Friday, November 4, 2016

November 4, 1956: Revolution and Sport In Hungary

November 4, 1956, 60 years ago: Soviet troops enter Hungary to end the Hungarian Revolution that started on October 23. Thousands are killed, more are wounded, and nearly a quarter of a million people leave the country. (Today, the population is about 10 million.)

Soccer team Budapest Honvéd FC was out of the country at the time, playing Athletic Bilbao in the European Cup. Eliminated, they managed to get their families out of the country. Their stars, the bulk of the "Mighty Magyars" team that won the 1952 Olympics, embarrassed England in 1953, and reached the 1954 World Cup Final, went elsewhere, including some staying in Spain: Ferenc Puskás to Real Madrid, and Sándor Kocsis and Zoltán Czibor to Barcelona. 

Since that year's Olympics were given to Melbourne, Australia, in the Southern Hemisphere, they began on November 22 so the weather would be warm. Throughout the Olympics, Hungarian athletes were cheered by fans from the host nation and other countries. Many of them gathered in the boxing arena when Laszlo Papp won a Gold Medal.


A few days later, the crowd was with the Hungarian water polo team in its match against the Soviet Union which became known as the Blood In the Water Match. The game became rough and, when a Hungarian was forced to leave the pool with blood streaming from a cut over his eye, a riot almost broke out. But police restored order, and the game was called early, with Hungary leading 4–0. The Hungarians went on to win the Gold Medal.

At the end of the calendar year, Time magazine named the Hungarian Freedom Fighters their Men of the Year. This was before they made the distinction "Person (or People) of the Year," although women had been recognized as such before.

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November 4, 1650: Willem Henrik, Prins van Oranje, Graaf van Nassau is born in The Hague, the Netherlands, the son of William II, Prince of Orange and Stadtholder of the Netherlands. He became Stadtholder upon his father's death in 1672. As a result of the "Glorious Revolution" in Great Britain in 1688, he, married to Mary Stuart, Protestant daughter of the ousted Catholic King James II, was named King William III. He resigned until his death in 1702.

The Protestants called him King Billy. Early in his reign, the Battle of the Boyne was fought in what is today Northern Ireland, and the Protestants won. To this day, it is a sore spot on the Emerald Isle. It is even invoked in the rivalry between soccer giants in Glasgow, Scotland: Rangers, the Protestant club, vs. Celtic, the Catholic club.

When Celtic won the European Cup in 1967, the 1st British team to do so, their captain was Billy McNeill. And their fans still sing, "There's only one King Billy, and it's McNeill." (He is still alive, age 76.

November 4, 1879: William Penn Adair Rogers is born in Oologah, Oklahoma Territory. Will Rogers was a stage performer and newspaper columnist, one of the nation's leading commentators and humorists in the early 20th Century, until his death in a plane crash in 1935.

What did he have to do with sports? As far as I know, nothing. But on January 1, 1947, the Will Rogers Bowl was played at Taft Stadium in Oklahoma City. Pepperdine beat Nebraska Wesleyan 38-13. Only 800 people paid to see it, so it was never played again.

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November 4, 1909: James Laverne Webb is born in Meridian, Mississippi. An infielder, "Skeeter" Webb played in the major leagues from 1932 to 1948, including winning the 1945 World Series with the Detroit Tigers. But he was never more than a backup. He died in 1986.

November 4, 1922: Edwin Frank Basinski is born in  Buffalo. An infielder, he was a wartime callup for the Brooklyn Dodgers, appearing in 39 games in the 1944 season, and 108 more in 1945. He had 56 more games, all with the 1947 Pittsburgh Pirates, finishing with a "lifetime" batting average of just .244. He did, however, play in the minor leagues until 1959, including a long tenure with the Portland Beavers, which earned him a place in the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame.

At age 94, he is 1 of 26 living former Brooklyn Dodgers, and is the last living player whose name is mentioned in jazz singer Dave Frishberg's ode to ballplayers of his youth, "Van Lingle Mungo."

