October 23, 2007

World Series 2007; Colorado Rockies vs. Boston Red Sox

The World Series begins tomorrow night, Wednesday. The National League’s Colorado Rockies will play game one at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox. The Rockies have won 21 of their past 22 games but will have had an 8-day layoff going into the match-up.

The Red Sox tied for the most regular season wins in the Major Leagues this season with 96. Down 3 games to 1 in the best of seven American League Championship Series against Cleveland, Boston took the last three to win the series and the pennant,

In 2004, I really wanted the Red Sox to win the World Series. I watched more of that Series than any of the World Serieses in the past few years. They had come back in incredible fashion against the New York Yankees in the ALCS from a 3 to 0 deficit. They overcame 86-years of near-misses and what-ifs.

The 2004 Red Sox were playing for the 2004 Red Sox and for the city of Boston and for New England. They were playing for Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, Wade Boggs, and Bill Buckner on the 1986 Red Sox who came one-strike from the championship against the New York Mets. They were playing for the 1975 Red Sox and Carlton Fisk who saved the team in game six with his 10th-inning homerun against the Cincinnati Reds, only to lose game seven. They were playing for the 1967 "Impossible Dream" Red Sox and the 1941 Red Sox.

I like these 2007 Red Sox. I like outfielder Manny Ramirez, who after the ALCS game four loss to Cleveland, declared that it did not matter if they won game five, and then went out and delivered a key RBI-double that he somehow managed to turn into a key RBI-single. They have an outstanding pitching staff in Curt Schilling, Josh Becket, and Daisuke Matsuzaka, all three of whom pitch so differently from the other.

And I am not really rooting for them.

My sister Ilana moved to Burlington in 1998 and has grown into a Red Sox fan, living in Red Sox Nation. She watches games on NESN, the New England Sports Network, and we text during Red Sox games. She is still a Phillies fan and despite interleague play, the Red Sox and Phillies rarely play each other and I have no issue with the dual loyalty.

I have my own American League leanings. I lived outside of Cleveland for five season and have a soft spot for the Tribe. I was hoping they would beat the Red Sox last week.

Rachel, my wife grew up in Boston sufficiently close to Fenway Park that we could take a long walk there on one of my first visits to her home when we started dating. It was not in the neighborhood and still, walkability goes a long way towards attachments.

We had our first child at the end of August. My other sister, Yael, immediately gave us a Phillies t-shirt for our daughter to wear next season and another friend sent a Phillies bib from mlb.com. They had decided that she would be a Phillies fan. Which is a fair guess given my loyalty.

The honest truth is that my daughter may not grow up to be a Phillies fan, let alone a baseball fan. My own father is no fan of baseball and it was not until I was seven years old that he relented and took me to my first Phillies game. He would take me once or twice a year and we would spend most of the game arguing over when we would leave. He voted for the seventh-inning to reduce his time there and to beat traffic. I pushed for at least after the final-out, if not until after the Phillies had turned off the Veterans Stadium scoreboard for the night.

Somehow, I still became a huge baseball fan.

Rachel declared that our daughter would be a Red Sox fan. I told Rachel that that was fine so long as Rachel could name two current players on the Red Sox roster.

Growing up, there was an ice cream store in her neighborhood called JP Licks. The store riffed on a Ben & Jerry’s flavor name and honored the then Red Sox All-Star shortstop by naming one its ice creams, Cherry Garciaparra.

“Uh, Garciaparra?” Rachel offered.

Nomar played for the Red Sox for eight and a half seasons, being traded away in the middle of the magic 2004 season.

The other morning, Rachel turned to me and said, “Ortiz!” “Great”, I said, “that is half; what is his first name?” She since come up with two players in addition to Ortiz whose first name, David, she did recall.

Now our daughter can be a Red Sox fan. Which is all academic, because she might be a Phillies fan or a Red Sox fan or – I should be so blessed – a fan of chess or classical music.

Paul Lukas, author of www.uniwatchblog.com, believes that the use of the color purple is anathema to Major League baseball jerseys. The Rockies were the first Major League Baseball team to wear purple, when they joined the National League in 1993.

Purple is untraditional on the baseball diamond, but to me, far from heresy. Purple is a traditional color of royalty. Louisiana State University’s athletic teams have worn purple along with gold. The Los Angeles Lakers have worn purple and gold with distinction since the mid-1960s. The Minnesota Vikings have purple since their first season in 1961.

Team colors, at their best, are like the colors of a nation’s flag. They are the same year by year and are not changed. The Red Sox wear red and navy. The Yankees are midnight-navy and white. The Lakers wear purple and gold. Countries do not change their national colors and for the same reason, I would have teams keep their colors in perpetuity as they do in European basketball and soccer.

The Arizona Diamondbacks entered the National League in 1998 wearing purple, teal, gold, and white. I found the uniforms cartoonish at best, but those were the team colors. Before this 2007 season, they switched to bring-red, sand-tan, and black. I like their new uniforms. They are very sharp and are what I would have a team based in Phoenix wear. But the team already had colors; their colors are purple and teal! They even won the 2001 World Series wearing purple and teal.

The Rockies have worn the same logo on their black and purple caps since 1993. They have worn the same purple, black, and silver combination since 1993. When I visited Denver and walked to their home ballpark, Coors Field in the summer of 2005, I saw how the purple and black fits the environment. It works for me.

That the team for whom I support, the Phillies, plays in the National League, and the Rockies are representing the National League, there are those who say that I would be right to root for the Rockies in the World Series. Given the allegiance of my sister and wife, I would be in good company to root for the Red Sox.

As I wrote above, the Red Sox won 96 regular season games, tied for the most in the League. The Rockies won 90-games and it took them one extra game in the season to do it. I like the system used in European soccer and basketball leagues which awards the league championship to the club with the best regular season record. In this sense, the entire season is like a long playoffs.

When I am Commissioner of Major League Baseball, I will eliminate interleague play, again separate the National from the American Leagues, eliminate the wild-card and even the league divisions. The pennant winner will be the team in the league with the best regular season record who will then play the pennant winner of the opposing league in the World Series for the championship. It will be the best against the best.

With the Phillies out of the picture, I am taking a merit-based approach and rooting for the team with the better record to win. Go Red Sox! But let us have some fun and make it a long series.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you're commissioner, I hope you will also get rid of all teams that name themselves after states rather than cities -- and they'd better be named after the city they actually play in! (The Arlington Rangers.)

shabbat shalom,

4:16 PM  
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