It's long been my contention that Red Sox fans and Cub fans secretly want their teams to lose. It might even be a subconscious thing. Without the constant wailing, the gnashing of teeth, sniping, blaming, whining and general why-me-ing, what would be the sense of being a Red Sox or a Cub fan?
In other words, if either team wins the World Series, what will the day after be like? What will you have to look forward to? If your curse of choice is broken, what will be the sense of living?
Quick aside to bring you the laughably unscientific picks for the divisional series. The beauty of these picks is obvious: By the time you read them, they might already be wrong. A team picked to win could quite possibly lose a five-game series by the seventh inning of Game 1. I can't explain it. You just have to believe it.
|"The List" says Nomar and his mates will have another heartbreaking end to their season.|
Red Sox vs. A's: Nobody who makes his living analyzing such things has picked the A's this year. Nobody. Judging from what I read, the Red Sox should have this one wrapped up by the time Nomar bats in the top of the first Wednesday night. It's that obvious. PICK: A's.
Twins vs. Yankees: Remember the nickname given the Warriors' old center Clifford Ray? Yohan, pronounced yo-hawn. Every time I see or hear the name of the Twins' Game 1 starter, Johan Santana, I think of Clifford Ray sticking his long right arm into the throat of a dolphin at Marine World and coming out with a bolt or a nut or some other non-dolphin friendly piece of hardware. Weird, but it really happened. Nowadays, they'd just attach a magnet to a robotic device of some sort. PICK: Yankees.
Cubs vs. Braves: Wouldn't it be great if Bobby Cox turned into Tony La Russa this week, but kept his weird mannerisms and total disdain for all things umpire? What a show that would be -- Cox whining and grumping about balls and strikes one minute, then screaming across the field at Dusty Baker the next. Braves pitchers firing balls at the head of every third Cub, and Dusty spitting and nodding and yelling across the field in that bobble-headed way he does when he's really ticked off. They could play a best-of-25 and it would never get old. PICK: Braves.
Marlins vs. Giants: I've watched a lot of Felipe Alou this year, and it's amazing how he stays completely into every single pitch during a game. The man is 67 years old, and he's tucked up against the dugout rail like a nosy crow. His jaw's jutted out, his mind's racing at 78 rpm -- the man is a quiet marvel. And Jack McKeon? Damn, he's even older, even though he doesn't seem to be quite as anal about missing a pitch here and there. PICK: Giants.
So, back to our original premise:
This year, Red Sox and Cub fans should be miserably happy in the knowledge that this is not the year. By the middle of October, you'll be waiting for next year while the Giants and Yankees play in the World Series.
Yes, the Yankees.
Oh, what beautiful angst. What glorious torment for every serial Calvinist in New England.
This Week's List
There are times in life when the cosmos align, and the world becomes too weird for words: Brenda Warner, going on another sports-talk station to simultaneously bemoan and dictate her husband's fate.
Hey, Brenda, if you're so damned involved, why don't you go out there and get yourself a concussion?: During her appearance on "Steve and D.C.," Backstage Brenda said Kurt wouldn't mind a trade if things didn't change because "we just want to play."
In the immortal and always-appropriate words of the great Uncle Bub: "Dude, control your woman."
As of press time, there was no word from Mackovic's wife: After he was fired as Arizona coach, John Mackovic told the media in Tucson that he would clear out his office "to make room for Mike Price."
Since it's an Andre Dawson kind of year in the AL, this is more than just a hunch: If Alex Rodriguez was paid average-superstar wages (somewhere in the $9 to $15 million range), he'd be a lock for MVP.
It's a great story, but just don't expect him to be the one who tells it: Bill Mueller.
They said it couldn't be done, but our grassroots movement toward sense, sanity and reason is gaining steam: Dom Capers, going for the touchdown and the win instead of the field goal and the tie as the clock ran out Sunday.
Draft Dom in '04: And then he said, "If we can't get it in the end zone from there, we don't deserve to win."
I've got one question for Bill Romanowski: Isn't there a pill for that?
You'd be upset, too, if you had to run around all afternoon with a pen chafing inside your sock and the knowledge you were never going to get the chance to use it: The Terrell Owens Show is a hell of a lot more fun in defeat than victory.
What Owens and the 49ers are learning: Things were much simpler when it was all Steve Mariucci's fault.
I don't claim to be Mel Blount, but it seems the ball is more than an incidental part of the game: Of Randy Moss' three touchdowns Sunday, two could have been prevented if 49er defensive backs had simply turned around to find the ball.
Kind of like the '51 New York Giants, only different: Houston Astros, gutting it out 'til the end.
Just for the heck of it: Doug Riesenberg.
Hey, Vanderjagt, I got your "fire" right here: Peyton Manning, 20 for 25, 314, six TDs.
So, we ask once again: Manning or Leaf?
Oh, but look at Urlacher run clear across the field to keep it to a 12-yard gain: The Chicago Bears would have to do a lot more than open a new stadium to deserve a spot on Monday Night Football.
QB question for the ages: Is Gus Frerotte the new Tommy Maddox?
Because, in this age of unbridled parity, the question is only fair: Has a kick returner (we're talking Dante Hall here) ever won the NFL MVP award?
Old guys with heads held high: Dick Vermeil, Jack McKeon.
And finally, now is as good a time as any for this handy reminder: If given the choice between winning the battle of field position and winning the game, take the game.
Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.