Friday, September 30, 2016

The Yankees Did NOT Need to Rebuild. They Do Now.

Last night, the Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 5-1 at Yankee Stadium II, clinching a series sweep, highlighted by the previous night's walkoff grand slam by the retiring Mark Teixeira.

It was the big 1st baseman's 206th "Teix Message" as a Yankee, and the 409th and probably last home run of a pretty good career, that includes 3 All-Star Games, 5 Gold Gloves, 6 postseason appearances, and the 2009 season in which he won the American League home run and RBI titles and the World Championship.

But the Baltimore Orioles also won, eliminating the Yankees from postseason competition.

The biggest deal of all last night, in the long run, was that this was the last time the big fat lying cheating bastard, David Ortiz, will ever play against the Yankees. He went 0-for-10 in this series. Would that he had gone 0-for-10 at any point in the 2004 American League Championship Series.

No player, not even his former Boston teammates Curt Schilling or Manny Ramirez, is more identified with beating the Yankees. And the North American sports establishment remains in operation of the Yankee Doodle Double Standard: They treat someone they know is corrupt like Donald Trump, a quirky entertainer who "knows how to win" and, with his Boston teammates, "made baseball great again"; while treating the Yankees the way the national media treats Hillary Clinton, as if every accusation, no matter how ridiculous, is absolutely true.

David Cone (who did pitch in Boston in 2001, but before Ortiz got there in 2003) and former teammate Jacoby Ellsbury gave him a leather-bound "book of farewells." Mariano Rivera gave him a painting of the new Yankee Stadium. (Not his own work. He only painted corners of the strike zone.)

What kind of tribute would I have given Ortiz? I would have had every Yankee Fan in The Stadium wait for him to be introduced, then get up, and turn their backs on him. Then, when he began to speak, get up and go to the bathroom, because his public statements thus far have been full of shit.

*

With 3 games left in the regular season, home to the Orioles, the Yankees are 9 games behind the Red Sox in the American League Eastern Division, which the Sox clinched on Tuesday despite the walkoff Teix Message. They are 4 out of the 2nd AL Wild Card. They are mathematically eliminated.

That they stayed in the race until September 29 is irrelevant. The purpose of the New York Yankees is not to stay in the race as long as possible. The purpose of the New York Yankees is to win the World Series. That general manager Brian Cashman did not give the team what it needed to do that is inexcusable, and he should be fired for it.

It could have been so much better. The Yankees had a chance. Since Cashman traded Aroldis Chapman on July 26, later trading the other great closer, Andrew Miller, and the team's best hitter through that point in the season, Carlos Beltran, they have gone 32-28.

Of those 28 losses, 9 were by 2 or fewer runs; 3 of those were to the Red Sox. If Chapman and Miller had been available, and would have prevented, say, just under half of those disasters, 4; and if Beltran had been available, and would have provided enough offensive production to prevent, say, 2; thus turning 2/3rds of those 9 1-run or 2-run losses, 6, into wins, including 2 of the 3 against the Sox (thus gaining us 2 games in the standings, not just 1)...

Then the Yankees would trail the Sox by 1 game with 3 to go, and would hold the 1st Wild Card slot (meaning they would host Game 163, as they did last season, for all the good it did them).

So don't tell me the Yankees were never in it. That's a lie.

With Girardi having to rely on his binder instead of on Miller and Chapman, the Yankees blew games they should have won on August 16 and September 24 and 25 vs. Toronto, August 22 vs. Seattle, August 29 vs. Kansas City, September 14 vs. the Dodgers, and September 15, 17 and 18 vs. the Red Sox. That's 9 games. The Playoffs should have been made, and the Division could have been won. (UPDATE: The Yankees finished 9 games behind the Red Sox, and 5 games behind the Orioles for the 2nd Wild Card).

Don't tell me the Yankees "had to rebuild." That's an even bigger lie. The Yankees' top 5 farm teams -- Scranton, Trenton, Tampa, Charleston and Staten Island -- all made their leagues' Playoffs. Charleston won a 1st-half Division title. Scranton won their Pennant.The Yankees' farm system was fine. It's the major-league team that needed help. They didn't get it.

You don't give away the store for "prospects" when you already have prospects. We did not need to "restock our farm system."

The problem is that Cashman didn't call up the prospects we already had when he should have. The most notorious example of this was letting Rob Refsnyder rot in Triple-A when Stephen Drew was struggling to reach a .200 batting average.

"Be patient"? Be patient for what? The "prospects" that Cashman got are 2 years away from Triple-A, at which point, Cashman will still be letting Chase Headley, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner block them. These "prospects," assuming they pan out enough just to get to Triple-A, will start feeling like Vic Power, wondering what might be the real reason they're not getting called up to the Yankees.

If I were in charge, I'd fire Cashman. I'd also fire Joe Girardi, who was bad enough with the bullpen when he could rely on Miller to pitch the 8th inning and Chapman the 9th, and was worse when it was Dellin Betances set to pitch the 9th, and a big 2-inning hole between the starter and Betances, all too rarely realizing that the starter could go more than 6 innings.

