Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October 28, 1981: A Dark and Dodger Blue Day


October 28, 1981: A dark day in my life, even darker for me than the same day in 1975. One might even say a blue day... Dodger Blue.

The L.A. Bums finally beat the Yankees in the World Series, after 2 failed attempts in 1977 and ’78. Pedro Guerrero drives in 5 runs, and Burt Hooton and the Dodgers beat the Yankees 9-2 to win the World Series in 6 games. In a remarkable postseason‚ the Dodgers came from behind to win 3 series (down 2-0 to Houston and 2-1 to Montreal in the best-of-5 NL Division Series and League Championship Series).

Guerrero‚ Ron Cey‚ and Steve Yeager (2 home runs) are named co-MVPs‚ while Dave Winfield and relief pitcher George Frazier are the goats for New York. Winfield was just 1-for-21‚ while Frazier tied a Series record by losing 3 games. The record was set by the White Sox Lefty Williams in 1919‚ but Williams‚ one of the 8 "Black Sox‚" was losing on purpose. Frazier was trying to win, and didn't.

The long-term effects on the Yankees were as follows:

* This was the last game that Reggie Jackson ever played for the Yankees, and George Steinbrenner refused to exercise the option for a 6th year on his contract, and Reggie happily accepted an offer from Gene Autry to return to the West Coast and play for the Angels.

* Winfield’s performance contrasted so much with Reggie’s Mr. October persona that George eventually nicknamed him Mr. May, never gave him the respect he deserved, and ended up chasing Dave out of town – coincidentally, also to the Angels, although Reggie was retired by that point – and getting himself in trouble with how he did it. While George gave Dave a "Day" after he was elected to the Hall of Fame, to this day, Dave's Number 31 has not been retired, along with those of his Yankee teammates Jackson (44), Ron Guidry (49) and Don Mattingly (23) and his occasional manager Billy Martin (1). Nor has he gotten a Plaque in Monument Park like those 4, and also like Goose Gossage.

* George went through various experiments in managers and styles of play (booming bats one year, speed the next, and so on) to get the Yankees back on top, but they wouldn’t reach the World Series again for 15 years, giving the new ownership of the Mets the chance to become from 1984 to 1992 what they have not been since ’92, New York’s first team.

Blowing that lead, to the evil O'Malley Bums and their fat hypocritical slob of a manager Tommy Lasorda, losing the Series at home, and when I was just 11 going on 12...

More than any other Yankee defeat, this one sticks in my craw. As bad as the 2001 and 2003 World Series losses were (I don't really remember the 1976 sweep loss); or the 1980 and 2012 ALCS sweeps or the 2010 ALCS bottle-job; or the ALDS losses of 1995, 1997, 2006 and 2011; or the 1985 and 1988 regular-season near-misses; even the 2004 ALCS collapse doesn't bother me as much as the 1981 World Series. And, unlike with the 2004 Red Sox, I can't even rationalize it away by saying the Dodgers cheated! (That I know of. There are some people who have alleged that the mound at Dodger Stadium was actually less than 60 feet 6 inches from home plate, but I don't think this was ever seriously challenged.)

Also on this day, Nathan Richard McLouth is born in Muskegon, Michigan. In 2008, the center fielder for the Atlanta Braves was named to the All-Star Team and won a Gold Glove. In 2012, he drove the Yankees crazy for the Baltimore Orioles. This year, he helped the Washington Nationals win the NL East.

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October 28, 1879: Jimmy Hallinan, a former National Association and National League shortstop born in Ireland and grown up in Chicago, dies at age 30. The official cause of death was "inflammation of the bowels." Sounds painful, but it also sounds like something that could have been treated with modern antibiotics. It's been suggested that his actual death was due to alcoholism.

In 1877, split between for the Cincinnati Red Stockings (not to be confused with the current Reds franchise) and the Chicago White Stockings (forerunners of the Cubs, not the White Sox), he batted .321. His career OPS+ was 122, meaning he was 22 percent better than the average player of his time at producing runs. But, even by the standards of the time (no gloves, a much heavier ball than in the 20th Century), he was an atrocious fielder, equally inept at shortstop, 2nd base and the outfield. Whatever his illness was, it forced him to quit baseball in 1878, and it killed him in 1879.

October 28, 1882: The Philadelphia Athletics reveal that, in the 1st season of the American Association, they reaped a $22‚000 profit‚ more than any National League team earned. This helps convince the NL that the AA is a viable league.

