The Inland Empire 66ers were anointed the ugly stepchild of the Seattle Mariners farm system in 2003, coming out of spring training with few prospects and a roster full of organizational players. When asked about the talent assigned to San Bernardino, Farm Director Benny Looper was quoted as saying, “As far as guys who are ever going to see a big-league uniform, it’s pretty thin.” That is not exactly the overly optimistic glowing that you will see from most front office personnel, but the sentiment was basically accepted; this team just isn’t very good.
After a first month that lived up to expectations, things turned around in May, and the 66ers completed an improbable turnaround by capturing the 2003 California League championship in September. Perhaps the most important decision of the season came in early May, when Ryan Ketchner was rewarded for his excellent relief work with a spot start against High Desert. He proceeded to earn himself another start in the rotation with six strong innings of two-hit baseball. Given the opportunity, Ketchner made the most of it and did not look back. He pitched his way onto the mid-season and postseason All-Star teams before being named the playoffs MVP for his remarkable performance. His playoff line included 13 2/3 scoreless innings, a .167 opponents’ batting average, and four walks against 16 strikeouts.
Is Yankee Stadium haunted?
Experts differ. Or, they might, if they had anything to say about it at all. Realistically, ghosts don’t exist any more than the alignment of the stars affects the outcome of our lives. But respectable newspapers still run horoscopes, so what do I know? Maybe Yankee Stadium is haunted.
Today, construction of any monument of significance requires an archeological survey to make sure you’re not building it on top of an ancient settlement of death-worshipping cultists. But Yankee Stadium was originally opened in 1923, when such practices were not attempted; and when it was remodeled in the mid-’70s, the stadium was torn down entirely. So it’s possible that because the site was unchanged, no new survey was undertaken.
However, a brief search of the literature produces no accounts of supernatural activity of any kind at Yankee Stadium. Even the paranormal camp, who can usually be relied upon to come up with something harebrained about anything, didn’t have any quotes for me. I’d have called them up and asked, but I didn’t want to give anyone ideas.
A lot has happened since last we met. I’ve completed my residency, started a new job, passed my boards, and moved to Chicago. Which, given my proven attraction to lost causes, meant that it was only a matter of time before I became a Cubs fan.
My allegiance to this team may only be three months old, spanning less than 0.5% of the time since their last World Series appearance. But thanks to Dusty Baker, my patience is already wearing thin.
After a Game Seven performance that would make Jim Frey look like a tactical genius, the hope here is that a couple chinks may be starting to form on Baker’s Teflon coating. His failings are well-covered, here and elsewhere, but indulge me in this quick synopsis nonetheless.
If the last three weeks have taught us anything, it’s that the baseball postseason is the greatest sports theatre in the world. We’ve seen almost every form of drama the game can provide, from game-winning home runs to stunning pitching duels to comebacks from one foot, two hands and most of a head in the grave.
Yesterday, we saw the Red Sox jump out to a 4-1 lead against a pitcher they shouldn’t hit, then watched that edge disappear a half-hour later. On the road, deep into the recesses of their pitching staff, fighting wind and cold and history, the Sox could have called it a season and no one would have been surprised. They didn’t, and thanks to some help from the twin weaknesses of the Yankees–defense and every non-cyborg reliever–they’ll get the Game Seven they came to New York to play.
The Cubs, who could have curled up and died when Miguel Cabrera put them down 3-0 in the first inning, battled back to tie the game and then take the lead. I don’t care that they lost: a team that lacks some blessed intangible doesn’t even get that far, not after the events of Tuesday night.
The Marlins weren’t supposed to contend, weren’t supposed to win the Wild Card, weren’t supposed to beat the Giants, weren’t supposed to even come back to Chicago after being down 3-1 Saturday night… and their biggest problem this morning is that they’ll have to wait until tonight to make their flight plans for the World Series. Well, that and finding a good hangover cure.