Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Met Fans' Worst Nightmare: Who Ya Got?
Who cares? If you're a Yankee Fan, or a Phillies fan, would you want the Flushing Heathen rooting for your team? If they didn't have enough sense to not root for the Mets, would you consider it encouraging for your team's fortunes if they suddenly, if only for 4 to 7 games, started rooting for yours? I sure as hell wouldn’t.
My suspicious: A majority of Met fans will hope for the kind of Series where, no matter who wins, both teams end up looking bad; while a few will hold their noses and root for the Phillies simply out of loyalty to the National League. Hardly any will hold their noses and root for the Yankees simply out of love for New York.
I wonder if any Met fans will remind Phillies fans where Sylvester Stallone, the man who played Rocky Balboa, is really from.
Maybe not: Last year, it was nearly Phillies vs. Red Sox, but I don't think any Sox fans were going to remind Philadelphians where Ben Franklin really came from. After all, he got the hell out of Boston the first chance he got. Probably a bunch of drunken chavs there even in 1723! As well as provincial, parochial (in every sense of the word), self-appointed moral arbiters who would rather not pay attention to baseball at all than root for David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, Kevin Youkilis, Kevin "Who said gay was bad? I am now gay!" Millar and the 2003-05 version of Johnny Damon.
When my "worst nightmare" happened in 1986, I rooted for what was then considered a despised but honorable opponent. I rooted for the Red Sox. Look what that got anybody who chose them. Fortunately, the Mets will never win another Pennant, so I'll never have the chance to make that mistake again.
Only the Mets could make money off Bernie Madoff and not make the Playoffs with Johan Santana.
October 27, 1275: This is the traditional founding day of the city of Amsterdam, the capital and artistic center of The Netherlands. Home of lax laws regarding prostitution and drug use, Heineken and Amstel Light beers, and the mighty Amsterdamsche Football Club (AFC) Ajax (pronounced "EYE-ax"), founders of "Total Football," which has given the world Johan Cruijff (sometimes spelled "Cruyff"), Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, Louis van Gaal, Zlatan Ibrahimovich, and Arsenal stars Dennis Bergkamp, Nwankwo Kanu and Thomas Vermaelen.
October 27, 1682: This is the known-for-sure founding day of the city of Philadelphia. Home of American independence, Benjamin Franklin, the former Pennsylvania Railroad, the cheesesteak sandwich, the Number 8 pretzel, real-life heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier, cinematic heavyweight champ Rocky Balboa, the defending World Champions of baseball the Philadelphia Phillies, the NFL's Eagles, the NBA's 76ers, the NHL's Flyers, and the basketball-playing "Big 5" colleges: The University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, St. Joseph’s University, La Salle University and Villanova University.
October 27, 1858: Theodore Roosevelt is born at 28 East 20th Street in the Gramercy Park section of Manhattan. Over a century and a half later, he remains the only President to have been born in New York City – although others have, at some point or another, lived in the City: Washington, both Adamses, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Grant, Arthur, Cleveland, Hoover, FDR, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Obama.
He was a member of the boxing team at Harvard University. (Yes, colleges once had boxing teams, even the Ivies.) He loved tennis, although, knowing it was considered an elitist sport, refused to allow the press to photograph him while he played. (He warned his handpicked successor, William Howard Taft, not to let them take his picture while he played golf, another sport then considered elitist, but Taft didn't listen to him.)
Seeing a newspaper photo of a bloodied Swarthmore College player, Robert "Tiny" Maxwell, in 1905, TR called in the top football officials of the time, and told them to do something about the violence in the game, or he would act. Not knowing how far he would go, fearing he might pass a law banning the game, they formed what became the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and passed rule changes including the forward pass.
October 27, 1866: In Philadelphia‚ the Unions of Morrisania‚ with future Cincinnati Red Stockings star George Wright playing shortstop‚ upset the Athletics‚ 42-29. In other words, in late October, a baseball team from The Bronx pounds a team from Philadelphia.
