Sunday, October 11, 2009

Red Scum Eliminated – On Anniversary of Pedro’s Crime

A 9th-inning comeback, off Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon, led the Anaheim Angels (that’s what I prefer to call them) over the Boston Red Sox, 7-6. Say good night, Scum!

Sox fans got to watch their team play like a bunch of bums, and now they have to watch the Yankees play for the American League Pennant, and they have no way to stop us.

Who knows, maybe it really was steroids that caused them to win all that they won from 2003 to 2008. Maybe "the real Red Sox" have finally stood up... and they don't stand all that tall.

What was Big Cheatin' Papi's batting average in this series? .083! 1-for-12! And how's A-Rod been doing in his postseason thus far? Suddenly, their postseason reputations have been reversed! Fine with me!

Is it fully revenge if we win the whole thing without having to go through the Red Sox? No, of course not. Fortunately, we have gone through the Red Sox, taking 8 of the last 9 regular-season games and clinching the Division against them. Good enough for this sick, twisted, demented Yankee Fan.

With Curt Schilling gone, Papelbon – or "Papelbum," as some of us prefer to call him – is the biggest mouth on the Sox. It sure was nice seeing him get beat like that. The only way it could have been sweeter – short of the Yankees rather than the Angels being the team that eliminated to Red Faces – would be if an Angel had hit... a little roller up along first, behind the bag! It gets through Youkilis! Hee hee hee hee...


Today is October 11, and it’s been 6 years since the brawl at Fenway. The one that forever branded Pedro Martinez as, as the New York Post put it on their FRONT page, the FENWAY PUNK.

Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS at Fenway. Pedro hits Karim Garcia in the back – almost in the neck. This just 3 months after he hit Alfonso Soriano and Derek Jeter, back-to-back, both on the wrist, sending both to the hospital.

None of these was the first time that Pedro has hit a batter with the intent to do so. Nor was Garcia the last, as Pedro made clear? Jorge Posada screamed at him from the dugout, in Spanish, so that nothing could be lost in translation. Pedro was unfazed, and he pointed at Jorge, then pointed at his own head, declaring his sadistic intention to make Jorge his next target.

Later in the game, Roger Clemens, one-time Red Sox superstar now pitching for the Yankees and doing little to alleviate his Boston-bred reputation as a headhunter, is pitching to Manny Ramirez. His pitch is high, but over the plate. It was not inside at all. Manny, acting like the petulant little child he actually is, points at Clemens, and walks toward the mound still holding his bat.

Both benches empty. There's some scuffling. Yankee bench coach Don Zimmer comes out. He has plenty of relevant history. Not only was he the Red Sox manager when the team collapsed and the Yankees took advantage in 1978, but as a Dodger farmhand in the 1950s, he was twice hit in the head with pitches – without the benefit of a batting helmet.

The 2nd time was bad enough. The 1st time put him in a coma for 2 weeks, and nearly killed him. Holes had to be drilled in his skull to relieve the pressure, and what he calls "buttons" were put in to close the holes – not a "steel plate" as is often said. So, not only is Zim the man with more institutional memory than just about anyone in baseball, but he knows full well what a fastball to the head can do.

He ran toward Pedro. He did not have a fist raised.

Now, think about this: If you see a man running toward you, without a raised fist, what do you do? Do you put up your hands to try to stop him? Or do you grab him by the head and throw him to the ground?

Pedro Martinez grabbed Don Zimmer, then age 72 and twice a victim of bad beanings, by the head, and threw him to the ground.

In New England, it made Pedro a bigger hero than ever, because they still hate Zim because of '78. In the New York Tri-State Area, it made Pedro guilty of attempted murder. And not for the first time.

Naturally, because Major League Baseball, as an institution, loves the Yankees as a cash cow but hates them for all other reasons, Pedro was not suspended, not even fined (EDIT: He actually was fined, $50,000, pocket change with his contract), and it was Zim who was forced to apologize.

I must have missed Junior Gotti's apology to Curtis Sliwa. Or Michael Spinks' apology to Mike Tyson. Or Darryl Stingley's apology to Jack Tatum.

When everything was calmed down, there was still the matter of Roger vs. Manny to settle. And, despite a reputation for sometimes losing his head, Roger struck the big baby out. The Yankees won the Game, 4-3, with Derek Jeter homering, and went on to win the Pennant.

Pedro remains my most hated opponent of all time. He got there the old-fashioned way: He earned it. But he also remains a hero in New England. And, this season, he was a big part of the Phillies' drive to a 3rd straight NL East title. However, with the one-day delay for snow, he has been scratched from his start against the Rockies tonight, in favor of J.A. Happ.

How'd Pedro work out for the Mets, by the way? It's amazing how he got healthy again as soon as he got the hell out of Flushing.