November 4, 1923: Howard William Meeker is born in the Hamilton suburb of Kitchener, Ontario. Howie Meeker is born. He is the last surviving player from the 1947 Stanley Cup Champion Toronto Maple Leafs, and won that season's Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year. He and Phil Samis are the last 2 survivors of the 1948 Cup-winning Leafs. He and Tod Sloan are the last 2 survivors of the 1949 Cup-winning Leafs. And he, Sloan, John McCormack and Danny Lewicki are the last 4 survivors of the 1951 Cup-winning Leafs.

A right wing on the ice, Howie was also one in politics, being elected to Canada's House of Commons as a member of the Progressive Conservative Party in 1951. He discovered that being an active athlete and an active politician did not work out well, and did not run again in 1953. He coached the Leafs in the 1956-57 season, and later became a broadcaster, receiving the Foster Hewitt Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame.

November 4, 1924: President Calvin Coolidge, who took the office on the death of Warren Harding the year before, is elected to a full term in his own right. The Republican, who had been Governor of Massachusetts before being Vice President, took advantage of a split in the Democratic Party that nullified a split in the Republican ranks.

The slogan was "Keep Cool with Coolidge," and the nation agreed. He won 382 Electoral Votes, and 54 percent of the popular vote. John W. Davis, a former Congressman from West Virginia and U.S. Ambassador to Britain, won 136 Electoral Votes, but his 29 percent represents the lowest popular-vote total in the history of the Democratic Party. Senator Robert La Follette of Wisconsin, formerly a Republican, won his home State for 13 Electoral Votes, and took 16 percent of the vote.

Coolidge had recently lost his 16-year-old son John to an infection that could have been easily treated had antibiotics been invented. He had also recently watched the Washington Senators win the District of Columbia's only World Series to date. He did not like baseball, but his wife Grace did.

He was known as "Silent Cal" for his reticence. Legend has it that 2 women, seeing him at a party, made a bet. So one walked up to him and said, "I made a bet with my friend that I could get you to say 3 words to me." And Coolidge said, "You lose."

Even when he decided not to run for a 2nd full term, he was brief: He told the press simply, "I do not choose to run for President in 1928," and walked away. He may have seen the Crash of 1929 coming, and didn't want to get blamed for it. He should be, but he left his successor, Herbert Hoover, holding the bag.

November 4, 1927: William Calhoun (no middle name) is born in San Francisco. A forward, Bill Calhoun is 1 of 2 surviving players from the 1951 Rochester Royals, the only NBA Championship for the franchise now known as the Sacramento Kings. Frank Saul is the other.

November 4, 1930: Richard Morrow Groat is born in the Pittsburgh suburb of Wilkinsville, Pennsylvania. Dick Groat is a rare 2-sport star. He played basketball at Duke University long before that was cool, setting an NCAA record with 839 points in the 1952 season, and his Number 10 was the 1st they ever retired. He played the 1952-53 season with the Fort Wayne Pistons.

He gave up basketball because he was better at baseball. A 5-time All-Star, the shortstop won the World Series, the National League batting title, and the NL Most Valuable Player with the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates. His hometown team traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals, and he won another World Series in 1964. He has since gone back to basketball, broadcasting for the University of Pittsburgh's team.

November 4, 1931: William Dodgin Jr. (no middle name) is born in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England. The son of Bill Dodgin Sr., a wing-half for several English soccer teams in the 1930s, he became a centreback for North London club Arsenal, playing 1 game in their 1953 League title season. He later played for and managed West London's Fulham, and died in 2000.

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November 4, 1950: Grover Cleveland Alexander dies on his farm in his hometown of St. Paul, Nebraska, after years of drinking and epilepsy wrecking his health. He was 63. He won Pennants with the 1915 Philadelphia Phillies, the 1918 Chicago Cubs, and the 1926 and 1928 St. Louis Cardinals. He won 373 games, sharing the all-time NL lead with Christy Mathewson, and 3rd all-time behind Cy Young (split over both leagues) and Walter Johnson (American League). He pitched 90 shutouts, 2nd only to Johnson.

