How to Beat an Evil Empire

"Don't think meat. It can only hurt the ball club." - Crash Davis to Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh in the baseball film classic Bull Durham.
LaLoosh, the "six foot five inch nuclear meltdown" with the fastball that can maim a mascot, has come to life in the form of the Florida Marlins Josh Beckett. The 23 year old Texan with the 50 Gallon Hat, 60 Gallon Ego, and ten cent head, is a World Series MVP after shutting the Yankees out in game 6 at Yankee Stadium. Beckett, with his 17-17 lifetime record, sauntered into the House that Ruth Built like he was Tony Soprano at the Olive Garden. And then the big man backed it up: nine innings; five hits; nine strikeouts; and one puncturing of a Big Apple's oversized ego.
In the city that sees itself as the center of the earth, Beckett pitched like he was in the parking lot of a Waffle House in Texarkana. Every first pitch, whether an achy-breaky curve, or a satanic fastball seemed to be a strike. Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams, and the rest of the Yankees for the first time in memory, looked overwhelmed.
Under the hot lights of their own park, they withered. In other words, they played like the Boston Red Sox.
Beckett wasn't supposed to do this. He wasn't supposed to beat the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. He wasn't supposed to win on three days rest. He wasn't supposed to do what Pedro and Boston couldn't. The whole Marlins team wasn't supposed to emerge victorious from a final four featuring the tradition drenched Yankees, Cubs and Red Sox. These teams have worn the same uniforms since before Teddy Roosevelt could be called a "Rough Rider" without anyone giggling. Their sartorial splendor is a monument to baseball's history and continuity. Now standing above them is a team in teal.
These Marlins did what they had to do to emerge victorious and that was to hurl a gob of spit at all the tweedy and musty traditions of ye olde baseball. They didn't care about ghosts, or curses, or any of the sporting psycho-babble that has emerged from the New England velvet elbow-patched poets of Red Sox Nation.
Beckett, the Expectorator in Chief, was asked if he was intimidated walking by the Yankees monuments to Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Mantle. He looked ahead and smirked, "Why? It aint like I have to face them."
That's why the Marlins' on-field celebration after Game 6 was so perfect. Players, who would be carded at any bar in the city, swigged champagne, posed for photos, and - against city ordinances-smoked cigars right on the pitcher's mound. They turned the House that Ruth Built into House Party IV.
Their 72 year old manager Jack McKeon, following his first World Series win after six decades in the sport, could only watch and smile.
His boys' fearless ignorance was the stuff of Mantle and Ruth hitting home runs on hangovers. It was the 1969 Amazin' Mets. It was the 'We Are Family' vibe of the 1979 Pirates.
In other words, the team in teal unearthed a different baseball tradition, one more forgotten than the Red Sox World Series dreams. The tradition that this boy's game played by men can actually be fun.

More columns ⇒