Fall Classic Starts Tonight; A Look Back at a Classic Game

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Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Tuesday, Oct. 25.

The World Series starts tonight in Cleveland as the Cubs face the Indians.  Both teams have their pitching staff in order. In fact, the Indians had a  much longer wait while the Cubs took 6 games to dispose of the Dodgers.  Because  the Indians won their series in 5 and clinched it last Wednesday in Toronto, they’ve been cooling their heels since then.  Hopefully starting pitcher Trevor Bauer’s finger will have had time to mend and he’ll be able to go at some point in the series. Without him, an already undermanned  Indians’ pitching corps will be even more vulnerable.   Both clubs have great pitchers carrying the mail in game 1.  For the Cubs, it’s John Lester, a 19-game winner who pitched in the playoffs as early as 2007 with Boston and also outdueled cancer in his time.   The Indians counter with Corey Kluber, their undoubted and unquestioned ace.  It’s amazing their pitching has carried them as far as it has, considering neither Carlos Carrasco nor Danny Salazar has thrown a pitch with intent recently and neither are expected to do so now.  The Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber, who tore up his knee on April 7  has been taking batting practice and is hoping for a chance to pull a Kirk Gibson moment out of his hat.  And the fall classic is just crazy enough that he might manage it. He’s an Ohio kid playing for the Cubs and he made his MLB debut in Cleveland in June 2015. He could be added if the Cubs go with 11 pitchers instead of the 12 they made available for the Dodgers’ series.   Francisco Lindor of the Indians and the Cubs’ Javier Baez played against each other in high school.  Now they are foes on the biggest stage of them all. Jason Kipnis is a Chicago kid manning the keystone spot for the Indians.  A lot of the Indians aren’t household names to the average baseball fan.  This World Series could change all that.  The Cubs on the other hand were seen during the last postseason until the Mets steamrolled them in the NLCS.  That pounding must motivate the North Siders as this series approaches. At age 61, Cubs’ broadcaster Pat Hughes will call his first World Series on their flagship station, WSCR in Chicago and on the Internet. He came down I94 from Milwaukee where he had spent a dozen years working Brewer games,  and called his first Cubs game in 1996. At age 60, the Indians’ lead broadcaster Tom Hamilton is calling his third World Series.  The Indians lost his first two in 1995 and 1997. His first Indians’ game was in 1990.  He’s similar to Tom Manning, one of the earliest voices of the Indians, a real shrieker at the mike, as much cheerleader as broadcaster. However, unlike Manning who brought more sizzle than steak to his listeners,   Hamilton brings good information to his WTAM audience in between shrieking out the play-by-play.  Both men blatantly root for their teams, but Hughes’ voice only becomes shrill on extra-base hits and home runs. As a reminder, only the two flagship stations will have these broadcasters for the games.  Smaller stations which normally carry the Cubs or Indians will get the ESPN radio call.

30 years ago tonight game 6 of the 1986 World Series took place.  It has to be on anybody’s top 5 list of alltime great World Series games, up there with game 6 in 1975 and game 4 in 1996 among many others.

The Mets had been heavily favored from the start. They had the pitching-Dwight Gooden coming off a Cy Young Award, Ron Darling and Bobby Ojeda, with Roger McDowell and Jesse Orosco in the bull pen.  They had future Hall of Famer Gary Carter behind the plate, Keith Hernandez at first and Darryl Strawberry in right.  He and Gooden were sure-shot Hall of Famers until drugs caught up with them and ruined both their careers. While the Mets finished 108–54 their foe the Red Sox put up a 95-66 record and almost didn’t win the ALCS.  The Angels had a lead of 3 games to 1 and were ahead 5-1 in the 9th when a pair of Red Sox home runs, the last by Dave Henderson off Donnie Moore put them ahead 6-5.  Though the Angels tied it in the 9th the Sox won it 7-6 in 12 innings.  From there it was back to Fenway and two demolitions of the Angels by the Red Sox to put them into the World Series. The Sox had two Hall of Famers-Wade Boggs and Jim Rice, and  should have had a third except for the steroid problems Roger Clemens would face later on. At this point they could bank on him, Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd and Bruce Hurst as starters with Calvin Schiraldi and Bob Stanley in the pen. Up until game 6, only game 1 had been outstanding, as the Reds won 1-0 with  Hurst shutting the Mets down and beating Ron Darling. Games 2–5 were nothing to write home about, as the Red Sox took a lead of 3 games to 2 by winning game 5 in Boston.  They jumped ahead 2-0 early in game 6 with Dwight Evans and Marty Barrett registering RBI base knocks.  Bobby Ojeda didn’t seem to have it while Roger Clemens seemed at his best. However, in the fifth an RBI single by Ray Knight and a run-scoring twin killing by Danny Heep knotted the game. The Sox put up an unearned run in the 7th thanks to an error by Ray Knight. The Sox missed a chance for more in the 8th. With Henderson on second, rookie Mike Greenwell came up. While he would be called Gator in later years, he was no match for Mets’ reliever Roger McDowell who struck him out.  See ya later alligator. What happened next is confused.  Roger Clemens said later he wanted to keep pitching. His boss, Red Sox manager John McNamara said the 23-year-old Clemens had begged out of the game. Any way you slice it, Schiraldi was on the hill hoping for a 6-out save. It didn’t happen. The Mets loaded the bases and tied the game as a result of a scoring fly ball hit by Gary Carter.  Schiraldi survived the 9th and the Red Sox put up 2 in the 10th off Rick Aguilera to make it 5-3.  The closer remained on the hill and aging Bill Buckner, a man known for his bad ankles remained at first base. Usually up until then Dave Stapleton would replace Buckner in the late innings.  Schiraldi got the first two Mets out without trouble. Both Wally Backman and Keith Hernandez flied out. Hernandez, sure his team was doomed undressed in the clubhouse waiting for the end.  In the Red Sox clubhouse, the champagne was at the ready and Tom Yawkey’s widow was on hand to congratulate the victorious team her husband had bought as the Great Depression was starting.  The team hadn’t won a World Series since 1918 when they beat the Cubs. The scoreboard operator goofed up and flashed “Congratulations Boston Red Sox, 1986 World Champions.” Then suddenly, Gary Carter singled.  Needing a pinch-hitter somebody had to get Kevin Mitchell from the clubhouse where he was booking a flight home.  He singled. With two strikes on him Knight singled Carter home and sent Mitchell to third. That was that for the closer, and a former closer Bob Stanley was summoned. After 7 pitches the count was even with the Sox a strike away from glory.  Then …  a wild pitch tied it and one of the most infamous plays of all time occurred.  Mookie Wilson hit a dribbler that went past Bill Buckner for a Mets’ win. On TV, Vin Scully let the crowd roar for more than 3 minutes. In the Boston clubhouse the widow Yawkey was moved out with as much dignity as possible and the champagne was made to disappear, 13 years before we  knew of Harry Potter and his magical world. The game caused an unprecedented cancellation.  Saturday Night Live wasn’t seen  for the first time in the 11 years it had been on the air. Years later, as a Christmas present for Mets’ fans, radio station WFAN, a 50,000-watt blowtorch aired the game on several occasions.  In 2011 the game was voted the third greatest game in the past 50 years by the MLB Network. After a rainout the next night, the Mets won game 7 8–5. My doctor, a baseball sage told me later that the Red Sox wouldn’t have won that game if they had Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb on the team.  The Mets had a stranglehold on the momentum.

 

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