Wednesday, October 21, 2015

October 21, 1975: You May Have Heard About This World Series Game

October 21, 1975, 40 years ago: Game 6 of the World Series. You may have heard about this one.

In The Curse of the Bambino, his somewhat skewed history of his beloved Boston Red Sox, Dan Shaughnessy called it “a brilliant autumn day in New England,” following a 3-day delay for rain. Brilliant though the Tuesday afternoon may have been, this game was played at night at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox trail the Cincinnati Reds 3 games to 2, and must win to force a Game 7. The Sox haven’t won the World Series in 57 years, including a loss as recently as 1967; the Reds, 35 years, including 2 Series losses in this decade already. Both teams need it badly. Something's gotta give.

Just 14 years later, not 40 years as we now have, Shaughnessy wrote, “Game Six has taken on a life of its own in the years since it was played, and it gets larger and more thrilling in each retelling. Some distance allows that there may be other contenders for the title of The Greatest Game Ever Played, but by any measure, 1975’s Game Six will stand as one of the top ten games in World Series history, and one that came at a time when baseball needed it most.”

In The New Yorker magazine, Roger Angell wrote, “Game Six... what can we say of it without seeming to diminish it by recapitulation or dull it with detail?”

Due to the rain, Sox manager Darrell Johnson was able to start Luis Tiant, winner of Games 1 and 4. Reds manager Sparky Anderson started Gary Nolan. Fred Lynn’s home run gave the Sox a 3-0 lead in the 1st inning, and Tiant pitched shutout ball through 4.

But, as they would say in English soccer, Three-nil, and they fucked it up. The Reds got 2 men on in the 5th, and Ken Griffey Sr. sent Lynn to the wall. Lynn crashed, telling NBC's Bob Costas years later that he'd hurt his ribs, and for a moment was barely conscious and couldn't feel his legs. Griffey's triple scored 2 runs, and then Johnny Bench singled Griffey home to tie the game. A 2-run double by George Foster in the 7th and a solo homer by Cesar Geronimo in the 8th gave the Reds a 6-3 lead, with just 6 outs to go for the title.

Typical Boston choke, leading to a Reds win? As ESPN college football analyst Lee Corso would say, Not so fast, my friend. Six-three, and they fucked it up. In the bottom of the 8th, Reds reliever Pedro Borbon (who, like Griffey, would later see his son and namesake play in the major leagues) gave up a single to Lynn and a walk to Rico Petrocelli.

Sparky brought in Rawley Eastwick, who struck out Dwight Evans and got Rick Burleson to line out to left. He got 2 strikes on Bernie Carbo, a former Red, pinch-hitting for pitcher Roger Moret (who had relieved Tiant in the 8th), but Carbo drove one to dead center, and tied it up.

In the bottom of the 9th, Denny Doyle drew a leadoff walk. Carl Yastrzemski singled him over to 3rd. Sparky brought in reliever Will McEnaney, and had him intentionally walk Carlton Fisk -- a premonition? Lynn flew to left, and Foster threw home. Doyle tagged up and broke for home, because he thought Sox 3rd-base coach Don Zimmer was telling him, “Go, go, go!” In fact, Zim was saying, “No, no, no!” Doyle was out at the plate. Had he scored, winning it for the Sox right there, this would still have been a superb game. Instead, it went to extra innings.

Dave Concepcion singled and stole 2nd with 1 out in the top of the 10th, but Sox reliever Dick Drago stranded him. Pat Darcy sent the Sox down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 10th.

Pete Rose led off the top of the 11th, and turned to Sox catcher Fisk, and said, “Can you believe this game?” (Some sources have Rose’s comment as, “Some kind of a game, isn’t it?”) Fisk may not have taken kindly to that, because Drago -- who would bean Thurman Munson in a Yanks-Sox game at Fenway 3 years later -- hit Rose with a pitch.

Griffey bunted, and, unlike the Ed Armbrister play in Game 3, did not interfere with Fisk, who threw Rose out at 2nd. With Griffey on 1st and 1 out, Joe Morgan drove the ball to right field, and at Fenway the right-field fence was, and remains, only 3 feet high. Evans reached over the fence to make a great catch, and then started a double play, throwing to Yaz, who threw to Burleson who had run over to cover 1st, to eliminate Griffey and end the Reds’ rally.

The Sox went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 11th. In the top of the 12th, Tony Perez and Foster singled off Rick Wise, but Wise stranded them.

At 12:34 AM on October 22, 1975, Fisk leads off the bottom of the 12th against Darcy, and hits a 1-0 pitch down the left-field line. It’s got distance. Will it be fair? Will it be foul? Fisk, thinking it will actually influence the flight of the ball, waves his arms to his right. The ball hits the pole near its top, for a home run. Final score, Boston 7, Cincinnati 6. The Series is tied, and will go to a Game 7.

John Kiley, the organist at Fenway Park (and also at the Boston Garden, thus the answer to the corny old trivia question about “the only man to play for the Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins”), plays George Friedrich Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” Then he plays “Stout-Hearted Men.” Then he plays “The Beer Barrel Polka.” (“Roll out the barrel, we’ll have a barrel of fun.”) Then he plays “Seventy-six Trombones.” (I have no idea why he played that one.)

The shot of Fisk thinking he can wave the ball fair, which I’ve dubbed the Fenway Twist, is the most familiar clip in the history of televised sports. (As they had with every World Series since 1947, NBC was televising it, although they would begin to alternate with ABC starting the 1977 season.)

From seeing this clip so much, and hearing so much talk about Game 6 of ’75 from Red Sox fans, a reasonable person might have asked (through 2004 anyway), “Wait a minute. The Red Sox haven’t won the World Series since 1918. That means... they lost Game 7! So why do people make such a big deal about this homer?” Well, it won one game, not a World Series, but it was still one of sports’ greatest epics.

Game 6 of the 1975 World Series has been called "The Greatest Baseball Game Ever Played" by many people. Certainly, it is in the discussion, along with Game 8 in 1912, Game 7 in 1924, Game 7 in 1960, and Game 7 in 1991, and also with the 1951 Giant-Dodger Playoff and the 1978 Yanks-Sox Playoff.

Dick Stockton, born in Philadelphia but grew up in Queens, then the 32-year-old lead broadcaster on Sox games for WSBK-Channel 39, and previously for Boston Celtics games on WBZ-Channel 4, then an NBC station, was the lead broadcaster for NBC in this Series. A 22-year-old writer from Quincy named Lesley Visser was part of the Boston Globe's coverage. Stockton and Visser would both go on to become key cogs in CBS Sports' programming. Supposedly, they met on this night. Other sources say they met at another Boston-based event in 1982. Either way, they married in 1983, but got divorced in 2010, and each has since married someone else.


October 21, 1845, 170 years ago: According to John Thorn, author of a bunch of books about baseball and now Major League Baseball's official historian, the first real baseball game may have been played on this date. It also begins the baseball rivalry between New York and Brooklyn, which will still be separate cities until 1898.