He will forever be best remembered for pitching the most famous strikeout in baseball history, to Tony Lazzeri of the Yankees with the bases loaded and 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th inning, with the Cards up 3-2. What everybody -- including the 1952 film The Winning Team, starring Ronald Reagan as Alex -- tends to forget is that it didn't end the game.

After Mathewson, Johnson and Young, he was only the 4th pitcher elected to the Hall of Fame. In 1999, The Sporting News listed him 12th on their 100 Greatest Baseball Players, trailing only Johnson (4th) and Mathewson (7th) among pitchers. Since he played before uniform numbers were worn, the Phillies honor him with a "P" stanchion with their retired numbers.

November 4, 1952: General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the great American hero of World War II, is overwhelmingly elected President. The Republican nominee won 442 Electoral Votes, while the Democratic nominee, Governor Adlai Stevenson of Illinois, won only 9 States for 89 Electoral Votes. "Ike" won the popular vote, 55 to 44 percent, ending 20 years of Democratic governance in the White House. The Republicans also win both houses of Congress.

November 4, 1955: Cy Young dies in Newcomerstown, Ohio. Belying his name, he was 88. The next season, Major League Baseball instituted the Cy Young Award, for the most valuable pitcher in baseball. In 1967, they began handing them out for the most valuable pitcher in each League.

His 511 wins -- and 313 losses -- will never be approached under the current rules and thought processes of baseball. In 1999, 88 years after he pitched his last game, he was named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, and The Sporting News named him Number 14 on their list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, behind only Johnson, Mathewson and Alexander among pitchers.

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November 4, 1967: Eric Peter Karros is born in Hackensack, Bergen County, New Jersey, and grows up in San Diego. The 1st baseman won NL Rookie of the Year for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1992, and reached the postseason with the Dodgers in 1995 and '96, the Chicago Cubs in 2003, and the Oakland Athletics in 2004. He hit 284 career home runs, 270 with the Dodgers, the most in the Los Angeles portion of their history. He is now a color commentator on Fox.

November 4, 1972: Luís Filipe Madeira Caeiro Figo is born in Almada, Portugal. The left wing won the Taça de Portugal (Portuguese Cup) with Lisbon club Sporting Clube de Portugal in 1995. With Barcelona, he won the Copa del Rey (King's Cup) and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1997, the "Double" of La Liga and the Copa del Rey in 1998, and La Liga again in 1999. He was one of the most beloved players in Barcelona's history. In 2000, he won the Ballon d'Or (Golden Ball) as World Player of the Year.

But by that point, Barça's buyout clause for him had been triggered by their arch-rivals, Real Madrid, and perhaps the biggest rivalry in club soccer got nastier than ever. Barça fans, too blinkered to blame the club rather than the player, threw so many objects at him on his 1st game back in Barcelona with Real, he had to stop taking corner kicks. A banner, when translated into English, read, "We hate you so much, because we loved you so much." Two years later, someone threw a pickled pig's head onto the field near him.

He helped Real win La Liga in 2001 and 2003, and the UEFA Champions League in 2002. Sold to Internazionale Milano, he won Italy's Serie A in 2006, '07, '08 and '09, and the Coppa Italia in 2006 for a Double He also led Portugal to the Final of Euro 2004 on home soil, but they lost to Greece.

Figo is the founder of Network90, a private members' networking site for the Professional Football Industry. He now lives in Sweden, homeland of his wife, Helen Svedin, a model. They have 3 children.

November 4, 1975: Orlando Lamar Pace is born in Sandusky, Ohio. It's not often that an offensive lineman becomes a star in football, but he did, becoming known as The Pancake Man at Ohio State. "Pancake" is a term for the action of an offensive lineman knocking a defensive lineman on his back, flat as a pancake. When Sports Illustrated named its 85-man College Football All-Century Team in 1999, he and Bill Fralic of the University of Pittsburgh were named the starting offensive tackles.

