Cubs Tie Series and Everything’s Jake!

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Thursday, Oct. 27.

If the park in Cleveland were still Jacobs Field (as it should be) I could say “everything’s Jake at the Jake on the Lake,” like an old fifties DJ talking about a “platter that matters,” or a “golden goodie great from the grooveyard.”  That was the kind of DJ I wanted to be, not knowing they were extinct by the time I graduated college.  Jake Arrieta subdued the Indians in the best John Ford tradition, the Cubs’ bats woke up and the Chicago team won game 2 of the World Series by a 5-1 score.  Arrieta was the story, not giving up a hit until one man was gone in the home sixth. Sadly, one out later Jake left because of the way pitchers are babied these days. His greatness should have been left out there for all the world to see.  Should the Indians win the next 3 games we might not see Jake on the hill dominating the way he did last night. Mike Montgomery and Aroldis Chapman kept the Indians at parade rest, at least. The Cubs’ last World Series game victory was on Oct.  8, 1945 when in 12 innings they beat the Tigers 8-7 on a hit by Stan Hack.  The next day they lost game 7 and haven’t been in a World Series until now. As for trying to repeat Don Larsen, the last brush with a no-hitter came in game 2 of the 1969 World Series when, in Baltimore the Mets’ lefty Jerry Koosman pitched 6 hitless innings against the Orioles in a game where the Mets evened the Series. The Cubs had a pitcher go 6 hitless innings back in 1906 when Ed Ruelbach did it against their crosstown rivals, the White Sox. Chicago’s own Jason Kipnis, the Indians’ second baseman spoiled Arrieta’s bid for baseball immortality with a clean two-base hit. He moved to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch. While Indians’ starter Trevor Bauer’s finger held together his pitching didn’t. He didn’t survive the 4th and he threw 87 pitches while he was on the hill. Kyle Schwarber who missed the entire season with a torn ACL had 2 hits and two RBIS for the Cubs. Anthony Rizzo drove home the first run with a double and, after drawing a walk in the third  scored on a Schwarber hit. The Cubs put up 3 in the fifth.  Ben Zobrist tripled home Anthony Rizzo when right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall fell down. Schwarber singled him home. With him aboard Kipnis messed up a routine grounder by the Cubs’ Wilson Contreras.  Reliever Bryan Shaw walked a man to load the bases and walked another to force home the fifth run.     Proving it’s a young man’s game, the Cubs were the first team to win a World Series game with 6 players under age 25 in the lineup as the game commenced. They needed the energy of youth.  The gametime temperature was 43 degrees with dampness in the air that promised rain.  I’ve announced in weather such as that, but not since I was in my thirties. Men whose hair and teeth are jumping ship don’t care to venture out in such weather, much less broadcast what was a truly ponderous ball game taking more than 4 hours to run its course. Indians’ manager Terry Francona had won his first 9 World Series games before being beaten.  Only two managers have longer World Series win streaks-Joe Torre with 14 wins and Joe McCarthy with 10-both of which came as managers of the Yankees. Not hinting at anything but both of those managers are in Cooperstown.  After a day off today, action resumes tomorrow night at Wrigley.  The Cubs go with Kyle Hendricks, who would win the Cubs’ most improved pitcher award if such a thing existed. From nothing at all in 2015 he dominated the league this year and blanked the Dodgers in the clinching game 6 of the NLCS. Josh Tomlin takes the hill for the Indians Friday with a special motivation to do well.  His father has been hospitalized during all of Tomlin’s recent starts but his health has rallied like  a World Series baseball team does, and he will be in the stands at Wrigley at gametime.

While nobody in baseball is bigger than the World Series, the Mets’ Yoenis Cespedes is trying to upstage the Fall Classic as far as Mets fans are concerned.  The one real bat the Mets have had the last year and a half is saying fond farewell to New York, exercising the “opt out” clause written into his contract. The Mets may still approach him, but so can 29 other teams-a few of which are known for spending money which the Mets rarely do. He was signed in the hope that he would play center field, which he didn’t do following a quad injury early on. Without him, the corner outfield slots go to an aging Curtis Granderson, a very young Michael Conforto and a Jay Bruce who was an unmitigated disaster from the second the Mets got him from Cincinnati.  Some guys are best being a loud noise in a small room, which Bruce was while in the Queen City. Cespedes, called “La Potencia” or “The Power” in Cuba  has hit .282 with 48 home runs since the Mets got him at the end of July, 2015.  Those numbers resemble those of Joe Hardy in the play “Damn Yankees.” In spite of all their supposed pitching depth,  losing Cespedes would virtually guarantee the Mets a return to mediocrity or worse without an aggressive approach to bringing in good bats, which is an approach the team has never taken.