October 21, 1848: Julian Sturgis is born in Boston. At the age of 7 months, he was moved with his family to London. He and his brother Howard Sturgis both became writers. He was a lawyer and wrote the libretti for operas, including working for William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.

Why am I mentioning him? Because, in 1873, the 2nd year of Britain's Football Association Cup, he became the 1st person born outside the British Isles to play in the tournament. His position would, today, be called "centre forward" or "striker" or "Number 9." He helped London-based Wanderers win the FA Cup that year, beating Oxford University 2-0 at the Lillie Bridge ground in Southwest London. He died in 1904.

October 21, 1861: At the Elysian Fields in Hoboken‚ the greatest event of the baseball season‚ the Grand Match for the Silver Ball‚ takes place between all-star teams from Brooklyn and New York. The Silver Ball Trophy is the same size as a regular baseball, and will be kept by the club whose members score the most runs during the match.

A crowd of 15,000 fans sees the Brooklyn team‚ behind their star Jim Creighton‚ defeat New York 18-6. This is the same Jim Creighton who will be dead within a year.

October 21, 1887: The National League Champion Detroit Wolverines clinch the World Championship with their 8th victory in Game 11 of the series this afternoon, over the American Association Champions, the St. Louis Browns, 13-3 on neutral ground in Baltimore.

With a rainout yesterday in Washington‚ this morning's rescheduled Game 10 sees the Browns pull off a triple play and win‚ 11-4‚ to delay elimination. But the Wolverines take Game 11 to clinch.

But they will end up losing money, and fold at the end of the next season. Detroit will not return to major league ball until the American League and the Tigers arrive in 1901, and will not win another World Championship for 48 years. The Browns will win their 4th straight AA title the next season, but will go 38 years before winning another Pennant. In 1892 they join the NL; by 1901, they will be named the Cardinals.


October 21, 1916: Edwin Elliott Carnett is born in Springfield, Missouri. Eddie Carnett was a pitcher who appeared in 2 games in his "cup of coffee" with the 1941 Boston Braves, went into the U.S. Navy during World War II, and then reappeared with the Chicago White Sox in 1944 and the Cleveland Indians in 1945, pitching 2 games each for them. But he had mainly become an outfielder, playing 126 games for the '44 ChiSox, before even the manpower shortage of WWII wouldn't allow him to play in more than 30 for the '45 Tribe.

He didn't have much of a major league career, but, unlike the vast majority of people reading this post, he did have one. He turns 99 today, making him the 2nd-oldest former MLB player, behind another former Boston Brave, Mike Sandlock, who recently turned 100.

Sandlock also played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, making him the oldest living former player for any of the New York teams. Hall-of-Famer Monte Irvin, now 96, is the oldest living former New York Giant. Eddie Robinson, scheduled to turn 95 on December 15, is the oldest living former Yankee, and the last remaining member of the 1948 World Champion Cleveland Indians. Since the Mets have only been around since 1962, their oldest living ex-player wouldn't be nearly as old, and it's Dave Hillman, an original from 1962, a pitcher who recently turned 88. And Boston Red Sox 2nd baseman Bobby Doerr, at 97, is the oldest living Hall-of-Famer, and the last living player who played in the 1930s.

October 21, 1917: An exhibition game in Kansas City features the 2nd and last matchup between Walter Johnson and Grover Cleveland Alexander. Alex's team wins‚ 4-3. Included in Alexander's lineup is 21 year-old Cardinals rookie Rogers Hornsby. In his 1962 book My War With Baseball, Hornsby described his last at-bat:

Johnson had two strikes on me. He threw me a real fast ball and I knocked it straight for the fence. The ball knocked out the knot and went through the fence for a home run and we won 4-3. The hole‚ I admit‚ was one of the biggest cases of pure luck I ever heard of. I'm convinced he absolutely had the best fastball of anyone who ever played baseball.

Hornsby will face Johnson again in 1924.

Also on this day, John Birks Gillespie is born in Cheraw, South Carolina. Jay Hanna Dean was known as "Dizzy" for a whacked-out mind. Dizzy Gillespie was one of the great scholars of music, and was known as Dizzy because his fellow musicians got dizzy trying to keep up with him. It's been said that trumpters in the 1950s and '60s copied Miles Davis because Gillespie was too complicated a player to copy. He lived until 1993.

October 21, 1918: Harry Chapman dies of the Spanish Flu epidemic at a U.S. Army base in Nevada, Missouri. He was 30 years old, and 1 of 8 Major League Baseball players to die in the service during World War I -- in his case, despite seeing no combat.

A native of Severance, Kansas, Chapman was a catcher, who played for the Chicago Cubs in 1912, the Cincinnati Reds in 1913, the St. Louis Terriers of the Federal League in 1914 and 1915, and the St. Louis Browns in 1916.


October 21, 1924: Joyce Sirola is born in Detroit. We know her as Joyce Randolph, who played Trixie Norton on The Honeymooners. At 91, she is, far as I know, the only actor who ever appeared on the show who is still alive on October 21, 2015. Even the actors who played various children have since died: Tommy Manicotti, Judy Connors and Harvey Wohlstetter Jr.

October 21, 1928: Edward Charles Ford is born in Manhattan, and grows up in the adjoining Queens neighborhoods of Long Island City and Astoria. Known as Whitey for his hair, now white but even as a kid it was very light blond, and as the Chairman of the Board because he was such a commanding figure on the mound (and he loved the nickname, as he was a big Frank Sinatra fan and Sinatra also had the nickname), his 236 wins are the most by any Yankee.

Whitey Ford has never gotten the credit he deserves -- not during his career, when he was always overshadowed by Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Roger Maris; and not in the nearly half-century since his retirement. Fans under the age of 55 have never seen him pitch, except in Old-Timers' Games. Fans whose memories begin with the Torre/Jeter/Rivera era haven't even seen him do that. They don't get just how good he was, just how important he was.

Among all pitchers with at least 200 decisions, his .690 career winning percentage is the highest. (For a while, Pedro Martinez was ahead of him, but finished his career at .687.) And that percentage is higher than the percentage of the Yankees he pitched for, so as good as the Yankees were when he didn’t pitch, he still made them better when he did.

Of the 2 pitchers, with more than a few decisions, ahead of him, 1 is Al Spalding, who pitched in the 1870s with the pitching distance at 45 feet; the other is former Yankee Spurgeon “Spud” Chandler, was 109-43 for .717, but that’s just 152 decisions; Whitey was 236-106 in 342. The current active leader is Clayton Kershaw, at .667, but that's at 98-49, just 147 decisions.

