Dan Shaughnessy

Write off these versions

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / June 14, 2008

LOS ANGELES - I was ready. I'd been writing since the middle of the first quarter and the words were almost set to be printed on the front page of yesterday's Globe . . .

LOS ANGELES - The 62d NBA championship will be won next week on Causeway Street in Boston. The Los Angeles Lakers made this a certainty last night, thrashing the Celtics, XX-XX, here in the land of air kisses and frozen smiles.

There was nothing phony about the Lakers' Game 4 victory. Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol finally stood tall and the Lakers dominated the Celtics at both ends of the floor. It was the Lakers' 16th straight win at Staples Center since March 28. Los Angeles is 10-0 at home in the playoffs, while the Celtics are 2-9 when playing away from the New Garden in the tournament. It's now a best-of-three series.

Magic Johnson was in the house and he no doubt flashed back to the old Showtime days when he saw the Lakers run the Celtics out of the building.

As midnight neared and the Celtics stole the Lakers' lunch money and manhood, those words were vaporized and replaced with a story of Boston's historic comeback.

It happens all the time. Late starting times and old-fashioned newspaper deadlines frequently require us to put things in perspective before the games are over. And sometimes there's a whole new story by the time the game ends.

I first saw this in 1975 when the late Ray Fitzgerald, forever the best sports columnist to grace our section, started typing his next-day story in the late innings of the sixth game of the World Series. It had been an epic night with Fred Lynn hitting a three-run homer and crashing into the non-padded wall in center. But the Sox were trailing, 6-3, in the eighth and it looked like the Reds were ready to close out the Series.

"You could feel it slipping away . . . " Fitz typed.

Then Bernie Carbo launched the pinch-hit home run and Ray twirled the page out of his typewriter, tossed it over his shoulder, and let it float to the floor. Lesley Visser, a cub reporter fresh out of Boston College (now honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame), saw Fitz discard the early version and discreetly retrieved it from the press box linoleum. She took it home and tacked it to the souvenir-sprinkled corkboard in her apartment. She still has those unpublished words from the great Ray. An early version of a historic night in Boston sports.

My first memorable moment of this nature unfolded in 1986, sitting in the press box at Shea Stadium.

NEW YORK - Time for a Dave Henderson statue. Hendu should be immortalized in Faneuil Hall, alongside Sam Adams and Red Auerbach.

Henderson's 10th-inning homer smacked off the Newsday sign in left field at the stroke of midnight last night and propelled the Red Sox to their first World Series victory in 68 years.

The Red Sox led the Mets, 5-3, in the bottom of the 10th of Game 6 when I put the finishing touches on the Hendu column. I hardly noticed those three consecutive two-out singles off Calvin Schiraldi. It wasn't until the bullpen door swung open and Bob Stanley came running in that I stopped typing and resumed watching. I do not remember asking, "What's Buckner still doing out there?" . . . until a few minutes later.

Then there was that night in Yankee Stadium in 2003.

NEW YORK - The Red Sox routed the Evil Empire last night, clinching the American League pennant with a 5-2 victory on the sacred soil of The House that Ruth Built.

Pedro Martínez picked up the win for the Sox and Boston's bullpen corps took care of the last two innings for manager Grady Little. Derek Lowe is slated to pitch the first game of the World Series against the Florida Marlins Saturday night at Fenway Park.

Football games are generally played during the afternoon and we don't get into deadline situations. Super Bowls, unfortunately, are played on Sunday nights.

GLENDALE, Ariz. - Bill Belichick's History Boys last night completed the first 19-0 season in NFL history, beating the New York football Giants, 14-10, in Super Bowl XLII. Earning his fourth Super Bowl victory in seven seasons, Tom Brady connected with Randy Moss on a 6-yard touchdown pass with 2:42 remaining to wrap up the perfect season.

"Path to Perfection" books are on sale now, and the Patriots will be feted at City Hall Plaza Tuesday.

None of those paragraphs was published. We audibled at the line of scrimmage and avoided the infamy of "Dewey Defeats Truman."

Thursday's Celtic comeback from a 24-point deficit (on the road!) ranks with just about anything in the history of Boston sports. It was a giant step in the Celtics' quest for their first banner in 22 years. It feels like the Celtics have already won the NBA championship.

And it's already hard to remember those early moments of Game 4 at Staples Center . . . when you could feel it slipping away.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at

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