BOSTON.Â When their team fell behind 7-0 last night, many fair-weather Boston fans headed for the exits at Fenway Park, assuming that the Tampa Bay Rays would advance to their first World Series at the Red Sox' expense.Â But not Lou DiPietro.Â "I'm blocked in anyway," said the accountant from Framingham, a western suburb.Â "I can't get my car out 'til everybody else leaves."
DiPietro was rewarded when the Sox stormed back to win 8-7 in the bottom of the ninth, sending the series back to St. Petersburg, but his thoughts turned immediately to Boston's pitching rotation.Â "Last year Josh Beckett was our ace, but this year he's been up and down," DiPietro said.Â "You never know which Beckett is gonna show up."
Beckett has an injury--perhaps a torn oblique muscle--that has taken five miles an hour and a good deal of movement off his fast ball, and baseball experts agree his performance in game six is hard to predict.Â Here are the top three alternative answers to the question, which Becket will show up Saturday night:
Samuel Beckett:Â Weird-looking novelist and playwright Samuel Beckett is the first choice of Sal Mornia of insidebaseball.com.Â "Samuel Beckett is a good bet because he's assigned in a lot of courses at Boston's many fine institutions of higher learning," Mornia says.Â "You can't get out of college anymore without reading Waiting for Godot."Â Las Vegas bookmakers disagree,Â as the morning lineÂ on the former secretary to James Joyce is 8-to-1.Â "Beckett's got a nice two-seam fastball," says Mel Karnstein of Harrah's Casino,Â "but he's been dead for 18 years.Â No amount of pre-game long-toss is gonna fix that."
Becket, Massachusetts:Â ThisÂ village in the Berkshire Mountains is home to Jacob's Pillow, America's oldest and longest-running dance festival.Â "Generally, you hear guys saying basketball is like ballet, or boxing is like ballet," says sports reporter Bob Salloway of the Springfield Daily Item, who discounts the possibilityÂ that the town's 1,700 residents could fit on the pitching mound at Tropicana Field.Â "You never hear people compare baseball to ballet, unless there's a ballet where guys stand around scratching their crotches and spitting."
"If you don't lose your head, I won't lose mine."
Thomas Becket:Â Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until he was beheaded in 1170 by followers of King Henry II, Thomas Becket spent three seasons in the major leagues with the London Padres, compiling a record 42 wins, 38 losses, and fourteen excommunications.Â "In his prime there was no one who could touch him," says Henry Fleming, a historian of the Anglican Church.Â "Then he lost his head and suddenly wasn't painting the corners like he used to."