I would put Gene Michael, despite his age (78), back in the GM's office. I would let him make the necessary off-season deals. I would have him select the new field manager. And I would have him stay on as GM until next Opening Day, by which point he will have chosen his own successor as GM.

We cannot be patient and wait for these "prospects" to pan out. I'm still waiting for Steve "Bye-Bye" Balboni, Hensley "Bam-Bam" Meulens, Dan Pasqua, Scott Bradley, Jim Deshaies, Kevin Maas, Clay Parker, Kevin Mmahat and Brien Taylor to pan out.

(Yes, Mmahat, spelled with 2 M's at the beginning, and pronounced, "MOM-a-hot.")

When Cashman goes, and Girardi goes, then we can be optimistic again. Until then, I have to wonder if Cashman's next move won't be to trade Gary Sanchez for "prospects."

Sanchez and a few others could be part of the rebuilding job we didn't need before, but need now.

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September 30, 1399: Having deposed King Richard II, his 1st cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, Earl of Derby and Northampton, Duke of Hereford and Duke of Lancaster, is proclaimed Henry IV, King of England and France, and Lord of Ireland.

Whether King Richard II should have been deposed -- and killed a year later -- is a separate debate. But the rise of King Henry IV set in motion what would become England's Wars of the Roses, between 2 branches of the House of Plantagenet: The House of Lancaster, whose symbol was a red rose; and the House of York, whose symbol was a white rose.

These 2 families, each representing one of England's historic counties, would fight on and off between 1455 and 1485, until King Richard III was killed in battle, ending the Yorkists' reign, and Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond and a direct descendant of King Edward III (grandfather of Richard II and Henry IV), was proclaimed King Henry VII, and reunited the houses by marrying Princess Elizabeth of York, daughter of Richard's brother, King Edward IV.

What does this have to do with sports? Well, Lancaster and York still harbor deep resentments toward each other, over 600 years since the start of the conflict and over 500 years since the Wars of the Roses. In sports, this is most evidence in soccer rivalries. Manchester United, now in the separate
"metropolitan county" of Greater Manchester but formerly in Lancaster (as was Liverpool, now in the metropolitan county of Merseyside), developed a rather nasty rivalry with the biggest team in Yorkshire, Leeds United.

Even the roses live on in soccer: Leeds United have a white rose in their crest, while Blackburn Rovers, one of the larger Lancashire clubs, have a red rose in theirs.

September 30, 1878: The baseball season ends, and the National League has its 1st Triple Crown winner. Paul Hines, a center fielder for the Providence Grays, led the NL in batting average with .358, home runs with 4, and RBIs with 50.

He would be the next season's batting champion as well, and help the Grays win the 1879 Pennant. He retired with a .302 average, and died in 1935, at the age of 80.

September 30, 1922: The University of Alabama defeats Marion Military Insitute of Marion, Alabama, in football, 110-0. It is the highest point total, and the highest margin of victory, in the long and glorious history of Crimson Tide football.

September 30, 1926, 90 years ago: Robin Evan Roberts is born in Springfield, Illinois. He was the captain of the basketball team at Michigan State University in 1950, but it would be in baseball where he would make his mark. He was the biggest reason the Philadelphia Phillies' "Whiz Kids" won the 1950 National League Pennant.

He was a 7-time All-Star, and 7 times won 20 or more games, 6 seasons in a row. In 1952, he won 28 games, a feat not achieved by any major league pitcher since, with 1 exception: Denny McLain with 31 in 1968. His career record, despite pitching for some terrible Phillies teams, was 286-246.

He is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and the team halls of fame of the Phillies and the Baltimore Orioles. Phillies fans elected him their greatest all-time player in a 1969 poll, and named him to their Centennial Team in 1983. The Phillies made his Number 36 the 1st they ever retired, made him their 1st inductee into the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame (along with longtime Athletics owner and manager Connie Mack), and dedicated a statue of him outside Citizens Bank Park. A minor-league ballpark in Springfield is named Robin Roberts Stadium, and he is also in the Philadelphia Sports, Pennsylvania Sports and Michigan State University Athletics Halls of Fame.

He died in 2010, having lived to see their 1976-83 quasi-dynasty, the replacement of Connie Mack Stadium with Veterans Stadium, the replacement of The Vet with The Bank, the dedication of his statue, and their 2008 World Championship and 2009 Pennant.

He is not related to Robin René Roberts, the African-American ABC journalist who got her start doing sports on ESPN. She played basketball at Southeastern Louisiana University. Like Robin Evan (17), Robin René got her college basketball uniform number retired (21).

September 30, 1927: Babe Ruth hits a drive down the right field line at Yankee Stadium, off Tom Zachary of the Washington Senators. It is his 60th home run of the season, breaking the record of 59 that he set in 1921. The Yankees win the game 4-2. Herb Pennock is the winning pitcher, in relief of George Pipgras.

When Ruth gets back to  he dugout, he says, "Sixty! Count 'em, sixty! Let's see some other son of a bitch match that!"

