Billy Bucks

Photo by Steshka Willems on

Can I be honest with you, my readers?

Another thing I don’t like doing anymore is obituary posts – they tend to be downers. But my blogging policy tends to be that there are exceptions to every rule, and I think this is one of those times where an exception applies.

William Joseph Buckner passed away yesterday, known to baseball fans as simply Bill Buckner. Instead of looking at his career accolades of which he amassed 2,715 hits – he is sadly remembered for an error he made during the sixth game of the 1986 World Series that allowed the New York Mets to score the winning run that night after Boston’s Red Sox had a 5-3 lead going into that fateful tenth inning. Had Boston gotten that final out that wound up eluding them – they would have won their fourth game that series, which more importantly would have given them the World Series championship.

I was a Mets fan when that chain of events happened, and when the Mets scored that run to win – the 15 year-old version of me went crazy, even though there was a seventh game of the series yet to be played. But the first team I followed religiously was the 1979 Chicago Cubs, thanks to that absurdly crazy 23-22 game on May 17th of that year against the Philadelphia Phillies. On that team was a first baseman named – you guessed it – Bill Buckner.

Buckner is the main reason why I don’t like to use the word “choke” when it comes to sports. I never thought it was entirely fair to blame him for the Red Sox not winning the 1986 World Series and for Boston fans to turn on him as they did. When you get two teams of high skill together, games seem to get determined more often than not on sheer luck – and luck was with the Mets that night to the fault of no one else.

Rest in peace, Bill. Whatever suffering there has been with time is now at its end.

A Good Walk Spoiled

Golfer Dustin Johnson, also known as Mr. Paulina Gretzky.
Golfer Dustin Johnson, also known as Mr. Paulina Gretzky.

To me, the most overused term in sports these days is the word choke.  If someone has a chance to win something and they don’t, it is said that they choked it away.

Dustin Johnson, who five years ago lost a shot at a playoff for the PGA title by committing a penalty on the 18th hole by grounding his club in a bunker, had a chance at redemption yesterday with a 12-foot eagle putt that would have given him the prestigious US Open championship. That putt didn’t go in, so he then had about a 5-foot putt that would have forced a playoff between himself and Jordan Spieth.

But that too didn’t go in, leaving young Mr. Spieth as the youngest US Open champion in over 80 years and only the sixth person to win both a Masters and an Open in the same year.

I always feel bad for those who do their best in the sports world but don’t make it to their goal. We are all too easy to ridicule them, failing to realize that sometimes when you work hard for something, it doesn’t quite just happen. We remember the Buffalo Bills for losing four straight Super Bowls, but not for winning four straight AFC championships. Bill Buckner had a great career, but all we seem to remember him for is that ground ball at Shea Stadium in 1986 that helped the Mets avoid losing the World Series to Bill’s Boston Red Sox.

Keep two things in perspective about Dustin Johnson: he won over $850,000 yesterday finishing second, and his wife is Paulina Gretzky, Wayne’s daughter. All and all, Dustin’s not doing so bad in life.