Daily Sports: Baseball’s Past & Present On Display Thursday

Whether it’s baseball’s past or baseball’s present, you’ve got good TV options in today’s daily sports agenda, with a day-night doubleheader on the Thursday MLB card, plus the telecast of three historic games on ESPN Classic.

Let’s start with the contemporary. MLB Network has matinee baseball at 1 PM ET, with split coverage between the White Sox-Tigers and Royals-Yankees. Then, the same network has marquee, prime-time coverage, with the Reds-Braves going at 7 PM ET.

If you’re into sports history, and your satellite/cable provider offers ESPN Classic, then you’re in luck. Well, maybe not that much luck if you’re a Red Sox or Cubs fan. The agony both fan bases endured in the 2003 League Championship Series will be relieved. At 1 PM it’s the Aaron Boone game that ended the Red Sox-Yankees battle. And at 7 PM, it’s the Steve Bartman game, where the Cubs collapsed in Game 6.

I’ve always been one who thinks stories of jinxes are fun enough, but that actual baseball reasons usually explain who wins and loses (radical, I know).  But watching both the Red Sox and Cubs get to within five outs of the World Series before it all came undone, and seeing that all happen in a 24-hour window is enough to make you wonder if The Man Upstairs isn’t having some fun with us.

Then the Red Sox went out and added Curt Schilling and Keith Foulke a year later and I was back to my more rational reasons for explaining baseball defeats.

In between these two historic  2003 games, is another game that captures the agony of Boston sports, and it’s the 1978 one-game playoff between the Red Sox and Yankees to settle the AL East title, at a time when wild-cards were but a gleam in Bud Selig’s eye. This is, of course, the infamous “Bucky Dent” game. It’s showing starts at 4 PM ET.

TheSportsNotebook has got baseball on its mind today as well. Over the past week, MLB coverage has focused on a basic statistical snapshots of each division. The American League was completed yesterday, and we’ll start up in the National League today with a look at the NL East.