Whitey's 2.75 career earned-run average is the best among starting pitchers in the post-1920 Lively Ball Era. The leader among all post-1920 pitchers, at 2.21, is Mariano Rivera; the only other ahead of Whitey is also a reliever, Hoyt Wilhelm. Among Lively Ball Era starters, Sandy Koufax is 2nd, with the top 10 being rounded out by Chandler, Jim Palmer, Andy Messersmith, Met legend Tom Seaver, Juan Marichal, Bob Gibson, Harry Brecheen and Dean Chance. Pedro Martinez was ahead of Whitey for a while in this category, too, but fell to 2.93 and is now 11th among Lively Ball Era starters. The current active leader, given enough innings to qualify, is Kershaw at 2.43, but that's only over 8 years. Among pitchers with at least 10 seasons, it's Adam Wainright, at 2.98.

Whitey’s 10 wins in World Series play has never been approached –- Bob Gibson won 7, and as great as he was in his wins, Koufax won “only” 4. And Whitey still holds the record for consecutive scoreless innings in Series play, 33. Mariano holds the record for postseason play, 33 1/3.

“There’s really only four numbers that should be retired” by the Yankees, he says, “and mine’s not one of them.” Nevertheless, his Number 16 was retired by the Yankees in 1974, when he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, making him the 1st Yankee pitcher thus honored. He was also 1 of the 1st 2 Yankee pitchers awarded a Plaque in Monument Park, honored along with Lefty Gomez in 1987.

It says something about this great competitor that my Grandma, a dedicated Brooklyn Dodger fan who hated the Yankees (especially Casey Stengel and Yogi Berra, for some reason), loved 2 Yankees: Phil Rizzuto and Whitey Ford. That both were from her home Borough of Queens had something to do with it, but she also loved that Whitey was smart and didn’t rely on overwhelming force, mixing up his pitches like her favorite Dodger pitchers, Don Newcombe, Carl Erskine and especially Preacher Roe. (And also like her favorite Met pitchers, Tom Seaver, Ron Darling, David Cone and Al Leiter.) She had no patience for pitchers who were fastball-reliant, like Ralph Branca of the Dodgers. She also hated hotheads like Billy Martin, Eddie Stanky and Roger Clemens. She loved that Whitey kept his cool.

Years later, Erik Schrody, a white rapper from Long Island using the nom de rap of Everlast, would also nickname himself “Whitey Ford,” and title an album Whitey Ford Sings the Blues, with the follow-up titled Eat at Whitey’s and another Love, War and the Ghost of Whitey Ford.


October 21, 1938: Carl Thomas Brewer is born in Toronto. A 4-time All-Star defenseman for his hometown Maple Leafs, he helped them win the Stanley Cup in 1962, ’63 and ‘64. He died in 2001.

October 21, 1942: Louis A. Lamoriello is born in the Providence suburb of Johnston, Rhode Island. He coached the hockey team at Providence College into the NCAA Final Four, a.k.a. the Frozen Four, and since 1987 has been the general manager of the New Jersey Devils.

The team made the Playoffs every year but one from 1990 to 2010, including 10 Atlantic Division titles, 4 Eastern Conference championships and 3 Stanley Cups. It has now added a 5th Conference Championship after missing the Playoffs in 2011.

But El Baldo also made some puzzling trades, and was been so cheap that he let go some terrific players without lifting a finger, including Scott Niedermayer (who helped the Anaheim Ducks win the Cup in his first season away from the Devils, 2007), Brian Rafalski (who helped the Detroit Red Wings win the Cup the very next season, 2008), John Madden, Brian Gionta and Zach Parise. The Devils have now missed the Playoffs in 4 of the last 5 seasons, with the 2012 Conference Championship mixed in.

He finally stepped down as team president and general manager in the recent off-season, perhaps 2 or 3 years too late. But now, the team can start over, with GM Ray Shero and head coach John Hynes as new blood. Ironically, despite turning 73 today, Lou has also become "new blood," as he is the new GM of the Maple Leafs. Why not, he does remember them winning Cups, and might know how to restore them.

But maybe the game has passed him by -- another reason he might be a good fit for the Maple Leafs, who haven't won the Cup or even made the Finals since 1967, and have only made the Conference Finals 4 times since then, none at all since 1999.

I have never figured Lamoriello out, and I doubt that I ever will.

October 21, 1946: James Webster Hill is born in San Antonio. A defensive back, he played 2 seasons in the AFL and 6 in the NFL. In 1976, he became the sports anchor at Los Angeles station KCBS-Channel 2, switched to KABC-Channel 7 in 1987, helped ABC cover the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, and went back to KCBS in 1992, and has been there ever since.

Though he's not from Southern California and never played a home game there at any level, Jim Hill is a sports icon there. He's even got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He should not be confused with Jimmy Hill the English soccer player, coach and TV personality.

October 21, 1949: Two very different kind of legends of hockey are born. Michel Edouard Brière, of Malartic, was one of the brightest young players the Province of Quebec has ever produced, and put together a terrific rookie season for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1969. But in 1970, he was in an awful car crash and fell into a coma. He died in 1971. His Number 21 was immediately taken out of circulation by the Pens, although there was no official retirement ceremony for 30 years.

Also on this day, Michael Edward Keenan was born in Bowmanville, Ontario. He coached the Philadelphia Flyers into the Stanley Cup Finals in 1985 and 1987, and did the same with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1992.

But he’s best known for the one and only season in which he coached the New York Rangers, 1994. With the highest payroll the NHL had yet seen, and seasons veterans all over the place (many of them, led by Captain Mark Messier, from the Edmonton Oilers, including some who had beaten his Flyers in the ’85 and ’87 Finals), he led the Broadway Blues to their 1st Stanley Cup in 54 years -- now their only Cup in the last 75 years. Ranger broadcaster Sam Rosen was right: This one now has lasted a lifetime.

But Mike Keenan demanded a big new contract right after that, and threatened to take the Madison Square Garden Corporation to court if he didn’t get it. Instead, they let him walk, and he signed with the St. Louis Blues. It was one of the most shocking “divorces” in the history of New York Tri-State Area sports, and the Rangers have won just 1 Stanley Cup Finals game since. The Curse of Keenan?

He is a mad genius, but except for once, and that once just barely, the madness is what has triumphed. In 2014, he led Metallurg Magnitogorsk to the Gagarin Cup, the championship of Russia's Kontinental Hockey League.

Also on this day, Benjamin Netanyahu (no middle name) is born in Tel Aviv, Israel. He is now Prime Minister of his nation for the 2nd time. As with the 1st time, he has been unable to avoid being a warmonger, though (as far as we know) he has avoided the financial scandals and adulteries of his 1st term, that made him look like he was taking the worst of Bill Clinton and the worst of Newt Gingrich and combining them, instead of the best of each. (I’m still not sure Gingrich has a “best” – he and Netanyahu are both really smart, but have serious blind spots.)

For part of his childhood, he and his family lived in the Philadelphia suburb of Cheltenham, Pennsylvania. He and his brother Yonatan attended Cheltenham High School. Yonatan graduated from that school in 1964, along with Reggie Jackson, and was the Israeli commander in the 1976 raid on Entebbe Airport in Uganda, successfully completing the raid at the cost of his own life.


