The Red Sox had the advantage of seeing the ills of leaving a starter in too long. They had seen the problems caused from a tiring starter who lost a couple tenths of mph. They were given the cautionary tale of the Cubs. One man chose to ignore it. Pity him, Grady Little, for the simple man had no idea the strength of the baseball Gods.
It was almost a carbon copy situation. Pedro Martinez stood on top of the Yankee Stadium mound. His own effectiveness and his record-setting offense effectively muted the big cathedral of baseball. Derek Jeter came up to the plate with one out in the eighth, but even he, "Captain Clutch" had a look of dismay upon his face. "Could this really be happening? Are the Red Sox about to beat us in our own house?" Jeter seemed to think. Jeter managed to hammer out a double, but really it seemed like useless stat fodder. Pedro was in control, with no obvious sign of tiring on the litmus sign that is the radar gun, but inside he knew that he was tiring. The movement that had defined Pedro's fastball was gone. Up came Bernie Williams, a man Pedro had battled time and time again, mostly to excellent results. Pedro reached back and threw a laser, one that was a tad slower than normal. Bernie punched a single, moving Jeter to third. Martinez was stunned and gassed. His best was no longer good enough, and to his satifaction Grady Little seemed to know as he came out to greet him. This is where the Gods intervened and decided to change the course of Grady Little's managerial life.
No one will ever know what prompted Grady Little to make a blunder so big it would cost him his job. No one will ever have an answer to the question "Why did Grady leave Pedro in?" All they know is that it is a move right next to leaving the bad fielding Bill Buckner in the game in the Red Sox hall of shame. Grady Little left the mound with Pedro retained on it. A totally gassed Pedro, one who let his guard down thinking he was about to leave the game, was no match for the Yankees and a suddenly rejuvanated, unmuted crowd. Hedeki Matsui hit a ground rule double, followed by Jorge Posada squeezing a double into the field's Bermuda Triangle between the shortstop, second baseman and center fielder. The game, one that was 5-2 zero outs ago, was now 5-5, destined for extra innings, and destined for mystique and destiny (Yankee Stadium's two angels that preside over the Yankee Stadium games) to make their appearance. Aaron Boone's home run was not so much as inevitable, but expected, as the Yankees would win, as they always do, and the Red Sox would die a slow, terrible death, as they always do.
Pedro Martinez sat in the dug out, watching the Yankees celebrating after Boone's home run. He covered his head with a hoodie hiding what might have been tears of agony. Pedro is a prideful man, and he felt responsible for the Red Sox second most dreadful defeat. Luckily for him, Red Sox nation felt otherwise, as Grady Little, who had just managed the team to 95 wins, would never take the dugout in a Red Sox uniform again. He knew as much, as he reportedly wished Pedro goodbye and goodluck. He knew well, that people who had the gall to add to the treacherous litany of Red Sox disasters would exiled out of town. Like Bartman, Grady Little's life was ruined. Little rebounded, and has had managerial jobs after that, but he lost his best chance of winning a world series, because he chose to challenge the Baseball Gods.
Part III - Curses Can Exist
Immediately people started claiming that the teams were cursed. The claim was old hat for the Red Sox, who have long been victims to the alleged Curse of the Bambino, a total misnomer as it makes no sense for a man whose career would never have been as mythologized had he not been dealth to New York to curse the Red Sox. This was, to most curse-supporters, just another example of the dark magic that surrounded the Red Sox franchise, another haunting in Red Sox nation. However, it was the start of something new for the Cubs. They had long been the lovable losers, the team that was so bad it never even came close enough to winning to inspire a catchy curse name like Boston. The Red Sox had a long string of disastrous defeats, the Cubs just a string of losses. Alot of them. The closest thing to a curse was some story about a goat not being given permission to enter Wrigley. Now it had all changed. The Cubs were now equal to the Red Sox, together helpless victims of some supernatural being hell-bent on never seeing those two teams acheive glory. The Cubs had arrived to the level of curse-hood, and the Red Sox to curse legitimacy. A new day had dawned in just three days.
Curses don't really exist, and definitely not in baseball or any sports. What would some accursed being care about the trails of two sports teams? Why would the greatest baseball player of all time waste his time cursing his old team, when he could be boozing and womanizing it up in baseball heaven? However, if there was ever evidence that maybe, just maybe, there are some weird megnetic energy and mysticism in America's two most hallowed sports grounds. Maybe the ivy in Wrigley is trapping bad spirits in, and maybe the glory whores mystique and aura do make nightly appearances in Yankee Stadium. All in all, as Tom Verducci pointed out, "Only the Red Sox and Cubs could both lose in a way that has only been done twice in postseason history two days apart." Yes, only the Red Sox and Cubs can. Grady and Bartman agree.