October 11, 1899: Eddie Dyer is born in Morgan City, Louisiana. He was an ordinary pitcher for the 1920s St. Louis Cardinals, and was not on their 1926 World Series roster. Like so many mediocre players, he became a successful manager, leading the Cardinals to the 1946 World Championship.

October 11, 1913: New York Giants manager John McGraw loses his 3rd straight World Series – something no other team, let alone manager, has ever done. In Game 5‚ Christy Mathewson is good‚ but Eddie Plank is better: His 2-hitter wins the 3-1 finale. Plank retires the first 13 batters‚ bettering the mark of 12 set by the Cubs’ Mordecai "Three-Finger" Brown on Ocotber 9‚ 1906. It is the A's 3rd title, all in the last 4 years.

October 11, 1925: Elmore Leonard is born in New Orleans, and grows up in Detroit. The writer of hard-boiled fiction such as Get Shorty, one of several of his novels to be turned into popular movies, is a hard-core Tigers fan.

October 11, 1943: The Yankees 2 defeat the Cardinals, 2-0 at Sportsman's Park, to take Game 5 and the World Series. It is the Yankees' 10th World Championship. It will be 2006, and the Cardinals themselves, before another team wins a 10th World Series.

October 11, 1944: Mike Fiore is born in Brooklyn. He was basically a journeyman, but on April 13, 1969, he hit the first home run in Kansas City Royals history, off John "Blue Moon"” Odom of the Oakland Athletics – appropriately enough, the team whose move out of Kansas City had made the Royals possible.

October 11, 1946: In one of the rare trades that works out well for both teams, the Yankees trade Joe Gordon, Allie Clark and Ed Bockman to the Cleveland Indians for Allie Reynolds. Gordon, a future Hall-of-Famer, and Clark, a native of South Amboy, New Jersey, would help the Indians win the 1948 World Series. Reynolds' blazing fastball, durability and versatility (he becomes the Yankees' best starter AND their best reliever for the next 8 seasons) help the Yanks win the Series 6 times in the next 8 seasons.

Dan Daniel, the legendary sports columnist of the New York World-Telegram, will laer report that GM Larry MacPhail and newly-hired manager Bucky Harris originally wanted another Cleveland pitcher, Red Embree. But Joe DiMaggio advised them to take Reynolds, a big part-Cherokee pitcher from Oklahoma, whose record with (perhaps appropriately) the Indians had not been good, but DiMaggio had never been able to hit him well.

The Yankee Clipper guessed well, as "the Superchief" (Yankee broadcaster Mel Allen nicknamed not just for his heritage but because his fastball reminded Allen of the Santa Fe Railroad's fast Chicago-to-Los Angeles train, the Super Chief) began a portion of his career that put him in Yankee Stadium's Monument Park. Had he come along 30 years later, with his fastball and his attitude, he might have been a Hall of Fame closer.

October 11, 1947: Thomas Boswell is born in Washington, D.C.. The longtime columnist for the Washington Post helped keep alive the flame of baseball fandom in the nation's capital, never ceasing in his belief that the city needed to get Major League Baseball back after Bob Short moved the Senators to Texas in 1971. He spoke nobly in Ken Burns' Baseball miniseries about Washington Senators legend Walter Johnson, and poignantly about the fall of Pete Rose.

However, his job also led him to cover the team then closest to D.C., and that was the Baltimore Orioles (which led Burns to ask him about O's manager Earl Weaver), and this allowed Boswell to become part of the propaganda machine for Cal Ripken. His books include Why Time Begins On Opening Day, and How Life Imitates the World Series. The former is sunny and optimistic, like Opening Day itself; the latter is more serious, suggesting the pressure that comes with October play.

October 11, 1948: At Braves Field in Boston, the Cleveland Indians defeat the Braves behind "rookie" 30-year-old knuckleballer Gene Bearden, 4-3, and take Game 6 and win the World Series. It is their 2nd title, the 1st coming in 1920.

It has been 61 years, and despite some agonizing close calls in 1952, '54, '59, '95, '97, '98 and 2007, and nearly 2 generations of never even being in a Pennant race from 1960 to 1993, the Indians have never won another World Series. But at least they're still in Cleveland, despite a number of fears of having to move in the 1960s, '70s and '80s: The Braves would be in Milwaukee by the next time they reached the Series.

October 11, 1964: Al Downing is cruising through the 1st 5 innings of Game 4 of the World Series, but he loads the bases in the 6th, and Ken Boyer, the Cardinal 3d baseman who will soon be named NL MVP, hits a grand slam. It is all the runs the Cards get, but it's all they need, as the Cards win, 4-3, and tie up the Series at 2 games apiece.

October 11, 1967: Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Smith and Rico Petrocelli hit the only back-to-back-to-back home runs in World Series history, Petrocelli adds another, and the Red Sox defeat the Cardinals, 8-4 at Fenway Park, and send the World Series to a deciding Game 7.