However, within 10 years, both the league and this version of the Philadelphia Athletics will be gone anyway. But within 12 years of that, the AA name and the A’s name will be revived (but not in the same league).

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October 28, 1904, 110 years ago: After a 4th-place finish‚ the Cleveland Blues release Bill Armour and name Nap Lajoie manager. Armour takes over the Tigers‚ where Ed Barrow and Bobby Lowe split the season‚ as Detroit falls to 7th.

But with their star 2nd baseman, one of the game’s best hitters, as manager, the Cleveland team – now nicknamed the Naps for him – becomes a contender. After he leaves in 1914, they will jump on a bandwagon, seeing the team called the Braves as World Champions, and rename themselves the Cleveland Indians.

October 13, 1913: In the only time the 2 greatest pitchers of their time face each other‚ Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson square off at South Main Park in Tulsa‚ Oklahoma. Johnson‚ backed by the Chicago White Sox‚ wins the battle‚ 6-0‚ pitching the distance‚ while Matty exits after 4 innings. Johnson strikes out 8. Tris Speaker and Buck Weaver do the hitting for the Sox‚ while Oklahoma native, Sac and Fox Indian and fan favorite Jim Thorpe has 2 hits off Johnson.

The game is delayed for nearly 2 hours when the stands collapse‚ injuring 52 people and killing a soldier. Governor R.L. Williams of Oklahoma narrowly escapes injury in the tragedy.

October 28, 1922: Willem Hendrik van Breda Kolff is born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, and grows up in neighboring Montclair. "Butch" was an original member of the New York Knicks, playing from 1946 to 1950. He coached Princeton University to the first Final Four appearance of any New Jersey school, in 1965 with future Knick star and Senator Bill Bradley.

But he’s best remembered as the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1969, who saw Wilt Chamberlain come out for an injury with 5 minutes left in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, then ask to go back in with 2 minutes left. VBK refused to let him back in, and the Lakers lost Game 7 and the World Championship to the Boston Celtics by 2 points.

He was fired soon thereafter by Laker owner Jack Kent Cooke (who later owned the Washington Redskins), and spent the rest of his career in the college ranks before dying in 2007. His son Jan van Breda Kolff was Southeastern Conference Player of the Year with Vanderbilt in 1974, played for the Nets in both New York and New Jersey, and was also a college coach, including at his alma mater.

October 28, 1926: Bowie Kent Kuhn is born in Takoma Park, Maryland, outside Washington, D.C. He was Commissioner of Baseball from 1969 to 1984 – though he often seemed like a puppet to Dodger owners Walter and later Peter O’Malley.

He frequently acted, in his own words, “to preserve the integrity of the game,” but all too often he seemed more like the lawyer he was than the fan he should have been. He was prudish, moralistic, unimaginative, and a tool of the owners. That he, and not the leader of the players’ union, Marvin Miller, is now in the Hall of Fame is deeply disturbing – but not all that surprising. Like Butch van Breda Kolff, he died in 2007.

Although he was a native of the suburbs of Washington, during his stewardship Major League Baseball left Washington for a third of a century.

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October 28, 1933: Manuel Francisco dos Santos is born in Mane, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Known as Garrincha, while not the 1st great Brazilian soccer player, he was the 1st to be widely known outside South America.

He starred for Rio club Botafogo from 1953 to 1965, and led Brazil to victory in the 1958 and 1962 World Cups, mentoring a young Pele along the way. Sadly, his drinking curtailed his health, and he died in 1983.

October 28, 1937: Leonard Randolph Wilkens is born. One of New York City’s greatest basketball players, he starred for Brooklyn’s Boys High, where he was a basketball teammate of future baseball star Tommy Davis, before moving up to New England (Seriously, Lenny?) to play for Providence College.

He played for the St. Louis Hawks in the now-Atlanta franchise’s last NBA Finals appearance in 1961, and starred for the early Seattle SuperSonics before coaching the franchise to its only NBA Title in 1979. He was a 9-time All-Star, and at his retirement had more career assists than any player except Oscar Robertson.

He’s also coached the Hawks, his hometown Knicks, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors, first coaching while still a player with the Sonics in 1969 and last (for now?) with the Knicks in 2005. He was the first NBA coach to win 1,000 games – and the first to lose 1,000. He has been surpassed by Don Nelson as the NBA's winningest coach. His final (?) coaching record is 1,332-1155, a .536 winning percentage. He coached the U.S. team to the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal.

