Garry retired to the bedroom after the 10th inning. Not that he was giving up on the game. He just wanted to watch it in bed. I’m more comfortable sitting up, so I stayed in the living room.
Sometime after midnight, the dogs got restless. I was sitting on their bed. Mind you, they have another entire sofa and right now, all three of them are in a coma on it. At night, though, they like to spread out. They give us the evil eye. Mental arrows: ” Pass the late night treats and go to your OWN beds!” Woof.
Game three of the World Series. A pitcher’s battle. It’s the ninth inning and the score is Angels – 1 and Red Sox – 0. Everyone has played brilliantly. I’m willing to give this one to the Dodgers, but in the top of the ninth, the Sox got a singleton homer and at the bottom of the inning, the score was 1-1. There are no”ties” in baseball (or for that matter, basketball or football either). Only hockey allows tied games. And in this case, this being the World Series, they were going to play forever if necessary.
They ran out of baseballs twice. Or was it three times? Four times? That actually meant hundreds of balls were all over the park.
“Game 3 was the longest postseason game in MLB history at seven hours, 20 minutes. It surpassed the previous record of six hours, 23 minutes, which was set in Game 2 of the 2014 NLDS between the Giants and Nationals in Washington (San Francisco won that game, 2-1, in 18 innings).
• Game 3 was only the eighth game of any kind (regular season or postseason) since at least 1908 to exceed seven hours in length. The last was on Aug. 24, 2013, between the Phillies and D-backs, which lasted seven hours, six minutes (Arizona won, 12-7, in 18 innings).
• In terms of longest World Series games, Game 3 eclipsed Game 3 of the 2005 World Series in total length — that game between the White Sox and Astros was five hours, 41 minutes, ending in a 7-5 Chicago victory in 14 innings at Minute Maid Park. The White Sox went on to sweep the Astros for their first World Series title in 88 years.
Friday’s Game 3 between the Red Sox and Dodgers also set a new record for longest World Series game in terms of innings, at 18. The aforementioned Game 3 in 2005, as well as Game 1 in 2015 (Royals 5, Mets 4) and Game 2 in 1916 between the same two franchises that are playing in this year’s Fall Classic (Dodgers 2, Red Sox 1) held the previous mark at 14 innings.
• To put the time it took to play Game 3 in perspective, consider this note from STATS: The entire 1939 World Series finished in less time, wrapping up in a tidy seven hours, five minutes. The Yankees swept the Reds in that one, with none of the four games lasting longer than two hours, four minutes.”
We started watching around 8:30 in the evening. At three in the morning, I came out of the bathroom and the game was still tied at 2 to 2. I asked Garry what would happen if the game went on so long it bumped into the next day’s game?
“Interesting question,” he said. I had a mental image of the game that never ended. Thousands of baseballs later, the exhausted teams, no longer able to throw, run, or bat would just lay in their places on the field and sleep on the grass.
Regardless, both teams used everybody. Every player, every pitcher. Everyone looked tired and beat up. How will they play today? No one can run. They will all limp from base to base.
It was an adorable game in a baseball kind of way. When somewhere around the 14th or 15th inning, Cora used his last batter — which meant there was no one else he could use who was actually a batter — you had to figure something was bound to happen.
I was coming back out of the bathroom (again) during which time the Dodgers had hit a homer.
The game was over. Finally. Garry flipped off the light and I murmured “I thought it would never end!” By then, I didn’t care who won. I was just glad it was finished. I’m sure the players, announcers, even the crew agreed.
And tonight, minus the rain and the lightning, game two commenced … and we won. Two down, two to go.
No power outage and there will be a day off, then they will be off to L.A. It was 47 degrees (8.3 Celsius) in Boston. It will be hot in L.A. It was a good day.
Maybe the Sox really ARE the superpower team?
Yes, we won. Again. So far, and even better!!
I’ve asked my “Uncle Louie” to supply the music for this piece. So much of what we’ve shared and written this year has been tinged with negativity. It’s the state of our nation and world – greeted by dawn tweets and midnight White House tantrums.
Baseball has been my salvation. It has been for most of my life. I’ve escaped to the field of dreams from youth, rooting for the Brooklyn Dodgers, to the 20 something years cheering for Casey’s inept New York Mets, to retirement years yelling for the Red Sox to exorcise decades of futility.
This year, the sons of Teddy Ballgame have produced perhaps the best team ever to play at Fenway Park, exceeding even those early years when Babe Ruth was our Mr.October. Regardless of how the Sox fare in the upcoming World Series, they’ve already given us a season about which we can ponder for years to come.
