Monday, October 11, 2004

Baseball Round-up

If you are wondering why I insist on writing about sports so often, the reason is simple. Sports are important to me. They more than mere entertainment. As Bob Costas once said, "Sports is drama without a script." This is never more true than in the month of October when the major league baseball playoffs are in full swing. So, I see it as my duty to try to communicate this joy with those who may be missing out.

Houston Astros: Tonight the Houston Astros have a chance to make franchise history. The Astros have been very competitive for years, but they have never won a playoff series in the history of their franchise. Tonight the Astros will be playing a decisive Game 5 against the Braves in Turner Field in Atlanta.

Sworn Enemies: For the second year in a row, sworn enemies will square off for a chance to represent the American League in the World Series. The Boston Red Sox advanced past the Anaheim Angels on Friday night, and on Saturday, the New York Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins. That sets up a Sox-Yanks clash in the American League Championship Series. The winner will go to the World Series.

The Sox-Yanks rivalry is unlike any other in sports. The rivalry is not based solely on the proximity of the two cities or the number of times that the two teams have met in meaningful games. Those are certainly key components of the fierceness of this rivalry. But, this rivalry is special because of The Curse. In the early 1900's, the Red Sox had a young left-handed pitcher named George Herman Ruth. In 1919, the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $100,000. Prior to that sale, the Boston Red Sox had won 5 World Series. The Yanks had never won one. Then The Curse began. Since the sale of Babe Ruth in 1919, the Boston Red Sox have not won another World Series. The New York Yankees have won the World Series 26 times.

The latest chapter in this historic rivalry will begin on Tuesday night when Curt Schilling takes the mound for the Sox in the Bronx. The addition of Schilling for this season gives the Red Sox a new hope. Schilling was a Yankee killer in the 2001 World Series. But, Schilling pitched for the Diamondbacks in those days. The Curse was not a factor back then.

Sportsmanship: We often focus on the spoiled brats in the sports world. But last night, sports fans had the privilege of seeing a fine display of sportsmanship in Los Angeles.

The two most storied franchises in the National League squared off last night at Chavez Ravine when the St. Louis Cardinals took on the Los Angeles Dodgers in what proved to be a decisive Game 4. The dominating Cardinals won the game by a score of 6-2. A mild celebration ensued on the mound. Nothing unusual about that. What was unusual was the reaction of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Usually the losing team in a baseball game quickly cleans out its dugout and retires into their clubhouse. Not so on Sunday night. First, the Dodgers watched patiently as the Cardinals celebrated. Then they lined up like Little Leaguers and shook their opponents' hands. But, unlike in Little League, these were the meaningful handshakes of grown men who had battled together for 166 games only to fall to a superior opponent. It was a stirring display.