Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The End of the Mattingly Era? In 2014, Not In L.A.; In 1995, Yes In N.Y.C.


October 8, 1995: If you’re a Yankee Fan, as I am, this one still rankles. Thanks to a 2-run double off Jack McDowell by Edgar Martinez, the Mariners become only the 4th team in major league history to overcome a 2-game deficit to win a 5-game series when they dramatically come from behind to beat the Yankees in 11 innings, 6-5.

This, of course, will be the last game as Yankee manager for Buck Showalter, mainly because he let starting pitcher David Cone throw 147 pitches, rather than trust a reliever warming up, a young Panamanian named Mariano Rivera. It was also the last game as a major league player for Don Mattingly. George Steinbrenner will hire Joe Torre as manager, and Bob Watson as general manager, who will make the trades to bring Mariners Tino Martinez and Jeff Nelson, and Colorado Rockies catcher Joe Girardi, to New York. The Last Baseball Dynasty is about to begin.

But by winning this series, the Mariners save Major League Baseball in the Pacific Northwest. A ballot measure to fund the building of a new ballpark passes, and Safeco Field opens in 1999. If the Yankees had won, today, the Mariners would likely be in Tampa Bay. At least, with the area’s nautical tradition, they wouldn’t have to change their name.

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Yesterday, the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Los Angeles Dodgers to advance to the National League Championship Series. Don Mattingly is the Dodgers' manager today. For how much longer? Does Dodger owner, and former Laker legend, Earvin "Magic" Johnson still believe in "Donnie Baseball"? Or has he figured out that Mattingly is merely "Donnie Regular Season Baseball"?

I don't think Magic will fire Don. He still thinks he's got the best team in baseball and a good manager. Begging the question, how did Magic make all that money? Or is baseball simply a blind spot for him?

Let's see... 14 seasons as a Yankee player, 4 seasons as a Yankee coach, 3 seasons as a Dodger coach, 4 seasons as Dodger manager. That makes 25 seasons in a major league uniform for Don Mattingly. Pennants won: Exactly none.

Can you now take my assertions of "The Curse of Donnie Baseball" seriously?

As for Buck Showalter, he became the manager of the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks, and got them into the 1999 Playoffs, but was fired after 2000 -- and then they won the 2001 World Series. So, again a team won it all the year after they fired him.

Today, William Nathaniel Showalter III manages the Baltimore Orioles, and he has them in the ALCS. This is the 1st time he has managed a team into a League Championship Series. He's there; Mattingly isn't.

If Buck can win a Pennant (and he's 4 wins away), why can't Donnie?

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October 8, 1871: The Great Chicago Fire burns down about 2/3 of the city, including the Union Base-Ball Grounds, home of the Chicago White Stockings of the National Association.  The White Stockings are forced to play the rest of the season on the road in borrowed uniforms.  This likely costs them the first Pennant of a baseball league that could be (but, in retrospect, is not always) called “major league.”

October 8, 1887: The New York Metropolitans' franchise and player contracts are sold to American Association rival Brooklyn for $15‚000. Purchaser Charles Byrne has the Mets play today's game in Brooklyn's Washington Park‚ where the hapless Indians lose to the Orioles 10-0. Thus endeth "the original New York Mets."

October 8, 1894: The New York Giants, 2nd-place finishers in the National League, whip the NL regular season champion Baltimore Orioles 16-3, to sweep the best-of-7 Temple Cup series. However, the Giants never claimed this as a "World Championship," the way they did the 1904 season when they refused to play at World Series against the Boston Americans (Red Sox). The plaque that currently stands at the Polo Grounds Towers claims World Championships of 1904, 1905, 1921, 1922, 1933 and 1954 for the Giants.

I have often wondered how much more regarded the trophy for baseball's championship would be regarded if it were an old trophy, like the 1893-established Stanley Cup, as opposed to the Commissioner's Trophy, established only in 1967. Alas, the Temple Cup was discontinued after the 1897 season.

October 8, 1895: The Cleveland Spiders take the Temple Cup by beating the Baltimore Orioles for the 4th time in 5 games. The lack of respect accorded the Cup is reflected in the "very cold reception" Cleveland receives after returning from Baltimore the next day.

October 8, 1896: The Baltimore Orioles complete a 4-game sweep of the Cleveland Spiders to win the Temple Cup. They have won the last 3 National League Pennants. It will be 70 years before another Baltimore team wins a major league Pennant.

