Saturday, October 24, 2009

Timing Is Everything

Game 6 of the ALCS was rained out. It will be played tomorrow night.

If there's a Game 7, it will be played the next night, Monday.

This would give the winner only one off-day before the World Series begins on Wednesday night.

If the Yankees win Game 6, that means the World Series rotation -- barring further rainouts, or postponements for other reasons, and injuries -- will be as follows:

Game 1 at Yankee Stadium II, New York, Wednesday, October 28: CC Sabathia (8 days rest) vs. Cole Hamels (7).

Game 2 at New York, Thursday, Oct. 29: A.J. Burnett (7) vs. Pedro Martinez (13, but that won't be enough rest to spare the damn punk the "Who's your Daddy?" chant).

Friday, Oct. 30, travel day.

Game 3 at Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Saturday, Oct. 31: Andy Pettitte (6) vs. Cliff Lee (13). We can see a pattern developing here: Either the Phils' starters will be really rested, or they'll have gotten stale, depending on how much they threw while they waited for the AL Pennant to be decided.

Game 4 at Philadelphia, Sunday, November 1: Sabathia (3) vs. Joe Blanton (13)... or Hamels (3). If the Yanks lead 3 games to none, or even 2 to 1, at this point, Charlie Manuel may turn to his ace, Hamels, in desperation. I would trust Hamels in that situation, much more than Blanton.

Game 5 at Philadelphia, Monday, Nov. 2: Burnett (3) vs. Hamels (4) or Blanton (14), as starting Pedro on 4 days rest is unlikely at this point in his career.

Tuesday, Nov. 3, travel day.

Game 6 at New York, Wednesday, Nov. 4: Pettitte (3) vs. Lee (3) or Pedro (6).

Game 7 at New York, Thursday, Nov. 5: Sabathia (3) vs. Who Knows, and, besides, it's Game 7, so Johnny Wholestaff is available. Even the Game 6 starter, as Arizona did with Randy Johnson in relief of Curt Schilling in 2001. After all, what are you saving them for? They're gonna get 4 months of rest before spring training starts.

However, if Pettitte doesn't pitch well tomorrow night, and/or the bats don't start beating Angel pitching like a rented mule (I never have understood that expression, but I like it), then CC has to pitch Game 7 of the ALCS, and, if the Yankees win, here's the rotation for the Series:

Game 1 at New York, Wednesday: Burnett (6) vs. Hamels (7).

Game 2 at New York, Thursday, Oct. 29: Pettitte (4) vs. Pedro (13).

Friday, Oct. 30, travel day.

Game 3 at Philadelphia, Saturday: Sabathia (4) vs. Lee (13).

Game 4 at Philadelphia, Sunday: Burnett (3) vs. Blanton (13) or Hamels (3). Sobering thought: If Burnett, who didn't pitch well in this ALCS, doesn't pitch well in Game 1 (or Game 2 in the other scenario) of the World Series, we may see Joba Chamberlain back in the rotation. Oy vey.

Game 5 at Philadelphia, Monday: Pettitte (3) vs. Hamels (4) or Blanton (14)

Tuesday, Nov. 3, travel day.

Game 6 at New York, Wednesday: Sabathia (3) vs. Lee (3) or Pedro (6). Or, this may be another chance for Joe Girardi to give Joba a start, just in case he needs CC for Game 7.

Game 7 at New York, Thursday: Burnett (3) or Who Knows (Blue Pinstripe Edition) vs. Who Knows (Red Pinstripe Edition), and, besides, it's Game 7, so everybody needs to be ready.

I remember in 1978, when Ron Guidry was 25-3, 27-3 counting his wins in Game 4 of the ALCS and Game 3 of the Series, manager Bob Lemon decided to start Catfish Hunter in Game 6 against the Dodgers, and even then, as a small boy, I thought, "No! Start Guidry! Get it over with!" I knew Catfish had been hurt, and was rocked by 3 George Brett homers in Game 3 of the ALCS (which the Yanks won anyway with Thurman Munson's homer), and I wanted the Dodgers beaten now.

But Lemon, himself a former pitcher (and in the Hall of Fame for it), knew pitching, and he knew Guidry had been tired, and Catfish had been brilliant since August (except for that Brett game), so he was able to keep Guidry as a Game 7 ace in the hole (with a 4th day of rest), and it worked, as Catfish pitched very well, Goose Gossage closed it out, and the Yankees wrapped up the Series despite using the Louisiana Superman only twice all through the postseason. (Well, 3 times, if you count the Boston Tie Party. And remember, no Division Series back then.)


