Baseball is cruel. Baseball is not fair.
Not fair, as in you can win 100 games and still get nowhere. Not fair, as in you can win 100 games and still finish second because the other team is eight games better. Not fair when that other team scores the equivalent of two touchdowns, two extra points and a safety in the division series to embarrass you on your home turf, making your 100 wins irrelevant.
Yankees fans do not take easily to losing. Twenty-seven world championships will do that to you. Now, the Bronx Bombers are at risk of going a whole decade without reaching the World Series.
Has that ever happened before? Of course, before the advent of baseball nobody was going to the World Series. Actually, it was the 1910s. So this is new for the Yanks and their fans.
I did not yell at the television set. History shows that Yankees baseball is one of the few reasons I will yell at a television, which is an animation object but does not respond to an aggressive posture. It would be a smart TV indeed that did. I am not alone in this. I’ve seen plenty of people yell at televisions while games are on.
There was no better reason than in game three, when the Yankees were plundered by a score of 16-1. I’d yelled at the TV during the playoffs the year before, when a different manager, Joe Girardi, was leaving a pitcher in way too long even though every other sentient being on the globe knew it was time to take the guy out. This was like watching a horror movie when a character is about to open a door and everybody knows something very bad is behind that door but the character goes ahead and opens the door anyway. Very scary.
Other than the major league shellacking, two other interesting things happened in that third game, and those two things had intersecting story lines. Boston’s Brock Holt became the first player, ever, to hit for the cycle in the postseason. Hitting for the cycle means you get a single, double, triple and home run in the same game.
The home run, which came in the ninth inning, was surrendered, however, by Austin Romine, who was the other interesting thing about game 3. Romine is a catcher. He was brought in to pitch because by that time the game was a joke — the Sox led 10-0 in the fourth inning — and the Yankees were trying to save their serious pitchers for later (a strategy, as it turned out, that didn’t turn out). It was only the second time in playoff history that a position player had come in to pitch.
Baseball is a game of asterisks, as in the one given to Roger Maris because he took too many games to break Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record, and those deserved by players in the steroid era, and you wonder if an asterisk will be needed for Holt’s accomplishment, as in: * other team was not taking game seriously.
Speaking of Babe Ruth, I was asked not all that long ago whether it was the Sultan of Swat who had made me a Yankees fan. Ha, ha. Very funny! But, I was around for Mickey Mantle.
In the 1960 World Series the Yankees won three games by scores of 16-3, 10-0 and 12-0. The Pirates won the other four, each by one run or a couple. The total run tally in the series was Yanks 55, Pirates 27, and the Pirates won the series! See what I mean by baseball not being fair?
Even so, everyone came to know the name Bill Mazeroski, who won the series with a ninth-inning game 7 home run. Winners earn respect.
Now that goes to the Red Sox, who will have their hands full in the American League Championship Series against Houston.
For the Yanks it’s wait until next year, a phrase of solace that now is becoming all too familiar.
Reach Jeffery Kurz at 203-317-2213, or firstname.lastname@example.org.