This piece has a different feel for me.
There’s no “David Versus Goliath” theme for our hometown team. For decades, we could point to the Bambino curse and generations of despair marked by garish plays like “… the ball went right through Buckner’s legs,” and “… there’s a long drive outta here. The Red Sox lose — thanks to the bat of Bucky fuc##ng Dent.”
I could sprinkle images of past stories with snapshot memories of music, movies, politics. Iconic stories covered along with personal interviews with major players.
Not this year. We’re on the outside, looking in. Like regular fans.
Our TV baseball package has precluded us from watching Sox games live. We’ve been able to follow all the other teams — except the Sox. Ironically, I’ve seen more games of our blood rivals, the New York Yankees than the Bosox. It’s reduced my nightly high anxiety where I frantically reach for my blood pressure meds as another game lurches on the high cliff of danger.
Marilyn is the score updater with reports from her computer as we watch Aussie melodramas or our favorite procedurals. It’s a different feel.
Marilyn tells me, “We won again.” I allow myself a sigh of satisfaction and look forward to reading the sports section online the next day. It’s a new world!
Pundits outside New England are pointing out that the Red Sox are seeking their 4th World Championship in 14 years. It’s the national attitude faced by the Bronx Bombers for so many years. There’s no underdog love for our Red Sox in small towns and big cities across the country as the World Series fervor begins.
I look at this year’s Red Sox and smile. A paternal smile. A grandfather’s pride.
I don’t have any inside anecdotes. I appreciate the growth and maturation of the players. There’s an irony to how this team is constructed. Mookie Betts, the frontrunner for “Most Valuable Player” honors wasn’t the first choice to be the franchise player he is.
When the talented Jacoby Ellsbury bolted from the Red Sox to the Yankees for a mega contract 6-years ago, we felt betrayed again. We wondered how Boston would revive its outfield.
The Sox Suits said they had a youngster with huge potential. He was an infielder with an impressive minor league career. Fine, but how does an infielder help us with the outfield gap and power loss with Ellsbury’s flight to Gotham?
The question rippled with tsunami-like waves across Red Sox Nation.
I remember watching a spring training game with a young — very young –Red Sox outfield. Who were these players? Too young to shave and, certainly, not ready for prime time baseball! There was Jackie Bradley Jr. who roamed centerfield like a young Willie Mays. The aforementioned Mookie Betts seemed okay in right field, but there was more interest in his first name than his player bonafides.
Many of us wondered if he was related to Mookie Wilson, the one-time Mets star who hit the ball that went through Bill Buckner’s legs in the ill-fated 1986 World Series.
Our brave, new world was just beginning.
The next five years included a World Series triumph, 3 Eastern Division crowns and 2 (3?) last place finishes. These guys were definitely the spawn of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Meanwhile, the Yankees were overhauling their team and presenting baseball with an intriguing collection of young sluggers. We were scared out of our retro Red Sox. I admit to angst and anxiety all winter as I watched the video and stats of these youthful Pin-stripers. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, and the newly acquired Giancarlo Stanton who’d come close to 60 home runs as the National League MVP last year.
Surely, New York would crush the Red Sox like Rob Gronkowski plowing through a defensive line of mortal defense players. It didn’t look good as the 2018 season rolled around. I avoided reading pre-season predictions, something that was a rite of spring for most of my 76 years.
The Yankees were the flavor of the year team, biding their time to acquire their 28th World Series title.
My anxiety ramped up when I realized our baseball TV package excluded live Red Sox games. Surely, that was a sign. I wouldn’t be able to see the Sox doomed chase of the Yankees.
A funny thing happened along the way.
The Red Sox won the regular season opener. An olive branch, I thought with cynicism creeping through my fevered fan’s brain. But the Sox kept winning. Game after game. Injuries and illnesses, they kept winning.
Meanwhile, the vaunted Yankees stumbled off to a mediocre start. A month into the season, the Red Sox were in first place and had established a nice distance from New York and every other American League Eastern Division team.
I scratched my head, watching a Yanks game. The young sluggers were struggling. The pitchers were inconsistent. I laughed at the Yankee broadcasters who smugly made excuses for the team which, they said with enormous confidence, would right itself and catch the runaway Red Sox who they referred to sneeringly as “that other team.”
I dared to wonder.
Soon, the Sox, aka “The Sawx” to sports journalists outside New England, were highlighted nightly on the national sports outlets. Old beisbol-wise guys were marveling over J.D. Martinez who was everything and more as our big-ticket free agent slugger. Boston’s “3 Bee” outfield — Andrew Benintendi, JBJ (Jackie Bradley, Jr.), and **MOOKIE** Betts were making highlight-reel defensive plays and mashing the horsehide with incredible regularity.