Pace was just getting warmed up. In 1997, the St. Louis Rams, having given the Jets 5 picks for the top pick of the NFL Draft, chose him, making him the 1st offensive lineman chosen 1st overall in 29 years. It paid off, as he made 7 Pro Bowls, and protected quarterback Kurt Warner so well that the Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV and reached (but lost) Super Bowl XXXVI. He was named to the NFL's 2000s All-Decade Team and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Rams retired his Number 76.

November 4, 1977: Larry Robert Bigbie is born in Hobart, Indiana. The left fielder played 6 seasons in the major leagues, including with the 2006 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

November 4, 1978: John William Grabow is born in the Los Angeles suburb of Arcadia, California. A lefthanded pitcher, he went 24-19 for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs from 2003 to 2011.

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November 4, 1980: Ronald Reagan, former actor and former Governor of California, begins an era of Republican dominance, winning 489 Electoral Votes to be elected President. President Jimmy Carter, the Democratic incumbent, wins only 6 States, plus the District of Columbia: His home State of Georgia, his Vice President Walter Mondale's home State of Minnesota, Rhode Island, Maryland, West Virginia and Hawaii; plus the District of Columbia, for 49 Electoral Votes.

The popular vote was considerably closer, but very solid: Reagan won 51 percent, Carter 41 percent, and an independent candidate, Congressman John B. Anderson of Illinois, who had run in that year's Republican Primaries, 6.6 percent, though he didn't take a single County, let alone State, and didn't exceed 16 percent in any State. The Republicans also gain control of the Senate.

November 4, 1982: Devin Devorris Hester is born in Riviera Beach, Florida. The Chicago Bears receiver is a 4-tie Pro Bowler, and is pro football's ultimate return man. He is the holder of the following NFL records: 20 career kick return touchdowns, 14 career punt return touchdowns, and (he shares this one) 5 kick return touchdowns in a season.

He was named to the NFL's 2000s All-Decade Team, and looks like a sure bet for the Pro Football Hall of Fame -- once he's eligible. He has to retire first. He now plays for the Baltimore Ravens.

November 4, 1984: Dustin James Brown is born in Ithaca, New York. The Captain of the Los Angeles Kings led them to the 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cups.

November 4, 1988: The expansion Charlotte Hornets make their NBA debut. It didn't go so well: They got clobbered, 133-93 by the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Charlotte Coliseum. Laker legend Kurt Rambis and Bloomfield, New Jersey native Kelly Tripucka each put up 16 points for the Hornets, but the Cavs got 22 points from Ron Harper and 20 from Brad Daugherty.

November 4, 1989: The expansion Orlando Magic make their NBA debut, at the now-demolished Orlando Arena (a.k.a. the O-Arena). The New Jersey Nets spoil the party, winning 111-106. Dennis Hopson scored 24 points for the visitors, while the Magic's Terry Catledge led all scorers with 25.

November 4, 1996, 20 years ago: Jerry Rice of the San Francisco 49ers becomes the 1st NFL player to catch 1,000 passes. He catches another for a touchdown, and the 49ers beat the New Orleans Saints, 24-14 at the Superdome in New Orleans.

Easily the greatest receiver ever, and possible the greatest player, he finished his career with 1,549 receptions, 22,895 receiving yards, 23,546 all-purpose yards, 197 receiving touchdowns, and 208 overall touchdowns, all still records.

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November 4, 2001: Game 7 of the World Series, at Bank One Ballpark (now Chase Field) in Phoenix. Although the record has been tied, this remains the latest date that a Major League Baseball game that counts has ever been played.

It started as a duel between 2 of the greatest and most controversial pitchers of the time, Roger Clemens for the Yankees, and Curt Schilling for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Both of them would become much more controversial as the years went on.

