MLB General

Oct 26 in Sports History: A couple of game 6 meltdowns

In 1985: While everyone remembers the tremendous gag-job by the 1986 Red Sox in the World Series, the previous Fall Classic featured a similar meltdown. This one, many felt was caused by an umpire, as the name Don Denkinger will forever be cursed on the eastern side of Missouri. With the St. Louis Cardinals leading the I-70 World Series three games to two and holding a Game 6 advantage 1-0 into the bottom of the 9th inning, Royals pinch hitter Jorge Orta tapped a weak grounder to first. Pitcher Danny Cox of the Cards cleanly fielded Jack Clark’s flip and clearly had Orta beat by a step. One problem: first base ump Denkinger was the only person in America who thought Orta was safe. The Cards argued bitterly, became completely unglued in the field as Clark misplayed a popup, catcher Darrell Porter had a passed ball, and Dane Iorg drove home the winning run with a bases loaded single to send the series to a seventh game. There, the Royals promptly smacked the shell-shocked Redbirds 11-0 to win their only championship. Karma rules, though, as they haven’t sniffed October baseball since and now are as formidable a ball team as the Springfield Power Plant softball team (pre-Mr. Burns’ ringers).

In 2002: Speaking of awesome, The-Cosmos-Are-OK, Game 6 meltdowns, who can forget the collapse of the Barry Bonds-Dusty Baker-led San Francisco Douche Giants against the Whatever Angels? The Giants built a 5-0 lead through six innings and a smug Bonds was about to wrap up his coveted, undeserved World Series ring. Funny thing was, the Baseball Gods knew stuff we didn’t at the time, and let the Angels claw their way back with a huge rally and a 6-5 win. Baker (who thought it was such a cute idea to almost get his three-year-old son mauled at home plate as a bat boy), suddenly couldn’t manage a Quick Stop let alone a baseball team, made wrong move after wrong move and the Angels eventually ripped the ring off Bonds’ puffy finger in seven games. Those thundersticks and the Rally Monkey were wicked-stupid, though. Baker quickly bailed on the Giants and went on to an even better punishment with the Cubs the following season, when he was introduced to a nerd-fan named Steve Bartman.

MLB General

No one is watching the World Series

The numbers are in and they are not good. The opening game of the World Series was the lowest rated in history. The Saturday night opener got a 8.0 rating and a 15 share. To put that in perspective, that wouldn’t even have made it into the Top 20. Game 2 fared a little better with a 11.5 share. Overall though the two games still average the 5% lower than the lowest in history.

Now, the folks at Fox will declare the Series a success because both game still won their time slots but this is the World Series folks. Shouldn’t more people be watching it than, say, Two and a Half Men? St. Louis vs Detroit? Nobody on the coasts really cares about that matchup. Meanwhile, NY vs Oakland and all of the sudden you have your east coast/west coast rivalry and tons of people tuning in to root against the Mets. When the only controversy is whether Kenny Rogers had a smudge of dog crap on his hand, you’ve got problems. Either they need to drum up some controversey or rig the playoffs somehow for a better matchup. Bud Selig, David Stern is awaiting your call.

[AZCentral]: World Series ratings down once again

Toronto Blue Jays

Oct 23 in Sports History: Joe Carter wins the World Series

In 1993: Joe Carter of the Toronto Blue Jays became only the second player to end a World Series with a walk-off homerun with a 8-6 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 6 at the Skydome in Toronto. The Jays jumped out early on the Phillies by scoring three runs in the first inning and eventually built a 5-1 advantage, only to see Philadelphia retake the lead late in the game on a Lenny Dykstra homer. Trailing 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth, Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams of the Phillies walked Rickey Henderson, gave up a single to Paul Molitor (who was named MVP), and grooved a fastball to Joe Carter which cleared the left field fence and touched off a wild celebration. It was the second straight World Series for the Blue Jays.

In 1988: Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins had one of the best passing days in NFL history in a game against the New York Jets at Joe Robbie Stadium. Marino completed 35 of 60 passes for a third-best all time 521 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately for Marino and the Dolphins (as was the case for most of his career) the defense was awful and the Fish lost 44-30. They would fall to 6-10 in 1988.

MLB General

Oct 18 in Sports History: 3 for 3 on 3

Mr. October

In 1977: Reggie Jackson of the New York Yankees tied Babe Ruth’s record by blasting three home runs in a single World Series game. Jackson only saw three pitches the entire evening in Game 6, but he drove each one farther than the last. When it was over, the Yankees had defeated the LA Dodgers 8-4 to win their 21st championship, Jackson was named MVP and became forever known as “Mr. October.”

In 1997: The worst World Series in history opened on a warm, bandwagon-y Miami evening as the Florida Marlins – with a powerhouse tradition all of five years – entertained the suffering-for-eons Indians from Cleveland in cavernous Pro Player Stadium, the football home of the Miami Dolphins. Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga purchased a fine National League pennant winner with the likes Devon White, Kevin Brown, Moises Alou, Gary Sheffield and Al Leiter. With the exception of a fine Game 7 won by Florida, each game tried to top the last in terms of uninspired play, poor pitching and sloppy defense. It was the lowest rated World Series ever up to that point as fans didn’t feel like tuning in to watch two football cities struggle at baseball in snowy weather. Heaping insult upon insult, Hanson sang the National Anthem to open the series. All of the aforementioned players were jettisoned by Huizenga for financial reasons within a few months of winning the series.