This game is notable for another reason: It was the last major league playing appearance for Walter Johnson, the Senators pitcher who would, like Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and Christy Mathewson, be 1 of the 1st 5 players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Oddly, he did not appear as a pitcher, although he could have, had the Senators tied it and sent it to the bottom of the 9th: The Big Train pinch-hit for Zachary. He did not reach base.

Not until 1961 -- 34 years and 1 day later -- would another player match 60 home runs in a season. Roger Maris, also a right fielder for the Yankees, did, and surpassed it. Much is made of the small crowd when Maris hit Number 61, but when Ruth hit Number 60, only 8,000 showed up on a Saturday afternoon. It should be noted though that, in each case, the Yankees had already wrapped up the American League Pennant.

September 30, 1934: The regular season ends, with the Yankees losing 5-3 to the Senators at Griffith Stadium in Washington, despite a home run from Lou Gehrig. Babe Ruth goes 0-for-3, and it turns out to be his last appearance for the Yankees.

The Yankees finish 2nd in the AL, 7 games behind the Detroit Tigers. This is in spite of having players winning both the batting and the pitching Triple Crown.

Gehrig batted .363, with 49 home runs and 165 runs batted in. Lefty Gomez won 26 games (against just 5 losses, and no Yankee has matched those 26 wins since), had a 2.33 earned-run average, and struck out 158 batters. All of those figures led the League.

So why didn't the Yankees win the Pennant? Yes, the Tigers had a great team, but that didn't usually stop the Yankees between 1921 and 1964. Part of the problem was injuries. Center fielder Earle Combs hit his head on an unpadded outfield wall, played only 63 games, and was never the same. 3rd baseman Red Rolfe played only 89 games. And while Gomez and Red Ruffing were, as usual, the best lefty-righty combo in AL pitching, there wasn't really a good 3rd starter, let alone a 4th. Between them, center fielder Myril Hoag, 3rd baseman Jack Saltzgaver, and starting pitchers Johnny Broaca, Johnny Allen and Johnny Murphy (usually the team's top reliever) were not, well, Johnny-on-the-spot.

Gehrig was the 1st Yankee to win the Triple Crown. Only one has done it since.

September 30, 1936, 80 years ago: Game 1 of the World Series. George Selkirk hits a home run, but that's the only run Carl Hubbell, in the middle of his 24-game regular-season winning streak, allows, as the New York Giants beat the Yankees 6-1 at the Polo Grounds. Dick Bartell homers for the Jints.

Also on this day: Wayne Harrison Walker is born in Boise, Idaho. A linebacker, his Number 55 was retired by the University of Idaho, and he made 3 Pro Bowls for the Detroit Lions. (UPDATE: He died on May 19, 2017.)

September 30, 1939: For the 1st time, a football game is broadcast on television. W2XBS, the RCA-owned station that will become WNBC-Channel 4, sets their cameras up at Triborough Stadium on Randall's Island in New York, and shows Fordham University, of The Bronx, beat Waynesburg University of Southwestern Pennsylvania, 34-7.

Triborough Stadium was renamed J.J. Downing Stadium in 1955, and hosted Negro League games, the New York Cosmos in 1974 and '75, and the New York Stars of the 1974 World Football League. The 22,000-seat horseshoe was demolished in 2002, and Icahn Stadium opened on the site 2 years later.

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September 30, 1942: Game 1 of the World Series. Red Ruffing of the Yankees takes a no-hitter into the 8th inning against the St. Louis Cardinals, before Terry Moore breaks it up with 2 out. In the bottom of the 9th, the Cardinals score 4 runs, and then manage to load the bases, bringing Stan Musial -- then a rookie, a few years away from getting his nickname "Stan the Man," but already one of the game's top hitters -- to the plate as the winning run.

Yankee manager Joe McCarthy brings Spurgeon "Spud" Chandler in to relieve. He gets Musial to ground out. Final score: Yankees 7, Cardinals 4.

As historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, 3 months away from being born, would later say, "There's always these omens in baseball." Going into that bottom of the 9th, the Yankees led 7-0. Over the rest of the Series, including that bottom of the 9th, the Cardinals outscored the Yankees 21-11.

September 30, 1944: James Connolly Johnstone in born in Viewpark (now Uddingston), a suburb of Glasgow, Scotland. An outside right (a right winger in today's formations), Jimmy Johnstone, a.k.a. Jinky, played for hometown soccer team Celtic from 1961 to 1975, winning 9 League titles and 4 Scottish Cups, and was voted the club's greatest player ever by its fans.

In 1967, he was the big star of their team that became the 1st British side to win the European Cup (the tournament now known as the UEFA Champions League), defeating Internazionale Milano at Lisbon, Portugal (earning the team the nickname the Lisbon Lions). Later that year, he played for the Scotland national team that beat World Cup holders England, leading Scottish fans to proclaim their team "World Champions." (It doesn't work that way, as boxing does.)

In 1975, he played for the original San Jose Earthquakes, in the original North American Soccer League. He died in 2006.