As the regular season unfolded, the Sox kept winning. The Yankees improved and gave chase, providing a little drama … but the Sox never fell behind. Not once. Their longest loss was three games. “YES,” the Yankees Broadcast Network, relentlessly told fans that the Sox would fold and succumb to the mighty pinstripers. Yes. I believed “YES.”
Marilyn wasn’t so sure and kept commenting, “We are playing really well, you know? Like … all the time.” We, the skeptics, were exposed as the Sox continued to roll through the regular season, spiced by a late August sweep of the Bronx Boys that left us giddy in Red Sox Nation.
I noted, with surprise, that the Sox were doing all “the little things” that mark a championship team. They were disciplined and aggressive at the plate. They ran the bases with abandon and played defense like never seen before, at home and on the road. They even BUNTED – something akin to walking on water in New England.
Rookie manager Alex Cora, a former utility player and member of past Sox teams, pushed all the right buttons. He utilized all the players on his roster.
Cora had the respect of players who “dissed” previous managers. He didn’t shirk from pulling pitchers who were tiring but nonetheless argued to “get one more inning.” That argument had severely cost previous managers and Sox teams. Cora was honest and straightforward with players as well as upper management and media.
He was a breath of fresh air from the “Bull Durham” baseball clichés of the past.
Boston, to almost everyone’s disbelief, in and outside of Red Sox Nation, swept past the Yankees and defending World Champions Houston Astros, to await the World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers as their opponent. The Dodgers soundly defeated the stubborn Milwaukee Brewers to advance to baseball’s biggest stage.
It’s going to be a very interesting series. Many of us have a tinge of Dodger Blue from our childhood days as Brooklyn Dodger fans. The Boys With Mics are calling the Dodgers underdogs because they haven’t won a World Series in 30 years. Not since Kirk Gibson’s iconic home run off Dennis Eckersley.
A moment remembered with Vin Scully’s perfect line: “In the year of the improbable, the impossible has happened.” Here’s hoping the now-retired Vin Scully graces Boston and offers a few more memorable game descriptions.
The Cathedral of Baseball is open. It’s diverting our attention from a world gone crazy.
Here’s to the Boys of Summer who’ve made this Autumn our field of dreams.
A friend took me to a Red Sox Game at Fenway Park. It was the middle of April, so there was a chill in the wind. I layered up and topped it off with my retro Brooklyn Dodgers tee-shirt. It was Jackie Robinson day. Everyone was wearing the fabled #42.
April is the beginning of the new baseball season, when hope springs eternal. Anything could happen. The haves and have-nots are equally in the race. For me, it’s also when I open the cookie jar of memories, mentally racing around the bases to those days when I listened to our boys of summer on the radio.
Vin Scully was a 20-something rookie broadcaster, calling his first season of Brooklyn Dodgers games.
The Korean “conflict” dominated the radio news, which preceded the important stuff, baseball. The Brooklyn Dodgers were “America’s Team” in 1950. Vin Scully was a new breed of a sports broadcaster. He mixed in stories about President Truman’s desegregation of our Armed Forces and “discontent” about the integrated Dodgers’ team.
Scully used phrases like “Goodnight, sweet Prince,” after Jackie Robinson turned in another memorable game amid jeers from rabble-rousers. It was curious to this young fan who dreamed of becoming a teammate of Jackie Robinson, Peewee Reese, and Duke Snider. I’d wear Dodger Blue with pride, I promised myself.
I thought it would be wonderful if they played baseball all year round and the stories would always be about the Bums and the dreaded New York Yankees. How terrific to listen to Vin Scully and not those other people talking about grown-up stuff. Scully even mentioned things we were studying in school and made them sound exciting.
I’ll never forget his referring to April as “the cruelest month.” I’d steal that line a zillion times.
A couple of decades later, chance opened the door to meetings with Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, and other fabled Boys of Summer. Campy was friendly and outgoing, eager to share stories with a newbie reporter. He would say, “Life is good, young fella. You gotta appreciate it.”
Jackie Robinson would glare at Campy as he wove the stories of good times with the Dodgers. Sometimes, he would interrupt Campanella with a sharp, “Enough, Roy. Enough of that fiction.”
Robinson would turn to me, his eyes blazing, seemingly angry. “Life isn’t a ball game, young man,” he once said. Then, he gently patted me on the shoulder, noting that I was a good conversationalist and listener.
