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DAN SHAUGHNESSY

Once again, Apple leaves bitter aftertaste

NEW YORK -- The World Series starts tonight and there are actually people here who care. There are people who will watch the Yankees and Marlins on TV. They'll read the baseball stories in the paper. They'll watch "Baseball Tonight" to see what Bobby Valentine thinks.

Not us. We've Cowboyed Down for the winter. Time to lower the storm windows and see what's up with the Patriots, Bruins, and Celtics. Oh, and could somebody please erase that haunting World Series logo from the Fenway lawn?

New York City was a ridiculous place to be yesterday. There wasn't enough Tylenol P.M. in the five burroughs to knock out the city that doesn't sleep and you still could feel the adrenaline rush in midtown Manhattan while Yankees and Marlins went through their workouts in the Bronx. All copies of the Globe -- usually available all day at Gotham train stations -- were gone by early afternoon. This proves again that mourning members of Red Sox Nation are into self-flagellation and can't get enough analysis even when it's more bad history that's being written.

The New York Post provided its own measure of hilarity with a "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline that ran over an editorial on page 36. The headline read, "A Curse of Their Own?" and the editorial, clearly written when the Yankees trailed, 5-2, in the eighth, was a post-mortem on the Yankee season. It was still there in all its glory in the Late City Final edition -- reminiscent of "Congratulations World Champion Red Sox" which flashed on the big board at Shea Stadium moments before Mookie in 1986.

And do you think Bill Buckner at this very moment is running across some pasture in Idaho screaming, "I'm off the hook!"

The bottom line is that the Red Sox are Biblical. They are the greatest sports story ever told. Jayson Blair needn't try. You can't make this stuff up. Boston really is Mudville.

The whole thing is so painful, one can only laugh. But how can we laugh when George Steinbrenner gets to say, "The Curse still lives"? According to the New York Daily News, the Boss also sent off the Sox buses with this farewell wish: "Go back to Boston, boys. Goodbye. They didn't treat us very well in Boston, but you know, we get the last laugh."

George gets the last laugh. Arghhhhhh.

What should not get lost is the indisputable conclusion that this was one terrific series that included one-run games, extra innings, dramatic homers, big plays, and the unforgettable sight of Don Zimmer hitting the canvas after charging Pedro Martinez.

In the end, Pedro gave it everything he had, but went 0-1 in the series with a 5.65 ERA (16 hits in 14 1/3 innings). To his credit, when Pedro stood up and spoke after the game, he made every effort to take Grady Little off the hot seat. It was a noble gesture, but not enough to spare Grady a lifetime of criticism and ridicule.

In all of our self-absorption, let's not forget the Yankees won Game 7 just as much as the Red Sox lost it. These guys know how to seize the moment. Trailing, 5-2, with one out and nobody aboard in the eighth, the heart of their order struck four consecutive hits off Martinez. Then Mariano Rivera pitched three shutout innings. And the idea of Joe Torre using three of his starters and having Andy Pettitte put his spikes on in the 11th is instant Yankee folklore. In the end it was the hated Yankees who Cowboyed Up.

The 2003 Red Sox were often compared to the 1967 Cinderella Sox, and the comparison still holds up pretty well. No Boston nine will ever capture the imagination of our region the way the Cardiac Kids did, but the Sons of Grady Little gave New England a wonderful baseball season. They're responsible for the growth of a Nation that is becoming global.

But now we have Boone to go with Buckner, Bucky, and the Babe. And the World Series that was supposed to be Red Sox vs. Cubs turns out to be Yankees and Marlins.

So never mind the Fall Classic this year. Take your kids to the mall. Rake the lawn. Or maybe go the theater.

If you live near Durham, N.H., there's a nifty production running through tomorrow at the Johnson Theatre in the Paul Creative Arts Center at UNH. Perhaps you've heard of the play. It's a little musical from the 1920s entitled "No, No, Nanette!"

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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