Jewish World Review Nov. 4, 2002/ 29 Mar-Cheshvan 5763


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Consumer Reports

Don't disrespect the monkey | The boorish behavior of Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds notwithstanding, the lowlight of this year's splendid World Series was undoubtedly MasterCard's fourth-game unveiling of baseball's 10 Most Memorable Moments. As I've written before, the game is a diversion. Who needs a reminder that today's fans, who voted for the Moments, have the collective attention span of a mouse?

Yes, Cal Ripken breaking Lou Gehrig's consecutive-game record was an amazing achievement, and certainly deserves to clock in at, say, Number 14. Personally, I'd choose Gehrig's heartbreaking farewell speech at Yankee Stadium in 1939 as the singular moment in baseball history. But also in the top 5 would be Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in 1947, which forever changed the sport. And Curt Flood's refusal to be traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies, which ultimately resulted in free agency, even after Flood lost his case in the U.S. Supreme Court. Also, Babe Ruth being traded to the Yanks and introducing the homer to the sport, as well as steroid-free Hank Aaron breaking Ruth's home run record, which came in at Number 2.

I can't stand Pete Rose, but did cheer when he received the biggest ovation at Pac Bell Park that night (his besting of Ty Cobb's record for hits made the Top 10), an effective flip of the bird to baseball's blind establishment that still won't honor him at Cooperstown. Also fascinating was seeing Mark McGwire, who retired last year, back to normal size: I wonder how many pounds Bonds' head will lose once he calls it a career.

As for Anaheim's inspiring victory, naturally I look at it through the eyes of a Red Sox fan. It's all about us. Boston's management ought to make the Angels' postseason games mandatory viewing for all its players, hoping they might get the message that even those not the fleetest of foot can be more aggressive on the basepaths. If Tim Salmon can routinely go from first to third on a single, so can Manny Ramirez. I'm not one for ballpark gimmicks, but the rally monkey and ThunderStix delivered, creating an explosion of sound and enthusiasm that absolutely contributed to the team's defeat of the sour Giants.

The New York Sun's Wallace Matthews wrote a fairly offensive column about the Series on Oct. 28, denigrating the Angels' achievement. He said about the final game: "Before the first pitch was thrown, there was a definite good guy/bad guy aspect to this World Series... The Angels...were the Team From Disneyland [and on the market, even as Michael Eisner hugged Gene Autry's widow on the podium], playing in the shadow of Cinderella's castle and owned by the Saccharine Empire itself. They even had one of the Seven Dwarfs, 5-foot-6 David Eckstein, batting leadoff. Their cloyingly wholesome fans tried to ignite the offense by cradling stuffed monstrosities dubbed 'Rally Monkeys' and slapping together these silly inflatable gizmos they called Thundersticks."

David Eckstein, who'd be a catalyst for any Major League team, is not a dwarf, Wally. And if the monkey is hokey, it's no more annoying than the constant replays of Derek Jeter's and David Wells' past heroics that clog Yankee Stadium's electric scoreboard between innings.

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JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press ( Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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© 2002, Russ Smith