October 28, 2004

The Footnote

The 2004 World Series may always be remembered as the game Boston won after they finally beat the Yankees.

It would be fair to say Boston’s curse ended in Game 7 of the ALCS, when the Red Sox overcame their worst nightmare, New York, in the most dramatic fashion possible, coming back from a 3-0 series deficit, something no team has ever done in the postseason.

The World Series proved uneventful by comparison. Like a giant tsunami, Boston’s pitching machine came down hard on St. Louis, who finished the regular season with the second-best record in franchise history, coming off their own remarkable seven-gamer against Houston in the NLCS.

History will write that the curse, offically, ended with Game 4 of the World Series, but fans will likely remember Game 7 more. The World Series then becomes the symbol of Boston’s new identity crisis; they’re no longer the special needs child of the baseball world, no longer lovable losers.

I’ve read opinions that said this championship puts them in the same category as the Florida Marlins, but I would disagree, based on their rich history and loyal fan base. But there’s something deflating about it, too. Maybe it’s the sudden reminder that it’s just “one,” next to the mantle full of Yankees trophies since 1918, or maybe it’s the sudden removal of disappointment, something they’ve lived with for so long.

Whatever it is, I believe this much to be true. I believe the drama will never be the same. Boston vs. New York will never mean as much as it did this year. I believe George Steinbrenner will never let this happen again. Get ready for Pedro in pinstripes. I believe the media will start playing up the Chicago Cubs as soon as possible. And I think “Who did the Boston Red Sox beat to win their first World Series in 86 years?” will have lots of casual fans guessing “Yankees” in future editions of Trivial Pursuit.

October 25, 2004

On minority candidates ...

Was Howard Eskin right or wrong Monday night when he implied that Atlanta Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton is only being interviewed for the manager job because he’s a minority candidate? (photo: City Paper online edition)

Eskin said on his radio show the Phillies wanted only candidates with managerial experience and believes that Pendleton, who has no managerial experience but has the endorsement of top officials in the Braves organization, is being interviewed “as a favor.”

As far as we can tell, Pendleton has as many outside endorsements as any candidate in the running, and if you’re searching for a credible source, look no further than Atlanta. So instead of criticizing the Pendleton interview as an act of minority privilege, why doesn’t Eskin call out the Phillies for interviewing a former manager (Jim Fregosi), a former player (John Russell) and the father of the team’s third baseman (Buddy Bell)?

Unless you’re a former player or connected in some other way, it’s not easy breaking in as a first-time manager. The policy installed by Major League Baseball making it mandatory for clubs to interview at least one minority candidate is designed to create an equal playing field for minorities, but it’s also a way to inject candidates into interviews otherwise reserved for the predominantly white bodies already juiced into the organization. The Phillies are guilty of this more than any team in baseball, and it should come as no surprise that the two minority candidates, Don Baylor and Terry Pendleton, are also the least plugged in.

If history repeats itself, in the words of the King, they do, indeed, have “no shot.” And if the Phillies or WIP comes down on him for suggesting it, he doesn't deserve it this time.