YANKEE TOWN, RED SOX PRESS
The Yankees set an all-time attendance record of 3.5 million this year, TV ratings are up, and Yankee logos outnumber the combined logos of all other area teams on the streets of New York by more than 10 to 1. There’s no doubt whose town this is, except in our local press. New York papers seem to regard the Yankees’ monumental victory over the Red Sox in the League Championship Series as something halfway between a mixed blessing and a disaster.
The Daily News led off its sports section with an Associated Press story headlined “Once Again, A Nation Mourns Its Red Sox.” Which nation is that? The one in the New York area that loathes the Red Sox? Or the nation outside of the Northeast, to whom the Red Sox are just losers?
The New York Times headlined its Friday sports section not with “Yankees Win, Fans Ecstatic” but with “Yankees Prolong Red Sox Misery.” The Times even asked The Boston Globe‘s Bob Ryan to contribute “a Boston view” to the section, tagging his column “Cubs Fans Can Complain, but Not Like Red Sox Fans.” Of course not; fans in other cities could never suffer like Boston fans, and the Northeastern-centric media wouldn’t indulge them in their self-pity if they did.
The classic collector’s item, of course, is the editorial that inadvertently ran in the early edition of The New York Post on Friday morning, which featured the extraordinary pronouncement that the Yankee “season ended last night in the seventh game of the American League Championship Series.” The Yanks, suggested the Post, may have acquired a curse of their own: “The Bombers haven’t won the seventh game of a championship series since the 1962 World Series.”
Apparently, there was no one handy with a record book to point out to them that from 1962 to the first round of the 2003 playoffs, the Yankees played in 19 best-of-seven series. They lost the only three that went to a seventh game, the ’62, ’64, and 2001 World Series. They didn’t lose in the seventh game of any of the 16 other series primarily because they won those series before they got to the final game. That’s a “curse” that Boston fans would take in a New York minute. —Allen Barra
BOSTON’S TEASE PARTY
Talk about throwing out the book when it’s crunch time. Just so we’re all clear on how absolutely mind-boggling Grady Little‘s decision was to stick with Pedro Martinez during the Yankees’ fateful eighth-inning rally in the ALCS’s Game Seven, here are a few facts informing his pitcher’s 7.1 IP, 123-pitch performance. During the 2003 regular season, Martinez threw 2,838 pitches, an average of 15.2 per inning. He threw more than 105 pitches in only ten of his 29 starts, and he pitched more than seven innings in only five of them. He limited the opposition to a .201 batting average in innings one through six and a .207 BA on his first 105 pitches. However, opponents hit .364 against him after his 105th pitch. Want to know what “secret” source we uncovered these stats from? The team’s very own Post-Season Media Guide! Guess “Goober” Grady didn’t need no stinking numbers to get in the way of his managerial fiddling while Martinez got burned.
One can only imagine what must have been going through the minds of Mike Timlin, Alan Embree, and Scott Williamson as they watched helplessly from the bullpen during the Martinez Massacre on River Avenue. Coming together as a relief corps only after Byung-Hyun Kim was scratched with a supposedly sore arm (from giving the Fenway faithful the finger after one too many blown saves, no doubt), this unheralded troika nonetheless co-authored quite a guidebook of its own against the Yankees: 13 innings, five hits, one run, two walks (one intentional), and 13 strikeouts. In most everyone’s mind—except Little’s, obviously—they would have gotten the Sox those five needed outs and a berth in the World Series, but by the time Embree and Timlin got into the game, the tide had irrevocably turned. In the Sox’s somber locker room after Aaron Boone‘s pennant-winning homer off Tim Wakefield, Timlin was asked if the Yankees’ winning so many championships while the Red Sox curse continued seemed unfair.
The 37-year-old veteran, who in the first two rounds of the playoffs outpitched all other relievers (a Karim Garcia single was the lone hit he surrendered in nine-plus innings of pressurized work), just shook his head in response. “Fair?” he replied. “The best hitters in this game make outs seven out of ten times. Baseball’s never been fair.” You can make book on that one. —Billy Altman
After the Giants fumbled three times in Eagle territory—two by QB Kerry Collins and one by tight end Jeremy Shockey—followed by bad coverage on a punt leading to Brian Westbrook‘s game-winning return, all of which led to New York’s embarrassing and disastrous 14-10 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday, dropping the Giants to 2-4 and last place, coach Jim Fassel was left to explain. He lamented about “Murphy’s Law.” Running back Tiki Barber bemoaned the team’s bad luck but then admitted, “You make your own luck.”
Meanwhile, Shockey tried to hustle out of the locker room before reporters could talk to him. Just as he reached the exit, however, Shockey patted his pockets and exclaimed, “Fuck, I forgot my keys!” Figures. —Brian P. Dunleavy