Of those legendary, wild, mischievous, unethical yet brilliant 1890s Orioles, keeping in mind the state of medicine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with no antibiotics: Pitcher Bill Hawke only lived until 1902, infielder Frank Bonner died in 1905, catcher Frank Bowerman in 1909, pitchers Charles “Duke” Esper and William “Jack” Horner in 1910, pitcher Arthur Hamilton “Dad” Clarkson in 1911, 2nd baseman Heinie Reitz in 1914, 3rd baseman Jim Donnelly in 1915, 1st baseman George “Scoops” Carey in 1916, right fielder Willie Keeler in 1923, infielder Bill “Wagon Tongue” Keister (no doubt his name made him the butt of a few jokes) in 1924, pitcher-outfielder Kirtley Baker in 1927, shortstop Hughie Jennings in 1928, pitcher Bill Kissinger in 1929, pitchers George Hemming and Erasmus Arlington “Arlie” Pond in 1930, 1st baseman Dan Brouthers in 1932, 2nd baseman William “Kid” Gleason and pitcher Otis Stockdale in 1933, 3rd baseman John McGraw and catcher Wilbert Robinson in 1934, center fielder Steve Brodie in 1935, manager Ned Hanlon and pitcher Jerry Nops in 1937, infielder Joe Quinn in 1940, pitcher Bert Inks in 1941, left fielder Joe Kelley in 1943, pitcher Tony Mullane in 1944, pitcher Joe Corbett in 1945, pitcher Richard “Stub” Brown in 1948, pitcher John Joseph “Sadie” McMahon in 1954, 1st baseman John Joseph “Dirty Jack” Doyle (the only Ireland-born player on a team loaded with Irish-Americans) in 1958, and catcher-1st baseman William Jones “Boileryard” Clarke and pitcher Bill Hoffer lived on until 1959. Hoffer died at age 88 on July 21, and Clarke 8 days later at 90, making him the last survivor.

To show you just how smart this team was: Between them, McGraw (1904-05-11-12-13-17-21-22-23-24 New York Giants), Jennings (1907-08-09 Detroit Tigers), Robinson (1916 & ’20 Brooklyn Dodgers) and Gleason (1919 Chicago White Sox) would manage teams to 16 Pennants — but win only 3 World Series.

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October 8, 1908: In a make-up game necessitated by 19-year-old 1st baseman Fred Merkle’s baserunning “boner” on September 23, Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown outduels Christy Mathewson, 4-2, as the Cubs win the National League Pennant by one game over the Giants in one of the most dramatic Pennant races of all time.

Officially, the Polo Grounds was full to about 40,000 people. Unofficially, reports have suggested anywhere from 80,000 to 250,000 outside. This could very well have been the most people that ever showed up for a baseball game, regardless of whether they got in or not.

Merkle, as it turned out, outlived every Cub who played in the game, slightly surviving Cub right fielder Jimmy Slagle, both dying in 1956. The last survivor from either the September 23 or the October 8 game was Giant shortstop Al Bridwell, who lasted until 1969, and, as the last survivor, was interviewed about it by Giant fan Lawrence S. Ritter for his 1966 book of baseball interviews The Glory of Their Times. He got the hit that would have scored the run in the September 23 game, had Merkle actually touched second, and, for all the grief it brought Merkle, told Ritter he wished he’d never gotten that hit.

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October 8, 1919: Game 7 of the World Series at Redland Field (Crosley Field). The Chicago White Sox are playing like they mean it. The supposedly tainted Shoeless Joe Jackson and Happy Felsch each drive in 2 runs, and the supposedly tainted Eddie Cicotte pitches well. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Reds make 4 errors. The White Sox win, 4-1, and close to within 4 games to 3 in this best-5-out-of-9 series.

All the White Sox need to do now is win the next 2, both at Comiskey Park. Is this thing on the level after all? Or have the guilty Sox players abandoned the fix? Or... are the Reds now on the take, too?

October 8, 1922: This one worked about a lot better for the Giants. Behind Art Nehf’s complete game 5-hitter, they repeat as World Champions, sweeping the Yankees in five games, including one tie. The comeback 5-3 victory is fueled by George “Highpockets” Kelly’s RBI single during the 3-run 8th inning at the Polo Grounds.

October 8, 1927: The 1927 Yankees, considered one of the best teams in baseball history, live up to their reputation as they beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-3, to sweep the World Series in 4 straight.

But this Game 4 concludes in an unusual fashion: In the bottom of the 9th, with the score tied, Pirate pitcher Johnny Miljus loads the bases with no out. He begins to work out of it, striking out Lou Gehrig swinging and Bob Meusel looking. Facing Tony Lazzeri with two outs and an 0-1 count, Miljus uncorks a wild pitch, and Earle Combs races home with the winning run, to give the Bronx Bombers the sweep and their 2nd World Championship.

