Guys Read: The Sports Pages

BOOK: Guys Read: The Sports Pages
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CONTENTS

Cover

Title Page

Before We Begin …
by
JON SCIESZKA

How I Won the World Series
by
DAN GUTMAN

Find Your Fire
by
TIM GREEN

Max Swings for the Fences
by
ANNE URSU

Against All Odds
by
DUSTIN BROWN

The Distance
by
JACQUELINE WOODSON

The Meat Grinder
by
CHRIS CRUTCHER

The Choice
by
JAMES BROWN

Choke
by
JOSEPH BRUCHAC

The Trophy
by
GORDON KORMAN

I Will Destroy You, Derek Jeter
by
CHRIS RYLANDER

About Guys Read

About the Authors

Other Works

Credits

Copyright

Back Ad

About the Publisher

B
EFORE
W
E
B
EGIN
…

I grew up with five brothers, and we played a lot of sports.

We played the big ones like baseball, basketball, football, and hockey.

We also played golf, tennis, lacrosse, soccer, bowling, Ultimate Frisbee, guts Frisbee, skateboarding, whiffleball, waterskiing, snow skiing, swimming, water polo, wrestling, boxing, rugby, bicycle racing, canoe racing, sailing, kayaking, rafting, rowing, Ping-Pong, billiards, horseshoes, bocce ball, motorcycle racing, car racing, demolition derby, fencing, snowshoeing, bow hunting, fishing, shooting, knife throwing, rock climbing, ice-skating, racquetball, volleyball, badminton, handball, squash, weight lifting, running, long jumping, high jumping, shot putting, javelin tossing, darts, croquet, floor hockey, underwater hockey, kickball, surfing, snowboarding, curling, wood chopping, arm wrestling, leg wrestling, and thumb wrestling.

With our friends and little brothers we also played sports we invented: Frisbee butt waterskiing, 360 spring hoop power dunk basketball, apple war, full-contact volleyball, BB gun biathlon, running hatchet toss, demolition sledding, bicycle polo, midnight ice sailing, tree jumping, log tossing, daredevil stunt rope swinging, group brawling, tree chopping, tree burning, speed pizza eating….

In fact, now that I think of it, most of the things we did we turned into a sport, a contest, a competition. Even if it was a race to get into the car to go to church, we competed to see who was fastest, strongest, best.

So in keeping with that spirit of competitive sports, here is a collection of the fastest, strongest, funniest, wildest, and best sports stories. All written exclusively for Guys Read.

My son, Jake, an amazing athlete and long-suffering receiver of lame sports books, once wisely explained to me that just because a guy likes to play sports doesn't mean he likes to read about them.

That is so true.

But there is something about a good sports story that is exactly like a good game. The good game and the good story both reveal character and truths bigger than the game or the story.

And like any good sport, a good sports story depends on teamwork. It needs a writer willing to give his or her best, and a reader willing to do the same.

Take a look at any one of the stories in this collection. There is everything from football to friendship to baseball to fighting, and a lot more in between.

This bunch of writers brought their best.

Now show us what you've got.

Jon Scieszka

H
OW
I W
ON
THE
W
ORLD
S
ERIES
BY DAN GUTMAN

T
he story I'm about to tell you is so amazing, so improbable, and so preposterous, you're going to think I must have made it up. But I swear every word of it is true. This is not fiction.

You may have heard that the Boston Red Sox lost the 1986 World Series to the New York Mets because a guy named Bill Buckner let a ground ball go through his legs.

It's a lie!

The truth is that the Red Sox lost that game because of
me
. Dan Gutman. I won the World Series that year.

That's every kid's fantasy, isn't it? It sure was when I was a kid. You're standing there at home plate. The bases are loaded. Your team is three runs down in the bottom of the ninth. Seventh and deciding game of the World Series. There are two outs. Full count. It all comes down to one pitch. The crowd is going crazy. It's all up to you.

And you hit a walk-off grand salami that wins it all.

It didn't exactly happen that way, but I do feel that I was responsible for the outcome of the 1986 World Series.

Let me explain.

The story actually starts a bit earlier. Well, a
lot
earlier—back on January 5, 1920. That was the day the Red Sox sold a twenty-four-year-old kid named Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. Up until that point, the Red Sox were the kings of baseball. They'd won five of the first fifteen World Series. Ruth led them to the championship in 1916 and 1918. But after they sold him to the Yankees, the Red Sox would not win another World Series for
the rest of the twentieth century
. And the Yankees, who had never won a World Series before Ruth arrived in New York, would go on to win twenty-seven of them and become the most dominating team in baseball.

The Red Sox were cursed, it was said, because they'd sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees. It was called the “Curse of the Bambino.”

It's not that Boston had lousy teams all those years. The Sox were usually close to first place, but they always seemed to choke at the end. Twice they lost one-game play-offs to decide the American League pennant (1948 and 1978). Every time they made it to the World Series (1946, 1967, and 1975), they lost Game 7. It's almost as if the ghost of Babe Ruth was watching over Boston all those years, making sure the Sox never won it all.

What does any of this have to do with me winning the World Series? I'm getting to that. Be patient, will you?

Okay, it was the night of Saturday, October 25, 1986. I was not in Shea Stadium in New York City, where the World Series was taking place. I was at my brother-in-law's apartment in Princeton, New Jersey. That's how good I am. I didn't even have to be
at
the World Series to influence the outcome!

It was Game 6. Boston won the first two games, and the New York Mets won the next two. Game 5 went to the Sox, putting Boston ahead three games to two. One more victory and the Red Sox would be World Champions for the first time since 1918. The curse would finally be over.

Sixty-eight years. That's a long time to wait. People had been born, lived their lives, and died of natural causes since the Red Sox had last won. The last time the Sox were World Champions, there was a world war going on. The
first
one.

Personally, I never cared if the Red Sox won or lost. What I cared about was the New York Mets. I grew up in northern New Jersey, and I had been a Mets fan since I was ten. That's 1965, when they were just a few years old and really awful. I'm talking about laughably bad. Most of my friends rooted for the Yankees, who won the pennant every year and had superstars like Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. Me, I like to root for underdogs.

So let's get back to the 1986 World Series. As I said, one more win and the Red Sox would be champs. Roger Clemens (24–4) was the Boston starter; Bob Ojeda (18–5) for the Mets.

In the top of the first inning, one of those “only in New York” moments occurred. Ojeda was about to throw a pitch when everybody began pointing up in the air at something. A yellow parachute was floating down into the stadium! No kidding! It had a
LET'S GO METS
banner trailing behind it.

The parachutist, an actor named Michael Sergio, landed near the pitcher's mound. He jogged over to the Mets dugout, slapped hands with pitcher Ron Darling, and was led away by the police.

That should have been a tip-off that this was going to be one of those games you'd remember for a long time.

Anyway, Clemens had a no-hitter through four innings. His fastball was clocked at ninety-five miles per hour or
faster
on twenty-seven pitches. Ojeda, never a power pitcher, looked like he was chucking bowling balls in comparison.

The Red Sox scored a run in the first and another in the second. The Mets tied it in the fifth. The Sox scored
another
run in the seventh. The Mets got it back in the eighth. By that time, both of the starting pitchers were out of the game.

It was in the eighth inning that yours truly started to influence the course of the game. In Princeton, I was watching it on TV with my wife, Nina, her sister Erika, and Erika's husband, Alan. Nina and Erika were not big fans and didn't much care one way or another who won. They only watched the game with us to keep us company. Alan rooted for the Yankees, so by definition he hated the Red Sox. But I was the lone Mets fan.

BOOK: Guys Read: The Sports Pages
5.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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