September 30, 1945: John Sissons (no middle name) is born in Hayes, Middlesex -- now a part of West London. A forward, he was a member of the West Ham United team that won the 1964 FA Cup and the 1965 European Cup Winners' Cup. He briefly played in America, helping the Tampa Bay Rowdies win the 1975 North American Soccer League title. He is still alive.

September 30, 1946, 70 years ago: Bernardus Adriaan Hulshoff is born in Deventer, Netherlands. We know him as Barry Hulshoff. Playing for Amsterdam soccer team AFC Ajax, the centreback won 7 national league (Eredivisie) titles, 4 national cups (KNVB Beker), and 3 straight European Cups (the tournament now known as the UEFA Champions League), in 1971, '72 and '73.

Despite his playing pedigree, he only played 14 times for the Netherlands national team, and never made their World Cup squad. He later managed Ajax and several teams in the Netherlands and Belgium, but has been out of soccer since 2002.

September 30, 1947: Game 1 of the World Series. The Brooklyn Dodgers have won the Pennant, and, all together, Jackie Robinson and his 24 white teammates, stand on the 3rd-base line at Yankee Stadium, hearing the National Anthem. Jackie would write in his memoir I Never Had It Made that this was the highlight of his career: Not only that he had played in the white major leagues, but that he had been accepted by his teammates, and, together, they had succeeded. They were the National League Champions.

But they still had a World Series to play, in front of 73,365 people -- over twice the capacity of Ebbets Field. Dodger Captain Pee Wee Reese scores all the way from 2nd base on a wild pitch by rookie starter Frank "Spec" Shea in the 7th inning. But that's the only real highlight for the Dodgers, as the Yankees batter 21-year-old 21-game winner Ralph Branca for 5 runs in the 5th, and go on to win 5-3.

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September 30, 1950: Two new college football stadiums open. Byrd Stadium opens on the campus of the University of Maryland in College Park, outside Washington, D.C. Maryland defeats the nearby U.S. Naval Academy 35-21.

It still stands, but is now named Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. The playing surface's naming rights were sold, but the name of the stadium itself was changed upon objections to Harry "Curley" Byrd, who served the University as football coach, athletic director and eventually president, having been a segregationist.

I visited on September 26, 2009, and saw Rutgers beat Maryland 34-13. It rained all game long, and the steep grade of the stands and the rain made it treacherous. It may not be a bad stadium when it's dry, but if UMd wants to replace it, I won't mind a bit.

On this same day, Baylor Stadium opens in Waco, Texas, home to Baylor University. Baylor defeats the University of Houston 34-7. In 1988, it was renamed Floyd Casey Stadium, after Casey's son Carl donated the money needed to renovate it. Baylor moved into the new McLane Stadium in 2013, and the old stadium was demolished earlier this year.

On the same day, Lynn St. John dies in Columbus at age 73. He was Ohio State University's basketball coach from 1911 to 1919, its baseball coach from 1913 to 1928, and its athletic director from 1912 to 1947. Ohio State's arena was named for him in 1956, and he was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1962.

September 30, 1951: After being 13 1/2 games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers on August 11, the New York Giants think they have the Pennant won, as they beat the Boston Braves 3-2 at Braves Field in Boston. The hero, with a home run, is 3rd baseman Bobby Thomson.

But the Dodgers, having blown that huge lead, aren't done yet. At Shibe Park in Philadelphia, Jackie Robinson makes a sensational catch at 2nd base in the bottom of the 12th inning, then hits a home run in the top of the 14th, and the Dodgers beat the Philadelphia Phillies 9-8. There will be a best-2-out-of-3 Playoff for the National League Pennant, starting the next day.

A coin is tossed to determine home-field advantage. The Dodgers win the toss -- and elect to host Game 1 at Ebbets Field, thus letting the Giants host Games 2 and 3 at the Polo Grounds. This will turn out to be one of the greatest blunders in the history of baseball.

In the meantime, the American League Champions, the Yankees, wait to see whom they will face in the World Series. Rookie right fielder, and center fielder in waiting, Mickey Mantle asks his teammates who he should root for. He's told it should be the Giants, since Ebbets Field seats only 31,000 people, while the Polo Grounds seats 56,000, and the gate receipts, and thus the winners' share, will be much bigger if the Giants win.

September 30, 1953: Game 1 of the World Series. Gil Hodges, George "Shotgun" Shuba and Jim "Junior" Gilliam hit home runs for the Dodgers. It's not enough, as Yogi Berra and Joe Collins do the same for the Yankees, who win 9-5.

Johnny Sain is the winning pitcher. The Yankees gave up Lew Burdette to get Sain from the Boston Braves. Burdette would help the Braves, by then in Milwaukee, drive the Yankees crazy in the 1957 and '58 Series. But Sain helped the Yankees big-time, so it was an even trade.

September 30, 1955: Game 3 of the World Series. The Dodgers get back into the Series, thanks to the pitching of Johnny Podres and a home run by Roy Campanella. They beat the Yankees 8-3, and close to within 2 games to 1.

September 30, 1956, 60 years ago: The Detroit Tigers beat the Cleveland Indians, 8-4 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Wayne Belardi hits a home run, and Billy Hoeft wins his 20th game of the season.