Both lived up to the occasion and the matchup, and pitched very well: Schilling held the Yankees to 1 run on 4 hits over the first 7 innings; Clemens held the Diamondbacks to 1 run on 7 hits before Yankee manager Joe Torre called on Mike Stanton to get the last 2 outs in the top of the 7th.

Diamondback manager Bob Brenly stuck with Schilling for the top of the 8th, with the game tied 1-1, and Alfonso Soriano hit a home run. 2-1 Yankees, and it looked like Soriano had become one of the biggest World Series heroes ever -- the man who had hit the 2nd-latest home run in World Series history, behind only Bill Mazeroski's bottom-of-the-9th homer to beat the Yankees for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960.

Brenly brings Randy Johnson, who'd already beaten the Yankees in Games 2 and 6, in to relieve. One day's rest? It's Game 7: Win or lose, there's no tomorrow, and you've got until late February to rest. Torre relieves Stanton by sending supercloser Mariano Rivera out for a 2-inning save.. He'd gotten away with that 5 times in this postseason. This was the 6th time he'd tried it.

It was still 2-1 Yankees in the bottom of the 9th, and Mariano needed to get just 3 more outs to give the Yankees their 4th straight World Championship, their 5th in the last 6 years, their 27th overall.

It didn't happen. Mark Grace led off with a single to center. Brenly sent in David Dellucci to pinch-run for him. Damian Miller grounded back to Mariano, who threw to 2nd to start a double play -- and threw it away. Tying run on 2nd. World Series-winning run on 1st.

Brenly sent Jay Bell up to pinch-hit for the Big Unit. He bunted, and Mariano threw to 3rd to get Dellucci on a force. The tying run is still on 2nd, the World Series-winning run is on 1st, but now there's 1 out. Just need to get 2 more.

Mariano wouldn't get his next 2 outs until April 3, 2002 -- 5 months later, or 148 days.

Brenly sends Midre Cummings to pinch-run for Miller at 2nd. Tony Womack doubles down the right field line. Cummings scores. Bell reaches 3rd with the run that could win the Series, and could score on a sacrifice fly.

Craig Counsell, who had been the man who drove in the tying run and scored the winning run for the Florida Marlins in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, comes up with the chance to be the hero again. Mariano hits him with a pitch. Not known as a purpose pitcher, Mariano was, for one of the very few times in his career, rattled.

Up steps Luis Gonzalez. A man whose seasonal home run totals had been 13 at age 23, 10 at 24, 15 at 25 (okay, he was playing his home games in the Houston Astrodome), 8 at 26 (1994, strike-shortened season), 13 at 27, 15 at 28 (the last 2 as a Chicago Cub, and remember that the wind blows in at Wrigley Field half the time), 10 at 29 (back in Houston, still in the Astrodome), and then...

He hit 23 home runs at age 30. Yes, he was now playing for the Detroit Tigers at Tiger Stadium, but this was also 1998. The year of whatever it was that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were using to hit 70 and 66 home runs, respectively. Gonzalez hit 26 at 31, and 31 at 32. Very good, but no big deal -- until you realize that those last 2 years were with the Diamondbacks, playing their home games at "The BOB," which, like the Astrodome but unlike most other indoor stadiums, is a bad ballpark for hitters. At age 34, Gonzalez hit 28 homers. At 35, 26. At 36, 17. At 37, 24. At 38 and 39, 15 both times. He closed his career with 8 homers at age 40 in 2006. Respectable numbers, if they were achieved honestly.

In 2001, at age 33, the year of Barry Bonds hitting 73 home runs, Luis Gonzalez hit 57 home runs. That's 26 more than he had ever hit before, and 29 more than he would ever hit again. People talk about Brady Anderson hitting 50 in 1996, when he'd only topped 16 once before, had never topped 21, and would never top 24 again nor 19 but once, and they suspected steroids.

