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Same ol' story

Sports | The curse continues for the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series

Issue: "2004 Election: Countdown," Oct. 23, 2004

Ask Mike Torrez or Rod Beck or even Tim Wakefield how it feels. Now Curt Schilling has an idea how it feels. When the Red Sox meet the Yankees in the postseason, history says one team returns home with a case of the Boston blues. In the teams' three postseason meetings prior to this year's American League Championship Series, New York has taken all three.

Before Mr. Schilling's Game 1 meltdown in which he allowed six runs in three innings, he told reporters, "I'm not sure I can think of any scenario more enjoyable than making 55,000 people from New York shut up." But hobbled by a swollen ankle, Mr. Schilling couldn't silence anyone, much less Yankees fans who spent the evening chanting "1918." It's been 86 years since Boston won the World Series.

Because both teams have fought in the American League East,the Red Sox have played the Yankees only three times in baseball's postseason before this year. All three times, pitching meltdowns have cost Boston their chance for victory. A look back:
2003: After torturing Yankees batters for wins in Games 1 and 4, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield folded in extra innings of the deciding Game 7 when he allowed much-maligned Yankees third baseman Aaron Boone to hit a series-winning home run.
1999: Game 1 of the teams' first-ever full-length playoff series went into extra innings. But in the bottom of the 10th, Rod Beck grooved a fastball to Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams, who hit the game-winning home run. New York never looked back, winning the series, 4-1.
1978: Playing the season to a tie, the two teams settled matters with a one-game playoff. There may be only one name Red Sox fans remember from the short playoff: Bucky Dent.

Back the Brown

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How safe is University of Texas football coach Mack Brown? Even before the Oct. 9 game against archrival Oklahoma, Mr. Brown said he didn't fear a fifth-straight loss to the Sooners would put his job in danger. So safe that the Sunday before the game, the coach volunteered to reporters that Texas Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds had already assured him he wouldn't lose his job even if he lost again to Oklahoma (which he did, 12-0).

Even with losing to Oklahoma five consecutive times, Mr. Brown isn't in bad company-sort of. Texas football legend Darrell Royal also lost five consecutive times to Oklahoma from 1971 to 1975. But after Mr. Royal righted the ship in 1976, he retired. Oklahoma coaching great Bud Wilkinson quit shortly after losing his sixth in a row to Texas.

The Red River Shootout isn't just the game Mack Brown can't win. It's the game he can afford to lose. At the end of August, Texas awarded the coach a $1.6 million annuity for his birthday. With his pockets lined, Mr. Brown was eager to take it on the chin for his players when asked about the streak. "It's obvious to our team I'm responsible for the last four years-they're not," he said. "It's on me. I'm the constant." Seems he'll always be. Mack Brown's $ 1.6 million gift from Texas made him the highest-paid college football coach in the nation for 2004. Here are the top 10.
1. Mack Brown, Texas, $3.617 million
2. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma, $2.3 million
3. Nick Saban, LSU, $2.3 million
4. Pete Carroll, USC, $2 million
5. Bobby Bowden, Florida State, $1.9 million
6. Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee, $1.78 million
7. Dennis Franchione, Texas A&M, $1.72 million
8. Bill Callahan, Nebraska, $1.5 million
9. Tommy Tuberville, Auburn, $1.5 million
10. Mark Richt, Georgia, $1.5 million

Around the Horn

•Forget the 1972 Miami Dolphins; the New England Patriots may be the most dominant football team ever. In a parity-plagued NFL, the Patriots won their 19th consecutive game, breaking the Dolphins record. For the record-breaking win, New England defeated the current, but hapless, version of the Dolphins, 24-10.

•Virginia's Marquis Weeks capped off his 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in a September win with some interesting comments: "That was just instinct. Kind of like running from the cops." Mr. Weeks has backed off the statement, saying he's never actually run from the cops. The football senior is actually a graduate student at Virginia after earning his degree in sociology last May.

•Former National League Most Valuable Player Ken Caminiti died Oct. 10 after an apparent heart attack. He was 41. Caminiti won the NL MVP award with the Padres after hitting 40 home runs with a .326 batting average in 1996. Years later, Caminiti said he was using steroids during his MVP season. It wasn't his only brush with illegal substances. Five days before his death, he admitted to using cocaine in September.

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