Yankees, Red Sox Face Off in Game Six of the ALCS
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JIM LEHRER: And finally tonight, “the” baseball rivalry like no other, and to Jeffrey Brown.
SPORTSCASTER: And the Red Sox have taken the lead in game four.
JEFFREY BROWN: When the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox play each other, strange and compelling things happen. The latest chapter has come in the last two days at Fenway Park in Boston. At 1:22, early Monday morning –
SPORTSCASTER: Ortiz into deep right field. Back is Sheffield, we’ll see you later tonight!
JEFFREY BROWN: Red Sox slugger David Ortiz hit a two-run homer in the 12th inning to win game four of the American League championship series. Just 21 hours but 14 innings later, Ortiz did it again with a single to win game five.
ANNOUNCER: Ortiz fights it off centerfield. Damon running to the plate and he can keep on running to New York.
JEFFREY BROWN: It was the longest game in post-season history, a nail-biter filled with drama.
ANNOUNCER: Trot Nixon. That catch is made. Now, Cairo coming to the plate –
JEFFREY BROWN: The two Red Sox victories came after the Yankees had demolished the Sox three games in a row.
SPOKESMAN: Varitek and they are going at it.
JEFFREY BROWN: The rivalry is one of the greatest in sports history, dating back to Babe Ruth, who pitched for the Red Sox and then was traded to the Yankees in 1920. Ever since, the playoff glory has all belonged to the Yankees; the heartbreak, all Boston’s. The two face each other again in game six tonight in New York.
JEFFREY BROWN: And now, a friendly rivalry of our own making. For the Red Sox: Leigh Montville, longtime sports columnist for the Boston Globe, now author of sports books, including a biography of Ted Williams. And for the Yankees: Author and NewsHour essayist Roger Rosenblatt. And in the interest of full disclosure, I better state for the record that I am, from birth, a Red Sox fan. But Roger, I’m going to rise above that and toss you an easy one first: Two tough losses for the Yankees. How is it out there in Yankee land? How are you taking it?
ROGER ROSENBLATT: Well, if I were, by the way congratulations on the disclosure, Jeff, not the substance of it, just the honesty of it.
JEFFREY BROWN: Thank you.
ROGER ROSENBLATT: You’re welcome. If I were of low and trivial nature I would say the Yankees haven’t been unkind these last two games in letting the Red Sox get this close, and just prolonging the agony. But since I’m not of that nature, I’ll say that I’m exhausted, as I’m sure every Boston fan is too. I don’t know how the players are taking it, but I can speak for the fans on both sides, we’re pooped.
JEFFREY BROWN: Leigh Montville, I heard you were at last night’s game so you must be quite exhausted. Explain to the uninitiated, we see Red Sox fans on TV, hiding their eyes, they can’t watch, or praying. What explains this almost religious fervor?
LEIGH MONTVILLE: Oh, I don’t know, it’s funny, you go to Fenway Park and the sound is, I don’t know if there’s a sound for fretting, but that’s the sound that you feel, that you turn to your left and there’s something chewing on his knuckle. It’s like 35,000 people all sitting together and waiting for the results of the biopsy. It’s just a lifelong all-time inbred worry.
JEFFREY BROWN: Mr. Montville, you’re a longtime student of this. What explains the intensity of this? Is it the history, is it the one sidedness?
LEIGH MONTVILLE: Well, sure, it’s the one sidedness. It’s climbing that mountain that you just can’t get to the top. The Red Sox have finished second to the Yankees seven straight years now, and that’s on top of, you know, generations of failures. The big saying up here has always been, they killed our fathers and now they’re coming after us. It’s a generation al worry.
JEFFREY BROWN: Roger, one thing that we all noticed in these two particular versions of the Red Sox and Yankees is the appearance of the teams. The Yankees are very clean-cut, the uniforms are tucked in. The Red Sox are a very scruffy lot. What explains that?
ROGER ROSENBLATT: Well, I don’t know, I’ve actually, I’m sort of mystified which the ethos of the Red Sox appearance. The association with factory workers and in combination with a look very much like the zoo seems to indicate that these are people who just came off the streets to play rather than the multimillionaires they are. But whatever they do if it makes them happy I’m glad. I do think that the Yankee pinstripes do speak for a kind of natural aristocracy that leads to victory. I’ve always been very pleased with it. Nonetheless, one has to remember that the stadium is located in the Bronx.