Under the first scenario (CC available for Games 1, 4 and 7), I can see the Yankees winning Games 1, 4 and 6, possibly also 2 if A.J. gets straightened out and Pedro can't conjure up his 1997-2000 stuff, as he's done for the Phils so far this year. And if it does go to a Game 7, I trust CC and the bullpen to outpitch Hamels and their pen, especially if it has to come down to Brad Lidge against the Bronx Bombers. Can you imagine Game 7 going to the bottom of the 9th, the Phils up by a run, with the Yanks having the top of the order coming up? That's Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and, if necessary, Hideki Matsui and Robinson Cano?

Under the second scenario (CC only available for Games 3 and 6 -- Whitey Ford may end up with flashbacks of 1960), the Phils almost certainly take Game 1, the Yanks bounce back in Game 2, Sabathia outduels Lee, and the Phils take Game 4 or 5, whichever Hamels pitches, and it's 3-2 Yanks going back to The Bronx, and CC pitches Game 6, and if he's got anything left in the tank, we win; but if he doesn't, do you trust A.J. or Joba to start Game 7? At this point, I would trust neither. And suddenly the ghost of Kevin Brown rears his ugly head. (Which is hard, because, ugly though his Game 7 performance in the 2004 ALCS was, Brown is still alive and not a ghost.)

Timing is everything. The Yankees will need to worry about that much less if they get good pitching from Pettitte and back it up with runs tomorrow night.

But if he doesn't have it, then Sabathia will have to pitch Game 7 of the ALCS, and the Yanks will have all the tension that comes from having blown a 3 games to 1 lead, and it'll feel like 2004 again, and all bets are off.

Which is just as well, as the baseball establishment hates gambling, anyway.

A little dark humor.


October 24, 1857: Sheffield F.C., the world's first football club, is founded in Sheffield, England. Today, they are still in business, but are in the Northern Premier League, which is the 8th level of English soccer, 7 levels below the Premier League and 6 below "the Championship," the 2nd division which includes Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday.

In a weird quirk, Sheffield FC wears red jerseys at home and blue on the road; United wears red and white stripes as its basic uniform, while Wednesday wear blue and white stripes.

Also on this day, Ned Williamson is born. He was a 3rd baseman for the Chicago White Stockings, forerunners of the Cubs. In 1884, he set a major league record with 27 home runs – mainly because the White Stockings' home ground, Lake Shore Park, had the shortest right-field fence in the history of the game: 184 feet. The White Stockings had long led the National League in doubles, because any drive over that short fence was ruled a double instead of a home run. But in 1884, the rule was changed and it was a home run. Williamson hit 25 homers at home, only 2 on the road.

Apparently, somebody had enough, because the City of Chicago took over the ground, and the White Stockings had to move. In 1885 they built West Side Park, built another with that name nearby in 1893, and moved to what’s now called Wrigley Field in 1916.

A knee injury hampered Williamson’s career in 1889, and he died of tuberculosis in 1894, aged only 36. His single-season home run record lasted until 1919, when Babe Ruth hit 29.

October 24, 1885: The St. Louis Browns, Champions of the American Association, defeat the Chicago White Stockings, Champions of the National League,13-4 in the 7th and last game in their series. The Browns claim the Game 2 forfeit didn't count, and therefore claim the championship. Each club receives $500.

The teams would meet again the next season, forging the NL rivalry that still exists between the teams, by 1901 known as the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs.

October 24, 1892: Goodison Park, the world's first association football specific stadium is opened in Liverpool. Home to Everton Football Club, it is across Stanley Park from Anfield, home ground of Liverpool Football Club, thus making the two Merseyside teams in the Premiership the closest major rivals of any major sport on the planet.

Goodison Park hosted some of the 1966 World Cup matches, and even hosted a post-World War I tour by two U.S. baseball teams, the New York Giants and Chicago White Sox. Everton would like to expand the stadium, but there’s no room, so, like Liverpool, they are looking to build a new stadium; but, also like their Red rivals, the Blues haven’t gotten it past the planning stage.


October 24, 1926: Yelberton Abraham Tittle is born. Y.A. Tittle was a sensational quarterback at Louisiana State University, where one of his receivers was future big-league baseball player and manager Alvin Dark.