One of the oddities of his career is that the Hawks traded him immediately before moving to Atlanta, and he resigned his executive’s position with the Sonics as they moved to become the Oklahoma City Thunder. Providence retired his Number 14, and the Sonics retired his Number 19, and in each case he was the 1st on the team to be so honored.

Along with John Wooden and Bill Sharman, he is one of just 3 people elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame as player and elected again a coach. But he tops them both, and everyone else, in a manner of speaking, by having been named, as part of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary celebrations, as one of its 50 Greatest Players and one of its 10 Greatest Coaches, the only man to receive both honors. He is now a basketball analyst for Fox Sports.

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October 28, 1944, 70 years ago: Dennis Franz Schlachta is born in Maywood, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. He served in the 82nd Airborne in Vietnam, and became an actor upon his discharge from the Army, dropping his last name.

Best known as Detective Andy Sipowicz on NYPD Blue, Dennis Franz previously starred in the original Chicago production of Bleacher Bums, a play about Cub fans, of which he is one. You wanna make somethin’ of it?

October 28, 1946: Wim Jansen is born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The midfielder played most of his soccer career with his hometown club, Feyenoord, helping them to win 4 Eredivisie (Dutch 1st division) titles, and the KNVB Beker (national cup) in 1969, having also won the League that year, therefore having done The Double. In 1970, he helped them to become the 1st Dutch team to win the European Cup, immediately preceding the 3 straight wins by their arch-rivals, Ajax Amsterdam. He also helped them win the UEFA Cup in 1974, defeating that other North London team, Tottenham Hotspur, despite the "Spurs" fans rioting in the stadium and in the streets of Rotterdam, resulting in them getting banned from European play for 2 years.

He played on the Netherlands teams that reached the Finals of the 1974 and 1978 World Cups, each time losing the Final to the host nation (Germany in 1974, Argentina in 1978). He also played in America, for the Washington Diplomats, alongside the superstar formerly of Ajax, Johan Cruyff. He returned to the Netherlands, and joined Cruyff at Ajax, winning the 1982 Eredivisie title.

He managed Feyenoord to KNVB Cups in 1991 and 1992, and, ironically, the team Feyenoord beat to win the European Cup, Glasgow club Celtic, to the Scottish title and the Scottish League Cup in 1998. He is now back at Feyenoord as an assistant coach.

October 28, 1949: William Bruce Jenner is born in Tarrytown, Westchester County, New York. Bruce won the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, becoming an international hero and the man on the Wheaties cereal box.

But these days, he’s best known as the weird, desperately trying to hang onto his youth husband of Kris Jenner and the stepfather of Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian. Recently, he and Kris split up.

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October 28, 1953: Fed up with the meddling of Brooklyn Dodger owner Walter O’Malley, Red Barber leaves the Dodgers’ broadcast booth, and signs with the crosstown Yankees. During his time in Brooklyn, O’Malley chased off Branch Rickey in 1950, Red Barber in 1953, and Jackie Robinson in 1956. And he shortchanged his players in contract negotiations.

In other words, O'Malley was already a dirty bastard, and would have remained one even if he had kept the Dodgers in Brooklyn as God intended it.

October 28, 1957: Singer Bing Crosby sells his shares of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Even he couldn’t stand all the losing anymore. In the 1951 film Road to Bali, Dorothy Lamour asked him, “Do they still have pirates in America?” He said, “Yes, but they’re in the basement.”

Strangely, the Pirates start to get a lot better after Der Bingle sells them. But the Cleveland Indians didn’t get any better after his pal Bob Hope sold his shares in them.

October 28, 1961: Ground is broken for Flushing Meadow Park, the stadium that will later bear the name of the attorney, activist and baseball fan who made it possible, William A. Shea.

October 28, 1962: The Cuban Missile Crisis is resolved as Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev announces that he has ordered the removal of Soviet missile bases in Cuba. In a secret deal between Kennedy and Khrushchev, Kennedy agrees to the withdrawal of U.S. missiles from Turkey. The fact that this deal is not made public makes it look like the Soviets have backed down.

