Bartman and Boone

I can’t believe that it has been ten years since this happened.

Which also means that it has been ten years (plus two days) since this happened.

If neither of these cruel things happened, we (most probably) would have had a Cubs – Red Sox World Series in 2003. Remember, that this was before the Red Sox went on to win the World Series in 2004 and 2007. If Twitter existed back then, it would have exploded. The thought of the Cubs and their (then) 95 year World Series drought against the Red Sox and their (then) 85 year World Series drought was a baseball story line that even the most sadistic sports writer could not have conceived would ever actually happen. Would there have been any doubt that the series would have gone seven games? The despair of two tortured fan bases and the thought that one would continue to suffer for who knows how much longer would have played out before our eyes.

There was a nice piece in the Times about how Steve Bartman has basically lived a life of exile within the Chicagoland area. And in many ways, the fate of his beloved Cubs has followed him into a state of exile. In the 10 years since that mid October week in 2003, the two franchises have moved in radically different paths with the Sox winning 2 World Series and are close to making it to a 3rd, while the Cubs have only made it to the post season twice and in both cases, were unceremoniously swept in the League Divisional Series.

The Cubs now have new ownership and they even took Theo Epstein from the Sox in the hopes that his ‘magic’ (which some observant Sox fans may question) would rub off on the Cubs 105 year championship curse. If I were them, I would have Steve Bartman ride into Wrigley Field on a Billy Goat from center field, stop at home plate and shotgun a can of Old Style. If that doesn’t exorcise the demons of Clark and Addison, there is always next year!

Bing Crosby and The Kid

Teddy Ballgame

Over the weekend, there were two great vintage baseball stories in the NY Times.

The first was a profile of John Updike’s seminal baseball essay The Hub Bids Kid Adieu. The essay documented the famous last game that Ted Williams played for the Red Sox, when he hit a home run in his final at bat in the majors yet refused to acknowledge the crowd and the press as he rounded the bases for the final time. Over the years, Williams’ relationship with the Boston press and the Red Sox fan base was hardly cordial. The irony is that Updike was not even planning on being in attendance at that game:

Only 10,455 fans turned up to say goodbye to Williams, who was 42, hobbled by aches and pains. Among them, sitting behind third base, was 28-year-old John Updike, who had actually scheduled an adulterous assignation that day. But when he reached the woman’s apartment, on Beacon Hill, he found that he had been stood up: no one was home. “So I went, as promised, to the game” he wrote years later, “and my virtue was rewarded.”

If you have not read the original essay in the New Yorker, I highly recommend it.

An even more important story surfaced this weekend about Bing Crosby and his passion for the game of baseball. I was surprised to learn that Crosby was a part owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. His ownership spanned the 1960 season when the Pirates famously beat the NY Yankees in the seventh game of that series on Bill Mazeroski’s 9th inning, game 7 home run. With Crosby’s hectic travel schedule due to his “day job”, he did not get to see his Pirates play as much as he would have liked. During the 1960 World Series, he was too nervous to watch the series so he traveled to France and listened to the game on wireless radio. So what else did he do? He recorded the broadcast!

He knew he would want to watch the game later “if his Pirates won” so he hired a company to record Game 7 by kinescope, an early relative of the DVR, filming off a television monitor. The five-reel set, found in December in Crosby’s home, is the only known complete copy of the game, in which Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski hit a game-ending home run to beat the Yankees, 10-9. It is considered one of the greatest games ever played.

Crosby, the singer and movie, radio and TV star, had more foresight than the television networks and stations, which erased or discarded nearly all of the Major League Baseball games they carried until the 1970s.

A canny preservationist of his own legacy, Crosby, who died in 1977, kept a half-century’s worth of records, tapes and films in the wine cellar turned vault in his Hillsborough, CA., home.

So for the first time in 50 years, the full broadcast of the famous 7th Game of the 1960 World Series will be able to be viewed in its entirety when its re-broadcast this October. I can’t wait and like Mr. Crosby, I’ll have to find a nice scotch on the rocks to enjoy during the broadcast

Buddy, Can You Spare A Room?

Great article about how the Tampa Bay Rays had to scramble to find hotel rooms because the World Series has been put on hold due to the terrible weather in the Philadelphia area

The puddles did it. As soon as Jeff Ziegler, the director of team travel for the Tampa Bay Rays, saw water covering the infield at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night, he realized Game 5 of the World Series might be suspended. Instantaneously, Ziegler also realized he needed to locate hotel rooms for 170 waterlogged people.

Ziegler called hotels near downtown Philadelphia, but he had as much success as someone selling $600 doorknobs. Not only did he discover that finding the 87 rooms the Rays needed was impossible, but hotel manager after hotel manager also said there was barely a spare cot. The puddles were growing bigger.

Opening Day

Well, here we are on the eve of another opening day of the baseball season. The off season has been quite active, with all the free agent signings, the capital of our country finally getting a baseball team (Go Nationals! For the record, I very much preferred naming the team the Senators than the Nationals. The Senators have much more historical significance in my mind. At least they are using the old Senators cap designs), and the ugly steriod scandal. But above all that, there is a collective glow of happiness coming from the greater New England region and Red Sox Nation that has still not worn off from the Red Sox run to the 2004 World Series Championship. So while there are definitely some serious issues (steriods) and inequalities (no revenue sharing) still present on the baseball landscape, you can’t help but get excited about Opening Day. It means summer is almost here.

Play ball!!

Its Sinking In

The significance of the Red Sox come back victory over the Yankees this week is slowly sinking in. The past two days at work have been fairly unproductive because I have been in such a state of delerious bliss. I have printouts of various photos, images, and web site pages taped all over my desk area. I have this hilarious PhotoShopped image of the moment when A-Rod is slapping the ball from Bronson Arroyo’s mitt, where there is a handbag hanging on his left forearm. I am zinging the numerous friends of mine who are Yankee fans, who have so mercilessly zinged me over the years. I am zinging Yankee fans that I barely know. Its just a wonderful time.

The last time the Red Sox were in the World Series was when I was a Freshman in college. I only hope that it will not be another 18 years until their next visit. I am going to savor this time, I am going to root like I never have for my Red Sox. Its going to be a great series. I have a lot of respect for the St. Louis Cardinals franchise, team and the city. But the Sox are going to win…they have to win, they must win.

Letterman, The Sports Guy

Curt Schilling was on the Late Show with David Letterman on Thursday evening and he read a really funny Top 10 List. #1 is absolutely hysterical.

Here is just a fantastic article from Bill Simmons (aka The Sports Guy) of ESPN that again sums up the state of being a Red Sox fan during this state of sheer extacy. A far cry from his article last year when the Sox did not fair as well against the Yanks.

The Series

Tonight begins another chapter in the Yankees versus Red Sox series. While there is great anamosity between the franchises and the players, I refrain from calling it a rivalry because as we all know, the results have been pretty lopsided since the Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees back in 1918. Over the past few years, its been a dead heat, but on the long term, the Yanks and their 26 Championships is pretty daunting.

I am approaching this with an open mind. I am a Red Sox fan, so I know not to do too much yapping until it’s over. I think the Sox have as good a chance as any to win this series, and right now, that is as far ahead as I am looking.