by Fine Diner
For it's one- two- three votes
at the old ballot game
The grand old game of baseball has long been
known for its rhubarbs, but nothing any one game or
series conjured could ever match the debacle that the
Republican and Democratic parties have been putting the
nation through over the last month. Even the greatest
World Series argument of all, that involving the third
game of the 1975 fall classic over whether or not pinch
hitter Ed Armbrister interfered with Fisk's throw to
second, pales in comparison with the ongoing election.
Sure Casey Stengel had his tirades and Earl Weaver his
jaw-to-jaw confrontations with the umpires. But never did
a tête-à-tête between an official and a manager last
more than a few minutes or get as convoluted as this
year's election. Of course, give any professional
politician a soapbox, no matter what his affiliation, and
the argument goes on ad finitum.
Thanks to Vice President Al Gore and Governor George
Bush, grade school
students across the United States have learned a lot
about how this country's government runs or more
precisely, how it walks. In fact, Gore reinforced a key
baseball principal - "it ain't over, 'til it's
over." Suddenly, with the Democrats and Republicans
co-opting the adage, they are making it more a fact than
an axiom. Indeed, this is not over, and it will not be
over for many years.
Of course to many baseball fans in Boston, the 1975 World
Series was not over for quite a while either, at least in
their hearts. There was no recourse to the game like
instant replay, a higher power's overruling or
embarrassing Barnett into reversing his decision. But
this fantastic situation of nothing really being decided
until the loser gives up the stubborn ghost sheds a
refreshing light on sports. Most politicians love to use
sports analogies, especially the baseball-minded Bush
clan, so why not revise baseball rules so the game is not
over until everyone who wants to have a say in it
declares it to be over? It happens in schoolboy sports,
whereas an unpopular decision from the powers that be
gets turned into journalistic fodder as the organization
that supposedly makes the decisions gets dragged into
court. And it happens in Olympic sports where medals can
be stripped from winners years after they are won and
reinstated even years later.
As a diehard Sox fan, I wish the process might have made
its way to the 1975 World Series. If any Series game ever
needed a recount, it was the third game of that series.
Armbrister indeed stepped in Fisk's way, and according to
most rules, like in hockey, it doesn't matter whether or
not the action was intentional. True democracy might have
saved "The Olde Town Team" from its current
embarrassment of not having a world champion team since
the last Whig administration.
Ed Armbrister, a right-handed banjo hitter, is up
pinch-hitting for Reds hurler Rawley Eastwick in the
bottom of the 10th inning, with Cincinnati trying to
break a 5-all tie. Outfielder Cesar Geronimo is leading
off at first, leaning toward second, after singling to
lead off. Armbrister takes a ball then lays down a bunt.
Instead of heading straight to first, Armbrister stops,
then backs up a smidgen. Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk
quickly gathers in the ball pushed just in front of the
plate and wings it to second. Instead of Geronimo cut
down the ball flies wildly into center field as Fisk's
arm and Armbrister collide. Geronimo sails to third and
scores moments later when Red Joe Morgan singles him home
with the game-winner.
But say the game isn't over when Geronimo crosses the
plate. Immediately, the Sox, as desperate to win a World
Series as Gore seems to be to win a presidency, goes into
the next phase of the process. As soon as Geronimo
clatters home, Fisk turns to Barnett and starts the new
parliamentary process now in vogue.
"We accept the victory on the behalf of Mrs. Jean
Yawkey, the Pesky Pole and all those diehard Red Sox fans
who will not root for the Yankees to ever win anything
until Floridians decide to all work on
"The game's over!" says Barnett emphatically.
"I ruled it!"
"Of course you say so, but we beg to differ,"
replies Fisk with utter calm.
By this time team captain Carl Yastrzemski has come in
from left field, and is holding a list of emergency phone
"We feel that a reassessment of the situation, by
independent parties, will declare that we, after all, won
Yaz is prioritizing his list, then looks up.
"Um, we can have the second team here in about five
minutes. Then we will begin to sort this situation out.
We still feel that we have won the game, and we are not
conceding the game, nor evacuating the field, until the
game is rightfully in our possession, and we are
rightfully declared the winners. Make yourself
comfortable, it will be a long night."
Fans start making signs out of programs, and Bernie Carbo
starts cooking hot dogs in the Riverfront Stadium bullpen
while Pete Rose stares at him.
"I bet those taste good."
"Fenway Franks, nothing but the best," replies
"What second team?" asks Barnett. "You
used up all your pinch hitters by the tenth anyway."
"Not them, the situational second team," says
Sox manager Darrell Johnson, now taking over proceedings
and directing the tables to be set up at home plate.
In parade a quintet of suits, carrying briefcases loaded
with paperwork. A Harvard law professor, claiming to not
know where Fenway Park is, declares himself the team
captain and starts to address Barnett and Baseball
Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, required by this time to attend
all exhaustive hearings.
"First of all, we want videotape of the play from
seven different angles. We want an independent commission
of 12 people who have played at least 10 years of
baseball during their lifetime to view the videotapes and
vote on them using a secret ballot. We need to see that
dimpled lineup card Sparky Anderson turned in. We feel
that a closer examination will show that Dan Dreissen,
instead of Geronimo, was actually supposed to be playing
center field. We want to poll the fans in attendance to
see whether or not they feel there was an interference
"We've already done that," interjects Kuhn.
"We started that right after the play in
anticipation. The result was overwhelmingly in favor of
"Okay then, we are immediately asking for a recount.
Obviously, those people have not seen the videotapes
either, and we feel that there would be enough swing
votes to make it close," says the number one suit.
"Then there are the absentee ballots."
"Absentee ballots?" asks Barnett, wondering if
he had missed something.
"Of course," replies the suit. "Those are
the hundreds of men waiting in line at the rest rooms
while the balloting was being done. We feel a lot of
those can go our way as well, since many of them can't
even remember which teams were playing the game, never
mind if Armbrister interfered with Fisk."
"Okay, but there will be a time limit set,"
says another suit, crowding into home plate from the home
dugout side behind reds Manager Sparky Anderson, who is
directing the placement of the adding machines, copying
machines and coffee machines belonging to the Big Red
"Okay then. In that case, we are filing another
brief in court against the time limit," says Red Sox
suit number one to Reds suit number one.
"And there will a time limit on that as well,"
retorts the Reds suit who continues, "And in that
case, we will counter by having all proceedings happen in
Ohio, by Ohio law."
Meanwhile, the press is divided evenly among the locker
rooms, half interviewing Sox reliever Roger Moret,
declaring himself the game winner, the other half
interviewing Eastwick, declaring himself the winner. Both
players try to position themselves in front of the
official Major League Baseball logo each has had carried
into the locker room and placed behind his stool as per
Howard Cosell is also in the corner of the Red Sox locker
room, recanting as quickly as possible his and his
colleagues' decision to have too quickly judged the Reds
as the third-game winners.
"We want every voice heard, no matter how
hoarse," declares Johnson.
"It is the will of the people," says Anderson.
"Besides, history is on our side."
Johnson leads Red Sox nation in one united wince.
Don't worry," continues Anderson. "Don't you
realize that nice guys always finish last?"
Johnson winces again, but realizes that he has the last
laugh after all, and decides to drop the bombshell.
"You think this is something," says Johnson,
"We have been preparing briefs so we can overturn
the Babe Ruth trade."
Riverfront Stadium falls silent, except for the hundreds
videotapes replaying to the world Armbrister's only
official at-bat of the Series.