Also on this day, Daphne Eurydice Zuniga is born in Berkeley, California, across the Bay from San Francisco, and grows up in Woodstock, Vermont. After a brief guest run on Family Ties, and appearing as the Princess Leia analogue in Mel Brooks' sci-fi spoof Spaceballs, she played Jo Reynolds on Melrose Place. She later played Victoria Davis on One Tree Hill, and her new series Hindsight will premiere next year.

October 28, 1963: James Jarrett Miller is born in Havre de Grace, Maryland, hometown of the Ripkens. He was a parachutist and paraglider pilot from Henderson, Nevada, outside Las Vegas, known for his outrageous appearances at various sporting events.

His most famous appearance was the November 6, 1993 boxing match between Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe at Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip. He used his powered paraglider to fly into the arena, eventually crashing into the ring. The fan on the device got him nicknamed Fan Man. "It was a heavyweight fight," Miller would joke later, "and I was the only guy who got knocked out."

Heart disease and mounting medical bills led him to commit suicide in 2002, and the age of 29.

October 28, 1966: Stephen Dennis Atwater is born in Chicago. The safety bridged the eras of Denver Bronco glory, playing for them in Super Bowl XXIV before appearing on the winning side in Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII, retiring after the latter. His 1990 tackle of Christian Okoye, the Kansas City Chiefs’ huge fullback known as the Nigerian Nightmare, is regarded as one of the greatest hits in NFL history.

Steve is a member of the Broncos’ Ring of Honor, but he has not yet received his rightful induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Also on this day, Paul Andrew Richter is born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was the sidekick for Conan O’Brien when he took over as host of NBC’s Late Night, and is back with Conan as the announcer for TBS' Conan. In between, he starred in the Fox sitcoms Andy Richter Controls the Universe (in which he, well, didn’t) and Quintuplets (in which he was the father of the eponymous teenagers).

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October 28, 1972: Terrell Lamar Davis is born in San Diego. One in a long line of star running backs at the University of Georgia, in Super Bowl XXXII he fought a literally blinding headache to become the only player (through SB XLVIII) to score 3 touchdowns in a Super Bowl, leading the Broncos to victory. He also starred in the Broncos’ victory the next year in Super Bowl XXXIII.

A knee injury cut his career short, and, like Atwater, he is in the Broncos’ Ring of Honor, but not yet the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

One of my favorite sports oddities is that, in calendar year 1998, the football season ended with the Broncos winning the Super Bowl, and the baseball season ended with the Yankees winning the World Series, and since the Super Bowl is always held at a neutral site, and the Yankees beat the Padres, both contests ended at Jack Murphy/Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, and each had a San Diego native who was key to the victory: The Broncos had Davis, and the Yankees had David Wells (although Wells’ lone appearance in the Series was in Game 1 at Yankee Stadium; the Yanks swept, and had it gone to a Game 5 Wells was scheduled to start in San Diego). “The Murph” is the only stadium ever to host a Super Bowl and the clinching game of a World Series in the same calendar year. The Los Angeles Coliseum, the Metrodome and the Dolphins’ current stadium have hosted both, but not in the same calendar year.

Also on this day, Brad Douglas Paisley is born in Glen Dale, West Virginia. The country singer, married to actress Kimberly Williams, had one of those songs that you figure has to got to be a parody, but it was all real: “Alcohol.”

October 28, 1974, 40 years ago: Braden LaVerne Looper is born in Weatherford, Oklahoma. Now retired, the reliever won World Series with the Florida Marlins in 2003 and the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006. In between those titles, he pitched for the Mets. He was considerably less successful with them.

Also on this day, Joaquin Rafael Bottom is born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Formerly acting under the name Leaf Phoenix and now Joaquin Phoenix, he is a member of the Phoenix acting family. He is best known for having played Emperor Commodus in Gladiator and Johnny Cash in Walk the Line. Or he was, before growing a beard and becoming a rapper, leading to him becoming an object of ridicule.

Also on this day, also in San Juan, Dayanara Torres Delgado is born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She was Miss Universe in 1993, but is best known for her marriage to singer Marc Anthony, who cheated on her interminably, and, while she was pregnant, left her for Jennifer Lopez. Look, I love J-Lo, too, but I wouldn’t leave a woman who looks like Dayanara for anyone. Not even if Catherine Zeta-Jones came up to me wearing an Obama campaign button on a Yankee cap, and nothing else.

