Sure, it's dropped from crisp to cold all at once and it's raining enough to make Channel 11 air an impromptu Fresh Prince of Bel-Air marathon, but cheer up.
It's October 25!
Buckner Day! Mookie Day! A Ground Ball…Trickling Day! Call it what you will, it was the night in 1986 (after midnight on 10/26 if you're a stickler for the trickler) when the Mets staved off elimination in the World Series by winning the sixth game in ten innings.
Perhaps you've heard about it.
For nineteen consecutive years, I've been lobbying Albany to declare October 25 a state holiday on the order of Patriots Day or Stonewall Jackson's birthday in other parts of the country, but I've gotten nowhere. Instead, let's observe it our own Michael Sergio-style and parachute into the town square for a reading not from a Metscentric source but from a charming, underknown book called A Player for a Moment: Notes from Fenway Park by John Hough, Jr. Hough writes as a lifelong Red Sox fan who also happened to be the ghost author of Gary Carter's autobiography. He was watching Game Six with Red Sox friends who weren't collaborating with a New York Met on a professional venture.
In the bottom of the inning Wally Backman hit an easy fly ball to Rice. Keith Hernandez drove one to center, an easy catch for Hendu. The announcers began talking about how long it had been, 1918, since the Sox had won the Series. They announced that Bruce Hurst had been judged Most Valuable Player of the Series.
“Do you realize,” I said, as much to myself as to the others, “that we're about to see the Red Sox win the World Series?” The world would never be quite the same.
Gary Carter was at the plate. Here I made a fatal mistake.
“Don't make the last out, Gary,” I said.
“Are you crazy?” Kib said.
“He's a nice guy,” I said. “Let him get a single.
We know the rest. It's an instructive tale, I believe, because it shows that in no way, shape or form can you dictate your terms in a baseball game. It's hard to enough line up all your good-luck ducks in a karmic row, and goodness knows that doesn't always give you the result you want. But try plying the gods with notes (“let us win our first World Series in 68 years but only after the guy I know and like doesn't make the last out”) and you will come away looking at 69 years and counting. (No offense, Red Sox fans; you had a pretty good October 27 last year.)
I'd like as much baseball as I can get my eyes and ears on in 2005. There may be as many as five games remaining or as few as two. I suppose I should pull for five. But I find that I have developed a rooting interest in this World Series. I want the White Sox to win. I suspected I was anti-Houston, but I wasn't sure I'd be quite as pro-Chicago as I've become. They are my team of the moment. That allegiance has a short shelf life, but I have planted myself firmly in their camp for the duration.
I wouldn't mind this Series extending well into the weekend but as a White Sox fan of the Salon Day Pass variety, I want them to win however and whenever they have to. I will not root for the Astros to “make it interesting”. Baseball's interesting enough no matter how much or how little there is left in any given October.
On Monday night, while the MySox rested, ESPN Classic took time out from its heavy rotation re-airings of 1993 poker tournaments and the like to count down the twenty greatest World Series ever. It pretended nothing before 1946 (pre-TV) existed so it was kind of bogus, but guess what was No. 1.
1991 Twins-Braves? No, that was fourth (though it's the best I've ever seen).
1975 Reds-Red Sox? No, that was third (though it's the second-best I've ever seen).
2001 Diamondbacks-Yankees? No, that was second (though it's the third-best I've ever seen).
Chosen as the greatest World Series ever played was the 1986 affair between the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox. It was the fourth-best I've ever seen, but I gotta tell ya, I lodge absolutely no objection to '86 getting its due. It's overdue.
If you want to drown in delightful minutia regarding the events of 19 years ago tonight, I'd suggest a leisurely scroll down Mets Walkoffs where Mark Simon has been dissecting the ultimate Mets walkoff to within an inch of its wonderful life. And if you agree that the World Series should be a non-sectarian religious experience for every baseball fan whether his team is playing in it or not, spend a couple of posts with Dave Murray, the Mets Guy in Michigan. He traveled to Chicago over the weekend to take in the scene so we wouldn't have to. Dave also regales us with the night eight years ago when he parachuted — in the non-Michael Sergio sense — into another World Series. I found his version of the Marlins and Indians at least as compelling as the one I watched from afar in 1997. That, to borrow from a phrase that was all the rage in 1986, is blogging like it oughta be.