The losing pitcher is Bob Feller, who falls to 0-4 on the season, and 266-162 for his career, with 2,581 strikeouts, despite missing nearly 4 full seasons due to military service. Nearly 38, this is the last major league appearance for perhaps the best pitcher of his generation. It is interesting that it happens on the 29th Anniversary of Walter Johnson's last appearance.

Also on this day, Mickey Mantle finishes a season in which he batted .353, hit 52 home runs, and had 130 RBIs. He led both Leagues in all 3 categories, and that hasn't happened since. He was the 2nd Yankee, after Gehrig, to win the Triple Crown. None has done it since. Babe Ruth didn't do it. Nor did Joe DiMaggio, nor Reggie Jackson, nor Don Mattingly, nor Derek Jeter, nor Alex Rodriguez.

September 30, 1962: Franklin Edmundo Rijkaard is born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The son of immigrants from the Netherlands' South American colony of Surinam (now an independent country), the Jheri-curled midfielder helped hometown club Ajax win 5 Eredivisie (Dutch league) titles and the 1995 Champions League.

This was in 2 separate stints with the club. In between, he played in Italy for AC Milan, along with fellow Dutchman Marco Van Basten and fellow Dutch-Surinamese Ruud Gullit. Together, they combined Dutch totalvoetbaal, South American samba, and Italian catenaccio defense to form perhaps the best club side in soccer history, winning 2 Serie A (Italian league) titles, and the European Cup in 1989 and 1990 -- still the last team to win the tournament now named the Champions League back-to-back.

The 3 Milan players also helped the Netherlands win their only international tournament to date, Euro 1988. Rijkaard also managed Barcelona to the 2005 and 2006 La Liga (Spanish league) titles and the 2006 Champions League. He and Carlo Ancelotti, another of his Milan teammates, are the only men to win the Champions League as both a player and a manager.

September 30, 1966, 50 years ago: The Yankees lose 6-5 to the Chicago White Sox in 11 innings at Comiskey Park. Roger Maris hits a home run, his last as a Yankee. But a single by Johnny Romano drives in ayne Causey, and makes a 20-game loser out of Mel Stottlemyre.

This drops the Yankees' record to 68-89, and assures that they will finish in 10th place in the single-division American League. This is the 1st time in 54 years that the Yankees have finished in last place. They have only done so once more, in 1990.

September 30, 1967: The Boston Red Sox host the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park on the next-to-last day of the season. They and the Detroit Tigers are all still eligible for the AL Pennant.

Oddly, NBC is not televising it as the Game of the Week. Fortunately, Boston's Channel 5, then WHDH, a CBS affiliate (it's now WCVB and part of ABC), is televising it, and keeps a copy. As far as we know, this is the earliest surviving entire color TV broadcast of a Major League Baseball game.

Twins starter Jim Kaat is cruising until the 3rd inning, when he is injured and has to leave the game. Jim Perry comes in, and holds the Sox off until the 5th. Reggie Smith leads off with a double, and Dalton Jones singles. Perry strikes out opposing pitcher Jose Santiago and Mike Andrews, but Jerry Adair and Carl Yastrzemski use back-to-back singles to turn a 1-0 Twins lead into 2-1 Red Sox.

The Twins tie the game in the 6th, but home runs by George Scott in the 6th and Yaz in the 7th make it 6-2 Sox. Harmon Killebrew homers for the Twins in the 9th, by Gary Bell (later to become famous as Jim Bouton's Seattle Pilots roommate in Ball Four) shuts the down, and the Sox win, 6-4.

The Sox and Twins are now tied. Whichever wins tomorrow will have at least a tie for the Pennant. The Tigers are rained out, and will play a doubleheader. If they sweep, a Playoff will be necessary. If they only split, the Sox-Twins winner takes the flag.

Also on this day, Philadelphia's new arena, The Spectrum, opens across from the north end zone at John F. Kennedy Stadium. To the north of The Spectrum, construction is underway on Veterans Stadium, to be the new home of MLB's Phillies and the NFL's Eagles.

The 1st event at The Spectrum is the Quaker Jazz Festival. Over the next few weeks, the NBA's 76ers and the NHL's Flyers will move in. Villanova University will also use it for games whose ticket demand exceed their on-campus arena. The building will be home to 4 championship teams: The back-to-back Stanley Cups of the Flyers in 1974 and 1975, the 76ers' 1983 NBA title, and Villanova's 1985 NCAA Championship.

It will be replaced as home of the Sixers, Flyers and 'Nova, and as the Delaware Valley's leading concert center, in 1996, by the building now known as the Wells Fargo Center, which will be built on the site of JFK Stadium. It will be demolished in 2010.

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September 30, 1971: The last Washington Senators game is played, against the Yankees at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium. Team owner Bob Short, having already moved the NBA's Minneapolis Lakers to Los Angeles in 1960, has announced he's moving the Senators to the Dallas area, to become the Texas Rangers. He complains about the low attendance, despite having the highest ticket prices in the American League, and no subway access to RFK Stadium. (Washington's Metro would not open until 1976.)