October 27, 1904: The 1st Subway line opens in New York. It runs from City Hall to Grand Central Station (roughly today's 4, 5 and 6 trains), then turns onto 42nd Street (today's S, or Times Square-Grand Central Shuttle), then up Broadway to 207th Street (today's 1 train) before making one final curve into the Bronx to Bailey Street (this part is part of today's A train).
The Polo Grounds of the time, and its 1911 successor, were served by the 155th Street station that opened on this day; it is supposedly on this line in 1908 that Jack Norworth, a songwriter, saw a sign saying, "Baseball To-Day, Polo Grounds," inspiring him to write the lyrics to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."
It would be 1918 before "34th St.-Penn Station" opened to service the 1910-built Pennsylvania Station, and the successor station and the "new" Madison Square Garden built on the site; the 34th Street station on the 8th Avenue side of Penn Station opened in 1932, as did the 42nd Street station that began serving the Port Authority Bus Terminal in 1950, and the 50th Street station that served the old Garden from 1932 until its closing in 1968.
The current 4 train station at 161st Street and River Avenue opened in 1917, and began serving Yankee Stadium at its opening in 1923; the D train station there opened in 1933, probably to coincide with the opening of the nearby Bronx County Courthouse.
The Prospect Park station now used by the Q train became part of the City Subway in 1920, and was used to get to games at Ebbets Field. The station now served by the 7 train opened in 1939 for the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair, well predating the 1964-65 World's Fair and the opening of Shea Stadium and the National Tennis Center; it was named "Willets Point Blvd." from 1939 to 1964 and "Willets Point-Shea Stadium" from 1964 to 2008, it has been renamed "Mets-Willets Point," as the MTA did not want to use the name "Citi Field" due to CitiGroup's role in the 2008 financial crisis.
October 27, 1918: Teresa Wright is born. She played Eleanor Gehrig in Pride of the Yankees. She died in 2005, the last surviving major castmember of the film.
October 27, 1922: Ralph Kiner is born in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. He grew up in Alhambra, California, outside Los Angeles. From 1946 to 1952, he led the National League in home runs every year, twice topping 50 homers in a season. He was a one-dimensional player, but he was the best the Pittsburgh Pirates had. But the team wasn't doing well, on the field or at the gate, and team president Branch Rickey said, "We finished last with you, we can finish last without you," and sold him to the Chicago Cubs.
A back injury ended his career in 1955, after only 10 seasons. But in those 10 seasons, he hit 369 home runs. If it had been 20 years, double that, and it becomes 738 home runs – not as many as Hank Aaron and the cheating Barry Bonds ended up with, but more than the man who held the record then, Babe Ruth. Hall-of-Famer Warren Spahn said, "Ralph Kiner can wipe out your lead with one swing." Kiner allegedly said, "Home run hitters drive Cadillacs, singles hitters drive Fords." That line has also been attributed to Luke Appling, but he probably didn't say it, since he was a singles hitter (albeit one of the best ever).
Kiner went into broadcasting, and joined the staff of the expansion New York Mets in 1962. His postgame show Kiner's Korner did so much to teach a generation of us about the game. But Ralph's broadcasting had its moments. Remembering early Met Marv Thronberry and '73 Met George Theodore, he called Darryl Strawberry "Darryl Throneberry" and "George Strawberry." He said, "Darryl Strawberry has been voted into the Hall of Fame 5 times in a row" – he meant the All-Star Team.
He called Gary Carter "Gary Cooper." He called himself "Ralph Korner" many times. He once called his broadcasting partner "Tim McArthur." At the end of that game, Tim McCarver said, "Ralph, Douglas MacArthur said, 'Chance favors the prepared mind,' and the Mets obviously weren't prepared tonight.'" Kiner said, "He also said, 'I shall return,' and so will we, right after these messages."
Then there was, "Today is Father's Day, so for all you dads out there, Happy Birthday." Like Herb Score in Cleveland and Jerry Coleman in San Diego, he is sometimes cited as having said, "He slides into second with a standup double." But he definitely said, "Kevin McReynolds stops at third, and he scores."
