It couldn’t happen. There was no possible, conceivable way, on God’s green earth, that the Yankees were going to lose to the Red Sox.
In game seven.
At Yankee Stadium.
After being up 3-0 in the series.
No, it was going to play out the way it always played out: The Yankees would come back for an incredible victory, to preserve the curse for one more year. The Yankees had the Red Sox’s number like UM had Chris Rix’s.
But Wednesday night was different. The Sox jumped off to a 6-0 lead after two innings and never looked back. For the first time since 1918, they are destined to win the World Series. In the A.L.C.S., David had beaten Goliath.
But, this game will be remembered as much for the Yankees choking as it will for the underdog Red Sox winning. The Yankees were Jean Van de Velde on the 18th in the 1999 British Open. They were the Houston Oilers giving up a 32-point lead on the Buffalo Bills. They were, if you will, the 1978 Red Sox giving up a 14-game lead…to the New York Yankees.
Now, I consider myself a nonpartisan baseball observer. I can’t say “fan,” because I know that baseball is what people from New York and Boston watch while the rest of the world pay attention to real sports (OK, so maybe I’m not nonpartisan; but I am a Detroit Tigers fan). As a Tigers fan, I’ve had the perspective from the bottom of the cellar up with a crystal clear view, much like “Da Mayor” from Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. And, from what I’ve observed over the past few years, when the going got tough, the tough joined the Yankees.
Giambi, Sheffield, Matsui and even a guy named A-Rod who makes $25 million and almost started this season in Beantown: Those are the kinds of ballplayers who have made the pilgrimage over the past few years to the Mecca of baseball. Add in some live pitching; hang onto proven leaders like Jeter and Torre, and things don’t look so expensive for George Steinbrenner as long as they bring home the gold.
Any New York fan knows they have bought a team of champions-whether it’s ethical or not doesn’t matter. So, when a group of guys with bigger flaws and smaller paychecks can come together and beat the men in pinstripes, we all must point to that old adage in sports: The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Whenever effort beats talent, true fans of sport should applaud.
Yankee fans are no exception.
Ben Minkus can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.