It Just Gets Better

Wednesday 20 Oct 2004

More baseball thoughts the morning after a heated ALCS game 6.

As I write this, the Red Sox have tied the series up 3-3 and tonight's game will decide it all - one team will advance, and one team will face a long, cold winter.

I make no secret of my bias against the Yankees; I've disliked them for a while now, and for the last two years I've rooted for the Red Sox. Having said that, let me also say that game 6 featured some of the worst sportsmanship ever seen on the baseball diamond. In the top of the eighth inning, one of the best players in the game, on a routine groundout, reached out and slapped the ball out of the glove of the fielder who had just tagged him. After the umps called him on it, he stood there screaming like a child, and later had this to say: "I know that line belongs to me and he was coming at me. Once I reached out and tried to knock the ball, the call went against me. I should have just run over him."


I'm not really sure what Rodriguez is saying here. One thing's for sure - and this is agreed on by the umpires, the Fox commentators, and every website recap I've read this morning - Rodriguez intentionally reached out and knocked the ball loose.

Is this the level of play that a $252 million contract buys? Is this the conduct of a great player, a future Hall-of-Famer, an idol to thousands of kids? Is this playing ball the Yankee way? Or is it an example of what happens when a superstar gets frustrated and has to cheat to try and win?

But it got better, as the New York crowd immediately became unruly and started throwing things onto the field. It took several dozen police in RIOT GEAR to make the Yankee fans calm down. What class those fans have. I wonder if even one-tenth of them understand what happened, what their player did and why it was wrong.

Some people will still try to argue the two reversed calls. All I can say is, look at the replay and in both cases, according to the rules of the game (as well as the umpires' decision, not to mention common sense) the correct call was made. Anyone who wants to argue this really is an idiot...and there were about 55,000 of them in the stadium Tuesday night. Even the Yankees left fielder, who was ten feet from the home run, knew that it was over the fence.

I could go on about which team has more heart, making an unprecedented comeback from an 0-3 deficit to win _three_ must-win games in a row, two of them in extra innings, the third with a pitcher who was bleeding through his sock as he worked seven masterful innings. I could go on about which team is evil and needs to be knocked off of their throne. The best, classiest players in the game can still become pompous jerks if they join the wrong team. Consider this post-game quote by Rodriguez about his swipe in the eighth: "It was a big momentum changer. I don't want those umpires to meet anymore because every time they meet, it goes against the Yankees."

In other words, even though the umpires make the correct call, they're out to get the Yankees and it just isn't fair? Give me a break.

I think what we're hearing is the frustration of a superstar on a team of superstars, who are on the verge of the biggest choke in baseball history, despite their larger payroll and better on-paper team and all the championships.

Opinion: The Yankees do not deserve to win this series.

Fact: It should be a great game 7.