It was a bit confusing. It happened that way several times.
People like Campy, Peewee Reese and even a reluctant Duke Snider would share that Jackie Robinson was an angry, complicated man on a mission. The inner turmoil, anger, frustration, and multiple health issues took Robinson from us way too early, at age 53.
1950. So long ago. A time of innocence for many young boys like me.
Almost two years have rolled around. It’s the beginning of October and the playoffs are about to begin. Our team is in them. It has been a record-breaking year, so regardless of what comes, we’ll remember 2018.
Vin Scully retired last year. I keep thinking “Maybe we can bring him back, just for this one final set of post-season games … because we need his eloquence.” The world is not running short of baseball commentators, yet I feel we need him.
Depending on how the mid-term elections go, so will go this country. It’s no small thing. It’s possible the future — our future — depends on what happens during the next few weeks. It’s daunting and frightening.
Baseball has been a saving grace for me during this otherwise disgraceful year of political ugliness and international ill-will. Could a World Series win fix this?
Somehow, I doubt it. We need something bigger than a ballpark win this year.
Last night, I found myself staying up very late — much too late — to watch the end of the final game in the Yankees-Red Sox 4-game matchup. Garry had gone to bed.
When he went to bed, the Yankees were winning 4 – 1 and it looked like they were going to win at least that final game in the series. I wasn’t so sure. I figured I would get to the bedroom and Garry would be watching it.
Wrong. He was sound asleep.
What happened to us? He’s asleep … and I’m up way later than I should have been watching baseball? When did we switch roles?
The Sox and the Yankees are one of those classic sports rivalries that always brings out the crowds. This year, our Red Sox are playing brilliantly which no one expected, least of all, us. They just keep winning.
When Garry went to bed after the end of the 7th inning. For you non-baseball types, a standard game is nine innings and typically lasts three to four hours. Since games can’t end in a tie, occasionally, they go on a lot longer by which time the stadium is empty and the announcers are asleep.
A 1908 recording of “Take me out to the ball game” just to get your spirits up!
In the bottom of the ninth — final inning — the Sox knocked in three runs and the score was tied. The game went to the 10th inning, overtime.
We won. I actually had to wake Garry up and tell him “We won.”
“We won?” he mumbled.
“Bottom of the ninth, the Sox knocked in three runs and then one more in the tenth.”
“Whatever happened to ‘God bless America’ and ‘Land of the Free?’ ” I commented.
Garry changed the channel. The whole thing was making him feel ill. It’s why we watch baseball. Game after game.
Lucky for us, the Red Sox are doing unbelievably well. Hard to believe our ragtag team is now 8-1/2 games ahead of the almighty Yankees, especially since they’ve assembled a team that would have seemed impossible to beat.
But sometimes, luck turns your way. Our pitchers are out-pitching themselves. Our hitters are whacking the ball out of the park. Moreover, they are doing it day-after-day.
They did an interview with J.D. Martinez, a new guy this year. He is doing better than he has ever done before. In fact, everyone is doing better than they ever did before. We weren’t expecting this.
Alex Rodriguez commented that the Red Sox sluggers — Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez — are better than Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. I’m not sure that’s really true. I think that the Yankees haven’t quite gotten it together as a team, yet. About half the Red Sox are new to the team, but pretty much all the Yankees are new and a whole bunch of them are rookies. They are good. Very good. But they are also young and inexperienced an I suspect it will take them time to pull their act together.
That’s why a careful lack of bloated ego in the Sox’ bullpen is a wise choice. The season is half over with more than 50 games remaining to be played. We’ve all watched our Red Sox flounder through August and collapse in September. We don’t want to jinx them so we are cautious, careful, and judicious when we talk about them, though Garry watched not only the entire game on Fox, and then re-watched it (reruns have their place, even in sports) on MLB.com just to hear the Yankee crew eat crow.
It’s nice to win, but that big ole’ fat lady has yet to sing. Until those note come forth, we need to be careful. Bloated egos are bad for team spirit.
Somebody should tell El Presidente that huge egos can more easily pull a team down than help it move up. He should find some humility. Put his head down and shut his fat trap. I’m not sure he has fifty more games to play.
I have never been superstitious. No worries about broken mirrors or walking under ladders. No throwing the salt. None of that. I like black cats — and for that matter, black dogs and brown people.
Except since I got involved in baseball, I have gotten wrapped in Garry’s personal superstitions.
It turns out that people who are “into” sports are very superstitious about them. If they are on a winning streak, they won’t change to different shoes until the streak runs out. Or they will only be called by a particular nick-name during a drought versus during a streak.