This is the only time the winning run of a World Series has scored on a wild pitch. Flip the last 2 digits, and in 1972 the Pirates became the first (and still only) team to lose a League Championship Series on a wild pitch, by Bob Moose against the Cincinnati Reds.

October 8, 1929: In front of 50,000 fans at Wrigley Field -- which now holds only about 40,000 -- Philadelphia Athletics owner-manager Connie Mack fools everyone before Game 1 of the World Series, starting neither of his big fireballers, lefthander Robert “Lefty” Grove or righthander George Earnshaw.

He gambles that the sidearm slow stuff of former Red Sox star Howard Ehmke (the visiting starter for the Red Sox in the 1st game at the original Yankee Stadium) might frustrate the Cubs’ big sluggers such as Rogers Hornsby, Hack Wilson and Riggs Stephenson.

Mack’s gamble pays off, as Ehmke establishes a new World Series record, striking out 13 Cubs, en route to a 3-1 A’s victory in Game 1 of the Fall Classic. The mark will last for 34 years until Dodger hurler Carl Erskine fans 14 Yankees in 1953. The Cubs never recover, and the A’s win the Series in 5.

October 8, 1930: The A’s beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 7-1 in Game 6, George Earnshaw outpitching Bill Hallahan thanks to home runs by Al Simmons and Jimmy Dykes. The A’s take their 2nd straight World Series. They have now won 5, all in a span of 21 years. It will be 42 years, and two franchise moves, before they win another.

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October 8, 1939, 75 years ago: Game 4 of the World Series. In the top of the 10th, Yankee outfielder Joe DiMaggio scores all the way from 1st base when Reds’ catcher Ernie Lombardi lays in a daze at home plate after Charlie “King Kong” Keller crashes into him. The prudish press of the day says that Lombardi “swooned” or “snoozed” at the plate, but, in reality, Keller had inadvertently kneed him in the groin.

The Yankees win, 7-4, to complete the World Series sweep and become the first club to win 4 consecutive Fall Classics. It is their 8th World Championship overall.

October 8, 1940: With the Reds’ 2-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers in Game 7 of the Fall Classic, Bill McKechnie becomes the first manager to win a World Series with 2 different teams. The Deacon also piloted the Pirates to a World Championship, beating Washington in 7 games in the 1925 Fall Classic.

With Lombardi injured down the stretch and backup catcher Willard Hershberger becoming (as far as can be proven) the only big-leaguer ever to commit suicide during the season (slashing his throat in a Boston hotel room during a roadtrip), 40-year-old coach Jimmie Wilson was signed to a playing contract, and was one of the factors in this World Series -- as was an injury to Tiger star Hank Greenberg. The Tigers would win the Series again 5 years later; the Reds would need another 35 years.

October 8, 1945: Game 6 of the World Series. Stan Hack's double takes a tricky bounce over left fielder Hank Greenberg's shoulder with 2 outs in the 12th inning to give the Cubs an 8-7 win. Hack has 4 hits‚ 3 RBIs‚ and reaches base 6 times. Hank Borowy, a Bloomfield, New Jersey native who had pitched in the 1943 Series with the Yankees, pitches 4 scoreless innings in relief.

The Series is now tied at 3 games apiece. Greenberg does hit a home run in the 8th, one of 13 hits for Detroit. Chicago counters with 15.

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October 8, 1958: Game 7 of the World Series. After being down 3 games to 1, the Yankees beat the Milwaukee Braves 6-2. Bill "Moose" Skowron's 3-run homer off Lew Burdette, last year's Series nemesis, in the 8th puts the game on ice 6-2. Eddie Mathews strikes out for the 11th time‚ a record that will stand until 1980 when broken by Willie Wilson of the Kansas City Royals. The Braves' 53 strikeouts are also a new Series record.

Bob Turley, about to become the Yankees' 1st Cy Young Award winner, wins his 3rd game of the Series, and Mickey Mantle catches the final out. This is Casey Stengel's 7th World Championship‚ tying him with Joe McCarthy for the most Series won. It's also the 1st Series whose official highlight film is in color.

October 8, 1959: In Game 6, the Los Angeles Dodgers defeat the “Go-Go White Sox,” 9-3 at Comiskey Park, to win the World Series. Chicago’s speed and quickness weren’t enough to overcome Los Angeles’ hitting and pitching. This was the 1st World Championship won by any team playing their home games west of St. Louis. It would also be the last World Series game played in Chicago for 46 years.