What Luis Gonzalez did on the night of November 4, 2001 did not suggest steroids. Just as Bobby Thomson said that, 50 years earlier, he didn't need help to know that Ralph Branca was going to throw a meaty fastball. Doesn't mean Thomson didn't take advantage of the help that the Giants had been offering for the last few weeks. And it doesn't mean that Gonzalez hadn't been using steroids since 1998.

Gonzalez hit a looper into center field for a base hit. Bell scored the run that won the World Series for the Diamondbacks in only their 4th season.

At the time, I was terribly disappointed. But not crushed. There were a lot of really good players on that team who had played for a long time, some with awful teams, and had struggled to get to this point, and really deserved it: Grace with the Cubs. Johnson with the Mariners. Schilling with the Philadelphia Phillies. Gonzalez with the Astros. Bell and Womack with the Pirates. Matt Williams with the San Francisco Giants and Cleveland Indians.

For the Yankees, Paul O'Neill and Scott Brosius retired, and Tino and Chuck Knoblauch were allowed to leave via free agency. So 4 starters needed to be replaced. The game had a true "end of an era" feel, emphasized by Buster Olney when he titled his book about the 1996-2001 Yankees, and especially this game, The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty.

Some Yankee Fans were heartbroken. Not me. I was over it fairly quickly, and by Opening Day I was really optimistic again.

Over the next few years, things would change, and make this defeat something to get really angry about. Williams would be revealed as a caught steroid user. Gonzalez would call a press conference and angrily deny that he had used them, after a newspaper article danced around the question of whether he did. Although never publicly revealed to have been caught, people have often wondered about Johnson and Schilling, chosen the co-Most Valuable Players of this Series.

And, of course, accusations have also been leveled at some of the Yankees from this Series, including Clemens (the proof has still never been publicly revealed), Knoblauch (who admitted taking human-growth hormone, or HGH, but also said that it hurt more than it helped, which doesn't take him completely off the hook, but hardly makes him a cheater on the level of, say, David Ortiz), and Andy Pettitte (the one thing that can be proven was a brief moment the next season,which didn't help the Yankees win a Pennant).

But no one suggests the D-backs' win was "tainted." Indeed, the only team whose World Series wins or Pennants are said to not be fairly won are those of the Yankees.

Take out all suspected steroid cheats, and declare their World Series wins vacant, and, between 1996 and 2013, you've got the '97 Marlins (they didn't have Ivan Rodriguez yet), the '02 Angels, the '05 White Sox, the '06 and '11 Cardinals, the '08 Phillies, and the '10 and '12 Giants. That's it: 8 out of 18.

Unless you're prepared to vacate the titles won by the Diamondbacks in 2001; the Marlins in 2003; and the Red Sox in 2004, 2007 and 2013, then don't tell me the Yankees cheated.

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November 4, 2004: With the original Charlotte Hornets having been moved to New Orleans 2 years earlier, the expansion Charlotte Bobcats make their NBA debut, 16 years to the day after the original Hornets did.

This game was also played at the now-demolished Charlotte Coliseum, but it didn't go much better: The Washington Wizards beat the 'Cats, 103-96. Emeka Okafor scored 19 for the hosts, but Antawn Jamison (a North Carolina graduate) dropped 24 on them for the Wiz.

When the Hornets changed their name to the New Orleans Pelicans, the Bobcats were given the Charlotte Hornets name and records (1988-2002), and have added them to the Bobcats' history (not that it was much).

November 4, 2008: History is made when America elects a black man as its President. Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, the Democratic nominee, wins 365 Electoral Votes and 53 percent of the popular vote. Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee, wins 173 Electoral Votes and 45 percent of the popular vote.

At about midnight -- 11:00 PM, local time -- Obama took the stage at Grant Park in Chicago to deliver his victory speech. In the audience was Oprah Winfrey, media mogul and America's 1st black female billionaire. She had tears of joy in her eyes over this magical moment of history. A few feet away from her, so did the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who had finished 3rd in Democratic delegates in 1984 and 2nd in 1988. A civil rights activist for nearly 30 years, he could have been excused for thinking, "It should have been me" (as the 1st black President). I saw none of that in his face.

