Thursday, October 30, 2014

KC Should Have Sent Gordon

Congrats to the Giants!
The TV ratings may have been down, but that was a fun World Series. Back-to-back shutouts by different teams. Has that ever happened before? Yes. In 1905 the New York Giants played the Philadelphia Athletics in a 5-game series. All five were shutouts. Game 1 by the Giants, Game 2 by the A's, Games 3, 4 and 5 by the Giants. In 1906 the White Sox and Cubs exchanged shutouts. In 1908 the Cubs and Tigers did it. In the 1919 "Black Sox" series the White Sox had a shutout in Game 3 followed by Reds shutouts in Games 4 and 5. In 1940 the Tigers and Reds exchanged shutouts in Games 5 and 6. In 1946 the Cardinals shut out the Red Sox in Game 3 and Boston returned the favor in Game 4. In 1949 the Yankees and Dodgers had back-to-back shutouts in Games 1 and 2 and in 1956 they swapped shutouts in Games 5, 6 and 7. In 1958 the Yankees and Milwaukee Braves swapped shutouts in Games 3, 4 and 5. But it hadn't happen for the last 56 years.

What would have been even more exciting?
It's Game 7, bottom of the 9th, two outs, Giants leading by one run. Madison Bumgarner has set down 14 straight in an incredible 5 innings of relief. Alex Gordon represents the last chance for Kansas City. He hits a single to left-center that gets bobbled by both Gregor Blanco and Juan Perez and he winds up on 3rd, representing the tying run. That's as far as he gets. KC's Salvador Perez pops up to Kung Fu Panda for the 3rd out. That's the game and the Series.

It probably wouldn't have changed the outcome, but...
If instead of holding Gordon at 3rd, Kansas City 3rd base coach Mike Jirschele had given him the big arm wave and sent him home it would have tied the game if he slid in safe. Even if Gordon had been out...what an exciting finish...the World Series ends with the tying run thrown out at the plate in the bottom of the 9th. That would have been right up there with Bill Mazeroski (1960), Carlton Fisk (1975), Kirk Gibson (1988) and Joe Carter (1993) as a highlight for the ages.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Most Exciting Games I've Ever Seen

That was a fast decade.
It was ten years ago that I took my daughter Caitlin Kelley to the Red Sox-Yankees playoff game at Fenway Park. It was a Sunday night, October 17th.

The night before I had taken my other daughter, Kara Kelley, to Game 3 in the series. The Sox were already down two games to none after Curt Schilling (Ace #1) and Pedro Martinez (Ace #1A) had both lost in the Bronx on Tuesday and Wednesday. Friday night was a rainout, and in Game 3 the Sox were pounded. We actually left during the 7th inning stretch when we were losing, 17-6. We got home in time for the opening of Saturday Night Live where they were making fun of the Red Sox being down 3 games to none and they might as well give up now and go golfing. I think that was the night Ashlee Simpson was caught doing a bad job of lip-synching.

Sunday night the place was buzzing.
A packed house, of course, with a ton of police presence. Every surrounding town was called in for backup. We bumped into Larry David on the way in, and I decided that I should say something to him. "Hey, you're Larry David" would be way too lame, so I decided to say, "Larry - who are you rooting for...the Padres?" He looked at me with his WTF expression and said, "Why would you ask me that?" I had no reply, and we went to our seats in Section 29. I had been thinking of an episode in "Curb Your Enthusiasm" where Larry is invited to a Padres-Yankees game but doesn't show up.

Then came the 9th.
The Yankees were leading in the game, 4-3, and leading in the ALCS, 3 games to none. No team had ever come back from a 3-0 deficit, and it's the bottom of the 9th, and we're facing the best closer in the history of baseball, Mariano Rivera.

