Thursday, October 28, 2004

A Brand New World

Holy crap! The Red Sox won the World Series last night in a four-game sweep over the Cardinals. Sox fans were in a happy daze today, with the full impact of it all still to be realized. After 86 years and all sorts of silliness about curses and ghosts, the Sox finally got it done. And in impressive fashion, coming within three outs of being swept by the Yankees in the ALCS last week and then reeling off eight straight wins. After a close game 1 that they won 11-9, the Sox dominated with excellent starting pitching, key hits, and a confidence that never wavered. It's been a long couple of weeks staying up late watching games, although I was hoping the Cards would at least win a few games to make things competitive. In the end, they just didn't have the starters to match up with Boston and their offensive stars were invisible.

I'm happy for all my friends who are Sox fans (including my wife), but it also reminds me of when my chosen team, the Toronto Blue Jays, won back-to-back titles in '92 and '93. Part of the 1977 expansion class, the Jays had gradually grown competitive and won their first AL East title in 1985, my freshman year in college. The Jays were jam-packed with talent that year with starters including Dave Stieb and Jimmy Key, a lights-out closer in Tom Henke and a powerful offense that included the young outfield of George Bell, Jesse Barfield and Lloyd Moseby. It was the first year the ALCS was best-of-seven, and the Jays raced out to a 3-1 lead over Kansas City. Then the unthinkable happened and they lost the next three games, and the Royals went on to win the World Series. For several years, the Jays teased their fans: leading the division in '87 before losing their final seven games of the season and getting passed by Detroit; winning division titles in '89 and '91 before losing easily in the ALCS. But in '92, it all came together. Recent additions like Joe Carter, Roberto Alomar and Dave Winfield solidified an already impressive lineup and Jack Morris and trading deadline pickup David Cone gave the Jays a potent starting five. After taking out the powerful A's in the ALCS, the Jays took on the favored Braves and beat them in six, with Winfield providing the series-winning hit with a double in the 10th. I was living in this very house, renting the downstairs apartment and watching the game with my girlfriend, who normally had little interest in such things. When they won it, a buddy of mine came over with a bottle of champagne to celebrate with me, which was pretty cool.

The following year, I had broken up with said girlfriend and was renting a room in a house in Middleton. It wasn't a fun time for me. I wasn't so much depressed about the breakup as I was about being alone, I wasn't digging my job (which at the time had me working 5 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and I suspected I was getting an ulcer. But the Jays were having another great year; Winfield was gone and replaced by another classy veteran, Paul Molitor. The Jays beat the White Sox in the ALCS and took on the Phillies, a cocky group of hairy goofballs led by Lenny Dykstra and a tough starter named Curt Schilling. It was a wild and wooly series and the Jays led 3-2 going into Game 6. I was up at UNH that day for Homecoming and was invited to a party that night in the area, but I decided to come home and watch the Jays. Good move. Joe Carter hit a historic Series-winning, walk-off homer in the ninth. I was watching the game by myself in my room and when Carter hit the homer, I just started jumping around and screaming. My upstairs roommate called down to make sure I was okay. Hell, yeah. That was the only good thing that happened to me that year.

Of course, since then the Jays have slid, somehow turned into a small-market team after the strike of '94, and this year finished in last place with their worst record since 1981. Oh well, at least I have my memories.

Big loss in the music world this week after British radio DJ John Peel died of a heart attack. Peel was influential in introducing new music to the world, and his live "Peel Session" CDs are legendary. He will be missed.

It's week four since I stopped running to let my Achilles' problems get better, and I'm still sore. I'm just going to wait until they're better before I start running again. It's a real bummer to not be able to run during my favorite time of the year. This sucks.


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