He starred for the San Francisco 49ers, joining with running backs Hugh McElhenny, Joe "the Jet" Perry and John Henry Johnson to form "the Million Dollar Backfield" in 1954 – the only season in which one team had an entire backfield that went on to reach the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Tittle has joked about the nickname, though: "They should have called us the Hundred Dollar Backfield, because that's about what they paid us."

Despite all that talent, which also included Hall-of-Famers Bob St. Clair at offensive tackle and defensive end Leo Nomellini, the 49ers only reached the Playoffs once during Tittle's tenure, tying with the Detroit Lions for the 1957 Western Division title, and losing a Playoff for the right to face the Cleveland Browns for the NFL Championship. (The Lions won that one, too – and haven't won an NFL Championship since.)

In 1961, the New York Giants traded for Tittle, despite his being 35 years old. He helped them win 3 straight Eastern Division titles, but they lost all 3 NFL Championship Games, all in miserably cold weather: 1961 to the Green Bay Packers on a snowy New Year's Eve at Lambeau Field, 1962 to the Packers on a frozen field at Yankee Stadium, and 1963 to the Chicago Bears on an equally-rock-hard gridiron at Wrigley Field, with the Bears winning 14-10 with the clock winding down, but an already-injured Tittle leading the Giants on a desperate drive that ended with an interception.

In 1964, hit hard in a game in Pittsburgh, his helmet knocked off, his bald head dripping blood as he knelt on the field, a photograph of this scene won a Pulitzer Prize. Tittle retired after the season. Despite never winning a title, he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the Giants have retired his Number 14.

October 24, 1929, 80 years ago today: After peaking in September, the New York Stock Exchange is hit with "Black Thursday," a crash that will last until the following "Black Tuesday."

Calendars aside, Black Thursday is the effective end of the Roaring Twenties; Black Tuesday is the beginning of the Great Depression and the Dirty Thirties. It will be 25 years, until 1954, before the Dow Jones Industrial Average tops its September 1929 peak.

October 24, 1950: Rawlins Jackson Eastwick is born in Camden, New Jersey. "Rawly" was a relief pitcher who helped the Cincinnati Reds win the 1975 and 1976 World Series, but after being acquired by the Yankees in 1978, he was injured and hardly played again after that.

October 24, 1962: Jay Novacek is born. The All-Pro tight end from the University of Wyoming (whose teams are also called the Cowboys) helped the Dallas Cowboys win 3 Super Bowls. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame last year, but as yet has not been elected to the Pro Football Hall.

October 24, 1966: Roman Abramovich is born. He turned an investment into the Russian black market into oil and aluminum empires, and developed a close relationship with then-President Boris Yeltsin, and has worked with Yeltsin's successors, Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev. He has been indicted on numerous corruption charges, but has never been convicted. It's good to have friends in high places.

He was once said to be worth $8.5 billion, but is now believed to have lost 1/4 of that in the Bush Recssion. Two divorce settlements and his sports investments have not helped in this regard, as you'll see below.

In 2003, he bought Chelsea Football Club of West London, leading to its new nickname of "Chelski," or "Chavski," as the club's popularity with London's tracksuit-wearing, baggy-pantsed, jewelry-flashing, cap-turned-backwards, foul-mouthed juvenile delinquents (we don't really have a single name for such in the U.S.) has led to them being called "The Chavs."

In 2004, he hired manager Jose Mourinho away from the Portugese club F.C. Porto, and together they built a team that won the Premier League title in 2005 and again in 2006 – this after winning just 1 title in the team's 1st 99 seasons, in 1955 (and that with a former Arsenal player as their manager, Ted Drake).

Mourinho has since left for Internazionale in Milan, Italy, and despite winning the FA Cup in 2007 and 2009, Chelsea is believed to be heavily in debt under his ownership, due to the high sums paid in wages, transfer fees, and upkeep of the aging home ground, Stamford Bridge. He is believed to have sunk over 600 million pounds – nearly a billion dollars – into the club in his 6 years of ownership.

From 1999, he was elected to the Russian Parliament, the Duma, from the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, the oil-rich easternmost "state" of Russia, and from 2000 to 2008 served as its Governor, making him a "neighbor" of 2007-09 Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska, as this is the part of Russia that she claimed could be seen from her home State. (But she never actually said, "I can see Russia from my house" – that was Tina Fey doing the impersonation.)

