Ruth and Consequences

 

Babe

It doesn’t feel like fourteen years.

That’s how long it’s been since the Yankees and Red Sox last met in October. It was the year when A-Rod became the biggest four letter word in baseball after being traded to the Yankees. The year when Curt Schilling became the biggest four letter word to Yankees fans. And it was the year when the Sawx erased an 0-3 deficit in the ALCS and took down the Bronx Bombers, giving Babe Ruth a much deserved sleep after eighty five long years.

As a Yankees fan, it was a fucking nightmare.

My team was Vegas buttah that season. They were Shakespeare on paper and savagely expert at winning big moments once the leaves turned. They owned the diamond in a way Liz Taylor would’ve appreciated, and they were spit roasting the New England Nine over the first three games of the 2004 ALCS to the tune of 32-16. The Evil Empire was primed and ready to quash the rebellion and take their arch-rivals out in a four game sweep. It was over . . .

And then Dave Fucking Roberts stole second base off the great Mariano Rivera and changed everything. When Roberts scored to tie the game at four in the bottom of the ninth, it was a tremor and when Big Papi smacked a two run walk off homer in the twelfth to stave off elimination . . it was a quake. But when Big Papi hit another game winning homer in extra innings the following night to cut the Yankees lead in the series to three games to two?

Shit . .  got real.

The rest became Dickens, with a tale that two cities will take to their blessed baseball graves. To anyone who calls the 2018 division series between these blood rivals a chance for pinstripe redemption . . or reaffirmation for the Bosox, well . . they have no idea what they’re talking about.

This, ain’t that.

Truth be told, I’m glad the “Curse of the Bambino” won’t be painting the corners of this series. As romantic a notion as it was, it also happened to be complete bullshit.

The “Curse” refers to a long held notion by certain baseball peeps that when Boston sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919, it unleashed a sinister pox on their title chances forevermore. What these peeps were saying, in essence, was that shitty management and even shittier performances in pressure situations had nothing to do with the fact that Boston couldn’t win. It was all Babe Ruth’s fault. For eighty five years, the Yankees behaved like the grown ups at the table by taking care of business and collecting more hardware than a mechanic. While the Red Sox played hide and seek with Babe Ruth.

Okay, when the light hitting Bucky Dent did this to the Red Sox in the 1978 one game playoff at Fenway . . the dramatic effect was Bambino’esqe. But it was one game, one lucky shot.

Between 1919 and 2004, the Red Sox won the division title five times and the pennant twice. And it would be worth noting they beat out the Yankees to do so each time. Hell, it could be argued the other New York team delivered Boston its most wicked October pain when they did this . . .

And no, Babe Ruth never played for the Mets.

The Yankees and Red Sox didn’t meet in a legit playoff series until 1999, after MLB expanded the playoffs. Their 2004 tilt was only their third playoff meeting, ever. And ooookay . . the memories of what happened the year before were still fresh in the minds of every New Englandah worth his chowdah . . .

But Aaron Boone’s family tree ain’t got the Babe sitting up in it, so there’s that. Quite simply, it was the self full-filling prophecy of an organization that tripped over its shoelaces more than Charlie Brown. All that bad juju was their own damn fault, but like every other loser, the Red Sox had to blame someone else. So why not the dead guy?

Until 2004, when they stopped taking no for an answer and made October theirs for the first time since Woodrow Wilson was in office. And it pains me to say this but Imma do it anyway. That’s how it had to go down, if the Red Sox were ever going to get past all the curse nonsense. They had to rip the hearts out of every Yankees fan, the way New England’s heart was ripped out inside all those winters that came much too early. It was only fair.

Tonight isn’t about Bucky Dent or Dave Roberts, Ron Guidry or Curt Schilling. Big Papi and A-Rod are making tee times now. Aaron Boone will take the field, but this time as Yankees manager. All those names have been replaced with Judge and Torres, Betts and Bogaerts, Sale and Happ.

The Sox have won three World Series titles since breaking through in 2004 while the Yankees haven’t won since 2009, so yeah . . things have changed considerably since they last faced off. And while I never did buy all that curse business, let’s just say I wouldn’t be upset if the Babe decided to tune in.

For old time’s sake.

 

 

47 thoughts on “Ruth and Consequences

  1. I rooted hard for the Sox to win that first World Series but these days? I view the Sox-Yankees much as I would view a Yankees-Dodgers match up. Mutual Assured Destruction all around for all involved.

    As a west coaster I am so tired of 80% of the national baseball conversation being about these two teams.

    Liked by 1 person

    • King,
      And you ain’t alone. As an Eastern Seaboarder, it’s all white noise to me seeing. I think the Brewers might have something to say about things before all is said and done, and I KNOW the Astros remain the team to beat in the AL.
      For me? Yanks and Sawx IV will provide a fresh take on an old standard. My issue with the rivalry was that the teams no longer hated each other, which was an integral factor in the showdowns back in the day. Nothing kills the drama of a ‘rivalry’ like watching players from opposing teams talk about their golf outings . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  2. B,

    I have to tell ya… the way you wield your pen (so to speak) is enough to make this girl actually give a shit about baseball. Which I don’t. Except in movies. Love me the baseball movies – “Field of Dreams”, “The Rookie”, “A League of Their Own”, “Bull Durham” (of course I had to mention this one 😉 ), to name but a few.

    Your enthusiasm for the sport shines through on this ‘un and has me thinking this: you write about baseball, I’ll read what you write, cheer you on (and enjoy your fabulous prose) and then I don’t have to watch no stinkin’ baseball – ‘cept in the movies…

    To your home run writing…. Here! batter batter batter!

    Q

    Liked by 1 person

    • Q,

      Les Expos MUST return to their chosen home one day, I believe it. Tampa ain’t no place for baseball.
      And I dunno, you’re a quick study. I betcha I could bring you up to speed in no time flat and you’d be impressing all your Canadian friends with your baseball 411.
      The baseball movies are great, aren’t they? I always crushed on them too, not to mention baseball books, which I devoured as a boy.
      Don’t forget “The Natural”. That home run scene still gets me . .

      Batter up? We’re talking crepes, right? . . .;)

      Bronx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ohhhhhhh … I remember Mariano Rivera. I didn’t like the Yankees but I was always in awe of Mariano. I thought he was awesome. And I remember Big Papi coming to rock the plate … it was like whoaaaaaa. And now playoffs are back and my boys in blue are trying again and here I am rooting again like in my Valenzuela days … and so I wait. Goooooood post buddy. Can’t wait to hear the rest of your playoff breakdowns … soundtrack included 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cali,
      ‘Mo was the kind of player everyone loved, regardless of uniform. Great player, even greater person.
      And yes those Dodgers are making October noise once again! Kershaw looked so cool in his first postseason appearance, which bodes well for the boys in blue.
      Those Valenzuela days were something else, tell you what. I wasn’t so keen on the ’81 version, seeing as how he helped take down my Yankees but man, he did make it look easy when he got it going.

      Liked by 1 person

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