Monday, October 27, 2003

World Up Like A Series
Here in the “real” world, yesterday was a day for celebrations in Florida, recriminations in New York, and the beginning of the long, hot stove winter of waiting for otherwise inclined baseball fans nationwide. But as resounding sighs of relief rose from the masses—grateful to be spared the sight of another storybook Yankee triumph and consequent rounds of humble (in a megalomaniacal sort of way) self-congratulation—in another, more perfect universe, the stage was set on Sunday for an epic showdown between two franchises known far and wide for their lengthy litanies of loss. That’s right—thanks to the miracles of modern technology and the inventive brain power of WULAD, Boy Genius™, we are now able to peer into the twin MegaSmartometer lenses of the Dimensional Cross-Transfernator and catch all the action from carefully placed IntraUniversatory Cameras in the nosebleed seats of Wrigley Field! My friends, I am speaking of...

Game 7 of the Parallel Universe World Series, Chicago Red Sox vs. Boston Cubs
Wait a minute, wrong universe. Lemme just adjust the Transfernator slightly. Ah, here we go. My friends, I am speaking of...

Game 7 of the Parallel Universe World Series, Chicago Cubs vs. Boston Red Sox
It was a balmy evening, and the hordes of long-suffering-faithful began to flood through Wrigley’s gates with the knowledge that one of these two eternal also-rans absolutely had to emerge from the night’s wreckage with a World Championship, and that one of their storied curses—either Bambino- or Goat-related—must be broken. The expectation in the air was as thick as the transfat-loaded hydrogenated vegetable shortening used to fry the Twinkies, and already legions were preparing to swear that they, too, were there the night those damn [Cubbies or Red Sox] finally made it happen.

Yes, history was definitely in the air as Pedro Martinez and Carlos Zambrano, the evenings’ starting pitchers, strode to the microphone in center field to sing the National Anthem; the only snag in this touching display of perennial underdog unity was the fact that, due to lack of pregame coordination, Martinez and Zambrano actually sang the national anthems of their respective homelands, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, simultaneously. Members of the crowd later reported this rendition to be far superior to Celine Dion’s performance of “O Canada” prior to Game 6.

But, as if their vocalizations had sapped their competitive fires, both pitchers were battered and bruised by bats on both sides of the dugout within the first few innings, and by the end of the fifth, Boston held a 7–6 lead on the strength of home runs by Nomar Garciaparra, Manny Ramirez, and the robotic exoskeleton housing Ted Williams’ cryogenically stabilized head. The Cubs, on the other hand, responded to the challenge with hits from Sosa, Moises Alou, Harry Caray’s memorial urn, and manager Dusty Baker’s 4-year old son Darren, whose three-run bomb brought the Cubs to within one and chased Martinez to the showers, but not before he grabbed the toddler’s head and threw him to the ground in rage, prompting shirtless 72-year-old ex-Yankee coach Don Zimmer to jump to the field from his seat in the stands and begin pummeling the Cubs’ mascot and batboys.

The bullpens managed to settle down both teams’ bats for a few innings, and by the time newly elected California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger led the crowd in singing “First, I Take You Out to This Ballgame; Then I Stuff Your Puny Head in My Toilet and Flush,” the score remained the same.

As the game progressed to the ninth inning with the Red Sox still leading by a run, Cubs fans began to become anxious at the prospect that perhaps their beloved squad didn’t have it in them after all, and the bonfires of joy being prepared across the Windy City began to be subtly converted to bonfires of rage, if needed. In an optimistic move, Baker sent Cubs closer Joe Borowski to the mound in the top of the ninth, and he quickly sent down the Red Sox in order; the only distraction in the otherwise uneventful top half of the inning came as a naked and inebriated Oprah Winfrey “streaked” across the left field grass before being tackled by security and escorted from the stadium while vigorously screaming obscenities at the crowd. It’s people like that who ruin the experience for everybody, folks.

So it all came to this: as stomach ulcers from Chi-town to Beantown flared, Boston pitcher Scott Williamson stepped on to the dusty hill to try and protect his team’s fragile lead—in three outs, this Clash of the Cursed could be won for the Red Sox, and disaffected Bostonians everywhere would be dancing in the streets, gleefully looting. However, the Cubs were not dead yet, and with ten more years of waiting under their belts, they weren’t going down without a fight, or at least a stern disagreement. Sammy Sosa stepped to the plate, and after watching three pitches outside the strike zone and fouling off the next 124 pitches, the 128th pitch of the at-bat sailed just inside and he finally drew a walk. The tying run was on first, with the potential winning run at the plate.

However, hope turned to anxiety as the next batter struck out, and then, in a dramatic play, Cubs hitter Harry Caray’s memorial urn stroked a ball into right field as Sosa sprinted to third; as Caray’s urn stretched for a double, Red Sox shortstop Ted-Willams-exoskeleton leaped to the base simultaneously. The urn smashed directly into the Pyrex® containment unit holding Williams’ deep-frozen head, and the force of the impact immediately shattered the glass, sending Williams’ head flying with such force that it ricocheted off the glove of outfielder Manny Ramirez, who was temporarily blinded by the cloud of Caray’s ashes blowing across the field, and careened into the stands, striking Red Sox fan Ben Affleck and killing him instantly.

Cheered by this development and with Sosa at third, the Cubs sent a surprise pinch hitter to the plate for their final chance to win or go home—none other than a plucky young rookie named Ferris Bueller, who had impressed scouts with his catch of a ball in the stands at a June game attended while skipping school. As Bueller and Williamson stared each other down, the crowd began chanting the batter’s name in a strangely questioning tone, as if wondering if he were in fact in attendance. Williamson’s first two pitches were blazing fastballs and Bueller took both of them. The count was 0–2, and suddenly the Cubs found themselves one strike away from defeat, and the Red Sox one strike from breaking the Curse that had stymied them for 85 years. We go to Cubs announcer Pat Hughes’ call of this historic moment:

And here's the pitch—a fastball over the heart of the plate—Bueller with a monster swing! It’s a long fly ball, could be outta here! Lofton is back at the warning track, he reaches… For the love of God, what is that?! Sweet Mother of AaahhhHHHHHH!!
Well, we all know what happened next—a rogue asteroid penetrated the Earth’s atmosphere and pounded its fiery way directly into Wrigley Field, creating a 3-mile smoldering crater of ash and devastation and leaving no creature alive. FoxSports analysis of the videotape of the late Kenny Lofton’s attempt at a catch was inconclusive, so it looks like fans in Boston and what’s left of Chicago will have to Wait ‘Til Next Year!

One Last Unrelated Thing
Just to cheer you up, via C-baby, here’s living proof of the teaching power of North Korean labor camps.