October 28, 1975: I underwent surgery at the Hospital for Joint Diseases, then located at 123rd Street and Madison Avenue in Manhattan’s Spanish Harlem, to correct a problem in my legs that made walking difficult. The surgery was successful, to an extent, although I still have pain in my legs that sometimes makes walking a chore.

My 2 weeks in that hospital are a blur, as I was almost 6. What I do remember from the experience, I wouldn’t wish on anyone. (I've been a hospital patient on Halloween Night at age 5 and on Thanksgiving Day at 17. Halloween at 5 in a hospital is worse.)

Those 2 weeks included the Daily News' “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD” headline and the Rangers’ trade of Eddie Giacomin and his well-received return to The Garden, but I don’t remember those things happening at the time. Nor do I remember, the week before, the 1975 World Series including Carlton Fisk's "Fenway Twist."

Also on this day, Georges Carpentier dies of a heart attack in Paris at age 81. A hero who helped to save France from the invading Imperial Germans in World War I, he was Light Heavyweight Champion of the World from 1920 to 1922, beating Battling Levinsky to take the title.

But he's better known for the fights he lost. In 1921, he challenged Jack Dempsey for the heavyweight title, at a huge, 90,000-seat temporary stadium in Jersey City called “Boyle’s Thirty Acres.” Dempsey knocked him out. He lost his title to Battling Siki, a Senegalese (and thus, then, legally a fellow Frenchman) and the 1st black African to win any boxing title. He then lost to Tommy Gibbons (whom Dempsey had defended his title against), Tommy Loughran (a later light heavyweight champion) and Gene Tunney (who took the heavyweight title from Dempsey).

October 28, 1979: George Steinbrenner officially fires Billy Martin for the second time, following his barroom brawl with a man described as a “marshmallow salesman.” (It always sounded ridiculous. Was this a guy walking around yelling, like a ballpark vendor? “Marshmallows! Get yer marshmallows here!” He was probably a businessman who simply negotiated contracts to sell something in bulk, and it just happened to be marshmallows.)

Also on this day, Martin Skoula is born in Litomerice, in what is now the Czech Republic. The defenseman won a Stanley Cup with the 2001 Colorado Avalanche, and is now playing in his homeland's Extraliga.

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October 28, 1980: Alan Smith is born in Rothwell, West Yorkshire, England.  He is not to be confused with Alan “Smudger” Smith, the former striker for Arsenal and now TV soccer pundit, who was an Arsenal teammate of David O’Leary, who was this Alan Smith’s first manager, at Leeds United.

In between Leeds and Newcastle, each of which was relegated while he played for them, this Alan Smith played for Manchester United in their Premier League Championship season of 2007 -- earning the eternal hatred of Leeds fans, who despite Man U more than any other team. He now plays for Notts County.

October 28, 1982: Jeremy Allen Bonderman is born in Kennewick, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. His 1st season in the majors, at age 20, was with the 2003 Detroit Tigers, a horrible team, and he was 6-19 before being benched for the final week of the season, in order to avoid becoming the 1st pitcher since Brian Kingman of the ’80 A’s – but this same courtesy was not extended to his Tiger teammate, Mike Maroth, who went 9-21.

But while Maroth dealt with injury issues that kept him off the 2006 postseason roster (he's now a coach in their minor league system), Bonderman bounced back, helping the Tigers win the Pennant. But he was injured for nearly all of the 2008 and 2009 seasons, and all of the 2011 and 2012 seasons. After being released by the Tigers, he started 2013 with the Mariners, and the Tigers were impressed enough to reacquire him. But he didn't pitch for them in the postseason, and was released again. He did not pitch in 2014, and it looks like his career is over at just 32.

October 28, 1983: Jarrett Matthew Jack is born in Fort Washington, Maryland. The guard helped get Georgia Tech into the 2004 National Championship game, and now plays for the Brooklyn Nets. Only twice has he made the Playoffs, with the New Orleans Hornetsin 2011 and the Golden State Warriors in 2013.

October 28, 1984, 30 years ago: Obafemi Akinwumi Martins is born in Lagos, Nigeria. The striker played for Internazionale Milan in their 2006 “Double” season, and starred for Newcastle United. Twice, he bedeviled Arsenal: With a Champions League goal for Inter when he was not quite 19, followed by celebrating by doing handsprings; and with the winning goal for Birmingham City following a defensive miscue in the 2011 League Cup Final.

He now plays for the Seattle Sounders, and helped them to win this year's U.S. Open Cup (American version of the FA Cup) and Supporters' Shield (regular-season champions).

