Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The ALCS of a Lifetime

Since listening to the "experts" is pointless, and I can't afford a lengthy phone call to the Psychic Friends Network, I turn to substance abuse for help is understanding what I will witness in these next nine baseball days. One American pasttime deserves another.

The bottle of Bacardi was finished earlier in the week, (and yes, I'm aware that Tuesday is but a few hours old), so it appears Ny-Quil is the next best thing.

Besides, no mind-altering substances can compare to Yankees-Red Sox, in October, in New York, in Boston, in the midst of an 86-year one-sided beatdown.

So I offer this analytical view of what will be known to the average person as the 2004 ALCS and to New Yorkers and Beantowners as either "Another Boston beatdown" or "The day the world stood still so God could smile on Boston," depending on your team of choice.

Game 1: Red Sox win, 5-3.
Mike Mussina assumes his title as best pitcher who stinks in a big spot. Curt Schilling pitches like the ace he is. Mariano Rivera's triumphant return to the Stadium electrifies 57,000-plus people in the Bronx as he pitches the ninth to keep the game close. But, Keith Foulke strikes out Jorge Posada with runners on first and third to end the game. Ben Affleck rejoices. John Kerry gains 6 points in the poll. New York hangs its head. It's the Year of the Red Sock.

Game 2: Yanks win, 11-8.
Lieber stinks up the joint like he was Kenny Rogers in 1996. Pedro is effective for six innings. In the seventh inning, what is believed to be the first occurrence of a GM on the mound, Theo Epstein does what no one else in Boston can. He pulls Pedro. Yanks rally for six runs in the seventh and another two in the eighth to finish off the big rally. Epstein is battered with hardcover copies of "Moneyball" as he leaves the Stadium. Most throwers of these books are Boston fans. Lots of cursing ensues.

Game 3: Yanks win, 7-2.
Kevin Brown throws a gem. Bronson Arroyo is kidnapped by Yankee fans after the game and his cornrows are removed at Faneuil Hall. In a unrelated abuse of athletes, several Bostonians chase Wade Boggs around Boston Common and steal his pants.

Game 4: Red Sox win, 13-4.
Javier Vazquez starts for the Yankees. How much more do you really need to know?

Game 5: Red Sox win, 2-1.
Mussina and Schilling square off in a postseason epic. YES producers create the first-ever Yankeeography about a game 28 minutes after the ninth inning ends. It airs that night, beating ESPN Instant Classic by three days. The highlight of this defensive game comes when Derek Jeter runs through Luis Sojo's stop sign and Manny Ramirez throws him out at the plate. America wonders how Mr. Clutch could do such a thing in October. Somewhere, Mariah Carey smiles. Somewhere else, Jordana Brewster smiles. Somewhere else, a former Miss Universe smiles. In a moment of Bostonian euphora, Ben Affleck calls J. Lo and the torrid love affair begins again. Marc Anthony is seen at a check-cashing place in New York later that night, asking people "Which club do Aura and Mystique work at?"

Game 6: Yanks win, 14-13.
One ingenious fan sneaks into Yankee Stadium a few hours early and puts cardboard signage underneath every seat. In the third inning, Stadium announcer Bob Sheppard asks fans to reach under their seats and hold up the signs. In giant letters that extend to all three decks and wrap around the Stadium from the right-field foul pole to the left-field foul pole, it reads WE'RE YOUR DADDIES!!!. Pedro drills Jeter in the back with the next pitch. Here comes the brawl.
Jeter charges Pedro. A-Rod runs into the dugout, puts on a catcher's mask, runs back onto the field and dropkicks Varitek in the back. Gabe Kapler rips off his jersey, oils up, flexes in the on-deck circle and challenges America to an "I quit" match for the Intercontinental belt. Don Zimmer comes from out of nowhere, but Ted Danson, wearing his Sam Malone uniform bashes Zimmer as if his bar tab was bigger than Norm's and he was taking it out on his posterior. John Rocker, disguised as a beer vendor, sheds his Volume Services hat and runs in from right field with his satin Braves jacket in hand. "What's he doing here?" says Tim McCarver on air.

Pandemonium breaks out. Joe Buck snaps and clocks McCarver with a steel chair. "Mean" Gene Okerlund takes over the play-by-play as years of pent-up frustration flow from Buck's right hands to McCarver's beaten, bloodied carcas. Buck's hands are full of blood and pancake foundation makeup. Nomaaaaaaaah Garciaparra slides in to do color commentary. Guiliani finds John Kerry and demonstrates how the police officers of his former mayoral land used to violently abuse the citizens of New York. Other New Yorkers lose their resolve and pound Giuliani's kid until he wet his pants.

Order is eventually restored. Loaiza gets rocked for seven runs in two innings but Enrique Wilson hits a two-run single to tie it at 13 in the eighth off Alan Embree, who is in his fifth inning of relief because everyone else was ejected. Jeter steals home with two outs in the ninth to win it. It's a strange day all around. Fans are escorted out of the Stadium one-by-one. No one is safe.

Game 7: Yanks win, 8-6 (10 innings).
Brown can't get it done. Vazquez was already shipped to St. Louis to prepare for his Game 3 start, so it's up to El Duque to save the world again. He goes two innings but his right shoulder is still dead. So, he throws another two innings left-handed, baffling the Boston lineup with 11-mph sliders and 32-mph curveballs. El Duque uses so many arm angles, Posada has to remove his catcher's mitt to call signals. Ramirez and Ortiz hit back-to-back homers in the top of the 10th off Mariano to take a 6-4 lead. Bostonians prepare to ransack their own city in excitement. Foulke comes in to pitch the tent. Cairo walks, Lofton singles, Jeter steps to the plate. Boston's riot police goes home. They know it's over. Jeter doubles in two runs to tie the score at 6. A-Rod walks. Francona comes to the mound. Foulke punches his lights out. Francona is dragged off the field. Sheffield hits a fielder's choice, advancing both runners. Matsui strikes out. Bernie comes to bat. Contemplating retirement, evidenced by his play in the series so far rather than by what he's saying to reporters, Bernie comes throw with a ground-rule double for the 8-6 win. The Bronx rejoices. Pedro shaves his head and buries his locks at the base of Babe Ruth's monument. Francona is hung in effigy in Boston, in real life in the visiting clubhouse in the Bronx by Millar and Trot Nixon.

The Boston organization is disbanded, fans relocate to remote parts of the world, Schilling retires, Pedro joins the Yankees' roster for the World Series.

Wow, this Ny-Quil is one hell of a substance.

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