JEFFREY BROWN: Mr. Montville, what’s your take on the appearance of the two teams?
LEIGH MONTVILLE: I think it’s kind of liberals and conservatives and liberal arts majors and business school graduates in their pinstripes. I think the Yankees have always been characterized as sort the IBM of sports. I think they’re more like the Halliburton of sports — the sort of inside deal guys, and the Red Sox are more, I don’t know, the Red Sox are like Wiley Coyote. They keep going and they keep failing, and they send out to Acme Auto parts or whatever and try and build another rocket.
JEFFREY BROWN: Roger, that’s tough stuff. Go ahead, Roger. Answer him.
ROGER ROSENBLATT: No. I’m really happy for this. I was speaking to my chauffeur only tonight, he was saying very much the same thing, that that Leigh did…. ( laughter )
LEIGH MONTVILLE: And he’s a Red Sox fan.
ROGER ROSENBLATT: But Leigh is right, there is an association to the liberal arts or the more artsy, more poems are written about the Red Sox much more than the Yankees. The Yankees are encumbered by excellence, and that’s been the curse, speaking of a curse, that’s been the curse of this team always. The Red Sox fans interest me, I would like to comment on them, because I do remember, as he will too, Ted Williams last at bat when he hit a home run and still wouldn’t come out and acknowledge the fans. What is that about, Leigh?
LEIGH MONTVILLE: Ted was a case unto himself, I think. In his second year in Boston, in 1940, he gave an interview where he said I hate the city of Boston, I hate the people in Boston, I hate the streets in Boston, I hate the trees in Boston. He just hated everything, and that kind of sent him off for 20 straight years. We’re a demanding crowd, and we’ve been disappointed a lot and we want you to produce. And if not we send you off to exile.
JEFFREY BROWN: Mr. Montville, let me ask you, somewhere in the deep recesses of the minds of all Red Sox fans is the lurking question, what would happen if the Red Sox actually won? What’s the answer to that one?
ROGER ROSENBLATT: Don’t bother asking him.
LEIGH MONTVILLE: Well, HBO had a great documentary last year, “The Curse of the Bambina,” and they asked one guy and the guy said what would happen if the Red Sox won is that older people would die, all up and down New England and all over Boston because there’s all these people who have been saying I’ll only staying alive until the Red Sox finally win it. They said hearses would be going up and down the Mass Pike and it wouldn’t be a pretty thing.
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, Roger, is there any way to make peace between these two fans, in this great rivalry?
ROGER ROSENBLATT: That’s a very good and characteristic NewsHour question. One answer occurred to me, I actually checked it with George Steinbrenner this afternoon, so I’m speaking for him, so this is making news. I suggest that New York buy the Boston fans. It would be much easier on everybody, we’ll spend $5 for the ill mannered fans and $10 for the well mannered fans; that way it would be cost efficient. They’ll wind up happier because they’re rooting for a winning team and we won’t have this bootless this acrimony.
JEFFREY BROWN: Mr. Montville, sounds cheap to me. What do you think?
LEIGH MONTVILLE: I don’t know, they’d probably all be $5 fans. It’s interesting the one year that we did root for the Yankees in 9/11, after 9/11, they wound up losing the World Series.
JEFFREY BROWN: So Roger, you’re in New York, that’s where Game 6 is tonight. Chance of rain, I guess. What are you looking for?
ROGER ROSENBLATT: Well they’re going to play the game, I think, through a drizzle. I’m looking for more whining on the part of Schilling, by the way, which ankle is it because it seems to go one or the other? And certainly a lot more talk from Schilling who talks more than any player I’ve ever seen, and a Yankee victory of course.
JEFFREY BROWN: Mr. Montville, mo team has ever come back from 3-0 down. Is there any chance this year?
LEIGH MONTVILLE: Well, sure, there’s always a chance. It’s interesting, when the Yankees went up 3-0, they were calls all around Boston and people were saying, that’s it, I’m done with these guys and they’ll never get me again, I’m not going to buy this product again, now two days later everybody is at the precipice again. So, I don’t know, maybe he’s got a magic boot there on his foot. And he wins tonight, and then we have a knuckle-baller at the gate tomorrow.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right. We will watch. Leigh Montville, Roger Rosenblatt, thanks a lot.
LEIGH MONTVILLE: Thank you.
ROGER ROSENBLATT: Thank you.