Like Phil Rizzuto across town with the Yankees, he frequently called home runs that ended up off the wall or caught. My favorite is when he cued up an ad for Manufacturer's Hanover, a bank now owned by CitiGroup, by saying, "We'll be right back, after this message from Manufacturer's Hangover."
He blamed his malaprops on hanging around Casey Stengel and Yogi Berra so much in the Mets' early days. But when he did call a home run correctly, it was with a variation on the classic theme: "That ball is going, it is going, it is gone, goodbye!" And he paid one of the great tributes to a player, when he cited the fielding of the Phillies' 1970s center fielder: "Two-thirds of the Earth is covered by water. The other third is covered by Garry Maddox."
A bout with Bell's palsy a few years back left him with a noticeable speech impediment, and as he reached the age of 80, his workdays were cut back, but he still does Met games on Friday nights. As the Mets' radio booth is named for Bob Murphy, their TV booth is named for Kiner. The Pirates retired his Number 4, the Mets elected him to their team Hall of Fame, and he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. At 87, he is one of the game’s elder statesmen and most revered figures.
October 27, 1924: Ruby Dee is born. She played Rachel Robinson in The Jackie Robinson Story, while Jackie played himself. It’s a little weird that two actresses who played wives of Baseball Hall-of-Famers, in films only 8 years apart, would have the same birthday. Dee was married to Ossie Davis, who, among his own many acting achievements, did many of the voiceovers, including some concerning Jackie, for Ken Burns' Baseball.
October 27, 1939, 70 years ago today: John Cleese is born. The Monty Python performer is not an athlete? You try doing "Silly Walks" sometime. He's also narrated and starred in a documentary explaining soccer in a humourous vein. (You were expecting something completely different?)
October 27, 1945: Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva is born. President of Brazil, "Lula" will likely still be in office as his country hosts the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. (UPDATE: This turned out to be wrong.)
October 27, 1949, 60 years ago today: Marcel Cerdan is killed. The French boxer, once the welterweight champion of Europe, won the Middleweight Championship of the World by knocking out Tony Zale at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, but lost it in his 1st defense, against Jake LaMotta at Briggs Stadium (Tiger Stadium) in Detroit, as he had to drop out due to a dislocated shoulder.
He was flying from Paris to New York to prepare for his rematch with "the Raging Bull" when his plane crashed in the Azores. He was only 33. His career record was an amazing 113-4, although it should be noted that nearly all his fights were against Europeans.
In 1983, Marcel Cerdan Jr. played his father in Edith et Marcel, which told of the affair Cerdan Sr. had with the legendary French singer Edith Piaf, played by Evelyn Bouix. In 2007, Jean-Pierre Martins played him opposite Marion Cotillard in her Oscar-winning role as Piaf in La Vie en Rose.
October 27, 1955: Clark Griffith dies at the age of 85. "The Old Fox" would probably have been elected to the Hall of Fame strictly on his pitching with the Chicago White Stockings (forerunners of the Cubs), but also managed the Chicago White Sox to the 1st American League Pennant in 1901 and nearly managed the New York Highlanders (forerunners of the Yankees) to the Pennant in 1904 – in each case, while still an All-Star quality pitcher (had there been All-Star Games back then). He managed the Washington Senators, and was still pitching for them at age 45 in 1914.
He bought the Senators in 1919, and their home, National Park, was renamed Griffith Stadium. However, in a play on the phrase describing George Washington, a comedian named Charley Dryden called them, "Washington: First in war, first in peace, and last in the American League." With Walter Johnson pitching, and 26-year-old "boy manager" and 2nd baseman Bucky Harris leading the way, the Senators finally won a World Series in 1924 and another Pennant in 1925.
With yet another "boy manager," shortstop Joe Cronin – who married Griffith's adopted daughter, Mildred Robertson – they won the Pennant again in 1933. But that was it: They finished 1 game out in 1945, and no Washington team has ever come close again.