I had no personal stake in electing the 1st black President -- or the 1st female President. I had a huge stake in having the best possible President. When the campaign began, I thought Senator Hillary Clinton of New York should be the one. But Obama out-argued her on the subject of the Iraq War, and then beat McCain on that issue and on the economy, which crashed in September.

McCain, 72, had taken the inexperienced and very flaky 44-year-old Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate, the 2nd woman and the 1st Republican woman nominated for Vice President. In contrast, Obama, 47, had taken the 66-year-old Senator Joe Biden of Delaware.

Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame Sarah Palin for John McCain Losing the 2008 Election

5. Sarah Palin. While her flakiness and extremism turned off a lot of moderates, it (and her looks -- she was a former beauty pageant winner) turned on a lot of conservatives (including McCain). We'll never know how many people, who didn't quite trust McCain, that she brought back into the fold, but it may have canceled out the people she lost by being, well, Sarah Palin.

4. Barack Obama. He ran a great campaign.

3. The Iraq War. The outgoing President, George W. Bush, knew that his father, President George H.W. Bush, had won a war with Iraq in 1991, but ended it when Iraqi troops were kicked out of Kuwait. Bush the father didn't go on to Baghdad to take over and occupy, because, as someone who understood the world, he knew it would "lose the peace." Bush the son thought not going on to Baghdad was a big reason why his father lost in 1992.

So Bush the son dragged his war out. He didn't want to win the war; he only wanted to have the war, to use as a club over people's patriotism. And the American people got sick of it, giving the Democrats control of both houses of Congress in 2006.

McCain, to his credit, thought the war should come to an end. But he thought America should end the war by winning it. He didn't say how he would do it, only that he would. The voters wanted to end it sooner rather than later, and didn't trust him to do it. They trusted Obama, who, unlike Hillary, had never supported it. McCain's suggestion that he would attack Iran next further turned voters off.

2. The Economy. Already in recession when the calendar year began, it crashed in September, and got worse in October. And McCain was the nominee of the incumbent party. There was no way to defend it: The usual Republican idea of tax cuts had helped to bring the crash on, and the people weren't buying it. They knew that Republicans, the party of conservative businessmen, couldn't be trusted to fix an economy that was wrecked by conservative businessmen. Like...

1. George W. Bush. He was the reason for Reason Number 3 and Reason Number 2. He, not Palin, and not even McCain himself, was the Republican who caused McCain to lose.

November 4, 2009: Game 6 of the World Series. The Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-3 at the new Yankee Stadium, and clinched their 27th World Championship, 8 years to the day after they should have.

Hideki Matsui, in what turned out to be his last game with the Yankees, drove in 6 runs, including hitting a home run, a blast, off a "blast from the past," Pedro Martinez. I don't think any Yankee homer -- not by Chris Chambliss, Reggie Jackson, Bucky Dent, Don Mattingly, Jim Leyritz, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius, Derek Jeter, even Aaron Boone -- has ever made me feel better, because of what Pedro the Punk represents.

Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte and Jorge Posada, the holdovers from 2001, got their rings, Posada his 4th (his 5th title, though I don't think he got a ring for 1996), the others their 5th. For Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia, their 1st.

The slates had been wiped clean. As Hank Steinbrenner requested, the universe had been restored to order.

Let's hope that no future baseball season will ever have to wait until November 4 to be resolved. We need scheduling reform.

November 4, 2010: George "Sparky" Anderson dies of a lengthy illness in the Los Angeles suburb of Thousand Oaks, California. He was 76. A backup shortstop whose sole major league experience was with the 1959 Phillies, he was elected to the Hall of Fame as a manager. He reached the postseason 7 times, winning 5 Pennants, and was the 1st manager to win the World Series in both Leagues: With the 1975 and '76 Cincinnati Reds, and the 1984 Detroit Tigers. The Reds retired his Number 10, the Tigers his Number 11.

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