The year was 2001. This was the first year a baseball season ever extended into November, an indirect result of September 11 attacks temporarily suspending the season. This year, with the advent of the World Baseball Classic and the incessant desire to push the postseason as long as possible (“Oh, man, I need a day off after that day off!”), November baseball may become a periodic event.
The first taste of November baseball occurred during Game 4 of the World Series between the New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks. The Curt Schilling-Andy Pettitte showdown began on October 31 and lingered on past midnight. If you recall, this game (and series, really) had everything a superstitious human and baseball fan needed, including a full moon. How often do we enjoy a Halloween full moon? Hardly ever, unless you count the butt-flashing pranks those punk Sanderson boys down the street pull every year.
On the official DVD of the game, D’backs first baseman Mark Grace ominously commented before the first pitch to a teammate how “crazy things happen durin’ a full moon.” And Arizona closer Byung-Hyun Kim must’ve howled to the wrong pagan god that night. With a 3-1 lead in the ninth, two outs and a runner on, Tino Martinez blasted a game-tying home run. For some reason (which was, I think, that Arizona had no other trustworthy soul in the bullpen), Kim stayed in for the 10th and allowed a walkoff home run to Derek Jeter, who became America’s first Mr. November. Since then, there have been only two Mr. Novembers: Barack Obama and Tony Romo.
The diminutive and quirky-throwing Kim suddenly metamorphed into a barometer by which we measure all other pitchers whose careers instantly implode during the postseason. Brad Lidge registered an 8.6, but fortunately he was defibrillated into a regenerative state.
Practically the same damn thing happened to Kim in Game 5 (two run lead, two outs, two-run homer, this time by Scott Brosius), but the D’backs eventually won the series in seven games, meaning he still received a World Series ring for no reason other than they couldn’t find any loopholes out of it.
“Who are you for Halloween?”
“I’m a goat.”
“Why aren’t you throwing submarine-style?”
It’s three days before Halloween and the 2009 World Series is finally commencing tonight. Those Yankees are back in it for the first time since 2003, as are last year’s champs, the Phillies. Game 3 will be played on Halloween, guaranteeing America yet another venture into November.
If it’s anything like last time, somebody’s career is going up in smoke. That sound you heard was Joba Chamberlain shivering.