Cardinal manager Red Schoendienst announces his choice to pitch Game 7: Bob Gibson, on 3 days rest. Sox manager Dick Williams, knowing that his ace, Jim Lonborg, would have only 2 days rest, announces his starter to the Boston media: "Lonborg and champagne"” Those words are put on the front page of the Boston Record American the next day.

October 11, 1969: As expected, the New York Mets lose the 1st World Series game in their history, as Don Buford hits a leadoff home run off Met ace Tom Seaver, and the Orioles win, 4-1. But it will be the last game the O's win in the Series.

October 11, 1970: The love affair between Boston Red Sox fans and local boy Tony Conigliaro comes to an end – or, as it turned out, an interruption – as the Sox trade him to the California Angels for 2nd baseman Doug Griffin. Despite a courageous comeback from his beaning, his eyesight had begun to deteriorate again, and he was becoming a nuisance. There was also dissension between him and his brother and teammate, Billy Conigliaro.

The fans, knowing little about this, were shocked, but the team decided that Tony C had to go. He would be back for the Sox, twice, first as a player and then as an interviewee for a broadcast position, but his playing career would end with a fizzle, and his useful life with a tragedy.

October 11, 1971: Just one year to the day after trading Tony C, the Red Sox trade his brother Billy Conigliaro, and the pitching hero of the 1967 Impossible Dream" Pennant, Jim Lonborg, who hadn't been the same since a skiing accident following that season. They are sent to the Milwaukee Brewers, along with 1st baseman George Scott. Although Lonborg turned out to still have something left, as he went on to help the Phillies make the Playoffs 3 times, letting go of Scott turned out to be the big mistake.

And what did the Sox get in this trade? Pitchers Marty Pattin and Lew Krausse, and outfielder Tommy Harper. Harper would be a good hitter and baserunner, but nothing Earth-shaking. Pattin would also not develop into much in Boston, although he would become a good pitcher later in Kansas City. (He also turned out to be the last member of the 1969 Seattle Pilots still active in the majors.) Krausse was pretty much finished.

By the time the Sox won the Pennant again in 1975, all 3 of them were gone, and after losing the World Series that year, the Sox would trade Cecil Cooper to the Brewers to get Scott back. Trading him away was a mistake, and getting him back was an even bigger one.

October 11, 1972: The Pittsburgh Pirates lead the Cincinnati Reds 3-2 in the bottom of the 9th inning of the final game of the NLCS at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. But Johnny Bench hits a home run off Dave Guisti, over the left-field fence to tie the game‚ over the head of the Pirates' legendary right fielder, Roberto Clemente, who had joined the 3,000 Hit Club just 2 weeks earlier.

The Reds collect 2 more singles, and Bob Moose, who had come in to relieve Guisti, throws a wild pitch, and the Reds win, 4-3. Not since Jack Chesbro in 1904 had a wild pitch decided a Pennant, and not since Johnny Miljus in the 1927 World Series had a wild pitch ended a postseason series. By a weird coincidence, Miljus also pitched for the Pirates, and Chesbro had also pitched for them before coming to the Highlanders/Yankees.

The Reds, taking their 2nd Pennant in 3 years, would go on to lose the World Series to the Oakland A's. The Pirates, having won their 3rd straight NL East title but having only 1 Pennant to show for it, would lose something far greater: A plane crash on New Year's Eve would make this game the last one that Clemente would ever play.

October 11, 1973: Dmitri Young is born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and grows up in Oxnard, California. The slugging 1st baseman helped the St. Louis Cardinals reach the postseason in 1996, although personal problems and diabetes led the Detroit Tigers to released him in 2006 before they could win that season's AL Pennant. He now plays for the Washington Nationals. His brother Delmon Young has also reached the postseason, with the Minnesota Twins.

October 11, 1975: Saturday Night premieres on NBC. After this first season, it will be renamed Saturday Night Live. The first cast, "the Not Ready for Prime Time Players," includes John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin and Garrett Morris. The first guest host is George Carlin, who begins his monologue with a whacked-out version of the Lord's Prayer, and goes on to do his now-classic routine "Baseball and Football."

Not long before Carlin died, someone took a poll to determine the greatest standup comedians of all time. Carlin came in 2nd. Coming in 1st was Richard Pryor, who, like Carlin was at the peak of his powers in the mid-Seventies. And, a month into SNL's run, Pryor was asked to host the show. But, nervous that he would issue some four-letter words -- they didn't seem as nervous about such language coming from Carlin, creator of the bit "Seven Words You Can Never Use On Television," none of which he used when he hosted -- the show was not quite "Live, from New York." They used a 7-second delay, in case they had to bleep anything out. They did. Ever since, even SNL hasn't been totally live.

