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A few items


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Notes from the back of an envelope scribbled during this wild and crazy post-season festival while waiting for the big shoe to drop.

Mourning

Red Sox Nation, deep in mourning, won’t want to hear this. But sometimes some things are written on the wind and this was one of those times. It may sting at the moment, but some day even the most addled nationalists will wake up and recognize that the divine will of the baseball gods was appeased and poetic justice served by the impish Rays spunky triumph over your team.

Think of it this way. On the last day of the timeless 1967 season, was there any way the Twins were going to beat the Impossible Dream Red Sox? It was unthinkable. The universal consent of humankind -- or at least that portion that gives a dang about baseball -- willed otherwise. And so it was this year with the Rays, whose magic carpet ride was so similar. Every once in a while destiny has its darlings and the drama that unfolds is always a joy to behold. It ended the way it had to end.

Take consolation in the fact the Red Sox played their role as the heavy so well, being tenacious to the last and refusing to roll over for mere sentiment. The comeback in game five was another tale for the ages. It takes two to make a classic. That will have to be satisfaction enough but as you wait until next year, you should do so with a smile.

Classiest act

When Troy Brown, consummate football-man and citizen, retired recently nice things were said about him. But not enough. Tireless contributor to his team in every role demanded of him, Brown was an ultimate Patriot.

But it was in his charitable works, notably his superb service as a fund-raising spokesman for the archdiocesan schools, that Brown affirmed what he’s really all about. They all say they’ll never forget where they came from but only a precious few back up the words with deeds. Troy Brown was one of the rare ones.

More praise

Regarding praise of another sort, Joe Torre got plenty for leading his Dodgers into the playoffs with a little assist from the prodigal Manny. But a simple fact was widely and conveniently overlooked. After Aug. 25th, Torre’s Dodgers did not face a single team with a winning record. It was by that quaint means that the Dodgers made it while seven other teams -- including the one Torre formerly managed -- did not. The playoff system is definitely defective.

Slip of the tongue?

Sophomoric bombast comes easily to Curt Schilling and much of it is dumb but harmless. His recent comments gratuitously slandering the entire populace of New York City were another matter.

You may recall that in his radio gig -- on which he’s gleefully allowed to emote on any fool thing that pops into his head without fear of being challenged -- he claimed people all over Manhattan and the boroughs were “rejoicing” over the injury that ended Tom Brady’s season. He insisted this elation with Brady’s misfortune was not only widespread but also malevolent and thereby proof of the degeneracy of New Yorkers in general. He expressed glee that they deservedly endured a miserable autumn with their teams having been cooked, etc. ad nauseam.

It was a needless swipe that went well beyond the shaky bounds of the routinely vacuous banter that is the meat and potatoes of sports talk-radio. Schilling has stature. To make such a reckless charge so casually diminishes it. But then his need for attention is legend and he’s had to endure a long season of exile on the beach. Maybe he should try a pacifier. It might help.

This year’s “Portrait of a baseball player as a genuine ingrate” prize, however, goes to the Cubs’ Aflonso Soriano. After the Cubs latest disaster, the lavishly overpaid Soriano, who had contributed mightily to the fiasco by going one for 13 against the Dodgers, was asked if he had any advice for distraught Cubs fans weeping in their cups over their team’s historic 100 year championship drought.

“Be patient!” Soriano snapped, churlishly.

Just another sweet fellow representing the home team on the old diamond. Heartwarming, is it not.

No press courts

Amazing how with so little fanfare rogue basketball ref Tim Donaghy finally got hustled off to jail. The major media was only too eager to accept the NBA’s investigation of itself that concluded Donaghy is the league’s only crooked official although Donaghy himself insists otherwise. Do you think Major League Baseball could get away with that?

Never in over a half century of intense observations have I seen great newspapers more relentlessly dodge so big a story. It seemed nobody wanted to touch it. You’re a lucky fellow, David Stern.

Performance enhancing

For its showcase events, the post-season playoffs, wouldn’t you think Major League Baseball would insist the networks carrying the games find a product other than “Viagra” to serve as a principal sponsor? Commercials featuring cooing couples with cloying voice-overs were prominent in the late afternoon/early evening broadcasts of the first two rounds -- prime-time for kids -- and repeated again and again and again. At the risk of seeming reactionary, you wonder if MLB being a slave to Budweiser was any worse.

Big bucks

How do you think A-Rod’s $300 million pact looks to the Yankee’s bean counters in the wake of the nation’s chilling financial meltdown. Could he have gotten half of that negotiating this fall, after his performance last summer?

Choice World Series tickets are going for $575 and suckers are paying two and three as much to scalpers, the state of the world be danged. But then Los Angeles Lakers’ courtside tickets where you can ogle Jack Nicholson up close and personal will cost $2,500. Per Game! Now that is sheer madness.

Czar’s pets

In retrospect, Commissioner Bud Selig should have ordered a serious inquiry into the shenanigans linked with the last second deals July 31st that revolved around the outrageous behavior of Manny Ramirez. Suspicions persist that the deals were not completed by the trade deadline, which is supposed to be immutable. Several teams were irked and it deepens the widespread sense that Czar Selig has pet teams -- the Red Sox chief among them -- for whom he’s ever willing to bend the rules.

More important were Manny’s antics and the suspicion -- also widespread -- that his power-lusting agent, Scott Boras, guided him in a scheme that would result in Ramirez being positioned to make a killing as a free agent this winter. Boras vehemently denies any wrongdoing as well he must to protect his license while Manny gets away with saying nothing because he’s Manny. Selig did request some sort of review of what happened. But if there’s a report, no one’s seen it. If there are answers to the lingering questions, nobody’s heard them.

Selig now seems content to ignore the matter. He should not be allowed to get away with that. If Ramirez did what he’s widely purported to have done he should have been suspended, not re-invented as a hero out in La La Land. And if he did it with the guidance of Boras, the agent must be called on the carpet too. But the most interesting question may be, “What is Selig afraid of here?” It would seem to be Boras.

Another prediction

Lastly, it says here, “Phillies in Six”. But it would be heartless to not pull for the merry upstarts so we’ll go with the Rays, on a wing and a prayer, in seven. Don’t deprive yourself of the fun. Catch it.

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