October 21, 1950: Ronald Erwin McNair is born in Lake City, South Carolina. In 1959, he wanted to check books out of that town's public library. It was segregated, and he was black. His mother and the police were called. The police talked the librarian into letting him borrow the books.

He became a physicist, leading to him becoming a mission specialist on space shuttle missions, the 2nd black American to fly in space. He was launched on 2 missions, both on the shuttle Challenger. The 1st, in 1984, was a success. The 2nd, on January 28, 1986, was not: He and the other 6 astronauts were killed, most likely the result of the cockpit, from which there was no escape, crashing into the Atlantic Ocean after the explosion. He was 35.

The Lake City Library is now named for him.

October 21, 1956: Carrie Frances Fisher is born in Beverly Hills, California. No relation to Frances Fisher, a redheaded actress of similar age. But she is the daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher, and the half-sister of actress Joely Fisher (daughter of Eddie and actress-singer Connie Stevens).

She will forever be known as Princess Leia Organa in the Star Wars saga, but she’s also an accomplished writer and director, having written the novel Postcards On the Edge about her relationship with her mother and her struggle with drug addiction, later writing the screenplay for the film version. She co-wrote the TV-movie These Old Broads, which starred her mother, and Shirley MacLaine (who played the Reynolds character in the film version of Postcards), and Elizabeth Taylor, the woman her father left her mother for.

She would not seem to have a sports connection, but country singer Carrie Underwood is married to hockey player Mike Fisher of (appropriately enough) the Nashville Predators, so her married name is Carrie Fisher.

October 21, 1959: Jorge Antonio Bell Mathey born in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. A left fielder and a 3-time All-Star for the Toronto Blue Jays, George Bell hit a walkoff for the last home run in Exhibition Stadium. He also hit the 1st homer at the SkyDome.

At that dome, now named the Rogers Centre, his name hangs in the “Level of Excellence,” the Jays’ team hall of fame that, until Roberto Alomar's Number 12 was retired, served as a substitute for retiring numbers such as Bell’s 11. (The NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs don’t retire numbers, either, except for 2 very special cases; instead, they have a system of “Honoured Numbers” that remain in circulation.) However, the Jays never won a Pennant until after trading Bell, brother of major leaguer Juan Bell.

He's also a member of the Caribbean Baseball, Canadian Baseball and Ontario Sports Halls of Fame.


October 21, 1964: After just 12 seasons in Milwaukee‚ the Braves’ Board of Directors votes to ask the National League for permission to move to Atlanta. Officials of Milwaukee County, who own the namesake stadium, sue to block the move. The end result is that the Braves must play the 1965 season in Milwaukee, as lame ducks.

Attendance, once booming as the city embraced Major League Baseball for the first time in 50 years, collapses, and only 14,000 come out for the final Milwaukee Braves home game 11 months later. The reason? Partly, it was the novelty wearing off. Partly, it was the Minnesota Twins taking away huge chunks of their market, including the entire States of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, and even westernmost Wisconsin. The Brewers will arrive in Milwaukee in 1970.

October 21, 1967: The Minnesota North Stars play their 1st home game, at the Metropolitan Sports Center, across Cedar Road from Metropolitan Stadium, home of MLB's Twins and the NFL's Vikings, in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington. They beat the Oakland Seals 3-1, getting their 1st win after 2 losses and 2 ties.

The Stars played at the Met Center until 1993, when owner Norm Green moved them to become the Dallas Stars. It should have been "Dallas Lone Stars." The Met Center was demolished in 1994, an IKEA was built on the site as part of the Mall of America complex, and the Minnesota Wild were added to the NHL in 2000, playing at the new Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Also on this day, Paul Emerson Carlyle Ince is born in East London. The midfielder helped restore Manchester United to glory, winning back-to-back Premier League titles after not having won England’s predecessor league for 26 years, and winning 2 FA Cups – taking both titles, or “doing The Double,” in 1994. He was also the 1st black Captain of the England national team.

After managing some lower-division teams, including Milton Keynes Dons, in 2008 Blackburn Rovers signed him, making him the 1st black manager in the 1st division of English football (either as “the Football League Division One” or as “the Premier League”). He won only 3 of 17 matches in 6 months and was fired. He has since managed MK Dons again and also Notts County and Blackpool, a team that included his son Tom Ince, also a midfielder. Tom now plays for Derby County.

Also on this day, an antiwar protest hits Washington, D.C. The marchers head across the Potomac River to the Pentagon, and, to this day, some marchers claim they actually "levitated" the building. Uh-huh. This was the day of the famous photograph of the long-haired (but not hippie-length-haired) kid in the turtleneck sweater sticking a flower in the barrel of a rifle held by a soldier "protecting" the Pentagon from the demonstrators.

October 21, 1968: Elston Howard announces his retirement after 14 big-league seasons, the first 12½ with the Yankees. He will soon be named a Yankee coach, making him the 1st black coach in the American League.

He was preceded in the National League by former Kansas City Monarchs 1st baseman and manager John "Buck" O'Neil, with the Chicago Cubs, and former 2nd baseman Jim "Junior" Gilliam with the Dodgers.

October 21, 1969: Morris C. “Mo” Lewis is born in Atlanta. The All-Pro linebacker played in 200 games for the New York Jets, 3rd-most in franchise history at the time he retired.

He is probably best known for his sack of Drew Bledsoe of the New England Patriots early in the 2001, which injured Bledsoe and forced the Pats to bring in a new quarterback. Tom Brady. So maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to praise Mo, because that sack altered the course of NFL history, and not for the better!

Also on this day, Jack Kerouac dies. The novelist and poet whose works led the Beat Generation writing genre had been a football and track star at Lowell High School in Massachusetts, but injuries and squabbles with coach Lou Little ended his football scholarship at Columbia.

By the mid-Sixties, his fellow Beat writer and close friend Allen Ginsberg noticed that he no longer looked like the handsome young athlete he had so recently been when they met in 1944, or even the mature (physically if not emotionally) writer who became famous with the publication of On the Road in 1957. Rather, Allen though that Jack now looked like his father Leo, the result of 25 years of massive drinking. That drinking burned an ulcer in his esophagus, and that’s what killed him at age 47.

(By contrast, Ginsberg, who rather enjoyed various mind-altering drugs but wasn’t a serious boozer, lived to be 70; and the other member of the Beats’ Big Three, William S. Burroughs, who abused himself in countless ways, turned out to be the last survivor, outliving Ginsberg by a few weeks and passing away peacefully at 83.)

Kerouac and the early Beats loved jazz, especially bebop, whose 2 main leaders were saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker and the aforementioned trumpeter John “Dizzy” Gillespie. Parker died in 1955, on March 12, Kerouac’s birthday, which crushed Jack. Jack himself then died on an October 21, which was Gillespie’s birthday.


October 21, 1972: Orlando Thomas (no middle name) is born in Crowley, Louisiana. An All-Pro safety with the Minnesota Vikings as a rookie in 1995, he died from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) in 2014.

