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ESPN.com's Bizzaro World Series
Written by ESPN.com Page2's Jim Caple...
The Page 2 alternate universe is better than the one in which we live.
In the Page 2 alternate universe, ordinary people are able to call telephone solicitors each evening and interrupt their dinners. The DMV is open 24 hours a day and Denny's is always closed. Beer has no calories, bottled water costs less than gasoline, CDs are easy to unwrap and Tom Green doesn't have a TV show.
And most importantly, in the Page 2 alternate universe, the Red Sox are playing the Cubs in the World Series.
Sadly, ESPN is still negotiating the broadcast rights to the alternate universe, so you can't watch the actual games on TV. (It's sort of like if they were being broadcast on the YES network.) But through the wonders of telepathy and tin-can technology, Page 2 is able to bring you the dispatches from our alternate correspondent ...
FRIDAY, OCT. 17
BOSTON -- Less than 12 hours after defeating the Yankees 7-6 in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, the Red Sox hastily prepared as best they could for the World Series. While the Fenway Park grounds crew painted a "Boston Red Sox -- 2003 World Champions'' logo behind home plate, manager Grady Little placed the Boston bullpen phone on the national Do Not Call list.
Little also announced that despite pitching all 15 innings Thursday night in New York, Pedro Martinez will be his Game 1 starter against the Cubs. "He's our ace," Little explained. "He's the best guy I have and I think he has enough gas left in his tank."
Chicago manager Dusty Baker countered by saying he will go with a two-man rotation during the series, relying on Mark Prior and Kerry Wood to bring home Chicago's first championship in 95 years. "Prior and Wood and it's all good," Baylor said.
Boston is enjoying Indian Summer, and the weather forecast for Saturday's opener is for sunny skies and a high of 68. Hell, meanwhile, is expected to see record low temperatures.
GAME 1, SATURDAY, OCT. 18
BOSTON -- With an estimated worldwide TV audience of more than one billion, the long-awaited World Series between the Red Sox and the Cubs got off to a disturbing start when the ceremonial first pitch was thrown at Sammy Sosa's head.
Thus began a wild and frequently-violent opener, with Pedro and Wood matching each other inning for inning and beanball for beanball. The two pitched inside so often, in fact, that Pedro even threw at Ted Williams' head.
The Cubs finally pieced together three runs in the seventh inning on two singles, Nomar Garciaparra's throwing error and four hit batters.
Boston had a golden opportunity to tie the game and possibly go ahead in the bottom of the inning, but their bases-loaded rally died when the Cubs caught Nomar napping on the old hidden ball trick.
"I got distracted thinking about the wedding," Garciaparra said of his poor play in Game 1. "There are just so darn many decisions to make, and Mia isn't helping at all. Buffet or sitdown dinner? Chicken or fish? DJ or a full band? It's tough."
With Wood going the distance and throwing 176 pitches, the Cubs secured their 3-0 shutout on one of the most amazing plays in World Series history. Sosa robbed David Ortiz of what would have been a two-out, ninth inning, game-winning grand slam when he leaped into the Chicago bullpen and was somehow able to hold onto the ball even after Fenway Park groundskeeper Paul Williams kicked him repeatedly, hit him over the head with a shovel and attached electrodes to his genitals.
Unfortunately, Fox missed the historic play because its cameras were instead focused on the new "Joe Millionaire," who was sitting in the stands.
GAME 2, SUNDAY, OCT. 19
BOSTON -- Grady Little shocked the baseball world once again by starting Pedro in Game 2 on no days rest. "He's our ace," Little explained. "He's the best guy I have and I think he has enough gas left in his tank."
The violence of Game 1 continued with Pedro again repeatedly pitching inside. After Pedro hit Sammy in the head with a pitch in the fourth inning, an enraged Darren Baker raced out of the dugout and charged the mound. Pedro grabbed the Cubs batboy by the head and tossed him into the stands -- where, fortunately, he landed safely in the arms of J.T. Snow.