October 28, 1989, 25 years ago: The Oakland Athletics take an 8-0 lead, and beat the San Francisco Giants 9-6 at Candlestick Park, to complete a 4-game sweep of the Bay Bridge World Series‚ the first Series sweep since 1976. Oakland native Dave Stewart‚ who won Games 1 and 3‚ is named MVP. However, with the Loma Prieta Earthquake only 11 days prior, it may be the most subdued World Series celebration ever.

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October 28, 1995: In a pitcher's duel‚ the Braves win Game 6 of the Series‚ 1-0‚ on a combined 1-hitter by Tom Glavine and Mark Wohlers. David Justice's 6th-inning homer accounts for the game's only run.

In winning‚ the Braves become the 1st team to win World Championships representing three different cities: Boston in 1914‚ Milwaukee in 1957‚ and Atlanta in 1995. Catcher Tony Pena's leadoff single in the 6th is Cleveland's only hit. The Indians, who led the majors in homers and runs scored‚ bat just .179‚ the lowest average for a 6-games series since 1911.

October 28, 2000: Andujar Cedeno dies in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic. He was 31, and the shortstop had been playing in the Dominican league. Previously, he had played in the majors, including for the Houston Astros, who previously had pitcher Joaquin Andujar and center fielder Cesar Cedeno – both with nasty tempers, unlike Andujar Cedeno, but also considerably more talented.

October 28, 2001: The Arizona Diamondbacks jump out to a 2-0 Series lead on the Yankees, as Randy Johnson hurls a 3-hit shutout. Matt Williams hits a 3-run homer for the Diamondbacks. Andy Pettitte takes the loss for New York. This makes Williams the 1st player to hit Series home runs for 3 different teams, having also done so for the 1989 Giants and the 1997 Indians. (He would later confess to having used steroids.)

Also on this day, Commissioner Bud Selig says it is possible that 2 major league teams could be eliminated by the start of next season. The Montreal Expos‚ Florida Marlins‚ Minnesota Twins‚ and Tampa Bay Devil Rays are the teams mentioned as most likely to be eliminated.

The ensuing furor results in a 2002 collective bargaining agreement that leaves all 30 current teams in place, although the Expos will be moved to Washington after the 2004 season. Since then, the Marlins won the 2003 World Series, the Rays have made the Playoffs 4 times including winning the 2008 AL Pennant, the Twins have won 6 AL Central titles, and the Nationals have won 2 NL East titles. Looks like Bud was looking at the wrong teams.

October 28, 2002: The Mets name former Houston Astros 2nd baseman, and former Oakland Athletics manager, Art Howe as their new skipper. Howe had just led the A’s to their 3rd straight Playoff berth. His tenure in Flushing will be significantly less successful.

October 28, 2005: Bob Broeg dies at age 87. The longtime baseball writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was elected to the sportswriters’ wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and later sat on its board of directors and on its Veterans’ Committee.

Hearing Brooklyn Dodger fans, with their 1940s rivalry with the Cardinals, say of Stan Musial, noted for hitting the Dodgers hard, “Uh-oh, dat man is back in town,” he started calling him “Stan the Man” in his columns, and the name stuck. I’d like to know who gave 1970s Baltimore Oriole pitcher Don Stanhouse the oh-so-appropriate nickname “Stan the Man Unusual.”

October 28, 2006: Arnold Jacob Auerbach dies at age 89, and finds out that, in Heaven, you can eat all the Chinese food you want, and not have to worry about calories, cholesterol, or monosodium glutamate. As the leading figure in the history of professional basketball, he rarely had to worry about the other MSG, Madison Square Garden.

A native of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, “Red” Auerbach starred in basketball at Eastern District High School, before moving on to George Washington University in Washington, D.C., later coaching in that city at the high school, college and professional levels, taking the Washington Capitols to the NBA Finals in 1949. When they didn’t reach the Finals the next season, owner Mike Uline fired him. Within another year, the Caps folded, and the NBA would not return to the D.C. area until 1973. Still, Red would live in Washington for the rest of his life.

He would, of course, go on to become the head coach, general manager, and eventually president of the Boston Celtics, leading them to 9 NBA Championships as coach and 16 while he was involved with them. While still running the team, in 1985, a statue of him, on a bench, with a basketball by his side and a trademark “victory cigar” in his hand, was dedicated at Boston’s Quincy Market. The accompanying plaque says he won 15 Championships. The 16th came a year later. Rubbing the statue’s bald head is said to be good luck. I have a picture of the statue wearing one of my Yankee caps. I’m a wiseass, but then, so was Red.