Dodger players still alive from this World Series, 55 years later: Sandy Koufax, Maury Willis, Roger Craig, Stan Williams, Chuck Essegian, Ron Fairly, Wally Moon, Joe Pignatano, Don Demeter and Chuck Churn.  White Sox still alive are: Luis Aparicio, Billy Pierce, Jim Landis, Jim Rivera, Brooklyn native pitcher Omar “Turk” Lown, Hoboken native catcher Johnny Romano, Sammy Esposito and Jim McAnany.

October 8, 1961: In Game 4 at Crosley Field, Whitey Ford blanks the Reds for 5 innings to extend his World Series consecutive scoreless inning streak to 32, breaking Red Sox hurler (and future Yankee slugger) Babe Ruth’s previous record of 29 2/3 innings. Hector Lopez and Clete Boyer provide the offense, driving in 2 runs each in the Yankee 6-0 victory.

Before the game, Ford was asked if he was excited about breaking the record. Not only did he say he didn’t know he was approaching a record, he said he didn’t know Babe Ruth had ever been a pitcher. At least the New York native Ford knew Ruth was a real person: Don Mattingly once admitted that, growing up in Indiana, he thought Babe Ruth was a cartoon character. Actually, some of the Babe’s activities do seem a bit fanciful, even cartoonish.

October 8, 1964, 50 years ago: Game 2 of the World Series. Rookie Mel Stottlemyre is equal to the task of opposing the Cardinals' All-Star Bob Gibson, and the Yankees score 4 runs in the 9th after Gibson is removed for a pinch-hitter. The Bronx Bombers win 8-3, and take a 1-1 Series tie back to New York.

October 8, 1966: The 1st World Series game played in the State of Maryland -- indeed, the 1st non-exhibition postseason game played in that State since that Temple Cup of 70 years earlier -- is Game 3 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, and the host Orioles continue their shocking upset of the defending World Champion Dodgers, beating them 1-0. Wally Bunker pitches a shutout.

October 8, 1967: Game 4 of the World Series. Bob Gibson is overpowering again in a 5-hit 6-0 win for the Cardinals over the Red Sox. Roger Maris and Tim McCarver each have 2 RBI for St. Louis.

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October 8, 1972: Game 2 of the American League Championship Series. Bert Campaneris of the Oakland Athletics leads off the bottom of the 1st at the Oakland Coliseum with a single, steals 2nd and 3rd bases, and scores on a single. Campaneris would end up getting 3 hits on the day against the Detroit Tigers.

In the 7th, Tiger reliever Lerrin LaGrow -- possibly at the urging of manager Billy Martin, who frequently encouraged such behavior -- purposely hit Campaneris with a pitch, on the ankle. Campaneris responded by throwing his bat at LaGrow, who just barely ducked in time to avoid getting hit with it. There was a bench-clearing brawl, and Martin had to be restrained from going after Campaneris. Both Campaneris and LaGrow were suspended for the rest of the series. The A’s won the game, 5-0, and took a 2-games-to-0 lead in the series. But the Tigers would fight back in Detroit to force a 5th and deciding game.

Years later, for work, I had to contact a Phoenix-area real estate office. Turned out, it was run by LaGrow. Now, I don’t condone what Campaneris did, but I will say that, 35 years later, LaGrow wasn’t any nicer.

October 8, 1973: A year to the day after the LaGrow-Campaneris incident, another Playoff brawl, this time in the National League Championship Series. The Mets beat the Reds 9-2 in Game 3, in a game that should have been remembered for Rusty Staub hitting home runs in the 1st and 2nd innings. Instead, it is remembered for 5-foot-11, 200-pound Pete Rose breaking up a double play by crashing into 5-foot-11, 140-pound Bud Harrelson.

With the fight broken up, Rose returns to his position in left field, where Met fans (understandably, but they were hardly justified) start throwing things at him. Reds manager Sparky Anderson takes his team off the field, fearing for their safety.

The umpires get a message to the Shea Stadium public address announcer, who announces that if the throwing doesn’t stop, the game will be forfeited -- remember, the series is tied 1-1 and the Mets, barring a total (or even, dare I say it, Metlike) collapse, have this game won and need only 1 more win for the Pennant.

Desperate, Met manager Yogi Berra takes Tom Seaver and Willie Mays out there, and the 3 of them plead for peace. Listening to the 3 legends, the fans stop, and the Mets finish off the win.

The next day, with a banner hanging from Shea’s upper deck reading, “A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME STILL STINKS” -- I guess they weren’t willing to say “Sucks” in 1973 -- Rose will make his point by winning the game and tying up the series with an extra-inning home run. But the Mets will win Game 5 and the Pennant.

