Two Games from Baseball’s Past are More Tolerable than the Gloomy Now

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Sunday, Oct. 8.

After the horror on Friday night, when the Yankees inexcusably blew an 8–3 lead in a critical game, today’s game 3 seems more like a postmortem than anything else.  The  Yankees, perhaps in a subconscious gesture to end their pain are going with Masahiro Tanaka who botched the one postseason start he’s made since crossing the Pacific. If they wanted to at least try they would go with Luis Severino who pitched all of a third of an inning Tuesday night.  The thing to do would be to jump right back on that horse so he won’t have to brood all through the coming offseason, thus giving the Yanks a chance not to get swept.  Yankee fans are praying Tanaka, CC Sabathia and manager Joe Girardi will all be gone when the Yankees meet in Tampa next spring. At least, the Red Sox are also down 2 games to None, making it an excellent possibility that Houston and Cleveland will meet next week in the ALCS. I can keep watching American League ball if Boston is settling into their winter hibernation.

Rather than spend time and words on 2017 baseball, two past games played on this date in baseball’s glorious past are more worth writing about.  One is a part of the game’s lore.  On October 8, 1956 the Yankees’ Don Larsen faced down the Brooklyn Dodgers at the original Yankee Stadium.  In game 2 the Dodgers had slaughtered Larsen 13-5 at Ebbets Field.  But on this day at the end of Ike’s first term as president, Larsen was unstoppable.  Hall of Famers or borderline Hall of Famers went down meekly, inning after inning. Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges and Jim Gilliam for one day were reduced to mere mortal status. 3 more Hall of Famers were upstairs in the press box.  Bob Wolf told the world what was happening on radio while Mel Allen and Vin Scully narrated the black-and-white picture on the TV side. When Dale Mitchell struck out, making it 27 up and 27 down for a perfect game, Larsen and his catcher Yogi Berra made what is a now famous picture. You will see it during commercials in the next World Series if not sooner.

While that game is historic, another October 8 game should be better remembered than it is. This one happened just 7 years ago today. As of 1969 the sport went to divisional play, coining the term “LCS” for league championship series.  Beginning in 1995 the term Division Series became a part of the game.  On this date in 2010, in game 1 of the National League Division Series, Roy Halliday pitched a no-hitter for the Phillies against the Reds.

At 33 Halliday was already a baseball veteran.  He had been drafted in the first round by the Blue Jays in 1995.  Their broadcaster of the day, Tom Cheek hung the name “Doc” on Halliday as a reference to Doc Holliday, the famed gunslinger of Wild West lore. The Jays had passed their years of greatness by the time Doc made his appearance at the end of 1998. He almost found glory in his second appearance, on the last day of the 1998 season.  The first 25 Tigers had come up and gone down before a home run by Bobby Higginson spoiled things. Halliday  became an All-Star in 2002 and won 19 games before the season was done. A year later he won 22 games and got the Cy Young award. He would have started the 2005 All-Star game but got his leg broken a week before in a game against the Rangers.  That ended his season. He finally got to start an All-Star game 4 years later in his last year before joining the Phillies in a trade.  He pitched a perfect game at the end of May 2010 against the Marlins, and followed it up on this date with the only other post-season no-hitter ever pitched. He had won 20 games, the first Phillies’ pitcher to do that in almost 30 years. A walk to Jay Bruce was the only base runner he allowed in his no-hitter. He claimed his second Cy Young award, the first for a Phillies’ pitcher in decades. He started the next All-Star game, won 19 in 2011 and started twice in that year’s NLDS against the Cardinals who would end up winning the World Series.  Just two years later he was finished at age 36. He was shelved for large parts of 2012 and 2013 with shoulder injuries, then retired owing to a back injury. It’s my guess that his no-hitter would be better remembered if it had happened in the World Series as opposed to the Division series.  The sad truth is that while the whole world is watching the World Series, catching a division series isn’t as easily managed.  Finding the games can be confusing no matter how MLB tries to keep the games accessible.  All games prior to the World Series are on cable, with some being on FS1 or the MLB network-neither of which are easy to locate in today’s world of a thousand channels or more.

Coming back to today’s game for a moment, the Red Sox are desperate enough to start Doug Fister in game 3 against the Astros.  Such is the state of their rotation without David Price and with both Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz defeated in games 1 and 2 respectively. The game is at Fenway Park which is possibly the only advantage the Red Sox have. The Astros send Brad Peacock into the fray for his first start in postseason play.


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