Twice divorced, the 43-year-old "Mad Russian" is the boyfriend, and the father of the unborn child, of Daria "Dasha" Zhukova, a 28-year-old fashion designer known on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption as "Marat Safin's Girlfriend" – while she was dating the Russian tennis star, the show's co-host Tony Kornheiser slobbered over her so much it made my feelings for Catherine Zeta-Jones look mature by comparison. This will be Zhukova's 1st child, Abramovich's 6th.


October 24, 1972: Jackie Robinson dies. The 1st black player in modern baseball had been suffering from diabetes, which had robbed him of most his eyesight, caused such poor circulation in his legs that amputation was being considered, and damaged his heart to the point where it killed him at age 53.

Just 10 days earlier, he had flown from his home in Stamford, Connecticut (where his wife Rachel, now 90, still lives), and was a special guest at Game 2 of the World Series between the A’s and Reds in Cincinnati. It had been 25 years since the great experiment that he and Brooklyn Dodger president Branch Rickey (who died in 1965) had reached its successful conclusion with the Dodgers winning the Pennant and Jackie making it through the season, not just surviving but excelling. His former teammate, Pee Wee Reese, was on hand, and former Dodger broadcaster Red Barber introduced him. 

Jackie said, "I'm extremely pleased to be here, but I must confess, I'm going to be even more pleased when I see a black face managing in baseball."

Jackie's eulogy was delivered by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and his funeral was attended by most of his surviving teammates. Roy Campanella was there in his wheelchair. Among his pallbearers were former Dodger pitcher Don Newcombe and basketball legend Bill Russell.

Earlier in the year, in Los Angeles, Jackie's hometown (if not the team's), the Dodgers retired uniform numbers for the first time, packing away Jackie's Number 42, Campy's Number 39 and Sandy Koufax' Number 32. Jackie was the 1st black player in the Hall of Fame, Campy the 2nd, and Koufax had been newly elected at the time of the ceremony.

It would be two more years, on October 3, 1974, before Frank Robinson, no relation, was hired as Major League Baseball's 1st black manager, with the Cleveland Indians, the team that had been the 1st in the American League to add black players with Larry Doby and Satchel Paige.

Ironically, while black Hispanics are now the leading presence in the game, very few black Americans are in the major leagues. Jackie would probably be disturbed by that, but not puzzled, as he would surely factor in the rise of pro football and basketball as sports preferred by African-Americans. Of the 30 current MLB franchises, 17 have had at least one black American or black Hispanic manager, but only 6 have one currently.

In 1997, on the 50th Anniversary of Jackie's arrival, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced that Jackie's Number 42 would be retired for all of baseball, as yet a unique honor. All players then wearing it would be allowed to continue to do so for the remainder of their careers, but no new players could wear it, and no current players could switch to it.

The last remaining Number 42 in baseball is Mariano Rivera of the Yankees; the Yankees appeared to have been waiting for Mariano to retire before retiring the number for both him and Jackie, but in 2007, on the 60th Anniversary of Jackie's arrival, they retired it for Jackie, and presumably will do so again for Mariano when he hangs 'em up, just as they retired Number 8 for both Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra.

October 24, 1973: Jackie McNamara is born. He won 4 Scottish Premier League titles and 3 Scottish Cups with Glasgow's Celtic Football Club, serving as their Captain in 2005. He now plays for Falkirk.

October 24, 1974: Corey Dillon is born. He set single-season rushing yardage records for the University of Washington, the Cincinnati Bengals and the New England Patriots. On October 23, 2000, he rushed for 278 yards against the Denver Broncos, breaking Walter Payton's 1977 record of 275. Dillon's record has been surpassed by Jamal Lewis and Adrian Peterson. In the 2004 season, he was a member of the Patriot team that won Super Bowl XXXIX. (By cheating?)

Also on this day, Wilton Guerrero is born. The older brother and former Montreal Expo teammate of Vladimir Guerrero, he is best known for a 1997 incident with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he was found to have a corked bat. He is now a scout with the Dodgers.

Also on this day, Jamal Mayers is born. One of 26 black players currently in the NHL, the right wing is now an Alternate Captain for his hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. A dream come true… or, considering the Leafs' ineptitude the last few years, a nightmare?

October 24, 1975: Juan Pablo Angel is born. The Colombian is the best player for the New York Red Bulls. Which is sort of like being the best barbecue cook at a vegetarians' convention. He previously played for River Plante in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Aston Villa in Birmingham, England.

