sadly, for Munson himself.


October 6, 1980: Having lost 3 straight to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Houston Astros must now play them in a 1-game Playoff to decide the NL West title, and at Dodger Stadium, no less. No problem: Art Howe drives in four runs (which is more than the Astro second baseman ever did for the Mets as their manager), and Joe Niekro knuckleballs his way to his 20th win of the season, and the Astros win, 7-1. In what is unofficially the 1st postseason game in their 19-year history, they officially advance to the Playoffs for the first time.

October 6, 1984: A dark day in the long, gray history of the Chicago Cubs. Leading the NLCS 2 games to 1, needing only 1 more win to take their first Pennant in 39 years, they are tied with the San Diego Padres in the bottom of the 9th at Jack Murphy Stadium. But closer Lee Smith gives up an opposite-field homer to former Dodger "hero" Steve Garvey, and the Padres win, 7-5, to tie up the series.

Fans of lots of teams hate Garvey, but I think Cub fans hate him even more than Philly fans do. Certainly, they hate him more than Yankee Fans do – and that’s a lot.

October 6, 1985: With the Yankees having been eliminated from the AL East race the day before, manager Billy Martin sends 46-year-old knuckleballer Phil Niekro out to pitch an otherwise meaningless game at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto. He allows only 4 hits, becoming the oldest pitcher ever to pitch a complete-game shutout – top that, Nolan Ryan! The Yankees beta the Blue Jays, 8-0, and Niekro has his 300th career win. The Yankees will release him after the season, despite winning 16 games for them at age 45 and again at 46.

He will pitch 2 more seasons, with his home-State Cleveland Indians, the Blue Jays, and one more game with his original team, the Braves – he is the last active player who had played for the Braves in Milwaukee – reaching 318 wins for his Hall of Fame career. That makes him 16th on the all-time list, but among pitchers who'd spent most of their careers in the post-1920 Lively Ball Era, only his ex-Brave teammate Warren Spahn, and the still-active Ryan, Steve Carlton and Don Sutton had more wins before him. He has since also been passed by Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux.

With his brother Joe having won 223, the Niekro brothers are the winningest brother combination in MLB history, with 538 wins between them. Phil also struck out 3,342 batters, then 8th all-time and now 11th. In 1973, he pitched the 1st no-hitter in Atlanta history. It took 5 tries before he was finally elected to the Hall of Fame.

October 6, 1995: In the 1st postseason game ever played in the Mountain Time Zone, the Colorado Rockies beat the Atlanta Braves, 7-5 in 10 innings at Mile High Stadium in Denver, and prevent a sweep of the first-ever National League Division Series (unless you count the strike-forced first-round Playoffs of 1981).

It is the 1st-ever postseason victory for the Rox. They would not have another for 12 years, but when they did, they got a few more. They will be looking for a few more starting tomorrow.

October 6, 1997: The Cleveland Indians win the 5th and final game of the ALDS, beating the Yankees, 4-3. Rookie starter Jaret Wright gains his second win of the series for the Tribe. The Yankees will remember this.

Also on this day, Johnny Vander Meer dies at age 82. The native of Midland Park, New Jersey had pitched back-to-back no-hitters for the Cincinnati Reds in 1938, against the Boston Braves and then against the Dodgers in the 1st major league night game ever played in New York. He also helped the Reds to back-to-back Pennants in 1939 and 1940, winning the World Series the latter yet.

October 6, 1998: The ALCS opens at Yankee Stadium. Led by a Jorge Posada homer, the Yankees score 5 runs off Jaret Wright in the 1st inning, and win the game, 7-2. I know a lot of Yankee fans who were very upset over 1997, and in particular the punk-ass attitude of Wright, and this one felt real good. The next night’' game, however, would not: It's the Knoblauch-head game.

Also on this day, Mark Belanger dies of cancer at age 54. The stereotypical "good-field, no-hit" middle infielder, he was a Gold Glove shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles, bridging the Brooks/Frank Robinson and Eddie Murray/Cal Ripken eras.

October 6, 2000: Richard Farnsworth dies at age 80. The "character actor" is best remembered by baseball fans as New York Knights bench coach Red Blow in The Natural.

October 6, 2006: The Oakland Athletics beat the Minnesota Twins, 8-3, and sweep the ALDS. It is the first win of a postseason series for the A's since the 1990 ALCS, despite 4 straight trips to the Playoffs, 2000-03. But they will be swept themselves by the Detroit Tigers in the ensuing ALCS, so they have not won so much as an ALCS game since 1992.

This is a bitter pill to swallow for fans of the team that, until 1999, had won more ALCS games than any other, 23. Baltimore had been second with 22, and Boston also now has 22. The Yankees now have 39, by coincidence the exact same number as the number of Pennants they've won. And, to this day, only the Yankees, with 12, have been to the ALCS as many times as Oakland, with 11 – but since 1992, the Yanks have been there 7 times, the A's just 1.

Despite all these appearances – including 2000, '01, '02, '03 and '06, when both teams reached the Playoffs in the same season – they've only faced each other in 1 ALCS, in 1981, and the Yankees swept, clinching in Oakland against their former manager, Billy Martin.

Also on this day, Negro Leagues legend John "Buck" O’Neil dies at age 95. That he was not elected to the Hall of Fame in his lifetime is a crime. That he has still not been elected is a damn scandal.


Days until the Major League Baseball Playoffs begin: 1, tomorrow night, at 6 PM at Yankee Stadium II, although, even now, the Yankees still don't know who they're going to play! The Tigers-Twins Playoff to decide the AL Central winner is currently underway.

Days until East Brunswick plays football again: 3, Friday night, at home, against Shore Conference power Jackson Memorial, the team we beat to win the 2004 Central Jersey Group IV Championship, our only State Title since the current State Playoff system went into effect in 1974. We had also won in 1966 and 1972.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 4, this Saturday, Homecoming, against Division I-AA opponent Texas Southern.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: 16, on Thursday, October 22, at Madison Square Garden, against the hated Rangers, who SUCK!

Days until the next North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham: 25, on Halloween, at 1:30 PM local time... 8:30 AM local time! How the hell am I going to get out of the house at 6:30 in the morning to get on a bus and get into New York and then on the Subway to watch soccer at 8:30 in the morning? Better question: How the hell am I going to drink beer at 8:30 in the morning? Aw, screw it, I've done it before.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 51.

Days until the 2010 Winter Olympics begin: 129.

Days until Opening Day of the 2010 baseball season: 181.

Days until the Yankees' 2010 home opener: 189.

Days until the 2010 World Cup begins: 249.

Days until the World Cup Final: 280.

Days until the new Meadowlands Stadium (as yet unnamed) opens: 304.

Days until Derek Jeter collects his 3,000th career hit: 585 (projected).

Days until the Rutgers-Army football game at Yankee Stadium: 767.

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