October 21, 1973: Game 7 of the World Series at the Oakland Coliseum. Bert Campaneris and Reggie Jackson hit home runs off Jon Matlack, and the A’s beat the Mets, 5-2, for their 2nd straight World Championship.

Reggie is named Series MVP. After having missed the previous year’s Series with an injury sustained while scoring the winning run in the NLCS, he has begun to build his reputation as a big-time postseason performer.

A's reliever Darold Knowles -- who once said of Reggie, "There isn't enough mustard in the world to cover that hot dog" -- becomes the 1st pitcher, and through 2014 remains the only one, to appear in all 7 games of a Series.

The Mets had a 3-games-to-2 lead, but considering what that A’s team was capable of, and that the A’s had the home-field advantage for Games 6 and 7, it’s hard to say that the Mets "choked." They just got beat.

They had a great run, coming from last place and 12 1/2 games back on July 8, 11 1/2 back on August 5, and 5 1/2 back on September 5, to win a Division that no one seemed to want to win, doing it with just 82 wins, and fighting off Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine in the NLCS and taking the defending World Champion A’s to the limit.

And, considering how good the A's were, it might not be fair to blame Yogi Berra, then the Met manager, for losing the Series by pitching Tom Seaver on 3 days' rest in Game 6. A, Yogi was hoping he could prevent a Game 7 entirely.  B, Seaver didn't pitch all that badly on short rest.

Reliever Frank "Tug" McGraw had given the Mets their late-season rallying cry, "Ya gotta believe!" But what you should believe is that this Series was not lost by the Mets nearly so much as it was won by the A's, the better team. This time, unlike in 1969 (and 1986), the Mets simply ran out of miracles.

There are 22 surviving players from the 1973 A's: Reggie, Campaneris, Knowles, Rollie Fingers, Vida Blue, Sal Bando, Joe Rudi, Gene Tenace, Dick Green, John "Blue Moon" Odom, Angel Mangual, Ted Kubiak, Dave Hamilton, Jesus Alou, Ray Fosse, Dave Duncan, Allan Lewis, Vic Davalillo, Mike Andrews, Horacio Pina, Pat Bourque and Billy Conigliaro, who thus won the World Series ring that his brother Tony never won.

Also on this day, Fred Dryer of the Los Angeles Rams becomes the 1st player in NFL history to score 2 safeties in the same game. The Rams beat the Green Bay Packers, 24-7 at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Dryer, an All-Pro defensive end, remains the only player ever to accomplish the feat, but will become better known as an actor, starring in the police drama Hunter.

October 21, 1975, 40 years ago: Mere hours before Game 6 of the World Series, the World Football League folds in the middle of its 2nd season. Unlike the 1946-49 AAFC and the 1960-69 AFL, it didn't get to merge or even partly merge with the NFL. Unlike the 1983-85 USFL, it didn't go out with a bang (in the USFL's case, of a judge's gavel). It went out with a whimper. Indeed, if you weren't a fan of a WFL team, most likely, in the wake of Games 6 and 7 of the World Series, you might not have even heard about it for days.

On this same day, Toby Jason Hall is born in Tacoma, Washington, outside Seattle. A catcher, he was with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays from 2000 to 2006, closing his career with the White Sox in 2008.

October 21, 1976: The Cincinnati Reds beat the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, and complete a 4-game sweep of the World Series. Johnny Bench hits 2 home runs and is named Series MVP. The 9th inning featured Bench’s homer, which helped the Reds go from a 3-2 to a 7-2 lead, which holds until the end.

A frustrated Billy Martin, with nothing left to lose (except maybe a fine from the Commissioner), angrily throws a ball from the dugout onto the field, and gets thrown out, the only uniformed person in Yankee history ever to be tossed from a World Series game.

Thurman Munson excels in defeat, tying a Series record with 6 straight hits. On the official Series highlight film, Reds manager Sparky Anderson is heard telling Bench and Pete Rose, “That fella can flat-out hit, now. Ooh, is he a good hitter. He just stays with the ball.” Rose responds by comparing Munson to Bill Madlock, then with the Chicago Cubs, who had just won the 2nd of what turned out to be 4 NL batting titles.

But in a postgame press conference, Anderson is asked to compare Munson to Bench, and he says, “Don’t ever embarrass someone by comparing him to Johnny Bench.” In all fairness, even at his best, and 1976 was his MVP year, Munson was not as good as Bench. Bench was the greatest catcher in NL history, and in all of baseball history the only catchers that could be greater are the 2 Yankee legends, Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra. Bench and Berra were voted by fans to the All-Century Team in 1999. But Munson did have the right to be offended: Comparing him to Bench did not embarrass him, nor did it embarrass Bench.

The Reds have their 4th World Championship, and become the 1st (and still only) NL team to win back-to-back World Series since the 1921-22 New York Giants. (The 1995-96 Atlanta Braves came within 2 games of doing it, but we all know how that ended.) The Reds had also swept the Phillies in the NLCS, and they remain the only team ever to make it through both the LCS and the World Series undefeated. Their 7-0 postseason record has never been matched, although the Yankees went through the ’99 postseason, with an extra round, 11-1.

There are 25 surviving players from the '76 Reds: Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony
Pérez, Dave Concepcion, George Foster, César Gerónimo, Ken Griffey Sr., Dan Driessen, Doug Flynn, Fred Norman, Ed Armbrister, Don Gullett, Will McEnaney, Gary Nolan, Pat Zachry, Jack Billingham, Rawly Eastwick, Bill Plummer, Mike Lum, Bob Bailey, Joel Youngblood, Santo Alcala & Manny Sarmiento. Pedro Borbón Sr. was the 1st to die, in 2012.

As for the '76 Yankees, they were in their 1st Series in 12 years, most of them were in postseason play for the 1st time, and they were physically and emotionally exhausted after their ALCS battle with the Royals that ended with Chris Chambliss' Pennant-winning home run. Against the experienced and rested Reds, they had little reason for confidence. But they will be back, while the Reds will win only 1 Pennant in the next 40 years.

October 21, 1977: After 9 seasons on Long Island, the New Jersey Nets return to the State where they were born as the New Jersey Americans, playing there only their 1st season, 1967-68, before moving and becoming the New York Nets.

It doesn't go so well: Despite 28 points from Al Skinner, Pistol Pete Maravich torches them for 41 points, and the Nets lose 111-103 to the New Orleans Jazz at the brand-new Rutgers Athletic Center, on RU's Livingston Campus in Piscataway.

Dave Wohl, like me a graduate of East Brunswick High School, 9 miles away from the RAC, plays for the Nets, but scores no points. Perth Amboy native and Princeton graduate Brian Taylor had won 2 ABA titles with the Nets, was, by this point, with the Denver Nuggets.