October 24, 1981: The Dodgers tie the World Series up at 2 games apiece, 8-7, thanks to some poor Yankee fielding.

October 24, 1985: Wayne Rooney is born. Perhaps the most celebrated active soccer player in England, he grew up in Liverpool as an Everton fan – even sharing his birthday with the club's home ground, Goodison Park.

After reaching Everton's first team when not yet 17 (and the England national team at 19), he publicly said he was "Everton 'til I die," but, citing the club’s inability to qualify for European competition, demanded a transfer (soccer talk for "trade"), and Manchester United paid 25.6 million pounds for him (about $42 million). If there's one thing Liverpool and Everton fans agree on, it's that they hate Manchester United with a flaming red (or blue) passion.

He has become the face of Man United – unfortunately, since his squinty eyes, uneven teeth, sticky-out ears, oddly-shaped head and heavier-than-recommended weight have gotten him nicknamed "Shrek." He is also frequently called a "chav" due to his, shall we say, lack of refinement. This is not aided by a tattoo on his arm, with the words "Just Enough Education To Perform."

One of his 1st acts for Man U, in October 2004, was a dive that was not called by referee Mike Riley, leading to a penalty shot that ended Arsenal's English-record 49-game unbeaten streak. (His 1st League goal, for Everton in 2002, ended a 30-game unbeaten streak for Arsenal, but this time he cheated, and he and every ManUre fan on the planet know he did.)

Just a few weeks ago, he executed another dive against Arsenal, and scored the resulting penalty to give Man U a 2-1 win that they did not deserve.

But he gets away with this shit, because he plays for Manchester United and because he plays for England. He did not, however, get away with his actions in the 2006 World Cup quarterfinal with Portugal, in which he stomped on the foot of Ricardo Carvalho (whose club team is Chelsea) and was sent off, rendering him ineligible for the penalty kicks that the game went to, won by Portugal.

If England are to win the 2010 World Cup, Rooney will not only have to play at least as well for country as he does for club, but he'll have to mind his manners: If he gets caught diving by a FIFA referee, he won't get out of it the way he does with Premiership referees, intimidated as they are by Man U manager Sir Alex Ferguson and the mystique of Man U's historic stadium, Old Trafford, a.k.a. the Theatre of Dreams.

Rooney was lampooned as one of the puppets on the program I'm On Setanta Sports, later renamed Special 1 TV, with his teeth, ears, head and Scouse accent all greatly exaggerated (or, as the puppet would say, "ggrrayyyytly eckkkk-zajerrrratiduh!"), and his portrayal being that of an idiot savant.

Rooney and his wife, TV presenter and magazine columnist Colleen Rooney, are expecting their 1st child any day now. Dear God, I hope it looks like her.

October 24, 1990: The Boston Red Sox announce they will not renew the contract of former All-Star Dwight Evans, a.k.a. Dewey. Evans signs a one-year contract with the Baltimore Orioles, plays the 1991 season for them, and retires with 385 home runs and a reputation as one of the best-fielding right fielders ever.

In that 1991 season, I visited Boston for the first time, and watched the Red Sox without Evans beat the Orioles with him at Fenway Park. Coming out of South Station, one of the city's 2 major rail terminals, I saw that the street area around it was called Dewey Square. Not knowing it was actually named for Admiral George Dewey, naval hero of the Spanish-American War, I thought, "Wow, this city is so crazy about its Red Sox, they named a square after Dwight Evans!"

October 24, 1992: For the 1st time, a World Series is won by a team from outside the United States of America. The Toronto Blue Jays clinch their 1st World Championship with a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 6.

Dave Winfield's 2-out‚ 2-run double in the top of the 11th gives Toronto a 4-2 lead. The Braves score 1 run in the bottom half of the inning and have the tying run on 3rd when the final out is made. Jimmy Key wins the game in relief‚ and Candy Maldonado homers for the Blue Jays. Toronto catcher Pat Borders‚ with a .450 BA‚ is named Series MVP.

Winfield, derided as "Mister May" by Yankee owner George Steinbrenner for his poor performances in the 1981 World Series and subsequent Pennant races, finally has his ring, in his 20th season in the majors.

October 24, 1996: Game 5 of the World Series. Andy Pettitte, in just his 2nd season in the majors, opposes seasoned World Series veteran John Smoltz. The Yankees take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 4th, thanks to an error by Marquis Grissom and a double by Cecil Fielder.

