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After Boone Homers, His Brother Strikes Out

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All right, Bret Boone, you’re inside Yankee Stadium for Game 7 of the American League championship series, you’re wearing a Fox Sports headset and you’ve just watched your little brother hit one of the most dramatic postseason home runs ever in the bottom of the 11th inning.

What do you have to say?

Uh, Bret?

You still there, Bret?

For the first six games of the Yankee-Red Sox series, Fox got nothing out of its decision to add Bret Boone to the booth as a color analyst who seemed determined to provide neither color nor analysis. He was the quiet man, Joe Buck’s silent partner. He would go innings without saying a word. After a while, you forgot he was up there. Kind of like how Grady Little forgot he was managing the Red Sox during the eighth inning Thursday.

What was Boone doing there? Even Fox had to wonder -- until Aaron Boone stepped to the plate and this gift from the heavens dropped into Fox’s lap.

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One brother sends the Yankees to the World Series with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th. The other brother is in the broadcast booth taking it all in.

What luck! What a moment! This was one for the broadcasting archives!

Except Bret Boone just stood there. And said nothing. For more than three minutes.

Buck had set it up for him on a silver platter with a succinct three-sentence call: “Boone hits it to deep left! That might send the Yankees to the World Series! Boone a hero in Game 7!”

How about that, big brother?

Big brother was watching, but not talking. A Fox camera quickly panned the booth. Boone was standing between Buck and Tim McCarver, his arms folded across his chest, his mouth tightly shuttling between grin and grimace. Buck looked up at him, hoping to hear something, then turned away once he realized nothing was coming.

Three minutes and five seconds passed between Buck’s home run call and the next words spoken by a Fox broadcaster. Three more times a camera closed in on Bret. Three more times he half-grinned and half-grimaced. He looked like a Fox executive trying to cope with the crushing reality of the moment -- the Cubs-Red Sox dream is dead, bring on (egad) the Yankees and the Marlins.

Field reporter Curt Menefee broke the silence with an interview with Aaron Boone.

“Wow!” Aaron said as he grappled with his emotions. “I ... I ... I can’t even talk.”

The condition was running in the family. After Aaron caught his breath and answered a few questions, Menefee sent it back upstairs. Maybe now Bret might say something. It might have been on Menefee’s mind, because he turned to the camera and said, “Bret Boone, World Series hero! Guys?”

Guys, that was Aaron Boone, and he’s the American League championship series hero, headed to the World Series, which begins this weekend. Buck did what he could to sweep up, encouraging his reticent partner with “Well, Bret Boone, have you ever heard your brother Aaron speechless? I mean, he was basically flat-out speechless.”

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Finally, Bret Boone no longer was.

“He was, he was,” Bret said. “I mean, I’ve been talking him through all this and trying to basically give him encouragement, as much as I could. ‘You’ve got to hang in there. We’ve been there. This is the game. One big hit will turn it around for you.’

“And that’s about as big as it gets right there.”

And that was it from Bret. As great all-in-the-family TV moments rank, it wasn’t quite Bob Griese getting choked up over son Brian’s Rose Bowl-winning performance.

In fact, the best Boone-produced line of the night came from Aaron, who told Menefee that in the middle innings, with the Yankees trailing, 5-2, “It wasn’t looking good. [But] the bullpen came in and held them and we just pecked away and, like Derek [Jeter] told me, ‘The ghosts will show up eventually.’ And they did. This is ... this is stupid!”

The Yankees might disagree, but the wrong Boone brother was in the booth Thursday night.

On to the World Series, and other attractions available for viewing this weekend:

TODAY

* World Series, Game 1

(Channel 11, 4:30 p.m.)

The Cubs and the Red Sox? Turns out they were nothing more than semifinalists. The Yankees and the Marlins? Out of the four potential World Series matchups, this was a deep, distant fourth on Fox’s wish list. Story lines? Well, the final start of Roger Clemens’ career is sure to get beaten to a pulp. And there’s the electric charisma of Marlin rookie pitcher Dontrelle Willis (if you can ignore the 12.00 postseason ERA). And ... hmm ... maybe a hard look at Jack McKeon and Don Zimmer and why 72-year-old seniors should never be allowed inside a baseball stadium dressed like that.

* USC at Notre Dame

(Channel 4, 11:30 a.m.)

Instant karma: The Cub fan who interfered with that foul ball went to Notre Dame. Notre Dame is an eight-point underdog at home against USC. Bet the Trojans.

* Missouri at Oklahoma

(Fox Sports Net, 4 p.m.)

Oklahoma is 6-0. Oklahoma routed Texas last Saturday, 65-13. Oklahoma has outscored its last four opponents, 229-72. Is there nothing that can stop Oklahoma? Sure, there is. That’s Oklahoma quarterback Jason White on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated.

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SUNDAY

* Green Bay Packers at St. Louis Rams

(Channel 11, 10 a.m.)

This weekend marks the launch of Fox Sports Digital Nets’ “STL Real,” a half-hour “reality-style” show featuring St. Louis residents Marshall Faulk and hip-hop star Nelly. Really. Fox went with Faulk and Nelly, even though Brenda Warner and Mike Martz were on the board and available.

* Denver Broncos at Minnesota Vikings

(Channel 2, 10 a.m.)

Finally, local CBS brings us an interesting matchup, 5-1 Denver against 5-0 Minnesota, instead of that good excuse for a long Sunday walk, Oakland against anybody. Has CBS at last listened to the angry cry of the masses? Has the network finally decided to yield to the will of the people? No. Oakland plays Kansas City on ABC on Monday night.

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