Griffith's nephew and adopted son, Calvin Griffith, took over, and said he would never move the Senators. Of course, he did. A monument to Griffith stood outside Griffith Stadium, and was moved first to Robert F. Kennedy Stadium and then to Nationals Park. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in the Pioneers & Executives category.
October 27, 1957: Glenn Hoddle is born. The midfielder starred for Tottenham Hotspur, leading them to the FA Cup in 1981 and 1982, and the UEFA Cup in 1984. He also helped AS Monaco, which is located outside of France but is a member of France's Ligue 1, to the 1988 Ligue 1 title and the 1991 Coupe de France. At the time, their manager was Arsene Wenger, who went on to manage Spurs' North London arch-rivals, Arsenal. Hoddle last played as a player-manager for the West London club Chelsea in 1995.
Wenger has said, "His control was superb and he had perfect body balance. His skill in both feet was uncanny... I couldn't understand why he hadn't been appreciated in England. Perhaps he was a star in the wrong period, years ahead of his time." Others have called him the best English player of his generation.
October 27, 1960: Trying to jump ahead of the National League‚ the American League admits Los Angeles and Minneapolis to the League with plans to have the new clubs begin competition in 1961 in the new 10-team league. Calvin Griffith is given permission to move the existing Washington Senators franchise to Minneapolis/St. Paul‚ the "Twin Cities," where he will settle the "Minnesota Twins" at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, on the Minneapolis side of the Mississippi River but equidistant from the downtowns of both cities.
An expansion team is given the Washington Senators name. (Coincidentally, the new Senators will be moved in 1972, to an existing and greatly-expanded minor-league park at point halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth, and take the name of the State instead of that of a city: The Texas Rangers.) League president Joe Cronin says the AL will play a 162-game schedule‚ with 18 games against each opponent. The NL will balk‚ saying the 2 expansions are not analogous and that the AL was not invited to move into L.A.
Also on this day, Tom Nieto is born. A backup catcher, he played in the World Series for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985 and lost. He was not listed on the World Series roster for the Minnesota Twins, but he did play for them in 1987 and won a World Series ring for them that way.
He served as a coach for both New York teams. He managed the Twins' Double-A farm team, the New Britain Rock Cats (the pro baseball team closest to Hartford, Connecticut), this past season, and in 2010 will manage their Triple-A team, the Rochester Red Wings (a longtime Baltimore Orioles affiliate).
October 27, 1965: Catcher Bob Uecker‚ 1st baseman Bill White and shortstop Dick Groat are traded by the St. Louis Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Art Mahaffey‚ outfielder Alex Johnson‚ and catcher Pat Corrales.
In his first at-bat for the Phils against the Cards, White has to hit the deck as a pitch from his former roommate, Bob Gibson, comes perilously close to his head. White would later say that Gibson’s message was clear: "We're not teammates anymore."
Uecker, as has been his custom, found humor in the trade: "I was pulled over by the police. I was fined $400. It was $100 for drunk driving, and $300 for being with the Phillies." You don't think that’s funny? Well, that's because the Phillies aren't a joke anymore.
October 27, 1972: Brad Radke is born. He pitched his entire 12-year career for the Twins, and was a member of their Playoff teams of 2002, '03, '04 and '06. He won 148 games in the majors, and earlier this year was elected to the Twins'’ Hall of Fame.
October 27, 1973: Jason Johnson is born. The pitcher has had some terrible luck: He was a member of the original 1998 Tampa Bay Devil Rays; he was traded away by the Detroit Tigers (2005-06) and the Cleveland Indians (2006-07) the seasons before each reached their next Playoff berths; he played for the Boston Red Sox in 2006, the one season between 2003 and 2009 that they did not make the Playoffs; he pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers in their NL Western Division Championship season of 2008 but did not appear in the Playoffs; and was injured throughout 2009, resulting in his release by the Yankees.
All this would be bad enough, but he is also a diabetic, and he was the first MLB player to receive permission to wear an insulin pump on the field during games. He is currently a free agent.