Broadcaster Tim McCarver quickly blasted Pedro for his outlandish behavior, insisting for five innings that the pitcher should be suspended for manhandling an old man and a small boy in the same postseason.
Pedro was quick to defend himself. "Don Zimmer is 72 and Darren Baker is four," Pedro said. "So the average age of the guys I'm fighting is a perfectly respectable 38."
The Red Sox evened the series with a 4-3 victory on Trot Nixon's home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. The game's most dramatic moment, however, was in the fifth inning when Manny Ramirez made World Series history by running out a ground ball for the first time in his career.
The two teams now travel to Chicago for the middle games of the series. The Cubs and Red Sox will fly. Pedro will walk. "The exercise will do him good," Little said.
OFF-DAY, MONDAY, OCT. 22
CHICAGO -- Like Michigan Avenue during rush hour, most of Chicago was at a standstill today in anticipation of Wrigley Field's first World Series since tavern-keeper Billy Sianis placed a curse on the team for banning his goat from the 1945 Fall Classic.
"Now that the Billy Goat Curse has been lifted, we are determined to prevent any future curses," Cubs president Andy MacPhail said. "Therefore, we are banning reliever Antonio "6-Finger" Alfonseca from Wrigley Field." Alfonseca can't express his feelings. Maybe because he doesn't have a middle finger.
With interest in the game at a fever pitch, tickets are so expensive for the games here that the only people who can afford them are the players themselves.
Meanwhile, Boston manager Grady Little announced during the Red Sox workout that he will start Pedro in Game 3. "He's our ace," Little explained. "He's the best guy I have and I think he has enough gas left in his tank. Besides, he had a day off."
Chicago is enjoying a lovely Indian Summer and the weather forecast for Game 3 on Tuesday is for clear skies and a high of 70. The transportation of doomed souls in Hell, however, has backed up due to a two-inch layer of ice on the River Styxx.
GAME 3, TUESDAY, OCT. 21
CHICAGO -- Wrigley Field hosted its first World Series game in 58 years, and the earlier series animosity returned before the game even started when an enraged Manny Ramirez charged the mound during the ceremonial first pitch.
With tensions rising the entire game, all hell finally broke loose during the seventh-inning stretch. Guest singer Ozzy Osbourne was performing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" when Roger Clemens, honored in a pregame ceremony for his outstanding career, grabbed Sammy Sosa's bat from the on-deck circle and fired it into the pressbox. Ozzy grabbed the bat and instinctively bit off the head, revealing to a world-wide TV audience that it was, in fact, an aluminum bat.
Sammy was ejected and suspended for the rest of the series and his entire career statistics were brought into serious question.
"It was an honest mistake," Sammy said while filing an immediate appeal with the commissioner. "I accidentally brought it to the on-deck circle. That's the bat I usually use when I want to impress the ladies."
The incident delayed the game for 20 minutes. Tim McCarver filled the time by explaining the process of producing aluminum by electrically heating a mixture of crushed bauxite, sodium hydroxide and cryolite ore to 1,750 degrees Fahrenheit.
"Until this production process was developed, aluminum was more valuable than gold," McCarver continued in the bottom of the ninth. "It was so valuable that Napoleon III served meals to his guests on aluminum plates."
Moises Alou homered onto Waveland Avenue in the bottom of the 12th inning to give the Cubs a 5-4 victory and a 2-1 series lead. TV cameras didn't show the joyous celebration in the streets, however, instead opting to air shots of Felipe Alou staring blankly out at the field.
GAME 4, WEDNESDAY, OCT. 22
CHICAGO -- In addition to Alfonseca, the Cubs have now banned all goats, black cats and marlins from Wrigley Field, plus the Rally Monkey, Mrs. O'Leary's cow, the white tiger that mauled Roy, and 2003 Triple Crown winner Zippy Chippy.
The new bans worked. The Cubs moved to within one victory of their first world championship in 95 years when Mark Prior shut out Pedro and Boston 1-0 in Game 4. With Sammy Sosa serving the first game of his suspension, the Cubs failed to get a runner on base through the first seven innings, but they finally scratched across a run in the eighth inning.