We all know what happened.
Kevin Millar works a leadoff walk, Dave Roberts goes in to pinch run. Everyone in the ballpark knows that Roberts is going at attempt a steal, and Rivera throws over four or five times so Roberts doesn't get too good a lead. On the fifth throw over, Dave Roberts slides back to the base, then gets up and starts walking toward the dugout. From our vantage point in Section 29 it absolutely looked like Roberts was picked off. Oh, well...there goes the season. We'll wait till next year...again. But wait...Dave Roberts was not picked off. He was just brushing the dirt off his pants. They were pretty dirty after five straight slides back to first.

My favorite Jeter moment.
During the year-long Derek Jeter farewell tour in 2014 writers and fans talked about their favorite Jeter moments. Here's mine:

Jeter fails to make the tag.

Bill Mueller singles, Dave Roberts scores to tie the game, we go on to the 12th, when Big Papi hit a 2-run walkoff to send everyone home tired but happy. Joe Castiglione said, "We'll see you for Game 5 later today." (I was there, not listening to the radio, so I didn't hear that line until later.) When we got home at 2:30 AM...Caitlin had a class at 9AM at Providence College...I went online to figure out which episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" I had been thinking of. Turned out it was actually a "Sopranos" episode, where Finn, the boyfriend of Meadow, is invited to Yankees game by Vito but is afraid and doesn't show up. That's why Larry David had no idea what I was talking about.

Then the 14-inning marathon.
I went with my brother Hugh Kelley. It was a 5PM start. A mere 15 hours after the previous night's game ended. We were both scoring the game, as we usually do. The Red Sox took 2-0 lead, but New York went up 4-2 in the 6th, and the Red Sox tied it in the 8th (Mariano Rivera again giving up the tying run). As we flipped our scorecards over after each half-inning it seemed like the Yankees had jerks like Jeter and A Rod and Matsui and Bernie Williams and Hor-hay Posada leading off every inning. Tim Wakefield pitched the final three innings, and even though Jason Varitek was having a tough time catching Wake's knuckleballs, the Yankees got only one hit and no runs. In the bottom of the 14th Papi delivered again with an RBI single that scored Johnny Damon.

The rest is history.
Game 6 was the Schilling "bloody sock" game, Game 7 was all Red Sox. Then the sweep of the Cardinals to finally end the curse.

The most exciting games I've ever seen.
I've been going to games at Fenway since 1957. I've been to games at every Major League Ballpark (a total of 41), I've been to the All-Star game and seven World Series games...even saw the Red Sox clinch at Fenway last October, which was a very memorable game, but those two nights in 2004 were the most exciting games I've ever seen. Hard to believe it's been a decade.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

O's Are Out. Now What?

The Baltimore Orioles were swept.
It was the first time in the history of the franchise. Only 7 teams have never been swept in the playoffs, and that's mostly because they aren't in the playoffs that much. Those 7 are the Blue Jays, Rays, and Mariners in the American League, and the Mets, Nationals, Marlins and Brewers in the National League. I should note that four those those seven have never won the World Series, and with the exception of the 2000 Mariners (they swept the White Sox in the 2000 Division Series), none have ever swept anyone.

Most have multiple instances of sweeping and getting swept.
That basically means that the playoff system is pretty good, as there are few blowouts. Of 119 World Series to date, only 18 have been sweeps: Eight by the Yankees (6 of those were more than 60 years ago), two each by the Red Sox, Reds and Giants, and one each by the Braves, Dodgers, Orioles and A's. Of those eight teams, 6 have also been swept in the World Series. The Red Sox and Orioles are the only exceptions. And they're my two favorite teams.

So now...
It's the Royals against the Giants or Cardinals. In the NLCS I'll root for the Giants because of Buster Posey, former All-Star catcher for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod League. But in the World Series, it has to be the Royals so that only the Red Sox have three championships in this century. Makes sense to me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

No Beltway Series. For Whom Do We Root Now?