For Garry, the fear is that when the Red Sox are doing well, if you talk about it, it will end. I grant you that this superstition grows out of the Red Sox 87 years without a World Series win, but still. We are doing well this year, but we can’t talk about it. When the announcers start to talk about it on television, Garry changes the channel.
It’s part of a long tradition which goes with the most dangerous line in our language: “What could possibly go wrong?”
It really is the most dangerous line in the English language. Something can always go wrong. No matter how well you’ve planned it, scanned it, laid it out in columns. Backed it up with a dozen alternate plans, if you say thosewords, something bad will happen. Always.
George and his ever talkative wife Martha had just about enough of the Midwest winter. They were tired of snow, tired of cold. At close-to-retirement age, they were just plain tired. When another cold night forced them to stay at home rather than visit a favorite neighborhood stop, they realized there was only one thing that could pull them through to warmer weather. Baseball! Right then and there, they began to talk about a trip to sunny Florida for a round of spring training games.
A year before, they had traveled to Florida on a rare road trip to see the Chicago Cubs play. The Cubs lost but they deemed the trip a success. They had visited a ball park other than Wrigley Field, spent a day at the beach, and wandered through town to do some typical tourist shopping. They had some very hot days, but did not suffer the kind of stifling humidity Lake Michigan can serve up in July. Now, in March, they were ready to go south again.
George sat down with spring schedules to see what teams would be playing. He wanted to find the best matches for the days they could go to Florida. Martha researched the ball parks themselves and the surrounding night spots on the internet. When they had chosen a few games they might like to see, they looked at hotels, air fares and rental cars. After a full night of debate and delay, they made their choices.
They would return to the familiar spots of St. Petersburg. From there they could go to Tampa to see the Yankees, then down to Bradenton to catch the Pirates and from there to Sarasota to see the Orioles.
Unlike the famous George and Martha of Broadway play and movie fame, this couple rarely had arguments. In fact, they were in agreement on just about anything that meant parties and good times. When almost all of their arrangements were in place, and they were congratulating themselves on another “road trip extraordinaire”, Martha had one more good idea. Of course, the good idea may have been fueled by the German beer she had been drinking all night, but it was an interesting idea, nonetheless.
“Why don’t we call old Harold for the game in Bradenton or Sarasota?” Martha blurted out as if her head had been hit by a rock and she was stunned silly.
“Harold!” George shouted with glee. “That’s a wonderful idea. The old boy probably needs a road trip anyway. Let’s give lucky old Harold a call.”
While Martha dutifully looked for Harold’s phone number, George wondered why the little tapper of Dortmunder beer had run dry. “I am headed to the basement, ” George called out. “I have to find another one of these big cans of beer. You killed the last one.”
“I did no such thing, George,” Martha lied.
When the twosome finally met back at the kitchen table, each was carrying the object of their search. “Well dial the phone and hand it over, old woman,” George said with a laugh.
“I am not as old as you, wise guy,” Martha said as she handed over the phone. Both began to giggle and laugh like school kids up to no good. The phone rang away as the couple talked on until George finally realized there must have been at least 20 rings. He hung up.
“I can not imagine that Harold is not home at this hour. He was never out late.” It was true, of course. In all his life Harold was rarely out at night, and since he retired and moved to Florida, he was always home by dark.
“He’s probably sleeping, you nit wit,” Martha declared. “Let’s give him another try tomorrow.” And so they did. In fact, they called for several days in a row and at different times of day, but Harold never answered. When the day of the trip arrived, Harold was not part of the plan.
Undeterred by their lack of success at lining up Harold for a game, they resolved to try him again once they landed at the Florida airport. They departed from Chicago’s Midway airport. Unbelievably, it was once the busiest airport in the country, but that was before the jet age. Now the crowded airport just seemed like the busiest airport. St. Petersburg airport, on the other hand, was in stark contrast, even for spring training. The crowd was small and the rental car line was short. The couple got their car, got to their hotel, and got on the phone. Still, there was no Harold.
“I hope the old guy is OK,” Martha said, finally voicing more than a bit of concern.
“Sure, Harold is just fine,” George insisted. “He is probably at some nice restaurant right now being fussed over by some cute waitresses. Don’t worry.”
At that very moment Harold was being fussed over by some weary nurses at the Intensive Care Unit of the county hospital. This trip, the retired planner from the Midwest was going to miss the endlessly talkative George and Martha.
Note: The next Harold story appears next week. What happened to Harold? The previous story: “Missing Monday“
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