A Look Back

Sox vs LA: the World Series from Hell

The World Series is finally here but the Yankees aren’t a part of it. To compound the pain, the Boston Red Sox are the AL Pennant winners. It’s their fourth World Series appearance in the last 15 years.

To make matters worse, their opponent is the Los Angeles Dodgers, managed by “that guy” Dave Roberts.

Yeah, the guy who stole second base in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS…yada, yada…barf. Other than FOX Sports, the network airing the World Series, showing the replay of Roberts’ 2004 theft no less than 50 times, it may not bother you that the Dodgers are in the World Series. Which means you are probably under the age of 45-50.

Because if you are 50 years old or older and a Yankees fan, you are NOT happy right now.

You hate the Dodgers as much as your peers and you remember beating the Dodgers in the 1977 and 1978 World Series. You also remember losing to LA in 1981 after being up two-games-to-none.

If you’re 60+ years of age, you remember Sandy Koufax leading the Dodgers to a four-game sweep of the Yankees in 1963. Now granted, the Yankees got the better of them in their 11 meetings – 1941, 1946, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1963, 1977, 1978, 1981 – they met the Dodgers in the World Series, winning eight of them.

While Boston and LA will bring in more ratings, I wanted the Brewers and Astros to meet in the Fall Classic.  That way either team could have won and it would have been fine.

The Brewers have never won a World Series and the town hasn’t had a professional championship since the 1970-1971 Milwaukee Bucks (NBA). And they haven’t witnessed a pro baseball championship since the Braves called Milwaukee their home and won it all in 1957.

In the Beginning

The intensity of the Yankees – Red Sox rivalry was sporadic from the early 1970s through the mid-1990s.

Sure, there was the hatred towards Carlton Fisk in the Fisk vs. Thurman Munson rivalry. Then there was the Graig Nettles pop to the chops of bigmouth Bill Lee.

And, of course, there was the 1978 Yankees comeback season that destroyed the psyche of the Red Sox fan base.

But the heat of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry over the last 20 years has intensified to a level like nothing I have personally seen before.

At times, the passion expressed has been about the fans more than the players. During those times, the players, for the most part, respected one another. The fans? Never.

As an aside, the Baltimore Orioles, not the Red Sox, were the team that constantly destroyed the Yankees hopes and dreams when we were kids.

I Hate LA

Randy Newman can sing about LA all he wants, but he won’t convince me to like the teams and their fans on the left coast. In particular, I dislike the fans of the Dodgers and Lakers.

Back in the 1970’s, the Yankees and Dodgers rivalry renewed after lying dormant for 14 years.

Those Dodgers teams were unbelievably overhyped and were constantly on national television. Their infield always seemed to be the center of attention and drew constant raves for being together for so long.

But just because you are together a long time, doesn’t make you great at what you do. You would have thought Steve Garvey (1B), Davey Lopes (2B), Bill Russell (SS), and Ron Cey (3B) were the be-all and end-all based on the media’s coverage of them.

While the foursome could all hit, they were NOT a good defensive infield. Despite an erratic arm, Garvey managed to win four Gold Glove Awards. Garvey’s clean-cut image, which was later exposed to be a farce, was particularly rankling.

Lopes won a Gold Glove Award in 1978 despite committing 20 errors. Fangraphs ranked him as the 11th overall defensive shortstop in the Majors, and he trailed fellow NL’ers Manny Trillo and Dave Cash.

It was no stretch for Cey to commit 20+ errors annually, while Russell topped 30 errors during a number of seasons.

Dodgers’ manager Tommy Lasorda took the cake though. Mr. Hollywood loved the LA scene and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Frank Sinatra and others. He “bled Dodger blue” and his mastery of engaging with umpires to stall until his reliever was ready drove you crazy.

Now, he’s a likable character. Back then, not so much if you weren’t a Dodgers’ fan.

(I do admit to liking the Dodgers’ Dusty Baker and Reggie Smith on those teams.)

Almost 1986 World Series all over again

Instead of enjoying the World Series, I am having flashbacks to 1986 when the New York Mets faced off with the Red Sox in the World Series. Almost every Yankees fan I knew was a rooting for the Red Sox. You heard that correctly: rooting for the Red Sox.

The Yankees – Red Sox rivalry was in a bit of a lull at that point. The Yankees missed the postseason for five straight years while the Red Sox were the team of Roger Clemens and Wade Boggs. Unfortunately, they were also the team of Bill Buckner in 1986.

Had the Red Sox beaten the Mets, the pressure would have been much less once the 2004 ALCS rolled around. The “Curse of the Bambino”, after 68 years, would have been no more and the Mets would still be sitting on their one and only World Series win, possibly even until today.

Still, you couldn’t help but chuckle at the Red Sox for blowing another opportunity to end The Curse.

The Dodgers haven’t won a World Series since 1988 when Orel Hershiser pitched them past the favored Mets (NLCS) and Oakland Athletics (WS).

LA has appeared in only one World Series since then, last year’s loss to the Houston Astros in a Series that went the full seven games. And the way the first two games have gone in this year’s Series, it looks like the Dodgers’ winless streak will continue, which means another ring for the Red Sox.

Is it too late to hibernate?

 

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