Friday, May 11, 2018

Get ready for a long hot summer, with NY and Boston going to the wire

If you're ever looking for a great book about sports and culture, I heartily suggest Tim Wendel's "Summer of '68: The Season that Changed Baseball - and America Forever." You'll read about Bob Gibson in a brawl chasing racist Reds (including Pete Rose) into their own dugout, or Willie Horton standing on a car in his Tigers jersey, appealing for sanity during a race riot, or Milt Pappas, the players union rep, staring down the Cincinnati GM after the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. It will flesh-out historical events that you may have forgotten, or tried to forget. And it will be especially bittersweet this year, as we head into - well, what? - peace? war? chaos?

Okay, no politics here. But you can sense the looming cultural upheaval in the way that geologists can measure the vibrations beneath Hawaii. As Scotty would say, the matter/anti-matter pods are failing, the Diolythium crystals are cracked, and the ship, she canna take it! We've already seen blowouts and bench-clearing brawls, (and I'm not referring to baseball.) As the Yankee/Redsock rivalry played out in other memorable times - (the 1977 "Summer of Sam") - our duel with Boston will become the backdrop for a history to be rendered long after we are gone. 

We saw it last month in the first series - the fight between Tyler Austin and Joe Kelly, two minor characters, who otherwise wouldn't be remembered in the future Netflix documentary. Last night, we almost had a Steve Bartman moment, a fan snatching a HR over Aaron Judge. We stand at 3-3 - even - with 13 games left to play. Get ready. We're heading toward a September crescendo. The schedule:

June 29: Boston returns for a three-game weekend. Kids out of school, days last forever, temperatures rising, the Fourth of July weekend ahead. The Mueller investigation could be winding down, or we could be neck deep in a constitutional crisis, with protests raging and Trump preparing for his military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. Dustin Pedroia will be back, as will be Greg Bird (instead of Austin.) By then, Andujar and Gleyber will have settled into their slots - as will Giancarlo Stanton. David Price will either be pitching or gone fishing. Who knows the fates of Brandon Drury and Clint Frazier? Will Mookie Betts still be the best player in baseball? What about Didi, who this week was the second-best shortstop on the field?

August 2: A four-game set in Boston. The trade deadline will have passed, perhaps resetting the power structure. By now, Trump's deportation policies will have - like the Yankee rookies - matured into full impact. If they work, everything will be great! If not, cities might be rather volatile places to live and work. For this weekend, though, the Yankees-Redsocks will captivate the sports cycle. Maybe we will need a diversion.

September 18: Three weeknights in NY. The mid-term elections will be near, negative ads everywhere, and kids back at schools. There will have been a few more mass shootings and God knows what else, because you can't predict baseball, Suzyn. But I'm betting one of the two teams will view these three games as do-or-die, their last shot winning the AL East. This could be the most important series of 2018.

September 28: Last series of the regular season. Frankly, I think MLB blew it, because instead of a cataclysmic confrontation, both the Yanks and Socks will both be preparing for the post-season. One will be readying its rotation for the one-game, Bud Selig, winner-take-all Wild Card. This series won't matter. 

Early October: The playoffs. Let's face it: This would be the ultimate battle. I say "would be" because nothing is certain in a one-game wild card. But my guess is that the juju gods will want this to play out in a seven game series that goes to the edge of everything - framing what the Chinese curse-makers would call an "interesting" summer. Get ready, Suzyn. It's going to be long, hot and like nothing we've yet seen. The mountain is rumbling. The ship, cap'n, she canna take it.

1 comment:

TheWinWarblist said...

Gotta see my tailor about a new pair of pants.