Frank Howard, the Senators' most popular player in their 2nd go-around of 1961-71, hits the last home run. Dick Bosman starts, and stands to be the winning pitcher as the Senators lead 7-5 with 1 out left in the 9th. All he has to do is get Bobby Murcer out.

But he can't, through no fault of his own. Angry fans from the "crowd" of 14,461 people storm the field. The umpires cannot restore order, and they forfeit the game to the Yankees.

The next April, Bosman also starts the team's 1st game as the Rangers. Major League Baseball will not return to the Nation's Capital, except for the occasional preseason exhibition game, until the 2005 season. Only 2 AL games have been forfeited since, both promotions that turned into fiascos: The Cleveland Indians' Ten-Cent Beer Night in 1974, and the Chicago White Sox' Disco Demolition Night in 1979.

Also on this day, the Mets beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-1 at Shea Stadium. Tom Seaver gets the win, his 20th of the season, and will go on to win his 2nd Cy Young Award. A young right fielder named Ken Singleton, who had grown up in New York as a Met fan, hits 2 home runs. But he will become better known for playing for the Baltimore Orioles, and broadcasting for the Yankees.

No one knows it at the time, but this is the last game the Mets will play with Gil Hodges as their manager. At the end of Spring Training in 1972, he suffers a heart attack and dies, not quite 48 years old.

September 30, 1972: The Mets lose to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-0 at Three Rivers Stadium. Roberto Clemente hits a double off Jon Matlack, for his 3,000th career hit. A quote, which may be apocryphal given what happened 3 months later, suggests Roberto's determination: "I have to get that hit this year. I might die."

Also on this day, Martin Stadium opens in Pullman, eastern Washington. Washington State University loses the 1st game at its new stadium, 44-25 to the University of Utah.

A new stadium was necessary because Wazzu's previous home field, Rogers Field, burned down on April 4, 1970. It was soon generally accepted that the cause was arson. The Cougars played the 1970 and '71 seasons at Joe Albi Stadium in nearby Spokane while Martin Stadium was built on the site of Rogers Field.

Clarence D. Martin Jr. donated the money necessary to build it, on the condition that it be named for his father, a former Governor of the State. Ironically, Clarence Sr. was a graduate of WSU's arch-rivals, the University of Washington. At 32,952 seats, Martin Stadium is the smallest football facility in the league now known as the Pacific-12 Conference.

September 30, 1978: Ed Figueroa becomes the 1st pitcher born in Puerto Rico to win 20 games in a season (and is still the only one), pitching a 5-hit shutout. The Yankees knock Cleveland starter Mike Paxton out of the box before he can get an out, and Rick Wise pitches the rest of the way, with Reggie Jackson homering off him in the 5th inning. (Mr. October was pretty good in September, too.) Given the boost, Figgy cruises to a 7-0 victory at Yankee Stadium.

The next day is the last day of the regular season. All the Yankees need to do is beat the Indians again, or have the Boston Red Sox lose to the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park, and the Yankees will win their 3rd straight American League Eastern Division title.

They didn't get the win, and they didn't get the Boston loss. It would go to a Playoff at Fenway. Well, we know how that story ends, don't we?

September 30, 1986, 30 years ago: Olivier Giroud (no middle name) is born in Chambéry, Rhône-Alpes, France, and grows up in nearby Froges, near the 1968 Winter Olympic city of Grenoble. The forward starred for local club Grenoble 38 Foot and Tours FC, before leading the national league, Ligue 1, in scoring in 2011-12, and leading his club, Montpellier, to an improbable title.

That convinced Arsène Wenger, manager of North London team Arsenal, to sign him. There are many Arsenal fans, for whom 2nd place is "failure" and 4th place (out of 20 in the English Premier League) is "midtable mediocrity," with constant complaints about him: That he doesn't score enough, that he isn't "world-class" or "clinical," and that he doesn't have enough "pace," and is "useless unless the ball is put right on his foot" (ignoring all the goals scored with what NBC Sports announcer Arlo White calls "the meaty French forehead of Olivier Giroud).

Nevertheless, the man known as Oli G has scored 57 goals in 137 appearances over the last 4 years. He also helped get the French national team to the Final of Euro 2016.

When he scores, the Arsenal fans sing, to the Beatles' "Hey Jude," "Na, na na, na na na na... Na na na na... Giroud!" They also sing, to "The Roof Is On Fire" by Rock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three, "Giroud! Giroud! Giroud is on fire!" He makes women swoon with his face and physique, and goalkeepers cry with his feet and his meaty French forehead.

September 30, 1995: The FleetCenter opens in Boston, right behind the Boston Garden. The new home of the NBA's Celtics and the NHL's Bruins is now named the TD Garden.

September 30, 1996, 20 years ago: His contract with Japanese soccer team Nagoya Grampus Eight having run out, Arsène Wenger is free to manage another team, and he officially takes charge as manager of Arsenal Football Club of North London.

