"Let us go forth a while, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms...
The game of ball is glorious."

--Walt Whitman

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Curses Foiled Again

I am now at peace with the Twins' inglorious exit from the playoffs. Their failure was an unfortunate but necessary chapter in an amazing story.

Boston, you see, needed to beat the Yankees. After years suffering under the lash of their division rival's endless expense account and seemingly unshakeable dominance, after their heartbreaking loss against them in last year's ALCS, after all the chants of "1918" and "Who's your daddy?", the time had come to shut them up, sit them down, and tell the Bambino that enough is enough, already.

But for Boston to beat the Yankees, they had to play the Yankees. And for two teams from the same division, the only place to meet is the league championship series. Given the long and hostile history between these two teams, I'm sure that if the Red Sox had reached the World Series through other teams--if, in other words, the Twins had been the ones to send the Yankees home--their victory would have lost some of its sparkle. They would have wondered, could we have done this if we'd had to beat them on the way? And those charming Yankee fans would have been quick to echo those fears with claims that Boston never would have gotten past the Bronx Bombers.

So the Twins and the Angels had to be set aside for history to be made.

It didn't look good for the Idiots, as the Red Sox styled themselves, did it? Down three games to none in the ALCS, a deficit insurmountable in all the long history of this great game. Three outs away from being swept, in fact, facing one of the most formidable closers in recent memory. But their fans held up their "I Believe!" signs, and the Idiots decided they could believe for a few innings, and they rallied, and they won. And won, and won, and won. And the Yankees gave us the Biggest Choke Ever--thank you very much, boys, that was delicious. Could you lose in humiliating fashion again next year, too? I'd like to order a second-place finish, hold the wild card. Start cooking, Steinbrenner.

Meanwhile, as the poor benighted Yankees cleaned out their lockers and their owner was repeatedly defibrilated in his secret headquarters, the Idiots capered home to Fenway Park and their first World Series since 1986. Remember that one? Bill Buckner? Enough said.

I entertained myself with a certain mental image through the Fall Classic. Derek Jeter, slumped on a couch in a darkened living room, the flickering light from the television set illuminating his rumpled clothes and three-day beard. On the end table by his elbow sits a bottle of Pepto Bismol, from which he grimly quaffs whenever the Red Sox score. And wonder of wonders, quite possibly for the first time in his life, he isn't smirking.

A lovely picture, isn't it? If only I could draw.

I got a bit nervous when they went up three games to none in the World Series. Didn't you? They'd just done the impossible versus the Yankees, and wouldn't it have been the ultimate confirmation of the curse for the very same thing to happen to them?

But last night we discovered that yes, the Curse of Pay-Rod does indeed trump the Curse of the Bambino. Perhaps the Bambino took a good look at the financial state of the game of baseball and the resulting competitive disparities and decided he didn't like the Yankees anymore? The newer curse does seem to contain the same humiliation clause the old one did, which I personally find reassuring. And with the Yankees' farm system bled dry and an aging, overpaid and therefore largely untradeable lineup, the Curse of Pay-Rod should have lots of raw material to work with over the next few seasons.

Maybe Boston can get a little dynasty of its own going. Several division championships in a row, another ring or two, and so forth. Wouldn't that be great for them, after such a long drought?

Oh, but not next year's ring. Sorry, Boston. That one's ours.

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