Cubs and Red Sox aftermath

It didn't take long for the dramatic losses by the Cubs and Red Sox to turn into legend. Garrison Keillor mentioned it on Prairie Home Companion last night, saying that this country doesn't need to read Sophocles, or King Lear--we have baseball. We have the Cubs and the Red Sox, with their tragic tendency to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. We have tragic heroes, like the Cubs fan Steve Bartman, who is being blamed for the collapse of his team after he went after a foul pop that might have been caught by Moises Alou. The next day, poor Bartman had his name and place of work published in the Chicago papers. His life will never be the same.

It wasn't Bartman who caused the Cubs collapse. They still had a 3-0 lead at that point. The Marlins scored 8 runs after the incident, but that was due to Cubs misplays and bad pitching more than Bartman's interference. But reason plays no role in legend, and Bartman forever will be known as the fan who sabotaged the Cubs chance for their first World Series since 1945.

Poor Grady Little, the Red Sox manager who inexplicably left a depleted Pedro Martinez in the game until Boston's 5-2 lead had evaporated. He had just as well resign. The Boston fans won't ever forgive him. They are a mean bunch. The Red Sox nation nurses their grievances as assiduously as any suppressed Eastern European ethnic group.

There is some lag time between the time a collapse happens and before the events gel into legend. For the goats, the burden can be too much. Donnie Moore, the Angels pitcher who gave up a home run to Boston CF Dave Henderson which prevented the Angels from reaching the World Series in 1986, never recovered. He committed suicide two years later. A few days after Henderson's homer, Bill Buckner let a grounder roll between his legs which allowed the Mets to win the World Series--his brilliant 21 year career was forgotten; he is only known to baseball history for that ground ball.

Baseball is unforgiving, but it also redeems. Aaron Boone was horrible in the playoffs--until he hit the home run which beat Boston. One swing wiped away two weeks of futility for Boone, and secured his place in Yankee lore. Yankee lore. There's way too much of it.