October 27, 1978: Sergei Samsonov is born. A longtime left wing for the Boston Bruins, he came very close to winning the Stanley Cup in 2006, when his Edmonton Oilers fell to the Carolina Hurricanes in 7 games. Now he plays for the Hurricanes.
October 27, 1984, 25 years ago today: Brady Quinn is born. The Notre Dame All-American is now the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. Or is he? It’s hard to keep track of the joke franchise that the Browns have become.
Also on this day, Kelly Osbourne is born. She is one of the 7 remaining contestants on the current season of Dancing With the Stars, but recently sprained an ankle during the competition and it is unclear whether she will be able to continue. This competition certainly involves athleticism, and has been won by Emmitt Smith and Apolo Anton Ohno (and nearly so by Jerry Rice), but Kelly is not actively involved in sports in any way.
Her father, a singer of some renown, is a big fan of Aston Villa F.C., but her brother Jack roots for arch-rival Birmingham City.
October 27, 1985: The Kansas City Royals rout the St. Louis Cardinals 11-0 in Game 7, to win their 1st World Championship and the first All-Missouri World Series since the Cardinals-Browns matchup of 1944. They become only the 6th team to rally from a 3-1 deficit and win the Series. Series MVP Bret Saberhagen pitches the shutout while Cardinals ace John Tudor allows 5 runs in 2 1/3rd innings.
The Cards are still upset over the blown call that cost them Game 6 – 24 years later, they and their fans still are – and allowed it to affect their performances and their minds for Game 7. After being lifted from the game‚ Tudor punches an electric fan in the clubhouse and severely cuts his hand. Fellow 20-game winner Joaquin Andujar is ejected for arguing balls and strikes during Kansas City's 6-run 5th inning, screaming at Don Denkinger, who blew the call at first base the night before and is now behind the plate. The Cardinals finish the WS with a .185 team batting average‚ lowest ever for a 7-game Series.
Also on this day, Billy Martin is fired by the Yankees for an unprecedented 4th time (not counting all those firings in 1977 that didn't take), and is replaced by former Yankee outfielder Lou Piniella‚ who had been the team's hitting instructor since retiring as a player in 1984.
October 27, 1989, 20 years ago today: After a 10-day delay following the Loma Prieta Earthquake, the World Series resumes at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Rescue workers from both sides of San Francisco Bay, San Francisco and Oakland, throw out ceremonial first balls. The title song from the 1936 musical film about the 1906 quake ("San Francisco, open your Golden Gate…") is sung on the field by the cast of a San Francisco-based stage drag show, Beach Blanket Babylon, and in the stands by 60,000 people.
After the events of the last 10 days, suddenly no one has the energy to make bigoted or silly remarks about gay people, drag queens and people dealing, directly or otherwise, with AIDS.
Game 3 begins, but it is over nearly as quickly as it was 10 days earlier, as the Oakland Athletics, hit 5 home runs, to beat the San Francisco Giants, 13-7. The A’s can wrap it up tomorrow.
October 27, 1991: The Minnesota Twins become World Champions with a 1-0 victory in 10 innings over the Atlanta Braves, behind Jack Morris's masterful pitching. Gene Larkin's single off Alejandro Pena scores Dan Gladden with the game's only run.
The game is the first Game 7 to go into extra innings since the Senators-Giants Series in 1924. Morris is named the Series MVP for the Twins‚ who win all 4 games in the Metrodome while losing all 3 in Atlanta. Four of the 7 games are decided on the final pitch‚ while 5 are decided by a single run‚ and 3 in extra innings. All are Series records.
Morris' 10-inning masterpiece is the last extra-inning complete game of the century. Through the 2009 season, the Twins' record in World Series play is 11-10: 11-1 at home (3-1 at Metropolitan Stadium in ’65, 4-0 at the Metrodome in ’87 and again in ’91) and 0-9 on the road.