How much baseball do you need? Will you watch it instead of football on this Thursday night? If you answered yes, then there’s a game to be seen. And one of the players you may recall from his football days.  Exclusively_ On at 9:30 PM tonight, Tim Tebow and the visiting Scottsdale Scorpions will face the Salt River Rafters. Earlier this week Kyle Schwarber was in the Arizona Fall League preparing to shock the world in the World Series, which he has done with 3 hits in 7 tries. Yankees minor league infielder Gleyber Torres, considered the 17th-best prospect overall by Baseball Pipeline will be on the field along with two Brewers’ bushers who are top 100 prospects according to the same source. Torres leads off at second base for Scottsdale, followed by Mets’ shortstop hopeful Gavin Cecchini whom I’ve been calling “Zucchini” since I first heard of him. Next in the lineup is the Yankees’ Greg Bird, hoping to rehab his injured shoulder that cost him the entire 2016 season. Tebow hits 8th in left field and for a good reason. The most updated stats I could find for him showed 2 hits in 20 tries, a pathetic .100 for the one-time college football star  who takes his place beside Eddie Gaedel and Michael Jordan as baseball stunt men. To avoid embarrassment his old football stats are flashed on the scoreboard when he steps to the plate.    If you want to see it, set your TiVo for Tebow.

One of the many stories of the 2015 postseason, Ruben Tejada is 27 today.  Because of the foul tactics of Dodgers’ base runner Chase Utley, it looks as though Tejada’s career is finished at 27. Utley slid viciously into Tejada and broke his leg in game 2 of the NLDS, ending his season and apparently his career. The Panamanian native made his debut in the show at the start of 2010 with the Mets and stayed with them through the awful years until 2 2015 and all the drama that season brought. He had a .252 average and 500+ hits in the time he had. Both the Cardinals and Giants gave him a try in 2016 without success. He idolized shortstops Derek Jeter and Omar Vizquel, and played on a team that made the Little League World Series in 2001. His dad pitched for a local team.

The Mets’ infielder T. J. Rivera is 28. Thomas Javier Rivera of the Bronx made his debut in the show this year and could have been on the roster if the Mets hadn’t had to face Madison Bumgarner in the NL wild card game. The former Met Jonathan Niese is 30 today.  Following knee surgery the Mets made it clear the lefty wouldn’t see Citi Field in 2017.

Former pitcher Bill Swift is 55 today.  He hails from Portland, Maine and went upstate to Orono and the University of Maine to play college ball.  Under his baton the Black Bears made four appearances in the College World Series starting  in 1981 and culminating  in 1984 thanks  to a rotten umpire’s call by Gus Steiner in a game against Seton Hall. The Hall had also been Maine’s foil two years earlier.     Swift  was drafted second in America by the Mariners, and they were so awful he was pitching at the KingDome a year later. He lasted until 1998 and put up a 94-78 mark in that span. He played for the Giants and Rockies before returning to end his career where it had begun, Seattle. While never an All-Star he once led the NL in ERA while with the Giants. He won 21 games for  their team in 1993 when they lost a chance for the pennant on the final day of the season. He has too much sense to live in Maine nowadays, coaching baseball at Arizona Christian University.

Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner was born this day in 1922 and passed away on Feb. 6, 2014. He was a prolific home run hitter, and said at one point “Home run hitters drive Cadillacs, singles hitters drive Fords.” He didn’t comment publicly on the quality of women home run hitters might marry in those days.  In fact he married tennis star Nancy Chaffee.  one of his opponents was Wayne Terwilliger, who I came to know in the 1990’s. Twig, as he was called told a story of Chaffee hanging her legs over the railing above the dugout and providing a distraction for opposing hitters. She was the only celeb among  Kiner’s 4 wives. He hit 369 home runs in just 10 years, between the Pirates, Cubs and Indians. He was an All-Star 6 times, all before he left Pittsburgh. He led his league in home runs 7 timesand was the first of the 3 original New York Mets broadcasters to reach Cooperstown, which he did in 1975.  That was just 3 years after I had met the trio-Kiner, Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy at Shea Stadium. He was a Navy pilot in World War II, leading me to wonder, if he shot down an  enemy plane  would he say “It is  gone good-bye,) which was his unforgetable  home run call. When he put up 54 home runs in 1949, it would be  the most in his league between 1931 and 1997. He was just two shy of the standing record in that league of 56 by Hack Wilson. On being traded in 1953 after a horrific Pirates’ season in 1952, the general manager Branch Rickey reportedly said “We finished last with you, we can finish last without you.” An injured back curtailed Kiner’s  career at 32 but didn’t keep him out of the broadcast booth, the way Curt Gowdy’s ailing back limited him. Kiner was with the White Sox in 1961, then joined the Mets’ original trio mentioned above. He got to work on NBC radio and TV in both the 1969 and 1973 World Series strictly because the Mets’ chairman of the board, M. Donald Grant preferred Kiner to Murphy.  Bob got his in 1986 when he called the Mets’ victory over Boston. He announced as late as 2013, at age 90. by then, owing to a 2004 stroke  he broadcast rarely and was deferred to when he did. From his induction in 1975 until the end he made every induction ceremony at Cooperstown no matter what health troubles were plaguing him.


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