Wenger wasn't much of a player, winning Ligue 1 as a defensive midfielder at his hometown club, Racing Club Strasbourg Alsace (usually just listed as "Strasbourg"), in 1979. But as manager of AS Monaco, which is in the French league even though Monaco is a separate (but tiny) country, he won Ligue 1 in 1988 and the national cup, the Coupe de France, in 1991. He led Nagoya to Japan's national cup, the Emperor's Cup, in 1995.

Just short of his 47th birthday, and already successful as a manager, he seemed like a good choice for The Arsenal, who had won 6 trophies from 1987 to 1994, but had struggled in the Premier League, finishing 10th in 1993, 4th in 1994, 12th in 1995, and 5th in 1996.

But, at the time, it was rare for a manager not from the British Isles to manage in England. One newspaper printed the headline, "ARSENE WHO?" No less a personage than Arsenal's captain, centreback Tony Adams, asked, "What does this Frenchman know about English football?"

He knew enough to know that Adams had recently made a public admission of being a recovering alcoholic. He straightened out the team's diet (including no booze the night before a game) and exercise program. He also brought in several European players, including fellow Frenchmen Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit and Nicolas Anelka, and Dutchman Marc Overmars. Together with already-present Dutch star Dennis Bergkamp, and the club's English core of Adams, David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Steve Bould, Nigel Winterburn, Martin Keown, David Platt, Ray Parlour and the legendary striker Ian Wright, In 1997, he finished his 1st season in charge in 3rd place. In 1998, he won the Premier League and the FA Cup, a.k.a. "doing The Double."

He finished runner-up in both in 1999, and Anelka, only 19 years old, thought his performances demanded a big raise, or a sale to a bigger club. Wenger sold him to Real Madrid, and used half the profits to build a new training ground, and the other half to buy young French winger Thierry Henry, whom he converted into a striker, who broke Wright's club record for career goals. Wenger would also sign a great pair of wingers in Sweden's Freddie Ljungberg (in 1998) and France's Robert Pires (in 2000), develop great young defenders in Ashley Cole and Kolo Toure, and make the stunning acquisition (in 2001) of English centreback Sol Campbell, who had been captain of Arsenal's North London arch-rivals, Tottenham Hotspur.

Wenger finished 2nd and lost the UEFA Cup Final in 2000, finished 2nd and lost the FA Cup Final in 2001, won The Double again in 2002, finished 2nd and won another FA Cup in 2003, and, in the 2003-04 season, did something that had not been done since the League had only a 22-game season: He went unbeaten. As the broadcaster said after it was achieved: "Played 38, won 26, drawn 12, lost exactly none!" He would win another FA Cup in 2005, and reach the Final of the UEFA Champions League in 2006.

But the Arsenal Stadium, a.k.a. Highbury after its neighborhood, only seated 38,000, and its east and west stands had been built in the 1930s. A modern stadium was needed if Arsenal was to compete, but paying for it meant that transactions needed to be made, perhaps sacrificing trophies for expediency. The new Emirates Stadium opened in 2006, and here's what happened: Arsenal lost the League Cup Final in 2007, finished 2nd in the League in 2008, reached the Semifinals of the Champion League and the FA Cup in 2009, lost the League Cup Final in 2011, just barely scraped into Champions League qualification in 2012 and 2013, were struck by several injuries in just about every season, and had to sell several players because of financial concerns: Vieira in 2005, Pires in 2006, Henry in 2007, Manuel Almunia and Gilberto Silva in 2008, Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor in 2009, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri in 2011, and Robin van Persie in 2012.

But Wenger built another great team: Signing Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky in 2006, Bacary Sagna in 2007, Aaron Ramsey in 2008, Laurent Koscielny in 2010, Per Mertesacker and Héctor Bellerín in 2011, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla in 2012, Mesut Özil and Nacho Monreal in 2013, Alexis Sánchez in 2014, Petr Čech in 2015, Mohamed Elneny in this year's January transfer window, and, just this summer, Granit Xhaka, Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Pérez. The result has been continuous Champions League knockout round qualification, and the FA Cup in 2014 and 2015.

Wenger is known for his clichés, which seem a little grammatically odd when they move from his French mind to his English words: A player who is good, "He has the quality"; if he's smart, "He has the mental strength"; if he's unsure of himself, "He lacks the confidence"; and dropping the qualifier "a little bit" into phrases, i.e., "He lacked a little bit the confidence." He doesn't like it when opposing players foul his, but when one of his players is charged, he tells the media, "I did not see it."

His critics like to say, "The game has passed him by," "His tactics are shit," and that it's time for him to go. But he has just about paid off the new stadium, meaning he can put the profits into the team for a change. And, despite the crunched finances, he has kept The Arsenal in contention for trophies. He is a remarkable man, an idealist in a cynical age. Whereas some managers want to win in the worst way, he wants to win in the best way. He's done it before. Turning 67 on October 22, I have no doubt that he will again.

September 30, 1997: Game 1 of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium. What is expected to be a pitchers' duel between wily veterans David Cone of the Yankees and Orel Hershiser of the Cleveland Indians does not develop.