Also on this day, singer Meat Loaf and songwriter Jim Steinman release their album Bat Out of Hell. It includes the huge hit "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad," and the cult hit "Paradise by the Dashboard Light." The latter song is a duet with singer-actress Ellen Foley, who would later play the public defender on the 1st season of the NBC sitcom Night Court, before being replaced by Markie ost.

It also includes a voice-over by Yankee broadcaster Phil Rizzuto, then 60 years old. When he came in to record his part, which included 2 utterances of "Holy cow," he innocently asked, "Do I have to be high to understand this song?" No, you just have to remember what it was like to be a teenager.

In 1994, after Bat Out of Hell II was released, making Meat bigger than ever, he was invited to sing the National Anthem at the All-Star Game, at which Rizzuto, newly-elected to the Hall of Fame, was named the American League's honorary captain. For the National League, it was Negro League legend Buck Leonard, who had played in the host city, Pittsburgh.

October 21, 1978: John Joseph Harrington Jr. is born in Portland, Oregon. Joey, a star at the University of Oregon, was supposed to be the quarterback who led the Detroit Lions out of the wilderness. Unfortunately, the highlight of his career was a game after they cut him, and he led the Miami Dolphins to victory over, yes, the Lions at the Silverdome. He has since retired, become a broadcaster, and runs a charitable foundation.

October 21, 1979: Khalil Thabit Greene is born in Butler, Pennsylvania. An All-Star shortstop for the San Diego Padres, he has since gone into the music business.

Also on this day, Gabriel Jordan Gross is born in Baltimore. The son of former New Orleans Saints center Lee Gross, Gabe was an outfielder for the Tampa Bay Rays, and played on their 2008 AL Pennant winners before retiring before the 2011 season.


October 21, 1980: After 98 seasons of play, the Philadelphia Phillies are 1 game away from finally winning their 1st World Championship. They are the last of the “Original 16” teams not to have won a World Series. The last World Series won by a Philadelphia team was by the Athletics, 50 years ago.

It’s Game 6 against the Royals at Veterans Stadium. Steve Carlton pitches 8 shutout innings, and closer Tug McGraw, one of the heroes of the Mets’ 1969 and ’73 postseason runs, takes a 4-0 lead into the 9th in front of 65,838 Phanatics. But he lets a run in, and loads the bases with one out.

Nervous about fans running onto the field and vandalizing the stadium, as happened 10 years earlier when the Phils played their last game at Connie Mack Stadium, Philadelphia Mayor Bill Green has ordered police on horseback to surround the field to keep fans from running onto it.

McGraw, already in a jam, looks around, sees one of the horses, and sees the horse's tail go up. “They did not send us stadium-trained horses,” he would later say. “And I’m thinking, if I don’t get these guys out, and something bad happens, that’s what I’m gonna be: What that horse is getting rid of.” In baseball, “horseshit” is a common term for something lousy.

A popup sails over the area in front of the Phillies’ dugout, and catcher Bob Boone grabs it, but he can't hang onto it, and it pops out of his glove. This is the kind of play that has led Phillies fans to think that their team is jinxed, that they will never win the big one. Except, this time, the bobbled ball is snared by 1st baseman Pete Rose, who shows it to the umpires so they know it's a legit catch, and promptly spikes the ball on the Vet’s hideous artificial turf, as if he’s just scored a touchdown. (Pete was a high school football star, as well as baseball.)

All that remains is for Tug to get the Royals’ Willie Wilson out. At 11:29 PM, the exhausted Tugger fires, and Wilson swings and misses for strike 3.

(While tipping your hat to the Phils for this magnificent victory, have a moment of silence for Wilson: It was his 12th strikeout of the Series, a record that would stand until 2009 when it was broken by... Phillies 1st baseman Ryan Howard.)

From Scranton in the north to Rehoboth Beach in the south, from Atlantic City in the east to Harrisburg in the West, Phillies fans erupt in the kind of joy they had never experienced – not with this team, anyway.

Dallas Green’s wild (or, at least, wild-haired) bunch has done it. Boone, Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski, Larry Bowa, Garry Maddox, all the rest, after 3 failed trips to the postseason before this, they have their ring at long last. Rose and McGraw, opponents in the ’73 NLCS and each with a previous ring (McGraw with the '69 Mets, Rose with the '75 and '76 Reds), add to their collection. So do Carlton, who'd won with the '67 Cardinals; and Manny Trillo, the 2nd baseman who'd won with the '74 A's, and made a huge difference for the '80 Phils, particularly as the MVP of the NLCS.

The next day’s Philadelphia Daily News fills up their entire front page beneath the masthead with the words "We Win!" A parade goes down Broad Street from City Hall to the Sports Complex, and a massive rally at John F. Kennedy Stadium, whose 105,000 seats is a lot more than the Vet’s 65,000. Tug holds the Daily News up for all to see. It remains the greatest moment in the history of Philadelphia sports.

Also on this day, Kimberly Noel Kardashian is born in Los Angeles. Unlike another L.A.-based heiress with an embarrassingly released sex tape, Kim is not an "heirhead." She actually works for a living, and not just as a model: She worked for the music-marketing company that was run by her late father, Robert Kardashian, who had given up being a high-powered L.A. lawyer to do it, returning for one last case in 1994-95 (the murder defense "Dream Team" of O.J. Simpson).

She and her sisters Kourtney and Khloe also run high-end women's clothing stores, one in their hometown near L.A., one in Miami's South Beach, and one in New York's SoHo. She has been the main focus of the E! reality series Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

What does Kim have to do with sports? Well, after her parents Robert and Kris divorced, Kris married Olympic decathlon Gold Medalist Bruce Jenner, though they have split up, and Bruce has "transitioned" into what he, now she, has always considered his, now her, true identity of Caitlin Jenner.

Kim married then-Nets player Kris Humphries, following sister Khloe's marriage to Los Angeles Lakers player Lamar Odom. However, the Kardashian-Humphries marriage collapsed after 72 days, and Kim is now married to Kanye West, and they have a baby girl named North West, and a baby on the way. Khloe and Lamar split, but when Lamar was hospitalized last week, Khloe rushed to his side in support, and now, it's being reported that they've called the divorce off and are going to give reconciliation a try.

Previously, Kim dated, among others, running back Reggie Bush, in a relationship the gossip pages liked to call "Kush." And if "Bush" and "Kush" rhyme with a prominent part of Kim's anatomy, that's not my fault!

October 21, 1981: The Yankees take a 2-0 lead in the World Series, as Tommy John and Goose Gossage combine on a 3-0 shutout of the Dodgers at Yankee Stadium. Bob Watson has 2 hits and an RBI.

The Yankees are 2 wins away from their 23rd World Championship. No one can imagine it now, but the team will not win another competitive game until April 12, 1982, Reggie Jackson will never play for them again, and it will take them 15 more years to get that 23rd title.