When Celtics founder Walter Brown died, leaving Red in charge of the franchise, Red ordered the Number 1 retired for Brown. At the time of the statue’s dedication, the Celtics held an old-timers’ game, with Red coaching a team in green Celtic road jerseys and his star pupil and successor as head coach Bill Russell coaching a team in white Celtic home jerseys – Red’s team won of course – and the Number 2 was retired for Red, even though, like Brown, he never played for the team.

Also on this day, Trevor Berbick is killed. The Jamaican boxer, the last man to fight Muhammad Ali, knocked out Pinklon Thomas to win the WBC version of the heavyweight title in 1986, but lost it later that year when Mike Tyson knocked him out. Brain damage from boxing left him impaired, and though he became a minister, he was murdered inside his church in Kingston, Jamaica, by his own nephew and an accomplice. He was just 51.

October 28, 2007: The Boston Red Sox hold off a late comeback by the Colorado Rockies, and win Game 4, 4-3, to sweep the World Series. After 86 years of never winning a Series, the Sox now have 2 in the last 4 years, 7 total. When Boston Globe columnist, now WEEI radio show host, Michael Holley writes a book about this group of Red Sox, and titles it Red Sox Rule, many people fume over the the wording, but, for now, few can put up much of a complaint about its essential truth.

Also on this day, sports agent Scott Boras announces that his client, Alex Rodriguez, has exercised the opt-out clause in his contract with the Yankees, and will become a free agent. Both A-Rod and Bore-Ass are criticized as classless for making the announcement during a World Series game -- the deadline was not for another few days -- and for looking like a couple of greedy bastards who didn't give a damn about the player's team.

The Yankees would, essentially, tell A-Rod, "You don't want to sign with us? Good luck getting anybody else to pay you what you want." Essentially, he came back groveling -- and the Yankees paid him more anyway! It was worth it, though: They would not have won the 2009 World Series without him.

Also on this day, Porter Wagoner dies. The country singer known as “Mr. Grand Ole Opry,” who discovered and did many fine duets with Dolly Parton, was 80. He had the 1st hit version of “The Green, Green Grass of Home.” Clearly, the inventor of artificial turf wasn’t listening.

October 28, 2009: For the 1st time, a World Series game is played at the new Yankee Stadium. However, as with the 1st at the old Stadium in 1923, and the 1st after that Stadium's reopening following the renovation in 1976, the home team loses. Chase Utley hits 2 homers off CC Sabathia, and Cliff Lee pitches lights-out, and the Phillies beat the Yankees 6-1.

October 28, 2011: Game 7 of the World Series. After being down by 10 1/2 games on August 25 for the NL Central Division lead, the Cardinals beat the Texas Rangers at Busch Stadium 6-2, to win their 11th World Championship, easily the most of any NL team. (Next best is the Giants with 7, although only 2 of those were in San Francisco; if we're talking about the most in 1 city, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds are next with 5.)

David Freese, the 9th and 11th inning hero of the night before, gets his 21st RBI of the postseason, setting a new record. (Keeping in mind there was no Division Series before 1995, and no League Championship Series before 1969.) He is named Series MVP.

The Rangers were 1 strike away from winning the World Series in both the 9th and 10th innings of Game 6. They had already clowned their way to a World Series defeat in 2010, and have since choked away an AL West title and the Wild Card play-in game in 2012, and fell apart in 2013. It doesn't look like they're going to win the 1st World Series in franchise history anytime soon.

October 28, 2013: Game 5 of the World Series. David Ortiz ties Billy Hatcher's 1990 World Series record, reaching base in his 9th consecutive plate appearance, with a 4th-inning single to extend the streak that began in Game 3. Of course, Hatcher didn't need to use steroids to set his record. The Red Sox win, 3-1, behind a strong pitching effort from Jon Lester, and need just 1 more win to take the Series.

2 comments:

Bryan Coonfield said...

Your characterization of Kennewick WA as a suburb of Seattle is inaccurate. Kennewick is about 200 miles away from Seattle on the opposite side of the state. It's a common mistake.

Bryan Coonfield
Kennewick WA

dukhomia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.