OCTOBER 15, 2003 – It was the
eighth inning, a ball was hit, a fan reached out and interfered with
the play, hurting the home team.
No, I am not talking about the Cubs game
6. Last night in the Yankee/Red Sox game 7, in the most vital
moment of the game, a fan reached out and touched Matsui's hit down
the line, forcing a fan interference call which required Bernie
Williams to stop at third base when he would have scored. The
game remained 5-3 instead of being 5-4, and with very little time
left in the game - only 5 outs - this was huge.
So did the fans riot and issue threats
at the fan? Did the Yankees jump and scream and collapse,
Nope. Even though this fan
actually reached out onto the field, while the now infamous Cub fan
was right in his seat, and even though this fan cost the Yankees a
run, while the Cub fan cost the Cubs nothing but having to throw
another pitch, the Yankees didn't dwell or even really care.
They simply sent the next batter up, still on an emotional high.
And the result was that Jorge Posada hit a little flub that found
good luck, fell in between three Red Sox fielders, and scored two
runs to tie up the game.
Think that parallel is eerie?
Wait, it's just the very beginning. No, last night, the
circumstances were so similar to the tragic Game 6 of the
Cubs/Marlins series, but the results so different, that it can only
be seen as the Baseball Gods making a point loudly and clearly:
It's not the curse, it's the difference between losers and true
The parallels continued.
It was the
eighth inning. They had a three run lead. There was one
man out. They were five outs away from going to the World
Yes, so far we could be talking about
either the Cubs or the Red Sox. But wait, there's more.
Their ace pitcher was on the mound.
He was getting smacked around. In fact, he had been getting
smacked around since the inning before.
Yes, both the Red Sox and Cubs were in
this exact same position as well.
What to do in this situation is obvious
if you are a confident, champion-type manager. As Yankee
manager Joe Torre said after winning last night's decisive game
seven over the Red Sox, when asked if it was a difficult choice for
him to pull his failing ace, Roger Clemens, early in the game:
"No. You have a very short leash in game seven," said Torre,
"in the playoffs in general."
That is, a good manager does.
Both the Cubs' and Red Sox' managers
didn't make the bold, winning decision. It is the easy, safe
decision to leave your ace in. If you pull the ace and the
reliever blows it, you will never hear the end of it. If you
leave the ace, you can say you went with your best but came up
In reality, when your best is worn down
and getting hit, he is no longer your best. A good manger tugs
the short leash, knowing this is do or die and you cut no slack and
play no favorites. If Nolan Ryan is on the mound but doesn't
have good stuff that day, you yank him right away. All that
matters in winning.
Even with the example of Dusty Baker
staying with his ace too long two nights in a row, the Red Sox
didn't learn. No, losers never do.
If either the Cubs or the Red Sox bring
in relievers with one out in the eighth and a three run lead, they
go on to the World Series.
If Torre stays with his ace, Clemens, a
batter longer, the Yankees don't.
Even down 4-0, Torre didn't whine and
give in - he took action to stop the bleeding as soon as possible,
keeping his team in. While the Cubs never brought Matt Clement
or other starters in to help out, the Yankees went through their
entire starting lineup in relief. To put it simply, the
Yankees brought everything they could to the battle and never backed
down or gave up. The Cubs took opportunity after opportunity
to create excuse after excuse to not do the winning thing. And
the Red Sox were just the losers to exactly follow in their
footsteps the next day.
As is clear now, there is no curse;
there are losers and winners. The Cubs and Red Sox, no matter
how good their teams are, will not win. And there is only one
reason: they are losers.
Congratulations New York and Florida.