October 27, 1999, 10 years ago today: The Yankees defeat the Braves‚ 4-1‚ to win their 25th World Championship. Roger Clemens gets the win‚ hurling 4-hit ball before leaving the game in the 8th inning, to finally get his 1st World Series ring. Mariano Rivera gets the save‚ his 2nd of the Series. Jim Leyritz hits a solo homer in the 8th, the last home run, and the last run, in baseball in the 20th Century. The last out is Keith Lockhart flying out to left field, where the ball is caught by Game 3's hero, Chad Curtis.
Rivera wins the Series MVP award. Bob Costas says it right on NBC: "The New York Yankees. World Champions. Team of the Decade. Most successful franchise of the Century."
October 27, 2001: Game 1 of the World Series, the 1t ever played in the Mountain Time Zone. The Arizona Diamondbacks pound the Yankees by a score of 9-1 behind Curt Schilling. Schilling hurls 7 innings to win his 4th game of the postseason. Craig Counsell and Luis Gonzalez homer for Arizona as Mike Mussina takes the loss.
October 27, 2002: The Angels – under any name -- win their 1st World Series ever, as they defeat the San Francisco Giants‚ 4-1‚ in Game 7. John Lackey gets the Series-clinching win, making him the 1st rookie to win Game 7 of a World Series since Babe Adams of the 1909 Pirates. Garret Anderson's bases-loaded double in the 3rd inning scores 3 runs for Anaheim. Troy Glaus is named Series MVP.
The Giants had a 5-0 lead in Game 6, and were up 5-3 and just 9 outs away from winning the Series, but they blew it. Soon, people begin to wonder if the Giants are a "cursed team." The Curse of Horace Stoneham? The Curse of Captain Eddie (Grant)? The Curse of Candlestick? The Kurse of Krukow? Who knows.
This is the 21st World Series to be played between 2 teams of the same State, the 7th from a State other than New York, and the 4th from California. In each case, it remains, through 2009, the last.
October 27, 2003: The Red Sox announce that manager Grady Little's contract will not be renewed for 2004. They also say it has nothing to do with Little's decision to stay with Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the ALCS. Readers of Jim Bouton's book Ball Four have the right words for this: "Yeah, surrrre!"
But Sox fans come up with a rather cruel joke: "What do Grady Little and Don Zimmer have in common? Neither could take out Pedro."
October 27, 2004: The Curse of the Bambino is finally broken. The Boston Red Sox win their 1st World Series in 86 years with a 3-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Memorial Stadium. Derek Lowe ends up as the winning pitcher in all three postseason series-clinchers for the Sox. Johnny Damon hits a home run for Boston. Manny Ramirez is voted Series MVP‚ as he leads Boston to the 4-game sweep with a .412 BA and 4 RBI.
A sign held aloft at the victory parade in Boston sums it all up: "Our (late) parents and g'parents thank you." So many people said, "We wanted them to win it in our lifetime, just once." Well, as Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe said, "There was no spike in the obits. We checked. All those people who said they couldn't die until the Red Sox won a World Series decided to live a little longer."
Of course, they didn't win it just once in those people's lifetimes – except for those who died between October '04 and October '07. And now that we know that the Red Sox are a bunch of lying, cheating, dirty, low-down, no-good motherfuckers, we can tell the truth: They still haven’t really won a World Series since 1918*.
So all those Sox fans who weren't old enough to suffer through Harry Frazee, Johnny Pesky, Harry Agganis, Tony Conigliaro, Larry Barnett, Bobby Sprowl, Bucky Dent, John McNamara and Bill Buckner – though most of them did get through what Nomar, Pedro and Grady put them through – and showed more bastardry in victory than their forebears ever showed in defeat can kiss my 26 rings (well, 6 in my lifetime – for the moment), and then they can kiss my Pinstriped ass.
Now, where was I?
Oh yeah. Also on this day, Paulo Sérgio Oliveira da Silva dies. Better known as Serginho, the Brazilian played for São Caetano as a defender, and was playing for his team in a Campeonato Brasileiro match against São Paulo when he suffered a fatal cardiac arrest 60 minutes into the match. A later autopsy showed Serginho's heart to weigh 600 grams, twice the size of an average human heart, causing mystery towards his real cause of death.
