It's that time of year again. The World Series is underway, with the Rebel Alliance facing off with the Imperial Empire for all the bragging rights.
Actually, it's the St. Louis Cardinals facing the Texas Rangers for the championship. The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Atlanta Braves are all back home wondering what happened to their seasons. The Chicago Cubs fans, as usual, are vowing that next year will be their year. Incidentally, the next year is our year delusion is also suffered in the hockey world by fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Yes, they're a sad lot too.
Late in the season in St. Louis, as the team advanced through the playoffs, a squirrel or two were showing up on the field during games. It didn't take long before someone started coming up with a name for them: rally squirrel. Obviously they're adorable, so obviously they'll end up moving a lot of tie-in merchandise.
I should say here that I enjoy the game, but don't follow it religiously. I can watch a game, get the flow of the game, the rules and the intricate ways a game can unfold, but I'm not devoted to any one team (especially not the Toronto Blue Jays, who, of course, are from that accursed city on the shores of Lake Ontario).
|Next time, rework your banner so that it's not a short form of a sexual act. Just saying.|
A few days ago, I saw a documentary on a specific incident in the game, one that I'd pretty much forgotten (if one were from Chicago, it would still be well remembered, of course, even if one wasn't a baseball fan). Catching Hell documented the Steve Bartman affair. In 2003, during the sixth game of the National League Championship, the Cubs were playing the Florida Marlins, and they were ahead. Outfielder Moises Alou rushed to the wall to catch a ball, and several spectators reached for it. One of them, Steve Bartman, caught it. Had Alou caught the ball, it would have been the second out. Instead, the Cubs collapsed, the Marlins rallied, and the Cubs lost badly. The seventh game saw the job finished, and the Marlins went on to the Series.
The doc captured the mood in the stadium that night, the venom and hostility towards this one man who, they felt, had put the curse back on the team. The billy goat curse that makes the Cubs choke routinely over and over and over again (they have a habit of that). Watching the footage, you could feel the bitter, ugly loathing, the mob mentality. It was as if they were ready to kill him. Steve Bartman, who had inadvertantly caught a stray ball, became the most hated man in Chicago.
To this day, the man's a recluse. He profoundly apologized for the catch, and has declined interviews ever since. He was lucky that the clothing he wore that night made him anonymous. Get the cap off him and a different pair of glasses, maybe a suit on him, and you'd never be able to recognize him. He's a pariah in the minds of many a fan, who blame him for the collapse... rather then just accept the fact that the Cubs aren't meant to win again. And the ball itself? It was auctioned off and destroyed.
|Cigar Guy goes back in time and replaces Steve Bartman|
And yet the game goes on. The Yankees remain the most hated team in baseball (another longstanding tradition). And each year in October, when the air starts to cool down, two teams meet, trying to extend summer just one more game. Well, four more games. Seven if they have to. They'd like to do it in four games, but things don't always go according to plan, do they?
I'm rambling, aren't I?
|Godzilla's a Sox fan, didn't you know?|
Baseball has its heroes and legends, like Ruth, Aaron, Robinson, and Gehrig.
It's also got its villains. Barry, I'm talking about you. Every stat you ever got deserves a great big asterix, and I hope you're still living someday when someone breaks your record. I'd like to see the look on your face, Mr. Bonds.
Barry's not alone of course. Among the other steroid freaks of the game, I give you Mr. McGwire....
And A-Rod, who by all accounts is a monumental ego and jackass of the first order. And since he dated Madonna, this reflects really badly on his sense of judgment.
And so the game goes on. Two games have been played in the Series, and the Cardinals and the Rangers are tied as of this writing. Who will win? Only time will tell.
I can guarantee you that if someone lets the ball roll between their legs as has been done before in these games... they'll never hear the end of it.
Play ball, boys. And if you can, hit a ball that knocks out Rupert Murdoch.