TGI FOOTBALL XXXXX BASEBALL

Ha! Fooled you! You thought we’d be doing the football thing, as we do every Friday. Well. It’s World Series time, folks. And my attitude is: If the NFL can take a bye week, so can we. Soooo . . .

* STRIKE ONE: Let’s start by admitting that the Yankees in the World Series is a good thing. Here’s why. No team inspires more hatred than the Yankees. And that is just what baseball needs. Passion.

Be honest. If Kansas City or Texas were in the Series, would you care one way or the other? But the Yankees? For years, no team has inspired more good, old-fashioned, blood-boiling hatred than these guys.

For so many decades, from Ruth to DiMaggio to Mantle, the Yankees were superior. And they made other cities feel inferior. Which made us hate them all the more.

And now they’re back, with their swagger and their pinstripes and their big, fat roster full of everyone else’s stars. (There are many fans who think Tino Martinez, Wade Boggs and Cecil Fielder still play for Seattle, Boston and

Detroit.) So fans again have a reason to watch baseball — to root against the Big Apple.

And they say there’s no justice in sports.
* STRIKE TWO: Here’s another good thing about the Yankees being in. It means the Orioles are out. Can you imagine Roberto Alomar? All anyone would talk about would be spitting. The official World Series souvenir would be a handkerchief.
* STRIKE THREE: Speaking of the Yankees, I see where Andy Pettitte, who may well win the Cy Young Award this year, was drafted by the Yankees six years ago, in the 22nd round. I look at that and say: Why doesn’t this ever happen to the Tigers?
* STRIKE FOUR: Nice to see Willie McGee (a.k.a. Jimmie Walker) back in postseason baseball. Times had been a little tough, after Willie’s TV series,
“Good Times,” was canceled.

* STRIKE FIVE: As for the Braves — wait, they just scored another five runs
— the only question I have is this: How did St. Louis ever win three games?
* STRIKE SIX: Did you see where the Braves had easy-listening music piped in during the Cardinals’ practices at Atlanta- Fulton County Stadium — and had upbeat funk playing when the Atlanta guys took their swings? The idea was to
“mellow out” the Cardinals and make them play badly.

Now Kenny G can add another tag to his albums: “Music to ground out by.”
* STRIKE SEVEN: The kid who rocked the playoffs, 12 year-old Jeffrey Maier — has not been invited to the Series by the Yankees. Poor Jeffrey. Like everything else in New York, yesterday’s “Way to go!” is today’s “And your name is . . . ?”

Of course, Jeff will always have those fond memories of Regis and Kathie Lee to share with his kids.
* STRIKE EIGHT: Said it before. Will say it again. The idiots who run baseball have no concern for the damage they are doing by starting World Series games at 8:20 p.m., and often not ending them until well after midnight. Sure you make more TV money by airing games in prime time. But 10 years from now, when today’s children are grown-up consumers with no love for baseball because they slept through it as kids? Trying selling ad time then, geniuses.

I swear, most people running pro sports behave as if the world ends in this fiscal year.

THE HUDDLE
* WHO’S IN THIS WEEK: Joe Torre (long wait) Cecil Fielder (long wait) Wade Boggs (long wait), Tom Glavine-John Smoltz-Greg Maddux, and whoever is in charge of the Braves’ farm system. Could you please send someone out our way?
* WHO’S OUT: Roberto Alomar (permanent expulsion), Dwight Gooden, Bobby Bonilla and the St. Louis tourist office.
* STRIKE NINE: Wade Boggs has waited a long time to get back to the Fall Classic. He tells friends he’ll have more fun this time. Last time, he was distracted, because the games kept interfering with his business back in Poland, where he ran the country under his other name, Lech Walesa.

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