October 11, 1977: Ty Wigginton is born in San Diego. One of several bright young stars for the New York Mets who never did quite pan out, the utility player now plays 3rd base for the Baltimore Orioles.

On this same day, the Yankees win Game 1 of the World Series in 12 innings, 4-3, as Paul Blair singles home Willie Randolph. And, apparently, the scene shown taking place before that game in the miniseries The Bronx Is Burning actually happened: George Steinbrenner really did leave 20 tickets to be given to Joe DiMaggio at the Yankee Stadium will-call window for this game, but the tickets weren't at the window, and there really was a brouhaha about it, before Joe and George smoothed things out, allowing Joe to throw out the first ball before Game 6.

October 11, 1978: The Dodgers go 2 games up with a 4-3 win in game 2. Ron Cey drives in all the Dodger runs and Reggie Jackson does the same for the Yankees. But Bob Welch saves Burt Hooton's win in dramatic fashion by striking out Jackson in the 9th inning. The only teams that have ever come back from 2 games to 0 to win the Series have been the '55 Dodgers and the '56 Yankees.

October 11, 1980: In one of the most exciting and controversial games in playoff history‚ the Phillies tie the NLCS at 2 games apiece with a 10-inning 5-3 win over the Astros at the Astrodome. In the 4th inning‚ Houston is deprived of an apparent triple play when the umpires rule that pitcher Vern Ruhle had trapped Garry Maddox's soft line drive. In the 6th‚ Houston loses a run when Gary Woods leaves the base early on Luis Pujols' would-be sacrifice fly. (Luis, a future big-league manager, is no relation to Albert Pujols.)

October 11, 1981: The Yankees won the 1st 2 games of their strike-forced Playoff series for the AL East title in Milwaukee, but the Brewers, playing in their 1st postseason series (and the 1st by any Milwaukee team since the '59 Braves), won the next 2 at Yankee Stadium, forcing a deciding Game 5.

This led to a profane postgame locker-room tirade by George Steinbrenner, lambasting the players, telling them how they had let him down, and how they had let New York down. Trying to play peacemaker, Bobby Murcer said, "Now is not the time, George, now is not the time." George insisted that it was the time, and continued to rant, until catcher Rick Cerone stood up and told The Boss, "Fuck you, George." Stunned, George left the room.

So on this night, back-to-back home runs by Reggie Jackson and Oscar Gamble, and a later homer by, yes, Cerone give the Yanks a 7-3 victory over the Brewers, and take the series. The Yanks will move on to face the Oakland Athletics in the ALCS. The Brewers, however, will be back.

On this same day, the Playoff for the NL East is won by Steve Rogers. No, not Captain America, this one doesn't even work in America. Steve Rogers of the Montreal Expos Drives in 2 runs and shuts out the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Expos win, 3-0, in Game 5 of the series. In 41 seasons of play, this remains the only postseason series ever won by the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals franchise.

October 11, 1986: Former Detroit Tigers star Norm Cash dies when he slips off his boat in Lake Michigan, hits his head, and falls into the lake and drowns. One of the most beloved Tigers of all time, a former batting champion, a man who had slugged 377 home runs, and a member of their 1968 World Champions, he was only 51.

October 11, 1998: Game 5 of the ALCS at Jacobs Field in Cleveland, and feeling before the game was that the winner of this game would take the series. The Yankees once again take the early lead with a 3-run 1st inning, but the Indians respond. A leadoff homer by Kenny Lofton and a sacrifice fly by Manny Ramírez make it a 1-run game. Paul O'Neill singles home a run in the 2nd to make it 4–2 Yankees. Chili Davis homers in the 4th to put the Yankees ahead by 3, but Jim Thome hits his 3rd homer of the series in the bottom of the 6th to make it a 2-run game.

Chuck Knoblauch, still fighting for redemption after his Game 2 "brainlauch," starts a key 4-6-3 double play in the 8th inning for the 2nd night in a row. David Wells, who claimed to have heard Indian fans insulting his dead mother all through the game, and the Yankee bullpen hold off any further Indians scoring, and the Yankees are one win away from the World Series, as the series goes back to The Bronx.

October 11, 2004: The Houston Astros win a postseason series for the 1st time in their 43-season history, defeating the Braves‚ 12-3‚ to take their Division Series. Carlos Beltran is the hero for Houston with 4 hits‚ including 2 HRs‚ and 5 RBIs.

October 11, 2006: Cory Lidle, newly acquired by the Yankees as pitching help for the stretch drive and the postseason, dies when his single-engine plane crashes into an Upper East Side apartment high-rise. Killed with him is his pilot instructor, Tyler Stanger.

That night, the Mets are scheduled to open the NLCS against the Cardinals at Shea Stadium, but the rain that falls shortly after Lidle’s crash gets the game postponed. It's just as well. This, of course, is the only season since 1988 in which the Mets have been playing after the Yankees have been eliminated.

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