Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Thursday, Nov. 3.
As amazing as it sounds, thanks to an improbable 8-7 10-inning win in game 7 of the World Series, the Cubs are the champions. 18 men have held the office of President of the United States between the last Cubs’ World Series win in 1908 and last night’s win in a game as crazy as a Hollywood producer could imagine. When the Cubs last won, women couldn’t vote. Now, a woman has an equal chance to win the next presidential election and the Cubs rule the baseball world.
The game itself, played before almost 38,000 in Cleveland was as exciting as game 6 was dull. It didn’t appear the contest would be an instant classic. The Cubs got off to a 5-1 lead early. I picked that time to attempt some do-it-yourself repairs on this computer (with the predictable result.) Corey Kluber had nothing to offer, like his teammate Josh Tomlin in game 6. Dexter Fowler led the game off by taking a Kluber batting-practice fastball out of sight for a home run. Javier Baez and David Ross would also hit long balls to help the Cubs build their early lead. Kluber left after the Baez home run in the 5th. At 39, catcher David Ross ties Willie Stargell for the title of oldest man to hit a World Series home run. His circuit clout made it 6-3 in the 6th and came off Andrew Miller, the Indians’ usual closer. Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs’ starter left after 4 with the lead and was followed by John Lester. The Indians closed the gap to 5-3, then the Cubs extended it to 6-3 and there we stood until the last of the 8th. Cubs’ manager Joe Madden hoped for a 2-inning save from Aroldis Chapman, their prize acquisition from the Yankees. Up until then Chapman had done all his manager could ask and so much more. But his tank was empty as he took the hill last night and the Indians took advantage. After giving up an RBI-double to Brandon Guyer to make it 6-4, lightly-regarded Rajai Davis put his name up there with Bernie Carbo by launching an 8th-inning home run to tie the game at 6. How lightly regarded? He was a 38th-round draft choice by the Pirates in 2001. Only by hitting .305 in the minors could he make the show at all, much less spend 10 years at the top. He turned 36 on October 19, and during his decade in the bigs the Connecticut native has done nothing close to last night’s game-tying blast. Chapman on his mettle survived the 9th, and for doing so he grabbed the win since the Cubs put up two runs after a 17-minute rain delay in the visiting half of the 10th. Carl Edwards JR. gave up a run in the home 10th but Mike Montgomery got the save for the Cubs.
Only twice has game 7 gone into extras since World War II. The 1991 game 7 featuring Jack Morris and John Smoltz, and game 7 of the 1997 World Series when the Marlins beat the Indians in 11 innings. While the game was being played in Cleveland, fans by the thousands gathered in Wrigleyville for an impromptu celebration once victory was assured. Ben Zobrist drove in the first 10th-inning run with a double, and took the World Series MVP award. He was driven home by the Cubs’ third-string catcher Miguel Montero with what turned out to be a crucial insurance run.
A Very_ Special_ Baseball Event
After this column was finished I was made aware of the following baseball specialty event. Taylor Duncan has this report:
The World Series may be over…. That doesn’t mean baseball as a whole is over for the year just yet!!! Please make plans to attend in person or watch THE FIRST EVER ABO ALL-STAR GAME (featuring professional players from all over the world and players with autism and special needs) online (stevemajorsport
Guess what? This is free with a donation to attend… Name your price! Can’t get any better than that now, can you? Funds raised will go towards the ABO’s quest towards 501c3 status! I hope to see you all on the 12th, let’s raise awareness and acceptance for special needs together!!!
Considering the urgency of yesterday’s game 7, I didn’t print yesterday’s birthdays, though there were a few good ones. Willie McGee turned 58 yesterday. He broke into the majors in 1982 with the Cardinals and played his last few years there, ending in 1999. The switch-hitting San Franciscan hit .295 with over 2250 hits in his time in the bigs. While he was a Yankee draftee, he never did better than AA until he went to the Cardinals. McGee was an All-Star 4 times between 1983 and 1988. His Cardinals won the World Series in 1982 and could have in 1985, the year he won his first batting title. He was also league MVP that year. His 1987 Cardinals were barely edged by the Twins in a 7-game World Series. He was traded to Oakland very late in 1990 just in time to make the roster as the A’s were swept by the Reds. On June 23, 1984 he hit for the cycle-and still his team lost 12-11 to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Ryne Sandberg hit home runs in both the 9th and 10th to tie the game for the Cubs. McGee has spent the last 4 years as a suit in the Cardinals’ front office.
