Tuesday, October 12, 2004
A tale of two evil empires
By Tim Keown Page 2
As we await the start of Red Sox-Yankees Game 1, it's good to see we can all still summon up a healthy case of hyperbole for these uncertain times. This is a series for all those people who yearn for the days when they were eight years old and a complete loss of perspective came as a side order to every major sporting event.
The whole season has been a long-running trailer for this movie, and it's going to be great fun, but would it be too much to ask one favor, just one tiny, this-won't-hurt-at-all favor?
The Red Sox have plenty of high-priced talent on their team, too.
Can all you Red Sox fans spare us the epic angst and the Calvinist self-flagellation?
Please? Just this once?
Because you know what -- we've stopped buying it, and so should you. True, your team hasn't won since 1918, but the times have changed and there's no longer a chance you'll be confused for a legitimate underdog.
This might be hard to take, but that doesn't make it any less true: If you end up winning the World Series, you will have won it in the exact same way the Yankees have won theirs. It's no different -- you spent, you won. You spent wisely, sure, but you spent nonetheless.
Don't give us the Good vs. Evil, because it won't fly. So save the gnashing and rending, suppress the time-honored urge to why-me us all the way through October.
What starts tonight is Evil Empire (A) vs. Evil Empire (B). It should be great theater.
This Week's List
"Hey, guys, we're going to try and squeeze home a run on the third pitch of this at-bat -- take a look, it'll be cool": Tony La Russa, always so blithely nonchalant about his baseball, must truly love being interviewed during the game.
What the cameras didn't catch was the sight of Milton Bradley leading his teammates in a rousing rendition of "2-4-6-8, Who Do We Appreciate?": The Dodgers and Cardinals ending their series by meeting on the field and shaking hands, a classy gesture that shouldn't be ridiculed under any circumstances.
This, my friends, is what they call a salary drive: Carlos Beltran.
On the other hand: J.D. Drew.
First sign that Major League Baseball has hired Abercrombie and Fitch's marketing firm: A T-shirt that read "Hey Red Sox ... Who's Your Daddy" and included a red pacifier was distributed and then recalled by MLB after Boston fans complained.
By the way: When did Major League Baseball get into the trash-talking business?
Was the Braves-Astros Game Five Monday night a baseball game or the pregame show for Yankees-Red Sox?
If there was anything resembling a choice involved, you'd be tempted to say it's time for him to take a seat and gather himself: Brett Favre, who is accelerating toward the Namath-as-a-Ram portion of his wonderful career.
Just for the heck of it: Roger Metzger.
Best arm from third base that I ever saw, and probably ever will: Ken Caminiti, R.I.P.
In short, we do what we want to do, punishment be damned: Thought-provoking take on the Caminiti/steroid-testing issue in salon.com from King Kaufman, who argues convincingly that punitive steroid-testing in the big leagues would be about as effective as criminalizing drugs has been in the civilian world.
When good paint-by-numbers baseball goes bad: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire made a horrible but predictable decision when he pulled Grant Balfour -- who was absolutely dealing -- and brought in Juan Rincon for the eighth inning Saturday against the Yankees.
But wait, you might say: Rincon is his eighth-inning guy.
To which anyone in his right mind would say: Watch the game, and forget the inning, because they weren't hitting Balfour.
And, by the same token, nobody is expecting you to lose because of it, either: Johnny Damon, addressing the omnipresent subject of Red Sox history, told the Boston Globe, "Nobody is expecting us to win because of history."
Best assessment of the Cardinals' lineup, by one of its members: "We exhaust pitching staffs," Reggie Sanders said after Game Two in St. Louis.
And finally, out here in California it's easy for us to tell when fall has hit its stride: .01 percent humidity, 95-degree temperatures and 40 mph winds.
Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.