Thursday, October 21, 2004

Anything is Possible

Ok, let’s jump in the WayBack Machine™ real quick and bend space and time for a quick sec (all seconds are quick when time-traveling) and travel all the waaaay back to Monday October 11th. We’re going to go either to some major publishing houses with a book idea, or a major film studio with this pitch to them:

“Ok, it’s a sports story: Yankees-Red Sox in the ALCS. The Red Sox will win in 7, with the deciding game in Yankee Stadium. Manny Ramirez will not have a single RBI the entire series. Johnny Damon will be in a slump so bad that he’s practically hitless until game 7, where he will not only hit a massive home run into the Yankee upper deck, but also a Grand Slam and set an ALCS record by scoring 6 RBIs in one game. None other than Bucky F. Dent himself will throw out the first pitch in Game 7. Derek Lowe will finish with a lower series ERA than Curt Schilling, yet Schilling will still provide an unbelievably inspirational and rallying start in game 6—yes, 6. The Yankees will open by winning the first 3 games, with Mussina and Lieber looking nearly unhittable, and will score 19 runs in Game 3 at Fenway. Then the Sox come back: first in a dramatic come-from-behind-win against in 12 innings—tying the game with Mariano Rivera pitching in the bottom of the 9th. They follow this with a 14 inning win in which their bullpen is nearly perfect, even if Jason Varitek will have 3 passed balls from Tim Wakefield. To force game 7—which no team in the history of MLB has ever done—Curt Schilling, who was hobbled with a torn Achilles tendon in game 1, will have skin on his ankle sewn and stapled to his ankle bone in order to grind out a masterful pitching performance. Alex Rodriguez will get called for interference for karate-chopping a pitchers hand who was trying to tag him out—Bronson Arroyo no less. Several lucky breaks will actually go Boston’s way, from ground-rule doubles, to refs actually going back and making correct calls. And in the final game, the Yankees are barely in it.”

And we would get laughed out of every publishing house, every movie studio (take that back, I’m sure some “adult” studios in the valley would consider it. “There can be an orgy in the stands right?” they’d say) and they’d all say the same thing. “It’s not believable. Sure, people may buy the Sox winning and going to the series, but not after being down 0-3. And against the Yankees? No way, bub.” (I have heard tales that they call us “yokels” “bub.”)

That’s how amazing this ALCS has been.

Saturday night I joked with my friend Drew (a Yankees fan and a Long Island native transplanted here to GA), sometime during game 3 when the score was only as bad as say half-a-gajillion to five that “maybe they’re letting the Yankees have the 1st 3 games so it hurts them even more when the Sox come back.” I don’t think much of me believed that, though part of me probably did. I certainly didn’t think they were going to allow a sweep at Fenway—the team had played too hard.

Then Game 4 started and things began looking bleak.

I dreaded what I would have to write. I took solace in the fact that I could at least use a clever allusion to open the post. “So this is the way the series ends,” I planned to start, echoing T. S. Eliot, “not with a bang, but a whimper.” The line proved prophetic, only it turned out to be the Yankees going out with a whimper in game 7.

The 2004 Yankees can now take their place in MLB history with a choke job that puts Linda Lovelace to shame (ask your dirty older relatives kids).

My theory on why FOX never cut to video of George Steinbrenner during the waning innings of game 7 was that they were certain that once his team, with it’s nearly a fifth of a billion dollars in payroll, lost to the Red Sox, his head would explode, Scanners-style. And with the FCC cracking down on what can and cannot be shown on TV, FOX decided it wasn’t worth the risk (speaking of potential FCC risks, FOX should count themselves lucky—or thank the magic of 5-second-delay—that non of the patrons of Cask & Flagon or The Greatest Bar decided to turn the ACLS win into a true Roman Bacchanalia and just get nekkid right there on the bar.)

(Side note: to the girl at The Greatest Bar in the Red top and Cowboy hat, say “howdy” my way some time.)

Who do Sox get in the Series?

Either way the headlines are easy. If it’s the Cards, expect plenty of hippie jokes and 60s references and mention of possibly the Greatest Series of All Time. If it’s the ‘Stros, expect to hear about how it’s been since 1986 since the Sox have been here, 86 since they won, but that Houston has NEVER been to the World Series. Oh, and they may mention something about The Rocket too. Maybe.

What this goes to show is that for once, sportscasters are right when they say “anything can happen.” And I for one hope this carries over to other sports.

If the Sox can come back and beat the Yankees, Alabama can beat Tennessee, preferably before UGA’s kickoff (where they will beat Arkansas.)

If the Sox can come back and beat the Yankees, UGA can finally beat Florida in Jacksonville.

If the Sox can come back and beat the Yankees, UGA can go into Auburn and whip an unbeaten and highly ranked team of WarEagleTigerPlainsmen.

If the Sox can come back and beat the Yankees, UGA can finish it’s season unbeaten, whip Auburn one more time in the Georgia Dome and win the SEC title.

If the Sox can come back and beat the Yankees, some teams out of USC, Miami, OU and other teams ranked ahead of UGA can lose, and UGA can play—and win—in the Orange Bowl.

If the Sox can come back and beat the Yankees, they can take the Astros, or the Cardinals.

If the Sox can come back and beat the Yankees, anything can happen.

I can even close with an adaptation of Shakespeare, as it relates to the ALCS:

From Game 7, Act 1, scene 3 (the “pregame” speech)

He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian[1].
'Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.
'Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words
-Pedro Martinez, Schilling and Arroyo,
Bellhorn and Foulke, Wakefield andOrtiz-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shallne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of Idiots;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in Boston now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

[1] Note: for the purposes of this adaptation, please pretend St. Crispin’s Day happens in late October.

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