He had just turned 30, and his team was defending league champions. His 15-year-old son Raymundo has followed in his father's footsteps, and is currently on the books of Grêmio.
October 27, 2006: The St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Detroit Tigers, 4-2, to take the 2006 World Series. Jeff Weaver – Jeff Weaver? Are you fucking kidding me?!? – gets the win for St. Louis, who get a pair of RBIs from Series MVP (and former Trenton Thunder shortstop) David Eckstein. Sean Casey homers for Detroit.
After the 2004 Series, when the Cardinals lost to the Red Sox, Cardinal fans began to speculate about a Curse of Keith Hernandez. Hernandez had helped the Cards win the 1982 Series, but manager-GM Whitey Herzog didn't like him and traded him to the Mets in 1983. After this, the Cards reached by lost the Series in '85 (on the Don Denkinger blown call and their Game 7 11-0 meltdown) and '87, blew a 3-games-to-1 lead in the ’96 NLCS, reached the Playoffs in 2000 and ’02 but failed to win the Pennant, and looked awful in losing the ’04 Series. Someone brought up pitcher Jeff Suppan's baserunning blunder in '04, and noted that he wore Number 37, Hernandez’s number in '82. But this win, in the Cardinals' 1st season at the 3rd Busch Stadium, their 10th title, 2nd all-time behind the Yankees and 1st among NL teams, erases any possibility of a curse on them.
Also on this day, Joe Niekro dies. The longtime knuckleballer, and brother of knuckleballing Hall-of-Famer Phil Niekro, had pitched in the postseason for the Houston Astros in 1980 and '81, and finally got his ring with the '87 Twins. He won 221 games, joining with Phil to become the winningest brothers in baseball history. On May 29, 1976, he hit his only big-league home run, off Phil. He died of a brain aneurysm at age 61.
His son Lance Niekro has reached the majors, and is now a pitcher for his uncle's Atlanta Braves.
October 27, 2008: Game 5 of the World Series begins at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. The Phillies take a 2-0 lead in the 1st inning when Shane Victorino knocks in Jayson Werth and Chase Utley. Tampa Bay cuts the lead in the top of the 4th, as Carlos Peña doubles and scores on Evan Longoria's single. The Rays then tie the game in the top of the 6th when B. J. Upton scores from second base on a Peña single.
But it had already been raining all game, and as the Phillies get out of the inning, the umpires suspend the game. After the game was suspended, umpiring crew chief Tim Tschida told reporters that he and his crew ordered the players off the field because the wind and rain threatened to make the game "comical." The Phils’ Chase Utley agreed, saying that by the middle of 6th inning, "the infield was basically underwater."
Under normal conditions, games are considered to be official games after five innings, or four and a half if the home team is leading at that point. However, post-season games are operated by the Commissioner's Office, thus are subject to the Commissioner's discretion of how to handle the scheduling of the games. So, with rain for the rest of the night in the forecast for Philadelphia, and remembering the fuss made when, due to entirely different circumstances, he had declared the 2002 All-Star Game a tie after 11 innings, Commissioner Bud Selig informed both teams’ management before the game began that a team would not be allowed to clinch the Series in a rain-shortened game.
This was the 1st game in World Series history to be suspended. There had been three tied games in the history of the World Series: 1907, 1912, and 1922, all of them called due to darkness, as artificial lighting had not yet been brought to ballparks. (Not until 1949 would lights be used on a dark day for a Series game, and not until 1971 would a Series game start at night.) In general, no ties would be needed under modern rules, which provide for suspension of a tied game and resumption of it at the next possible date.
Weather has caused numerous delays and postponements in Series history (notable postponements beforehand coming in 1911, 1962, 1975, 1986, 1996 and 2006), but never any suspended games before 2008. Rain continues to fall in Philadelphia on Tuesday, further postponing the game to Wednesday, October 29.