The Nationals are out.
The long wait continues for our nation's capital. 81 years since a World Series appearance, 90 years since a championship. That's the longest drought ever for any team in any major sport in America. The winning run for San Francisco came in the bottom of the 7th in a tie game. With the bases loaded and Kung Fu Panda at bat, Nats reliever Aaron Barrett uncorks a wild pitch and Joe Panik (an excellent baseball name-right up there with Brock Holt) scores the winning run for the Giants.

So it's Giants-Cardinals in the NLCS.
I like both teams, and both have excellent ballparks. The Giants star catcher, Buster Posey, played for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod League in 2006 and 2007. "Now batting for Yah-mith Dennis, the catcha, Bustah Posey." YD won the Championship both times, and again this year, so in the NLCS I'll go for the Giants.

No question here. Orioles. My second favorite team. We lived in Baltimore when I was Program Director at Mix 106.5. My daughter Kara was born there. I took my daughter Caitlin to her first game at Memorial Stadium. I started my Major League Ballpark World Tour when my wife Kathy got me tickets to the very first game at Camden Yards as a Father's Day present in 1992. Note: I had already been to four ballparks at that point, but it was at Camden Yards that I decided to hit 'em all. The World Tour of every major league ballpark was completed this summer in Cincinnati.

World Series matchups.
Even if the Orioles don't make it to the Big Dance (I realize that's a basketball term, but I'm using it anyway) I'm not rooting for the National League. Why? The Cardinals won in 2006 and 2011, the Giants in 2010 and 2012. Twice each in this century. The only team to win three times this century is the Red Sox, and it should stay that way so we can hold our heads high for another year.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dodgers are out.

So much for Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez.
The former Red Sox will not be in the Big Show. The LA-LA Series won't happen this year. Neither will the redux of the Giants-A's Earthquake Series or the 2002 Wild West Series between the Angels and Giants or a replay of the 1971 and 1979 Orioles-Pirates match ups.

Still on:
A 1985 rematch of the Cardinals-Royals All-Missouri Series. Or Misseries, if you will. Other than that, it's all new. Cardinals-Orioles (new, unless you count 1944, when the Orioles were the St. Louis browns and lost to the Cardinals), Giants-Royals (never met), Giants-Orioles (never met), Nationals-Royals (never met) and Nationals-Orioles in a Parkway Series, which would be my favorite.

We might have another update tonight.
I hope not, because that would mean Washington, a city waiting for a World Series Championship for 90 years, would be out. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

What We Won't See..What We Might See

The Wild Card is in the books.
The A's are out, the Pirates are out. So we won't have a redux of the 1909 Pirates - Tigers matchup or the Orioles - Pirates from 1971 and 1979. The Pirates won all three of them.

The Giants and A's have met three times...1911 and 1913 as the New York Giants and Philadelphia A's and again in 1989 as the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's. The A's have won all three. The Philadelphia A's and the Cardinals went back-to-back in 1930 and 1931 and split the pair. The Oakland A's faced the Dodgers in 1974 and 1988, each team winning one.

What could still happen?
The St. Louis Browns, who became the Orioles in 1954, played the Cardinals in the first all-Missouri series in 1944. It was actually all-St. Louis. Not a subway series, as they don't have a subway there. All the home games were played at Sportsman's Park, the home field for both teams. Same place that Johnny Pesky held on to the cutoff throw while Enos Slaughter scored the winning run for the Cards in the 1946, beating the Red Sox in their first post-Babe Ruth series appearance. They'd wait another 58 years to sip the champagne. But we could have an Orioles-Cardinals series. The Cardinals and Royals could reprise 1985 with a third all-Missouri series.

What other repeats might happen?
Well, the Angels and Giants could do 2002 again...LA of Anaheim, known simply as Anaheim back then, won it. And then there's the potential Cardinals-Tigers matchup. They've faced each other three times in the World Series: St. Louis won in 1934, Detroit in 1968 and St. Louis in 2006.

16 possibilities, 4 potential repeats.
Not sure how that averages compared to other years...but at least the Yankees are not part of the fun.