The Yankees also make a trade today, sending 22-year-old outfielder Willie McGee to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitcher Bob Sykes. It will be one of the worst trades in Yankee history, as Sykes, a native of nearby Neptune, New Jersey, is already damaged goods, and never appears in another big-league game, finished at 27; while McGee helps the Cards win the next year’s World Series and 3 of the next 6 NL Pennants, and by the time his career begins to slow down in the mid-1990s, Bernie Williams will have been ready.

Also on this day, Willis Andrew McGahee III is born in Miami. The former University of Miami star has been plagued by injuries, but made 2 Pro Bowls while with the Baltimore Ravens. He rushed for 8,474 career yards in the NFL, and now plays for the Miami Surge of the National Pro Grid League.

Also on this day, Nemanja Vidić is born in Uzice, Serbia. He is a dirty soccer player, and was the Captain of Manchester United. I don’t think we need a 3rd reason to loathe him. He now plays for Internazionale in Milan, Itlay.

October 21, 1982: James Duffey Henderson is born in Calgary, Alberta. He pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers from 2012 to 2014, but he hasn't fully recovered from shoulder surgery, and the Brewers released him before this season began. He is currently without a team.

October 21, 1983: Donald Zackary Greinke is born in Orlando, Florida. Zack won the AL's Cy Young Award in 2009, and pitched the Milwaukee Brewers to their first Division title in 29 years in 2011. He now pitches for the Dodgers, and led both major leagues in ERA this season. His career record currently stands at 142-93.

He is married to Emily Kuchar, a former beauty-pageant winner and Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader. If they have kids, I hope the Cowboy gene is the recessive one.

Also on this day, Casey Michael Fien is born in the San Francisco suburb of Santa Rosa, California, but grows up in the Los Angeles suburb of La Palma. He is a relief pitcher for the Minnesota Twins.

Also on this day, Andy Manuel Marte is born in Villa Tapia, Dominican Republic. An infielder, he was with the Cleveland Indians when they reached the ALCS in 2007, and now plays in Korea.

Also on this day, Shelden DeMar Williams is born in Oklahoma City. The forward graduated from Duke University as their all-time leader in rebounds and blocked shots. He briefly played for the Knicks and the Nets, and now plays professionally in China.

October 21, 1984: José Manuel Lobatón is born in Acarigua, Venezuela. Now the backup catcher for the Washington Nationals, he was playing for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012, when they allowed him to marry his wife Nina on the field at Tropicana Field.

Also on this day, Kenneth Scott Cooper Jr. is born in Baltimore, where his father, Kenny Cooper Sr., was then managing the Baltimore Blast of the Major Indoor Soccer League. Kenny Sr. was a Blackpool native who played as a goalkeeper for the Dallas Tornado of the old North American Soccer League, and after the MISL folded, he moved his family back to Dallas, where Kenny Jr. grew up.

A forward, Kenny Jr. was signed to Manchester United's youth program, but never played a senior game for them. getting loaned to Academica Coimbra in Portugal and Man U's lower-division neighbors Oldham Athletic. He returned to his hometown, playing 3 seasons for FC Dallas, went back to Europe to play 2 season for 1860 Munich, and has bounced around Major League Soccer. He played the 2012 season with the New York Red Bulls, and is now with the Montreal Impact. He has scored 4 goals for the U.S. national team.

October 21, 1985, 30 years ago: The Chicago Bears defeat the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football, 23–7. William Perry, the rookie defensive tackle so full of food his nickname is The Refrigerator, is put in the lineup as a running back for the 2nd time, and scores a touchdown on a 1-yard run.

October 21, 1986: Here's an October 21 that Met fans can get behind. Game 3 of the World Series at Fenway Park. Desperate for a win to keep their “inevitable” World Championship alive, the Mets turn to lefty Bob Ojeda, who had been with the Red Sox until last season. With Len Dykstra leading off the game with a homer, as he had also hit the walkoff homer in Game 3 of the NLCS, Ojeda cruises, and the Mets win, 7-1, to get back in the Series.


October 21, 1990, 25 years ago: Ricard Rubio i Vives is born in Barcelona. A point guard, Ricky Rubio starred in basketball's Euroleague before being drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Ankle injuries have thus far stopped him from becoming the superstar in North America that he was in Europe.

October 21, 1993: Curt Schilling’s stellar pitching and Kevin Stocker’s 2nd-inning RBI double keeps the Phillies alive, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 5-0 in Game 5 of the World Series.

This is the kind of pitching that will lead Phillies GM Ed Wade to say of Schilling, "One day out of every five, he's a horse; the other four, he's a horse's ass." But Schilling will not reach his greatest fame with the Phillies. Neither will most of the baseball world realize what a horse's ass he is during his tenure with the Fightin' Phils.

This turns out to be the last postseason baseball game ever played in Veterans Stadium, and the last postseason game the Phillies will win for 15 years.

October 21, 1995, 20 years ago: Vada Pinson dies of complications from a stroke in his hometown of Oakland, California. The 4-time All-Star outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds was 57.

October 21, 1996: Greg Maddux shuts out the Yankees, as the Braves take Game 2 of the World Series, 4-0. The Yankees have been embarrassed in the 1st 2 games, and now have to go to Atlanta in front of 52,000 war-chanting, tomahawk-chopping rednecks.

The outlook is grim. Anybody predicting a new "Yankee Dynasty" at this point sure looks delusional.

October 21, 1998: The Yankees beat the San Diego Padres, 3-1 at Jack Murphy Stadium (Qualcomm), and complete the sweep for their 24th World Championship. Scott Brosius, who hit 2 homers last night, takes a grounder at 3rd base for the final out, and is named Series MVP.

The Padres had maybe their best team ever. Arguably, so did the Cleveland Indians that the Yankees beat in the ALCS. Maybe, so did the Texas Rangers that the Yankees beat in the ALDS. All of them had the bad luck to run into what may have been anybody’s best team ever.


October 21, 2000, 15 years ago: Game 1 of the 1st Subway Series since 1956 – it doesn’t matter what Met fans call those Interleague series in the regular season, it’s not a true Subway Series unless it happens in October – is played at the original Yankee Stadium. It turns out to be, quite possibly, the greatest game I’ve ever seen. At the least, it was the most nerve-wracking game I've ever seen.

After 39 years of hoping, wishing, praying for a chance to beat the Yankees in a World Series, Met fans finally have that chance. And they were sure they were going to win it. After all, Al Leiter was going to start Games 1 and 5, and Mike Hampton was going to start Games 2 and 6. And, as everybody knows, “The Yankees can’t hit lefthanded pitching. Especially in the postseason.” I guess Met fans, the Flushing Heathen, hadn’t noticed how the Yankees beat all pitchers, left and right alike, in winning the Series in 1996, ’98 and ’99, and winning another Pennant to put them in this Series.

Still, Met fans always wanted this chance. In the immortal words of Leonard Nimoy -- who, being a Bostonian, probably knew just how illogical baseball can be -- “You may find that having is not so fine a thing as wanting.”

