Monday, February 14, 2011

A "Valentine" to Red Sox Fans...

No, this isn't a Bobby Valentine card.

Instead, here's the featured card today:

Card #368 -- Bill Buckner, Los Angeles Dodgers

I have two reasons for posting this card today. First, it's been a little while since I've featured any Dodgers on this blog. Secondly, I'm reminding my readers who are Red Sox fans that this is almost the same position that Buckner was in when the team lost the '86 World Series.

That's not a fair statement. What I should have said was...when they failed to win the '86 Series. See, that was Game 6. They still could have come back and won Game 7 but they didn't. And as you can see, Buckner was preparing himself for that moment 14 years earlier (since this photo was obviously taken in Spring Training, probably in 1972).

Sorry. As a Yankee fan, I just couldn't resist. But, the pitchers and catchers report tomorrow and the chance to rewrite the baseball history books is coming around again.

It's a shame that the ball went through Buckner's glove that fateful October day. That one botched play wiped away the achievements of a twenty-year career, which included a 1980 batting crown, 2,700 hits and a reputation for being a tough batter to strike out. While Buckner wasn't exactly a Hall of Fame-caliber player, he was a solid one until his name became synonymous with a single play. However, when you consider that Buckner was once a member of the Chicago Cubs, it can be argued that he was under an unusually cruel curse that superseded anything "the Bambino" could have thrown at him.

Here's my own 1986 World Series story: I was in the ninth grade that year. When the Sox won the ALCS in dramatic fashion, I made a bet with one of my classmates, another Yankees fan named Danny. I figured the Mets were the team of destiny, while he hated the Mets with a passion. When I asked him how he could possibly root for the Red Sox as a self-respecting Yankees fan, he simply said, "I just hate the Mets that much more." So we bet $10 on the outcome.

The night of Game Six, I was watching the game and beginning to get worried as it went to extra innings and the Sox scored twice in the 10th inning. Then, as the Mets rallied, I remember watching Mookie Wilson hit that grounder up the first base line. I distinctly saw a ten-dollar bill wrapped around that ball as it headed toward Buckner.

And then it rolled through his legs. The Mets won! And they pulled another victory from a near defeat the next night. So, I went to school the day after the Series ended (Monday) and went to collect my money. However, Danny refused to acknowledge what happened and wouldn't pay up. The little bastard never did give me the money.

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