Monday, October 25, 2004

World Series Memories

Tonight we went up two games to none in the World Series. Two. Zero. World Series. I keep feeling like Nan Adams in that Twilight Zone episode "The Hitchhiker." You know, like I may have died a few days ago, and I'm slowly passing into some sort of afterlife. Just writing that proves the weird, altered state I'm in over all of this.

I've been thinking and talking about my memories from the '86 Series lately. I was eleven years old. Much like this year, we went up 2-0, and it felt like we had it wrapped up. I teased this kid Gary, a Mets fan, about his team being down 2-0 in Mr. Keough's 6th Grade Social Studies class on Monday. (Which is funny, because one of the people I watched tonight's game with knows the Keough family, because they were his neighbors growing up. But he lived just across the town line, so I never knew him until recently.) Earlier this year, I came across an old newspaper from the day of Game 3. It talked about how Boston fans aren't claiming victory yet, and about how Oil Can was psyched to start the first game at Fenway and had crazy vision problems, and about how Mets pitcher Ron Darling grew up a Sox fan. We then lost the next two, but won Game 5, which I believe featured a Dave Henderson triple. (There was a Topps sticker the next year showing him slididng into third with his arms way up in the air.) I thought it was so crazy when these balloons carrying a "Go Sox" sign floated onto the field at Fenway. Little did I know that a parachustist would float onto the field at Shea in Game 6. That week, I think Friday, our class went to Bear Mountain in New York State on a field trip, and my mom was a chaperone. Yesterday I talked to Pat, who I went to the ten games with this year, and who was in my class, about what the hell it was we were doing there: "For science? History? There's history of some sort up there." We did this high five where we ran toward each other, jumped up, while spinning all the way around, culminating with the hand slap. He said we should try to bring that back for this World Series. I agreed. Besides that, all I remember was seeing Mike Merenda in the parking lot. He was the first kid to bring in the Beastie Boys tape to school. The type who was really popular, but was still friendly with nerds like us. A real "student council"-type. But come on, the World Series was going on, I didn't have time to think about, uh, whatever there was at Bear Mountain.

The day of Game 6, I asked my mom for "a plate of meat." To this day, that's what I blame for us losing that series. Not Stanley, not Schiraldi, definitely not Buckner. It was the plate o' meat. (I'm now a vegetarian, so there's no chance this will happen this year.)

My aunt came over for that game, I believe unexpectedly. I don't remember ever seeing her at our house before that. I remember seeing the stat on the screen of longest World Series droughts. But I'd known that already. I'd known that for quite some time at that point.

It definitely seemed like the game was over. The announcers talked about how Marty Barrett and Bruce Hurst had such great series'. And how the scoreboard congratulated both teams. I still can't believe we couldn't close out that game. When we got to one strike away, we all stood up and held hands in my family room. Me, my mom, my dad, my aunt. I think my sister had gone to bed. Anyway, we stood for a long time, and that strike never came.

All I really remember about Game 7 was seeing the Strawberry HR, and knowing that it had pretty much slipped away at that point. I rooted for the Sox til that last out, though, still thinking that if Barrett could just get on, maybe we could start a rally. But it wasn't to be. As the Mets came out of the dugout and steamrolled over Orosco, I deadpanned, "Is that guy dead," thinking that Orosco may have been crushed, and not giving a god damn whether he was or not.

It was doubly tough for our family, since we had kind of taken to the Mets as kind of a "favorite NL team" in the few years previous to '86. My dad taught me that when the Mets win, it makes Steinbrenner mad, so we should root for them. Plus, Shea Stadium was only an hour away, and my dad's friend had sweet seats, so we'd go there once or twice a year. Late in the season in '86, my mom said, "The Red Sox and the Mets are doing good, isn't that great?" And I thought, Uh, this could be bad... Not like there was any doubt as to who we'd root for should they, by some crazy chance, actually meet in the World Series, but still, it was just a weird feeling. By the time the NLCS was going on, I was definitely rooting for the Astros, I wanted no part of that Met team. They were really good, and facing them would mean some weird cosmic thing where the baseball gods would put us through something crazy, and they sure did. Why did the Mets World Series year have to coincide with ours?

The thing I remember from the ALCS was in Game 5, my dad had left the room in the ninth, and I had to call him back in when we got within 1 run before the Hendu HR. And about the season itself, I remember the Spike Owen's 6 run game, and the crazy play with Steve Lyons running all over the basepaths. And Clemens winning his first 14 decisions or something. And being given the chance to go to the 20 strikeout game, but not being able to go because it was a weeknight.

Sorry, I've gone too far.

But good call by Hanks tonight when asked about wearing a Sox hat. "I'm sure the Cardinal fans are great, great city and all, but COME ON. The Red Sox are in the World Series! You have to root for 'em." I'll always be down with Hanks, for his fine comedy work in Splash and on Saturday Night Live. Because of that, he gets a pass on all the chessy serious movies he's done. Alright, it's almost 2 AM, I never get sleep anymore, and I'm writing about Tom Hanks. Good Night. Monday night will be the night for sleep, everybody. Don't miss out.

Much more to fear from that hypertensive chimp Steinbrenner than the fly behind your shaving cream Jere - his explosive presence in the atmosphere is like a fucking google of butterflies flapping their wings in China. Visitors dugout. Busch stadium. Tuesday night. Dark cloud. I'm curious Jere, what do you think will happen to the issue of salary caps should the Red Sox prevail? (It's me - still bent on pharmaceuticals) Hell, even I want to see another series like that ALCS again. What will happen is a generation will talk about The Sock. They'll talk about the 3-0 + 24 outs, come-from-behind hazing of the New York Stock Exchange. They'll banter about the exact point at which A-Rod was exposed as The Seedless One. They'll reflect on the post-curse, new age heathens what done it to St. Louis. What they will not talk about are the chances of a team with a payroll under say $75 million generating any mystique of its own. That's my rant man. I beat that rug, that's what I do Jere. Everytime I see Keith Foulk I think, "There's that guy Billy Beane got for Billy Fucking Koch - rescued his ass from the White Sox. A move of astonishing genius. Now? Cherry picked by the second highest payroll in baseball." Yeah, 86 years is brutal - I was watching Game 6 in 1986. My heart goes out to Buckner. Win one Jere. But let us shift this motherfucking paradigm, eh?

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Location: Rhode Island, United States