Though I’m a New Yorker, I’m as pleased as any Beantown fan that the Red Sox beat the
Yankees for the American League pennant. I grew up rooting for
the Brooklyn Dodgers, which meant I grew up hating the Yankees. I lived close enough to
Ebbets Field to hear the roar of the crowd when someone
hit one into the stands or out of the park. (I used to see some of the Dodgers eating at
Toomey’s Diner on Rogers Avenue.) So I’ve never gotten over my sense of Yankee injustice. You
don’t need to hate George Steinbrenner to hate the Yankees.
Which brings me to today’s column by Richard Reeves. He writes:
I saw “The Play,” when the Alex Rodriguez deliberately karate-chopped
Bronson Arroyo’s arm to knock the ball out of his glove in the eighth inning of game six. The
umpires caught it, which made the game fairer, but so did the cameras which means A-Rod will
look like a bush leaguer forever.
It’s only a game, so they say, but I was struck by the way the game’s announcers — Tim
McCarver, Joe Buck and Al Leiter — handled it. In rough paraphrase, one of them said: “Hey, he
was going to be out anyway, so why not take the shot?” One or both of the others agreed.
Welcome to America, 2004. Or 2000 in Florida. It’s not how you play the game, it’s whether
you win or lose. Obviously, this American attitude pre-dates the 21st century, a century off to a
lousy start. It’s been more than thirty years since Vince Lombardi thrilled Richard Nixon by
saying, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
And, while I am in a confessional mood, I will alienate anyone who has read this far by saying
this: I thought Paul Hamm should have given back this year’s Olympic gold medal for best
all-round male gymnast in Athens. The other guy, the South Korean, won the thing fair and
square. “Fair and square,” that’s a phrase that was in use when I was a lot younger. You don’t
claim to be the champion because one judge couldn’t add right. Hamm was great and the whole
word saw that, but he would have been greater if he ignored all the grown-ups telling him
possession is nine-tenths of the law.
Anyway, if the Astros beat the Cardinals tonight for the National League pennant, it would
mean a World Series between the Red Sox and the Astros,
which could have an impact on the election, ridiculous as that may seem: A
showdown between Boston and Houston? Between Kerry’s team and the
ninny’s team? Spare us the drama.
Postscript: Cards 5, Astros 2. We