In 1920: An interesting little battle which would’ve seriously altered baseball history took place in a meeting between divided American League owners. Wanting American League president Ban Johnson out of office, the owners of the Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox and Tigers threatened to jump to the National League if the remaining owners who wanted Johnson to stay on did not join their movement. Both sides eventually agreed to replace Johnson – who they felt was doing very little to help put and end to the gambling that was destroying the game (re: Black Sox Scandal) – with Kennesaw Mountain Landis, baseball’s first commissioner.

MLB General

Oct 17 in Sports History: an earthquake hits the World Series

In 1989: The third game of the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s was postponed due to the biggest earthquake to hit the Bay Area since 1906. ABC-TV had just taken the air with the game about 30 minutes away when the 7.1 magnitude Loma Prieta quake hit, causing minor structural damage to Candlestick park and major damage to the surrounding area. Over 60 people were killed, but it could have been much worse as a 60-foot section of the Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland collapsed; but fans getting to the ballpark or home to catch the early start time of the World Series had the bridge and many other roads which suffered damage uncharacteristically quiet at rush hour. The Series would resume 10 days later with the A’s completing a sweep of the Giants.

In 1971 and 1979: The Pittsburgh Pirates clinched their last two World Series in Baltimore on the same day by taking a pair of Game 7‘s from the Orioles. In Game 7 of the ‘71 Fall Classic, Steve Blass threw a 4-hit gem and Roberto Clemente homered as the Pirates won 2-1. In Game 7 of the ‘79 Series, Willie Stargell hit a three-run homer in the top of the sixth inning to help push the Pirates past Baltimore 4-1. 1979 was the last time a team had overcome a three games to one deficit to win a World Series.

In 2000: Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche cemented his place as the game’s greatest goaltender when he passed Terry Sawchuk on the all-time wins list with 448. Roy defeated the Washington Capitals 4-3 in overtime to take first-place all time. Roy, who was only the third goalie and 51st player taken overall in the 1984 draft, won three Vezina Trophies as the league’s outstanding goalie and three Conn Smythe Trophies as playoff MVP.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Oct 16 in Sports History: Kirk Gibson’s heroics

In 1988: In one of the most amazing and downright surreal moments in baseball history, Dodgers’ manager Tommy Lasorda took “a roll of the dice’” (in the words of the great Vin Scully) and sent Kirk Gibson – who could barely walk – up to pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Dodgers trailing the Oakland A’s 4-3 in the World Series opener. Dennis Eckersley, the most dominating closer of that era, took Gibson to a full count with a runner on second. After fouling off several pitches and barely able to hobble halfway to first, Gibson shocked everybody when he turned on an inside pitch and drove it deep into right field bleachers to win the game 5-4. Gibson limped around the bases, pumping his fist. He did not play again in the series, and the Dodgers used the momentum to bully the shell shocked A’s in five games. The red lights you see as the ball is going into the stands are a stream cars that left the game early , figuring the A’s had it won.

In 1969: The New York Mets, only seven years in the National League, shocked the sports world by defeating the Baltimore Orioles in Game 5 to win the World Series. The “Amazin‘s“, who set the record for futility just seven years ago with 120 losses in their inaugural season, turned it around behind the pitching of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman and a young Nolan Ryan, plus timely hitting and defense. Donn Clendenon, a Pittsburgh Pirates and Montreal Expos castoff, was the hero with the big homerun in the deciding game and was awarded MVP honors.

In 2003Just when Red Sox fans didn’t think it could get any worse, Grady Little decided against his better judgment and the screams of millions of Sox fans (and anybody who remotely followed baseball) that ace Pedro Martinez didn’t have enough left for one more hitter in the bottom of the eighth inning . Little left him in, Jorge Posada hit a double to tie the game at five apiece, and Aaron Boone eventually won it with a towering solo homerun to lead off the bottom of the 11th inning off Tim Wakefield, sending the New York Yankees to their 39th World Series.

MLB General

Oct 10 in Sports History: World Series edition

unassisted triple play

In 1920: An amazing trio of firsts occurred in the decisive Game 7 (of a nine-game series) of an otherwise drab World Series between the Cleveland Indians and Brooklyn Robins. In the first inning, Cleveland’s Elmer Smith hit the first grand slam in World Series history. In the fourth, the Indians’ Jim Bagby became the first pitcher to hit a home run in the WS; and in the eighth, little-used second baseman Bill Wambsganss converted the first (and only) unassisted triple play in World Series history to help the Indians take the Series 5-2. It was a bittersweet moment for the Indians; while they were celebrating their first championship, they were still mourning the death of Ray Chapman, who died earlier that summer as a result of a Carl Mays bean ball.

In 1926: While Babe Ruth was always considered a World Series hero for his feats in the postseason (pitching 29-plus scoreless innings for the Sox, calling his shot against the Cubs), he was actually a huge goat in the Yankees’ loss to the Cardinals in the decisive seventh game. Trailing by a run in the bottom of the ninth at Yankee Stadium, Ruth reached first off a walk from a very hung over Grover Alexander (who won Game 6). With two outs and the slugging Bob Meusel at the plate with a 3-1 count, Ruth inexplicably took off on an attempt to steal second base without any type of sign from the coaches or manager. He got a horrible jump and was easily pegged for the final out of the series. Ruth was roundly booed, criticized and mocked in the newspapers for losing the series for the Yanks.

In 1904: Citing that the American League was a minor or “junior” league, New York Giants manager John McGraw refused to meet the Boston Americans (who had defeated the Pirates of the NL in 1903) in what would have been the second World Series. Arguments over rules, potential gate shares and personal animosity between McGraw and AL president Ban Johnson also led to the cancellation of the Series. Besides 1994 — when a player’s strike wiped out the postseason — it was the only time a World Series was not contested.