In the bottom of the 6th, the Braves put 2 runners on with nobody out. A bunt is attempted, but Pettitte snares it, and throws lefthanded to Scott Brosius at 3rd base, nailing the lead runner. The next batter hits a comebacker to Pettitte, who throws to Derek Jeter covering second for one, over to Fielder on 1st, inning-ending double play.

That's the Braves' last threat until the last out, when John Wetteland comes on to face once and future Yankee Luis Polonia, who lines a shot into the gap, which an injured Paul O’Neill somehow catches, to save the 5-hit shutout.

The Yankees have taken all 3 games in Atlanta, and take a 3 games to 2 lead back to Yankee Stadium, just as former Brave, now Yankee, manager Joe Torre predicted to owner George Steinbrenner. This is the last game ever played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, as the Braves move into Turner Field for the next season.

October 24, 1999, 10 years ago today: The Yankees beat the Braves, 7-2 at Turner Field in Atlanta, behind the pitching of David Cone and 3 hits from Bernie Williams, and take a 2 games to 0 lead in the World Series.

Before the game, the winners in the fan balloting for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team are introduced. All the winners then living were in attendance:

Pitchers: Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Lefty Grove, Warren Spahn, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens. (Spahn, the former Milwaukee Braves pitcher who threw out the first ball before Game 1 of this Series, has since died; Koufax, Gibson, Ryan and Clemens are still alive. Clemens was still active, and was scheduled to start Game 4 of this Series, however, steroid allegations have put his worthiness for this honor into question.)

Catchers: Yogi Berra and Johnny Bench. (Both still alive.)

First Basemen: Lou Gehrig and Mark McGwire. (McGwire is still alive, although his presence on this team is tainted by accusations of steroid use.)

Second Basemen: Rogers Hornsby and Jackie Robinson. (Both dead; Joe Morgan, one of the finalists, was part of the NBC broadcasting crew for this Series, and said that if he were one of the 2nd basemen chosen, and Robinson was not, he would forfeit his place to Robinson. Morgan finished 3rd in the 2B voting, so it wasn't necessary.)

Shortstops: Honus Wagner, Ernie Banks and Cal Ripken. (Banks and Ripken are still alive, and Ripken was then still active.)

Third Basemen: Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt. (Both still alive.)

Outfielders: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Pete Rose, Ken Griffey Jr. (DiMaggio had died earlier in the year. Williams was already ill, but attended, and it turned out to be his last appearance in a big-league ballpark, following his emotional appearance at that season's All-Star Game at Fenway Park in Boston, his former home field. As he did on that occasion, he tipped his cap to the fans. Musial, Mays, Aaron, Rose and Griffey were still alive, and Griffey was still active and just 29 years old, making his election, at that point in his career, the result of popularity more than achievement. Aaron, who starred for the Braves in both Milwaukee and Atlanta, threw out the ceremonial first ball. Rose's election to the team was controversial, as he had been banned from baseball for betting on the game.)

With the steroid accusations against Clemens and McGwire, the ban on Rose, and the "kid vote" for Griffey in mind, the next-highest vote getters at the positions in question were Greg Maddux for Clemens' spot, Jimmie Foxx for McGwire's, and Roberto Clemente and Shoeless Joe Jackson for Griffey's and, ironically Rose's; so if Jackson, also banned permanently for gambling-related offenses, is also removed, the next-highest outfielder was Reggie Jackson.

October 24, 2000: Game 3 of the World Series at Shea Stadium. The Mets defeat the Yankees‚ 4-2‚ behind the pitching of Rick Reed and their bullpen. Benny Agbayani's 8th inning double is the key hit for NY as the cut the Yankees Series lead to 2-games-to-1. Orlando Hernandez strikes out 12, a Series record for a Yankee pitcher, but loses a postseason game for the first time after 8 wins.

The loss ends the Yankees record streak of 14 consecutive wins in World Series action. This remains the only World Series game the Mets have won in the last 23 years -- the only one they've won in the lifetime of Josh Thole, 3rd-string catcher and currently the only player on the Met roster born after the 1986 World Series (October 28, mere hours after the final out).

October 24, 2004: The Boston Red Sox take a 2-games-to-0 lead in the World Series with a 6-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals at Fenway Park. Curt Schilling, again wearing the Bloody Sock, gets the win. Orlando Cabrera‚ Mark Bellhorn‚ and Jason Varitek each drive in a pair of runs.

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