You can have the Super Bowl and the Final Four. Take the Masters, Daytona 500, and NBA Finals while youre at it. Just leave me the World Series . . . still the greatest spectacle in sports. A few thoughts as the Marlins and Yankees celebrate the events 100th anniversary:
We need to crank up an old KISS tune for the soundtrack to this emotionally charged postseason: Tears Are Falling. Mark Prior and Pedro Martinez each on the mound with a three-run lead, five outs away from clinching a pennant for a legion of fans coast-to-coast . . . and they both lose. Has there ever been a less likely pair of events that determine World Series berths? Remember what Yogi said: It aint over.... (By the way, this was the first year since 1973 that both league championship series went to a decisive final game.)
(Speaking of tears, I am sick -- sick! -- of seeing Joe Torre cry in October. This guys a class act, but consider: hes won his sixth pennant(!) in eight years and broken millions of hearts all over New England. And HES bawling?! A little melodramatic for my taste.
Its unfair to drape the burden of a half-century of pennantless baseball on the shoulders of the 2003 Cubs. But heres a trend worth following . . . . Dating back to last years World Series, teams managed by Dusty Baker have lost six of seven games in which they had the chance to eliminate their opponent. And you cant blame that entirely on the mythical Cubbie Curse. Some men are big-game managers, some arent.
The ALCS Game 3 shenanigans between the Yankees and Red Sox are one more item on a list of mine (now numbering 14,388) I like to title, The DH and the End of Civilized Society. If Pedro Martinez has to, ahem, bat against New York, theres no way hes so demonstrative in his head-hunting style. (Its one thing to throw behind a batters head, the best way to actually bean a guy. Its quite another to then -- in front of millions of viewers -- point at your own head, spelling out your intentions.)
Heres the solution (at least until Bob Costas becomes commissioner and the DH is taken out back and shot). Every time an American League pitcher hits a batter -- regardless of intent -- he has to lead off the next inning. Leave it to the opposing team to determine if retaliation is necessary . . . an age-old concept that was part of baseballs DNA until the offensive steroid that is the DH was injected in 1973. If Nomar Garciaparra is leading off the bottom of the fourth, and Martinez drills a batter in the top of the fourth, Nomar misses a turn. And the hunter gets to play the role of the hunted.
Have you noticed the eery resemblance between Yankee coach Don Ill Tumble For Ya Zimmer and a helmetless Darth Vader? Did I miss Zim on the Return of the Jedi credits?
Ive really enjoyed following the Memphis Boys as Florida has made its unlikely run to the Series. Derrek Lee (a Chick in 1995-96), Jeff Conine (a Southern League champ as a Chick in 1990), and Braden Looper (20 saves as a Redbird in 1998) remind us of minor league baseballs vast network of connections. You really are seeing tomorrows stars today (or todays stars yesterday?).
Where are the uniform police when you need them? Simply put, Major League Baseball has to get rid of the batting-practice jersey . . . at least after BP has ended. The Cubs and Marlins need to learn a simple dress code for big-league ballplayers: your shirt needs to match the color of your pants (white at home, gray on the road). We had a nice study in contrast during the league championship series. The Yankees and Red Sox have those classic unis, recognizable to the most casual fans. Tuning into the NLCS, though, youd think this was March and the teams were playing exhibition ball in Sarasota. The Marlins may have an excuse . . . theyre still babes. But the Cubs? Seems like 95 years of frustration on the field can compromise a clubs sense of fashion.
A new peeve of mine is the Wife Cam (or in Garciaparras case, the Hamm Cam). How many shots of Sammy Sosas wife (and Kerry Woods) did we see during the Cubs division series with Atlanta? The TV producers seemed to believe their excitement (or anxiety) added to the drama. But where were Mrs. Sosa and Mrs. Wood last week at Wrigley during Chicagos collapse? The players tell us all we need to know about the emotional element of sports. Leave the spouses alone, especially if theyre only going to be highlighted during victories.
Ive got three words for Bret (Aarons Big Brother) Boone, Foxs guest analyst for the ALCS: buy a tie.