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Monday, October 18, 2004

Yankees-Red Sox (as the game enters the 12th inning)

If I were the people who run Major League Baseball, I'd make these guys play all the time. I'd make them trade for hurlers with questionable wings who are looking for redemption, failed projects with nasty stuff looking for one more chance to harness it, former top draft picks now role playing, starters walking toward the bullpen after nine innings are over, utility infielders delivering clutch hits and hard-hitting outfielders who run in on fly balls when they should be running back.

I'd cede two playoff spots to them unless they are purely awful during a given season, and I'd put less weight on games against relative bush league teams stationed in Kansas City and Tampa Bay that would have been worthy of busrides and overnight stays in rooming houses with leaky faucets and noisy, dripping window air-conditioning units a quarter-century ago. I'd let Schilling face Mussina, Martinez face a healthy Brown, and I'd want Arroyo in the pen for a key game and Loiaza getting a key double-play ball after failing miserably since his arrival after the trading deadline. I'd like lesser-known relievers named Myers (not Randy, Mike) strike out Godzilla in an extra frame, and I'd show the futility of Red Sox players trying to bunt a man along in extra innings.

I'd have matinee idol Johnny Damon, with the signature hair and a post-season batting average worthy of the nerdy kid on your little league team whose sigh of relief in getting a walk from the future felon wild kid pitcher created an indelible memory for you (the kid hit about .050), get the game winning hit in Game 5, letting the BoSox go back to the Bronx and resurrect Luis Tiant and Bill Lee to pitch games 6 and 7 because their pitching staff has few healthy arm/psyche combinations left. I'd have Damon take a curtain call to the clearly audible chants of "John-ny Da-mon, John-ny Da-mon."

Or I'd have seldom-used post-season defensive replacement Doug Mientkiewicz, a HS teammate of A-Rod, waltz by his HS buddy after hitting the game-winning HR. Or something like that.

Yes, I am tired. Yes, this game began at 4:40 in the afternoon. Yes, it's even possible that the NLCS game, which started 4 hours behind, might finish before this game does. And yes, I need to get up at 5 a.m. tomorrow to start my day.

But there's something so compelling about this rivalry, especially when one team can clinch a World Series berth with a win and an entire season is on the line. This is the Yankees-Red Sox, a rivalry with such a rich history.

I've written about baseball's successes, excesses, flaws, disappointments and pleasant surprises, as many bloggers are wont to do. I'm not a huge fan of Bud Selig, I express wonder at the talents of Carlos Beltran, I marvel at the consistency of Randy Johnson, and I like the class of the Yankees, the angst of the Red Sox and the talent of Vladimir Guerrero. I wish that Barry Bonds could be more likeable, hope that Jason Schmidt some day gets more meaningful recognition, and hope that Josh Beckett has one heckuva career. I root for Julio Franco to play until he is 60, Curt Schilling until he is 45, and Tim Wakefield until he is 50. I think that Barry Larkin deserves a happier ending than he's getting, that Buck Showalter knows what he is doing, and that perhaps Whitey Herzog might get one last hurrah as a manager.

There are so many thoughts about baseball, so many wonderful memories, and we all have our own, whether we root for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Philadelphia Phillies or the Chicago Cubs.

But there is no spectacle greater, no sight more wonderful to behold in Major League Baseball than the Yankees and Red Sox facing off in October.

It just doesn't get any better.


Blogger Brian said...

ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT POSTING!!! Whether you love them or hate them, you gotta respect the theater they create

11:26 AM  
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