Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sir James George Frazer

On the Day of Atonement, which was the tenth day of the seventh month, the Jewish high-priest laid both his hands on the head of a live goat, confessed over it all the iniquities of the Children of Israel, and, having thereby transferred the sins of the people to the beast, sent it away into the wilderness.  The scapegoat upon whom the sins of the people are periodically laid, may also be a human being.

From his groundbreaking study of comparative mythology and religion, The Golden Bough, first published in 1890.

The Boston Red Sox, who were leading the New York Mets three games to two in the 1986 World Series, scored two runs in the top of the 10th inning of game six and were only one out away from finally breaking the "Curse of the Bambino" after retiring the Mets' first two batters in the bottom of the 10th. 

But the Mets hit three consecutive singles off Calvin Schiraldi, and when reliever Bob Stanley uncorked a wild pitch, the game was tied.  The next batter, Mookie Wilson, hit a slow roller to Red Sox 1B Bill Buckner for what should have been the third out, but somehow the ball got through Buckner's legs, giving the Mets the victory.

In game seven, the Red Sox held a 3-0 lead, but the Mets scored three runs of starter Bruce Hurst in the sixth inning and three more off reliever Schiraldi in the seventh, and held on to win.

Buckner was scapegoated for the defeat by Red Sox fans.  He was the target of death threats, and was heckled and booed by his own fans until the Red Sox released him in July 1987.  His wife was harassed so much that Buckner moved his family from Boston to Boise, Idaho.  

The roles of Schiraldi, Stanley, and Red Sox manager John McNamara (who failed to insert a defensive replacement for the 36-year-old, sore-ankled Buckner, despite having done so in the three previous Red Sox victories in that World Series) in the Red Sox defeat were overlooked by the vast majority of Boston partisans.  Who knows why?

Bill Buckner is 62 years old today.  Ironically, my wife -- who is a Red Sox fan -- was also born on December 14.  (I share a birthday with Manny Ramirez.  Go figure.) 

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