Tom Paciorek (Pa Chore Wreck) turned 70 yesterday. While he was drafted by the Dolphins to play football on the NoName defense , that’s not what got him here. While he spent almost 18 years in major league baseball after turning down football he wouldn’t get a mention here for that. He was a career .282 hitter and once was an All-Star, in 1981 while he played with the Mariners. Likewise I wouldn’t bring him up based on that. He made the playoffs with the 1974 Dodgers who lost the World Series, and the 1983 White Sox who were aced out by Baltimore in the ALCS. He’s here because of his broadcasting time spent with the White Sox, and because of his nickname “Wimpy.” At a Dodgers’ team party everybody else ordered steak while Paciorek ordered a hamburger. Manager Tom Lasorda nicknamed him Wimpy from that day in homage to the character Wimpy in the Popeye cartoons who took down all the burgers he could get while Popeye ate spinach. On May 8, 1984 he set a record which stands today. He replaced Ron Kittle in the lineup in the 4th inning of a game that went 25 innings before being decided. By the end he had 5 hits in 9 tries, the most hits in a game by a non-starter. He and Ken “Hawk” Harrelson broadcast the White Sox on WGN from 1988–99 making themselves household names since WGN could be seen in most of the country. He broadcast the 2000 Tigers and 2001 Mariners, then spent 4 seasons doing cable-TV for the Braves. He spent 2006 doing color commentary on TV for the Nationals.
Johnny Vander Meer was born November 2, 1994 and died in 1997. Born in New Jersey, Vander Meer’s greatest moment came before he reached the age of 24. On May 11 and 15, 1938 he threw back-to-back no-hitters, which will certainly never be done again. The first was a day game in Cincinnati against the Boston Braves. The second was in the first night game ever played in Brooklyn. He was an All-Star 4 times between 1938 and 1943 and 3 times led his league in strikeouts. In 1947 he was a Reds’ pitcher when their star Ewell Blackwell fired one no-hitter and got into the 9th of his next start without giving up a hit. In the end Brooklyn got two hits off him. Had they not, the Reds would have had the only two men to throw back-to-back no-hitters on their staff.
As for today’s birthdays, the Mets’ renowned closer Armando Benitez is 44 today. He played from 1994 to 2008, always a reliever if not a closer. His record was 40-47 with 289 saves. His longest stays were with the Orioles and Mets, after which he became a baseball vagabond. He was an All-Star in both 2003 and 2004. He led his league in saves with the 2004 Marlins, as dreadful as they were following a winter fire sale. While he wasn’t hugely overweight like CC Sabathia and others in the game, Benitez was plagued by gout as a Met, owing to his overindulgence in shellfish. Given my build, it would appear I would do well to avoid eating seafood portofino, a shellfish delight which I enjoy to excess.
Another World Series name of renown, Dwight Evans is 65 today. He was a fifth-round draftee of the Red Sox in 1969 coming out of high school in Santa Monica, CA. He hit .272 and just missed 2500 hits in the bigs. He is remembered for a game-tying 9th-inning home run in game 3 of the 1975 World Series, then robbing Joe Morgan of a home run in game 6 in the 11th inning. He also played for the 1986 Red Sox who were beaten by the Mets in 7 games.
Bob Feller was born this day in 1918 in Van Meter, Iowa and died in 2010 at 92. He broke in as a boy of 17 in July 1936. In a 16-team league that was a lot more amazing than pulling it off today. He recorded a 266-162 record in a career entirely spent in Cleveland. He was an All-Star 8 times between 1938 and 1950. He, Jackie Robinson and former manager Bill McKechnie were all inducted to Cooperstown in 1962. In a day when radio broadcasters and print journalists tended to give players colorful nicknames, Feller was known as “Rapid Robert,” “The Heater from Van Meter,’ or one that would never fly today, “Bullet Bob.” He threw one no-hitter in 1940 and two after returning from the Navy-one in 1946 and one in 1951. He had no less than a dozen one-hitters. Only Nolan Ryan has come to the brink a dozen times, as Feller has done.
With the season over now, this blog will be written intermitently. If you wish to read short pieces written by me, you may join my Facebook group, which is also called Baseball As I See It. I want to devote as much time as possible to my memoir of my dozen years as a baseball broadcaster.0