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Still cursed

Red Sox won 94 games, but they come up short again

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Posted: Tuesday October 19, 1999 02:57 AM

 

BOSTON (AP) -- They don't just go quietly, that's not the Boston Red Sox way.

They can't just lose. They must tease.

It would be easier to take if they were pathetic. Instead, they are cruel to their long-suffering fans.

Ruthless, even.

Loading the bases after Jason Varitek's leadoff home run in the eighth inning brought the Red Sox within three runs Monday night, the Red Sox brought the chilly Fenway Park crowd to its feet for a final time in the 1999 season. Then Ramiro Mendoza struck out pinch-hitter Scott Hatteberg and got Trot Nixon to pop up to bring Boston's surprising season to an unsurprising end.

With the decisive 6-1 victory, the New York Yankees won the first-ever postseason matchup between the longtime rivals and eliminated the Red Sox from the best-of-7 American League Championship Series in five games.

Boston has not won the World Series since selling Babe Ruth to New York in 1920. Since then, the Yankee have won 36 AL pennants and 24 World Series championships, with a chance at their 25th.

It has been so long since since the Red Sox won the World Series that Ruth's 82-year-old daughter, who threw out the first pitch Monday night, was a 1 year-old baby when her father pitched his first team to the title.

Julia Ruth Stevens came in from Arizona on a chilly night and proclaimed herself a Red Sox fan. She said she didn't believe her father has put a curse on baseball's unluckiest franchise, but she did notice the coincidence.

It would be impossible not to.

In 1946, it was Johnny Pesky allegedly holding the ball as St. Louis' Enos Slaughter raced around the bases to score the winning run. In '78, it was Bucky Dent's popup that reached the screen above the Green Monster and gave the Yankees the AL East title.

And then there was the slow roller that went through Bill Buckner's high-topped ankles in 1986 to help New York's Mets emotionally clinch a title they wouldn't actually win until two days later.

This time, the only bad luck was running into the Yankees.

In a series bound to inflame baseball's fiercest rivalry well into the next century, the deeper defending champions merely needed to wait for the days Pedro Martinez couldn't pitch and take advantage of some sloppy Red Sox fielding -- and, yes, an umpire's call or three.

Derek Lowe could only relieve so much, Jose Offerman could only bat so many times and Nomar Garciaparra's fielding failed at the most inopportune time for the Red Sox.

And so, despite a surprising 94-win season and an exhilarating first-round victory over Cleveland, Boston heads into the winter the way it has every year since the Babe bounced his baby daughter on his knee: Saying "Wait 'till next year.'"


 
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