That rally came after Pedro finally was knocked out of the game. He'd pitched the first 37 innings of the series; but on his way to the mound to pitch the eighth, Randall Simon hit him over the head with a bat while Martinez ran past the Cubs dugout. "I thought he was part of the sausage race," Simon explained.
When reporters pointed out the sausage race is in Milwaukee, not Chicago, Simon replied that he was confused by Dr. Phil's version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," in which the TV advice guru sang the previously unknown verse, "Wake up to the fact he doesn't love you, get out of your bad marriage, find a job, earn your keep and buy me some peanuts and Crackerjack."
The Cubs scored the game's only run when Michael Jordan and Ryne Sandberg both came out of retirement again and delivered back-to-back doubles off Tim Wakefield's only two pitches to give Chicago a 3-1 lead in the series.
GAME 5, THURSDAY, OCT. 23
CHICAGO -- Taking every possible precaution, the Cubs extended their Wrigley Field ban to Steve Bartman, Ferris Bueller, the music group Paper Lace and, just to be safe, Brian Urhlacher and Paris Hilton. It didn't work. One strike from their first world championship in 95 years, the Cubs fell victim to a bizarre play that cost them the game and sent the World Series back to Fenway Park.
Things certainly looked good for Chicago when Commissioner Bud Selig cleared Sammy to play while his suspension is under appeal and Sosa responded with a Series-record four home runs to help the Cubs build a 9-0 lead. The lead looked so insurmountable that guest performers Chicago sang "We Are the Champions" instead of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame'' during the seventh-inning stretch.
But with two outs in the ninth, nobody on base and the entire Boston team boarding the bus for the airport, Manny Ramirez popped up Kerry Wood's 0-2 pitch to shortstop Alex Gonzalez. Just before Gonzalez could make the catch, however, Bartman forced his way past guards, ran onto the field, crashed into Gonzalez and knocked the ball out of his glove.
Gonzalez still had time to throw out Manny, who was standing in the batter's box and calling to arrange a meeting time at the Ritz-Carlton with Yankees infielder Enrique Wilson. Instead, Gonzalez threw the ball into the dugout and the Red Sox went on to score 10 runs. Cubs manager Dusty Baker attempted to stop Boston's relentless rally but he couldn't call the Cubs bullpen because all the phone lines in the area were tied up during an in-game promotion for a cellular service.
The Red Sox went on to win 10-9, returning the series to Boston. Red Sox ownership anticipated the return by chartering a plane to Washington D.C. so President Bush could congratulate them on their world championship.
OFF-DAY, FRIDAY, OCT. 24th
BOSTON -- The Red Sox used the day off to make several adjustments for the final two games. First, they announced that they will not wear cowboy hats and spurs during games anymore because they're making it too hard to run the bases. They will, however, continue to wear bandanas and chaps.
Second, with manager Grady Little finally acknowledging that Pedro might be tiring just a bit, the Sox announced they were adding former Boston reliever Sam "May-Day" Malone to the roster. "We don't necessarily want him to pitch, though," general manager Theo Epstein said. "We might use him as a pinch-hitter, given that he is second to Wade Boggs for highest career average with women in scoring position."
Little said that he will start Pedro in Game 6 on Saturday. "He's our ace," Little explained. "He's the best guy I have and I think he has enough gas left in his tank. Besides, he had a day off."
Meanwhile, Fenway Park vendors began selling commemorative t-shirts printed with the reproduction of the New York Post Headline: "CURSE ENDS, BOSOX WIN WORLD SERIES!!!"
And in entertainment news, actor and longtime Red Sox fan Ben Affleck broke up with J-Lo yet again. Affleck denied that his good friend, Matt Damon, came between him and J-Lo, but he did acknowledge that the two actors are adopting a boy and will honor their favorite Red Sox player by naming him Johnny Damon-Affleck.