October 8, 1977: Game 4 of the ALCS. Mickey Rivers collects 4 hits as the Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals 6-4, and send the series to a decisive Game 5. Manager Billy Martin, in desperation, and much to owner George Steinbrenner's dismay, used relief ace Sparky Lyle for 5 2/3 innings -- all scoreless. Can Sparky have anything left for tomorrow night? And can the not-at-all-hitting Reggie Jackson snap out of it, and live up to his big-game reputation?

On the same day, the Dodgers clinch the NL flag with a 4-1 win in front of an LCS-record crowd of 64‚924 at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. Dusty Baker hits a 2-run homer and scores twice as Tommy John goes the distance. Phillies fans are stunned, sure that they had the best team in baseball. Instead, the Dodgers will take on the Yanks-Royals winner for the World Championship.

October 8, 1978: Jim Gilliam, former 2nd baseman and now 1st base coach for the Dodgers, dies of complications of a brain hemorrhage that he suffered on September 15. ”Junior” was just short of his 50th Birthday.

He had helped the Brooklyn Dodgers win Pennants in 1953, 1955 and 1956, winning the World Series in 1955. He continued to play for them in Los Angeles, winning the World Series again in 1959, 1963 and 1965, before losing the 1966 World Series. He was then named a coach, following Buck O’Neil of the Cubs as the 2nd black coach in the major leagues.

For the rest of the postseason, the Dodgers will wear Number 19 patches on their sleeves, retire the number, and dedicate the 1978 World Series to his memory.

October 8, 1982: The New Jersey Devils get their first win, a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers. It will be a while, though, before the Devils can legitimately claim to again be better than the Rangers.

October 8, 1983: In front of 64,494 fans at Veterans Stadium, the Philadelphia Phillies do something they had only done 3 times before in their first 100 years of play: Win a Pennant. They win the NLCS behind the pitching of Steve Carlton and the power of Gary Matthews’ 3-run homer, beating the Dodgers 7-2.

This win gives them some measure of revenge, having lost to the Dodgers in 1977 (this is the anniversary of that loss, with “Black Friday” happening the day before) and 1978. They will also beat the Dodgers in the NLCS in 2008 and 2009.

October 8, 1986: The Mets’ “inevitable” World Championship suddenly becomes quite evitable. Houston Astros’ hurler Mike Scott -- a mediocre pitcher when the Mets got rid of him -- throws a 5-hitter and ties a Playoff record with 14 strikeouts as Houston beats the Mets, 1-0 in Game 1 of the NLCS at the Astrodome. A Glenn Davis home run off Dwight Gooden accounts for the contest’s lone run.

October 8, 1988: Game 3 of the NLCS. Dodger reliever Jay Howell is ejected in the 8th inning for having pine tar on his glove‚ and the Mets go on to score 5 times in the inning on the way to an 8-4 win. Howell will be suspended for 3 games by the NL, but it will be reduced to two games on appeal.

Game 3 is also played in the ALCS. Down 5-0‚ the A's hit 4 homers to beat the Red Sox 10-6, and are 1 win away from a sweep.

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October 8, 2000: The Mets win a postseason series. Stop laughing.

At Shea Stadium, the Mets blank the Giants, 4-0, to win the NLDS in 4 games. Bobby Jones, who was sent to the minors earlier in the season to work on his mechanics, retires the side in order 8 of the 9 innings, allowing only a 5th-inning double to Jeff Kent. It is only the 6th complete-game 1-hitter in postseason history.

October 8, 2004: The Red Sox complete a 3-game ALDS sweep of the Oakland Athletics, 8-6, as David Ortiz takes Francisco Rodriguez deep in the 10th inning. (Cough-steroids-cough) The Sox will try to get revenge over the Yankees not just for last season's ALCS, but for 86 years of frustration.

October 8, 2007: And so it came to pass that, 12 years to the day after the Buck Showalter era ended, so did the Joe Torre era. A 6-4 defeat to the Cleveland Indians in Game 4 of the ALDS at Yankee Stadium proves to be Torre’s final game with the Yankees.

The veteran skipper, who during his 12-year tenure with the Bronx Bombers saw the team win 1,173 games and make the postseason every year, will later reject a $5 million, 1-year contract to return as manager, a deal many believe to be structured to oust the popular pilot without upsetting the fans.
This was also the final postseason game at the original Yankee Stadium, ending not with a bang, or with a whimper, but a few grumbles.

1 comment:

Jonah Falcon said...

How did Mattingly do in the 1995 ALDS? Get back to me.