At the beginning of October, the Toronto Blue Jays at long last clinched the AL East division, ending a record 22-year drought [prev.]. Meanwhile, after a disastrous, injury-plagued 2014 season, the Texas Rangers rebounded from a late-summer nadir to improbably win the AL West title. The two teams collided in a best-of-five series -- Texas won two, then Toronto. It all came down to Wednesday night's showdown. Tied 2-2 after six, the 7th inning proceeded to unravel over the next 53 minutes in increasingly bizarre and dramatic fashion. To wit: A freak accident. A controversial call. Roars and brickbats from the crowd. The mayor tweets for calm. A comedy of errors. A violent slide. An epic home run, and an even more epic bat flip. Benches clear. Players ejected. Fans arrested. And the slap-ass heard 'round the world. [more inside]
Fenway Park, in Boston, is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg. It was built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934, and offers, as do most Boston artifacts, a compromise between Man's Euclidean determinations and Nature's beguiling irregularities. So wrote John Updike in his moving tribute to Red Sox legend Ted Williams -- an appropriately pedigreed account for this oldest and most fabled of ballfields that saw its first major league game played one century ago today. As a team in flux hopes to recapture the magic with an old-school face-off against the New York
Highlanders Yankees, it's hard to imagine the soul of the Sox faced the specter of demolition not too long ago. Now legally preserved, in a sport crowded with corporate-branded superdome behemoths, Fenway abides, bursting with history, idiosyncrasy, record crowds, and occasional song. [more inside]
After beating the Texas Rangers on Sept. 3, the Boston Red Sox were 84-54. Although half a game behind the Yankees in the American League East, the Red Sox had a nine-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for the wild card and roughly a 99.6 percent chance of making the playoffs. Fast forward one excruciating month to a dead heat with Tampa coming into tonight's bitter imbroglio. Boston struggles ahead of laughingstock Baltimore by a single run until a rain delay clears the field, leaving them in the surreal position of rooting for the hated Yankees playing down in Florida. They can only watch from the sidelines as the rival Rays, tied with Boston in the pennant race but down 7-0 against New York, roar back to life with six runs in the eighth inning and a tie run on the final pitch at the bottom of the ninth. And then, after blowing two different strikes that would have salvaged the game, Boston loses to Baltimore, completing what is arguably the worst late-breaking collapse in the history of major league baseball.