GAME 6, SATURDAY, OCT. 25th
BOSTON -- The start of Game 6 was delayed 20 minutes after Yankees reliever Jeff Nelson, on a work release furlough from the county jail, threw out the ceremonial first punch in the bullpen. That led to a near-riot, and police had to escort Nelson from the park before an enraged vendor could further injure him. "I hope he drowns in his own vomit," said the vendor, who identified herself as Carla Tortelli.
There also was an ugly incident during the game when TV cameras focused on celebrity actor Sylvester Stallone, and Cubs first baseman Randall Simon suddenly grabbed a baseball bat and clobbered him. Asked whether he had mistaken the Italian Stallion for the Italian Sausage in the sausage race, Simon shook his head. "Nah, I'm just still ticked off I paid $8 to see 'Get Carter'."
Trailing 3-2 in the ninth inning, the Red Sox rallied dramatically to win on Nomar Garciaparra's two-run, two-out homer into the Green Monster seats after the team showed an old karaoke video of Kevin Millar wearing a kimono, mascara, lipstick and earrings while singing the old Culture Club number, "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" Millar admitted that the video is embarrassing, but not quite as embarrassing as the cowboy shirt he wore after Game 6 of the series with the Yankees.
Minutes after the home run, the Red Sox announced the route for their world championship parade, which will begin by going through the Ted Williams tunnel and end by going through Bill Buckner's legs.
While Cubs manager Dusty Baker said he will go with Kerry Wood in Game 7, Little announced that his Game 7 starter will be Pedro or Denny Galehouse.
"But I think I'll go with Pedro. He's our ace," Little explained. "He's the best guy I have and I think he has enough gas left in his tank. Besides, he'll have all winter to rest."
Meanwhile, with both teams one victory from a world championship, Lucifer kicked Uday and Qusay Hussein out of Hell to relieve the massive overcrowding that has resulted from the glaciers advancing into the farthest reaches of the underworld.
GAME 7, SUNDAY, OCT. 26
BOSTON --World Series history was finally made in Game 7 tonight, when Tim McCarve was silent for five minutes, three of them consecutive.
In an attempt to break the Curse of the Bambino, the Red Sox invited Babe Ruth's daughter to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. As she slowly made her way onto the mound with a walker, Pedro picked her up and slammed her to the ground.
And then the game began. The Red Sox took an early 1-0 lead with a play eerily similar to the Ed Armbrister-Carlton Fisk play in the 1975 World Series. This time, the Red Sox benefited when Todd Walker was able to score after umpire Tim McClelland called Cubs fan Steve Bartman for catcher's interference.
With the Sox still leading and hoping that the game would be over as soon as the fat lady sang, Red Sox minority owner and TV executive Tom Werner invited Roseanne to perform "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch. Sadly for Boston fans, such was not the case. With two out in the bottom of the ninth, two strikes, nobody on base and the Cubs going through security at Logan Airport for their flight home, Sammy Sosa homered off the Citgo sign to tie the game 1-1 and bring on extra innings.
The game went into the 13th inning. Little stayed with Pedro and Baylor stayed with Wood.
The game went into the 17th inning. Little stayed with Pedro and Baylor stayed with Wood.
The game went into the 22nd inning. Little stayed with Pedro and Baylor stayed with Wood.
As the game entered the 28th inning with the score tied 34-34, a meteorite struck Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger in Sacramento, California, prompting an enraged Manny Ramirez to charge the mound. The oceans emptied their basins and flooded the planet while a dust cloud circled the globe, lowering worldwide temperatures 30 degrees, killing all crops, causing massive starvation and bringing on the near extinction of the human species.
With Final Judgment nigh, Red Sox fans used their final breaths to chant "Yankees suck!!!" while Cubs fans asked how the world's end would affect delivery of their unemployment checks. And after groundskeeper Paul Williams covered the field with a tarp, the apocalyptic prophesies of Revelation 6:8 came true when Fox cameras showed the figure of Death, plus "Arrested Development" star Jeffrey Tambor, riding across the sky on a pale horse, followed closely by Babe Ruth's ghost on a smelly goat.
Little stayed with Pedro and Dusty stayed with Wood.
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.