Funny things can happen in October

Funny things can happen in October

A funny thing happened on the way to the World Series on Thursday.

Evan Longoria homered the first two times he batted in a postseason.

Brett Myers talked mostly about his nine- and 10-pitch at-bats.

Russell Martin said in the pregame interview room at Wrigley Field: "I don't really know if there's such a thing as a curse or not, but a lot of people here feel like it exists."

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Then he hit a bases-clearing double in a five-run inning that the average Cubs fan will chalk up to an ongoing Billy Goat Curse.

Both of the best-of-five National League Division Series were at 2-0 by night's end, with the National League Central teams on the wrong end.

Both Game 2 winners scored five runs off of aces in the second inning.

Thursday marked the 30th anniversary of Bucky "#*%&@$" Dent's home run at Fenway Park as the Yankees beat the Red Sox in a one-game playoff to win the American League East on the way to a repeat World Series championship.

The Brewers, Cubs, Angels and White Sox would be advised to remember that. Some funny things can happen at this time of year.

Very funny.

The Tampa Bay Rays not only played their first postseason game, they were exciting, and they made you instantly like watching them in October.

Shane Victorino hit a grand slam off a pitcher who was practically unbeatable after changing leagues during the season, then said, "When you've got a guy like CC [Sabathia] on the ropes, you've got to take advantage of it."

Cubs fans held signs and wore shirts that read: "It's Happening." That is meant as a modified version of "It's Gonna Happen," but it seemed to mean something far different on this night. It's happening, all right: A 10-3 loss to the Dodgers means the Cubs now go to Los Angeles down 0-2.

NLDS 2-0 leads
Sixteen teams have taken a 2-0 series lead in NLDS history. In 13 of those 16, the team ahead 2-0 finished off the series in a three-game sweep.
SeasonWinner LoserOutcome
2002CardinalsD-backs 3-0
2001Braves Astros3-0
1998Braves Cubs3-0
1997Marlins Giants3-0
1997Braves Astros3-0
1996Braves Dodgers3-0
1995Braves Rockies3-1
Baseball creates the most improbable plots, though. If you are a Cubs fan right now, you have to remember what the Red Sox went through to end an even more famous "curse" back in 2004. They staged the greatest comeback in sports history by wiping out a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees in the AL Championship Series, and they had so much subsequent momentum that it seemed as though their World Series opponent (St. Louis) wasn't even on the field during that curse-reversing sweep.

Thursday also marked the 40th anniversary of one of the greatest postseason feats ever. Bob Gibson struck out a playoff-record 17 Tigers in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series. Detroit persevered to win that series in seven, just one example of why baseball does not crown its champions based on a one-game championship event.

The Brewers, Cubs, Angels and White Sox would be advised to remember that. Some funny things can happen at this time of year.

Very funny.

There is still something strange about seeing David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez separated at this time of year. For several Octobers, they destroyed opponents in unison. But don't worry -- they are still keeping in touch, even as Ortiz tries to help the Red Sox beat the Angels while Ramirez continues to rake the Cubs.

"I think I'm going to have to pay Manny's phone bill, because he just keeps on texting me and texting me," laughed Ortiz before Thursday's workout in Anaheim. "Then I call back, and I always get nothing but his voice-mail. Then he'll text me back, and I say, 'You big-time now? That's cool.' I talked to him yesterday before the game, and he wished me good luck."

Home teams down, 2-0
2007PhilliesRockiesL, 3-0
2006Padres CardinalsL, 3-1
TwinsAthleticsL, 3-0
2004AngelsRed SoxL, 3-0
2002D-BacksCardinalsL, 3-0
2001AstrosBravesL, 3-0
YankeesAthleticsW, 3-2
2000 White SoxMarinersL, 3-0
1997MarinersOriolesL, 3-1
1996DodgersBravesL, 3-0
1995DodgersReds L, 3-0
RockiesBravesL, 3-1
In addition, Thursday marked 88 years to the day that Major League Baseball saw the only tripleheader played in the 20th century. The Reds won the first two games, 13-4 and 7-3, with the Pirates avoiding the sweep in the finale, 6-0. Peter Harrison was the home-plate umpire for all three games.

We just had another tripleheader, our second in two days. Three games, stacked one after the other on TBS like a baseball fan's dream.

It meant everything to get to this postseason. Once you are here, it can tear your insides out -- especially if your team is quickly on the brink of elimination. You have to kind of enjoy it nonetheless and keep it in perspective.

A Cubs fan outside the home-plate entrance of Wrigley Field before Game 2 was carrying a stuffed effigy of a Dodger that had voodoo pins stuck all over it. The fan then spotted a Dodgers fan in full L.A. regalia walking past him, and told him, "One dollar to remove a pin!"

The Dodger fan wasn't laughing ... yet.

Chad Billingsley made sure you know his name, just in case you took his 16-win regular season lightly. He allowed one run in 6 2/3 wondrous innings for the Dodgers.

TBS carries all of the Division Series games for the second year in a row, then will broadcast the ALCS, with FOX handling the NLCS and World Series. Right now it is TBS' teleturf. One wonders if it will be like it was a year ago, when TBS joined the postseason party and was greeted by three sweeps and a 3-1 finish in the four Division Series matchups, as well as a Rockies sweep in its NLCS coverage.

Now we are two days into the 2008 postseason, and so far the teams in front are 6-0. Maybe it will be another "sweeps week" for TBS. Or maybe it is just the setup for exciting comebacks.

Brad Lidge had another save, and this time there was no drama. A funny thing happened during his career: He is "Lights Out Lidge" again. Baseball is like that.

Twenty Octobers ago, Kirk Gibson limped out of the dugout and up to the plate, and he swung at an offering from future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley to hit the "Miracle Homer" that led the Dodgers to the 1988 title.

The Brewers, Cubs, Angels and White Sox would be advised to remember that. Some funny things can happen at this time of year.

Very funny.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of Ian Browne contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.