The Indians torch Coney for 5 runs in the 1st inning. In the bottom of the 6th, it is 6-3 Cleveland. But Tim Raines, Derek Jeter and Paul O'Neill hit 3 straight home runs, to win the game 8-6, with Ramiro Mendoza getting the win in relief.

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September 30, 2006, 10 years ago: On Arsène Wenger’s 10th Anniversary in charge, Arsenal visit South London club Charlton Athletic, and win 2-1. Robin van Persie scores a wonder goal.

van Persie could have been an all-time legend at Arsenal if he had stayed, or at his hometown club, Feyenoord in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, had he stayed there. Instead, he got greedy, and demanded to be sold. He has moved on to Manchester United, where he won the League title in 2013, then saw manager Alex Ferguson retire, leaving the club in a bit of a mess. Now, he plays for Fenerbahçe in Istanbul, Turkey.

He could have been a legend. Instead, he has become a footnote in the history of every team for whom he's played. That is what he got along with that 1 League title. Was it worth it?

Also on this date, Julio Franco breaks his own record as the oldest player ever to hit a home run in a major league game. He's 48 years old as he takes Beltran Perz deep in the 2nd inning. David Wright, Shawn Green, Ramon Castro and Endy Chavez also homer for the Mets, who beat the Washington Nationals, 13-0 at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington.

The Mets are the Champions of the National League Eastern Division -- the only time they will finish 1st between 1988 and 2015. They are the favorites for the NL Pennant as the regular season comes to an end.

September 30, 2007: This is the game that got Tom Glavine branded "The Manchurian Brave" by Met fans. Having led the NL East by 7 games with 17 to go, the Mets have collapsed, but they go into the regular-season finale, against the Florida Marlins at Shea Stadium, needing a win or a Philadelphia Phillies loss to clinch their 2nd straight NL East title, and a win or a Colorado Rockies loss to at least win the 1 Wild Card available at the time.

Glavine starts. He walks Hanley Ramirez. He gets Dan Uggla to ground into a force play at 2nd base. So far, not terrible. But the roof caves in. He gives up a single to Jeremy Hermida. He gives up a single to Miguel Cabrera, scoring Ramirez. He gives up a double to Cody Ross, and when the ball comes back to him in the infield, he tries to throw Ross out at 3rd, and makes a bad throw, and he becomes the 3rd run of the at-bat.

He allows a single to Mike Jacobs. He walks Matt Treanor. He gives up a single to future Met Alejandro de Aza, loading the bases. He faces the opposing starting pitcher, Dontrelle Willis, and hits him, forcing Jacobs in. Manager Willie Randolph has seen enough, and removes him with the score 5-0. He'd faced all 9 batters in the Marlin starting lineup, and had gotten exactly 1 of them out.

Jorge Sosa is the new pitcher, and he strikes Ramirez out. But he allows a double to Uggla, who drives in Treanor and de Aza, both of whose runs are charged to Glavine. When he finally gets Hermida to ground to 1st, it is Marlins 7, Mets 0.

By the time one of the most traumatic days in Met history is over, the Mets have used 8 pitchers, and lost 8-1. The Phillies beat the Nationals, 6-1 at Citizens Bank Park, and win a Playoff berth and the Division for the 1st time in 14 years. And the Rockies complet their own amazing surge, beating the Arizona Diamondbacks, 4-3 at Coors Field. It's not enough to win them the NL West, but it's enough to get them a tie with the San Diego Padres for the Wild Card berth, instead of it going to the Mets.

"I'm not devastated," Glavine says after the game. "I'm disappointed, but devastation is for much greater things in life." Feeling pretty devastated themselves, Met fans never forgive him for this, and he never pitches for them again. He is released, and returns to Atlanta for a final season.

September 30, 2014: The current and former Kansas City teams face off in the American League Wild Card game at Kauffman Stadium. The Oakland Athletics score 5 runs in the top of the 6th inning to take a 5-2 lead over the Kansas City Royals, but the Royals score 3 in the bottom of the 8th to stun the A's and send the game to extra innings.

It looked like the A's have it won in the top of the 12th, as Josh Reddick leads off with a walk, gets bunted to 2nd by Jed Lowrie, advances to 3rd on a wild pitch by Jason Frasor, and then scores on a single by Alberto Callaspo.

But in the bottom of the 12th, Eric Hosmer triples with 1 out, and Christian Colon singles him home with the tying run. Colon steals 2nd, and Salvador Perez singles him home with the run that puts the Royals in the Playoffs proper, 9-8.

September 30, 2015: The Toronto Blue Jays clinch their 1st AL East title, and their 1st Playoff berth, since 1993. They beat the Baltimore Orioles 15-2 at Camden Yards. And the St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-1 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, to clinch the NL Central title.

September 30, 2016: Tonight, the Golden 1 Center opens in downtown Sacramento, built to save the NBA's Sacramento Kings from moving. They almost moved to Anaheim in 2012 and Seattle in 2013, before the deal to build this new arena, to replace the Sleep Train (formerly ARCO) Arena, was done in 2014.

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