Game 3: Often Pivotal, Sometimes Memorable

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Game 3 of the World Series will be played tonight at Citi Field in New York, with the Kansas City Royals up 2 games to none on the Mets. Down through the years, what happens in game 3 has often set the tone for the rest of the World Series to follow. Tonight, if the Mets don’t win they’re down 3 games to None, a deficit that has never been surmounted in the World Series. Here are some events in game 3 of World Series past that have set the course for the rest of the series.

1949: With the series tied a game apiece and the game tied 1-1 in the top of the 9th Yankees’ Johnny Mize hit a gamebreaking single. The Yankees won the series in 5.

1961: With the series tied a game apiece, the Reds were ahead of the Yankees 2-1 through 7 innings at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. However, Johnny Blanchard hit a pinch-hit home run to tie the game in the 8th and Roger Maris, he of the 61 home runs in the regular season hit one in the 9th for a Yankee win. They took the series in 5.

1975: With the series even at a game apiece, the Reds won game 3 in the 10th following a highly controversial call on a bunt play by Ed Armbrister. In spite of Carlton Fisk’s heroics in game 6 the Reds won it in 7.

1978 and 1996: In both cases the Yankees were behind 2 games to none heading into the opposition’s lair. In 1978 it was Los Angeles, in 1996 Atlanta. In both cases, winning game 3 got them back in gear and they took the series in 6.

1986: The Mets were down 2 games to none heading to Boston. Game 3 made it a series again as the Mets won, and they took the series in 7.

If the Mets are to do again what they did in 1986, it has to start with their long tall Texan, Noah Syndergaard. He and Travis D’Arnaud came to the Mets from Toronto at the end of 2012 in exchange for R. A. Dickey who still pitches for the Blue Jays. It’s just as well he’s used to weight lifting.  he’ll have the weight of all Mets  fans on his broad shoulders tonight. He’s been excellent up to now, prompting me before the series began to say he would do something special. He will have to in order for the Mets to win.

Their bats will also have to do something special against Kansas City starter Yordano Ventura. His two fellow Dominican starters, Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto feel he has more talent than they have, but at 24 he needs to harness it better than he has up to now. This past April he got ejected and fined for purposely hitting Oakland’s Brett Lawrie. His next time out of the gate, he got into a heated exchange with White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton that finished in a bench-clearing brawl. Five guys, Ventura included were ejected. That bit of immature fun cost him a week’s suspension. His fastball can hit 102 MPH but he’s like the Novi race cars that ran at Indianapolis in the ’40s and ’50s-all engine, no steering wheel and no brakes. They got two drivers killed and one seriously burned in their brief heyday. Hopefully between his chance of imploding and his 5+ ERA, the Mets hitters can hit as they certainly didn’t against Cueto.

From here, the Mets’ one lefty starter Steven Matz goes tomorrow night against former Met Chris Young. Then game 5 should be a rematch of game 1, Matt Harvey against Edinson Volquez. All are night games starting just after 8 PM Eastern Time.

Mattingly over Miami, For How Long?

After five years managing the Dodgers, during 3 of which he led them to the playoffs Don Mattingly is to be the latest in a long string of managers for the Florida Marlins. He will be the latest  for a team whose managerial philosophy seems to be “Catch and Release.” Historically they’ve done that with their best  players after winning the World Series in both 1997 and 2003. Jack McKeon was manager when they won the 2003 World Series. Others have used Miami as a stepping stone. Jim Leyland won a title there before heading to Detroit. Jeff Torborg went to ESPN, Fredi Gonzalez went to Atlanta and Joe Girardi went to the Yankees after brief stops in Miami. This season Mike Redmond, a former Marlins minor leaguer and Dan Jennings who started the year as general manager led the team to another biblically bad finish. They have lost 90 or more games 8 times since their founding in 1993 and 100 or more twice. In 2012 they were an unqualified disaster. They opened their new ball park, brought in talent and manager Ozzie Guillen who promptly made admiring remarks about Fidel Castro. Really! in Miami! That’s like saying kind things about Michael Vick during a dog show. The team dropped 91 games and Guillen hasn’t been heard of since.

After 5 years of full houses at Chavez Ravine and 3 years of managing playoff talent, I can’t imagine Mattingly wanting_ to manage at all in Miami, much less stay there for any length of time. While I love the city, it’s a poor sports town and always has been. Nobody comes to the new park in spite of its retractable roof which Joe Robbie  Stadium didn’t have. The NBA’s Miami Heat had fans pouring out the exits before an NBA championship playoff was done. A relative living down there tells me the NHL’s Florida Panthers don’t draw flies. Mattingly’s best talents are Dee Gordon, Jose Fernandez (if healthy,)  and GianCarlo Stanton (if healthy.) Fernandez had Tommy John surgery, Stanton broke his hand and lost most of the second half of this season. Since he’s a man of few words I can’t see him taking the TV route, so I’m not surprised he took the job at least on a temporary basis. But I can’t see him winning there, and ownership never gives managers much time to try. Look for him to be available after 2017. That’s baseball as I see it.

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