Leiter outpitches Andy Pettitte, but 4 baserunning blunders by the Mets leave the score 3-2 in the Mets’ favor entering the bottom of the 9th. Still, to be able to take Game 1 at Yankee Stadium would be a huge boost to the Mets.

Manager Bobby Valentine brings in his closer. Unfortunately for him, it’s Armando Benitez. Paul O’Neill fouls off pitch after pitch, and finally draws the most clutch walk in baseball history. The Yankees bring him around to score on DH Chuck Knoblauch’s sacrifice fly, and the game goes into extra innings.

It goes to the bottom of the 12th, and a Met castoff, Jose Vizcaino, playing second base because Knoblauch is not fielding well, singles home the winning run.

Yankees 4, Mets 3. Essentially, the World Series that Met fans had waited their whole lives for has been decided in Game 1. Had the Mets won this game, the Series would have been very, very different.

Maybe the Yankees would have been shaken by the events of Game 1, and instead of just holding the Mets off in Game 2, 6-5, they would have fully blown that lead. The Mets won Game 3, and their idiot fans would have been thinking sweep.

Would the Yankees still have won Game 4? It was pretty shaky in the 5th inning. Would they still have won Game 5? It was tied in the 9th. Would they have won a Game 6? Would they have completed the ultimate comeback in Game 7, 4 years before the Red Sox did it to them?

No matter how bad the 2004 ALCS was, losing the 2000 World Series to the Mets would have been 10 times worse.

As we've seen the last 3 months, we don't have to live around very many Red Sox fans with their cheated-for arrogance, but we do have to live around Met fans with their unearned arrogance.

For the moment, the count remains 27 to 2, and 5 to 0 since 1986.

And if that becomes 27 to 3, and 5 to 1, what does it mean? That they're a better franchise? Oh, hell, no. Does it mean that they're a better team now? We beat them 4 out of 6, including 2 out of 3 in Flushing, despite our many injuries.

The Yankees are still the better team now. And let us not pretend that any Met World Series win -- be it 1969, 1986, or the 2015 win that is now just 5 wins away -- is better than all of the Yankees' World Series wins.


October 21, 2001: The Arizona Diamondbacks defeat the Atlanta Braves‚ 3-2‚ to win the NLCS and reach the World Series for the 1st time in their history. They get to the Series faster than any expansion team in history‚ doing so in the 4th year of their existence. Randy Johnson gets the win for Arizona. Erubiel Durazo's pinch-hit 2-run homer is the key blow. Craig Counsell is named the NLCS MVP.

The Yankees take a 3-1 lead in their ALCS matchup with Seattle‚ defeating the Mariners by a score of 3-1 at Yankee Stadium. Bret Boone's 8th inning homer broke a scoreless tie‚ but Bernie Williams homers in the bottom half of the inning to tie the score. The Yankees win on Alfonso Soriano's 2-run walkoff dinger in the 9th. Mariano Rivera gets the victory in relief.

In spite of this defeat, Mariner manager Lou Piniella makes a bold prediction: His team will win Game 5. “We’re going back for Game 6,” he tells the media, meaning back to Seattle. Sweet Lou should have known better than to test the Yankees’ Ghosts of October. After all, he was one of them.

October 21, 2003: The Yankees beat the Marlins‚ 6-1‚ behind the pitching of Mike Mussina and the hitting of Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams. Jeter gets 3 hits off losing starter Josh Beckett (the only hits Beckett allows)‚ while Williams and Aaron Boone hit home runs. Williams' homer is his record 19th in postseason play, breaking the record shared by fellow Yankee Legends Mickey Mantle (all in World Series play) and Reggie Jackson (who never had a Division Series available to him except in strike-forced 1981). His 65 RBI are also a new postseason record.

The Yankees lead this World Series 2 games to 1. Things are looking good for them. No one can yet imagine that it will take them 6 years to win another World Series game -- and that, when they do, it will be in a new Yankee Stadium.

October 21, 2004: After blowing a 2 games to none lead, the Cardinals come from 3 games to 2 down to beat the Houston Astros 5-2 in Game 7 of the NLCS. Craig Biggio leads off the game with a home run off Jeff Suppan, but Scott Rolen takes Roger Clemens deep, and the series concludes with the home teams having won every game.

For the Cards, it is their 1st Pennant in 17 years, and the beginning of a run that saw them win 4 Pennants in 10 seasons. For the Astros, Year 43 ended just like Years 1 through 42: Without a Pennant. Fortunately for them, they only have to "Wait 'Til Next Year" 1 more time.

October 21, 2006: In the 1st-ever match-up of rookies to start Game 1 of the World Series, Anthony Reyes bests Justin Verlander as the visiting Cardinals beat the Tigers at Comerica Park, 7-2. The 25-year old righthander allows 2 runs and 4 hits, striking out 5 Redbirds in 8 innings of work.

This game also makes Detroit the 2nd city to host a Super Bowl and a World Series in the same calendar year. San Diego had done so in 1998. Detroit had also hosted a World Series and an NFL Championship Game in the same year in 1935. Cleveland did so in 1964. New York did it 7 times: 1934, 1936, 1938, 1941, 1956, 1958 and 1962.

Reaching the World Series and the NFL Championship Game in the same calendar year? New York 11 times (1933, '38, '39, '41, '56, '58, '61, '62, '63, '69 and 2001; '33 being both sets of Giants, '69 being the Mets and Jets, and all the others being the Yankees and the football Giants), Baltimore twice (1969 and '71), Oakland twice (1989 and '90), Boston twice (1986 and 2004), and once each for Chicago (1932), Detroit (1935), Cleveland (1954), Pittsburgh (1979), San Francisco (separate from Oakland in 1989) and Atlanta (1999).

October 21, 2009: In Game 5 of the NLCS, the Phillies defeat the Dodgers, capturing their 2nd straight pennant, the 1st time the franchise has ever done it, and the 1st time any Philly baseball team has done it since the 1929-30-31 A's.

Philadelphia, with their 10-4 victory at Citizens Bank Park, becomes the 1st NL team to win back-to-back Pennants since the Braves in 1995-96.

October 21, 2014: During Game 1 of the World Series at Kauffman Stadium, Laurence Leavy, better known as the Marlin Man, is approach by a Royals representative, who informs him that team owner David Glass is upset with his bright orange Miami jersey that is diverting attention from the home team on national television.

Although he is offered a variety of inducements, including autographed memorabilia and an opportunity to sit in the luxury boxes, the workers compensation attorney refuses to remove his colorful garb, choosing to remain in his $8,000 seat behind home plate. This must have particularly infuriated Glass, as he married into the Walton family of Walmart infamy, noted for their poor treatment of employees and distate for workers comp. Laurence Leavy is a hero, for both workers and freedom of expression.

As for the game, the 1st World Series game in Kansas City in 29 years, the Royals are beaten by the San Francisco Giants 7-1, behind a home run by Hunter Pence and the pitching of Madison Bumgarner, who allows just 4 hits, 1 a home run by Salvador Perez.

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