|October 17, 2003
Copyright © 2003 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.
The Play-Offs Over, It's Down To Two
Both the American and National League play-off series went the full seven games in a memorable week of baseball. Now its on to the first game of the World Series to begin tomorrow night in New York.
In the National League championship series Wednesday night, in game seven at storied Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs, after gaining a two-game advantage, suffered their second crushing loss in a row, falling to a final defeat from the thundering bats of the Florida Marlins.
In game six, also in Chicago, the Cubs almost had the series wrapped up in the Marlin half of the eighth inning, with a 3-0 lead with one out and a man on 2nd base. The nearly 40,000 "Cubby" fans were joyous at the prospect of the clubs first World Series appearance since 1945, but the mood quickly turned fractious when a fan interfered with Cubs right fielder Moises Alous attempt to snag a Luis Castillo foul ball in the first row of the stands to make it two outs. Castillo then walked and eight Marlin batters later the score was 8 to 3, the final tally. The Marlins win tied the series at three games each.
The hapless fan was removed from the stadium with police protection shielding him from outraged fans and whizzing beer cans. The next day, he issued an apology, saying that he had no idea that Alou was approaching the ball for a play. The new "goat of Chicago," later identified as Steve Bartman, 26, laid low the next day, but friends referred to him as a "die-hard" Cubby fan. Marlin rooters, on the other hand, issued appreciative statements. A Pompano Beach Florida resort offered Mr. Bartman a three-month free stay. Florida Governor Jeb Bush offered asylum in the Sunshine State for the outcast, should he require it.
Voted Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the National League championship series was Puerto Rican Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez of the Marlins who had a great seven games on both offense and defense, and in game seven, batting in a run for a series record of 10 RBIs, and personally scoring twice for the Marlins victory.
Last night, in a Yankee Stadium festooned with red, white and blue bunting, some 57,000 fans saw the finish of what had been a rollicking seven-game series in which the powerhouse New York Yankees prevailed over the equally potent Red Sox aggregation from "Bean town" by a score of 6-5, in eleven innings. The afternoon before, in a make-up game for a rainout, the Red Sox staged a late rally to avoid final defeat in the sixth game.
The Yankees victory erased from memory the controversial game #3 in Bostons Fenway Park that produced two venues for brawling players. In separate incidents, players and coaches swarmed into the area of the pitchers mound to mix it up after Yankee pitcher Roger Clemens threw a high inside pitch to Red Sox batter Manny Ramirez, who thought he was being targeted. Meanwhile, out in the New York bullpen, Yankee pitchers needed to be restrained by police and security guards as they manhandled a Boston groundskeeper who entered the enclosure. Now New York wants to erase the bad press generated by the fisticuffs and beat the surging Marlins with their baseball bats only.
In last weeks Hot Button Issue, participants were asked to pick a World Series winner from among the four play-off teams. Based on the final tabulations, there must be many disappointed Chicago and Red Sox fans, since together those two teams attracted 45% of the support in the voting.
This week, with the teams reduced to two, Herald readers are asked to again pick a champion from between the American and National League representatives. Both teams boast Latino players. The Florida Marlins count eight Latinos on its roster, including Puerto Ricans "Pudge" Rodriquez and Mike Lowell, while the New York Yankees have uniforms for ten Latinos, including Puerto Ricans Jorge Posada, Ruben Sierra and Bernie Williams.
This season there were approximately 200 Latino players on Major League baseball squads. As Puerto Rican fans became aware during the Montreal Expos games in San Juan, that team had the largest contingent of Latino players, with thirteen, two of whom, Javier Vasquez and Jose Vidro, hailed from the island. The Philadelphia Phillies, like the Yankees, suited up 10 Latino ball players, with Ricky Ledee being the lone Puerto Rican. Other teams with a large Latino representation are the Atlanta Braves (9), Chicago White Sox (9), the San Francisco Giants (9), the Arizona Diamondbacks (8), the Detroit Tigers (8), the Los Angeles Dodgers (8), the Texas Rangers (8) and the Seattle Mariners (8).
By far the largest number, 87, of Major League players hail from the Dominican Republic. The next best represented are Venezuelans with forty-seven big leaguers, followed by 32 Puerto Ricans playing on twenty-two teams. Other nationalities represented are Mexican (15), Cuban (8), Panamanian (5), Colombian (3), Nicaraguan (1) and Aruban (1). None of the thirty major league teams fields fewer than three players from Latin America.
But all of that is in the past. This is the future!
Who will win the 2003 World Series?
Please vote above!