Thursday, November 5, 2015

Of Heroes And Goats

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

Hallelujah, the worst baseball season in 33 years is finally over.

Will the Reds new GM Dick Williams be active this offseason?

I read that the San Francisco Giants declined their option on Nori Aoki, hmmmmm. Career .287 hitter, good contact, some speed although his stolen base numbers have fallen over the past couple of seasons, and he was a bona fide Reds killer while in Milwaukee.

Congrats to the Kansas City Royals, featuring former Reds Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, and Ryan Madson, for overcoming several deficits to become World Champions.

The New York Mets played like they’d never been to the World Series before, the Royals played like champions.

What you just witnessed during the Series was a classic example of how “Small Ball” works. “Keep the line moving”, as now World Champion manager Ned Yost so aptly put it.

Useless Trivia; this was Ned Yost first championship as a manager, however Yost participated in eight “Fall Classics”. He played for the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1982 series, was a coach for the Atlanta Braves during their World Series trips in 1991,1992,1995,1996, and 1999, and back to back trips to the World Series as manager.

Hey Bryan Price, did you take plenty of notes on how to win a championship?

You can pencil the Washington Nationals as the early favorite to win the National League East. Yeah, Dusty Baker is that good. Nice slam toward the Reds at his press conference.

I sure thought Baker’s next job would be as Dodgers skipper.

I wonder if Daniel Murphy or Lucas Duda will be under the same scrutiny that Bill Buckner was in 1986.

In case you’re a product of the Common Core driven public school system, here’s a history lesson; way back in 1986 the New York Mets played the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. Boston held a three games to two lead heading to game six at Shea Stadium. Boston led 5 – 3 going to the Mets half of the tenth. Red Sox pitcher Calvin Schiraldi quickly recorded two outs when, in essence, the wheels fell off. Gary Carter lashed a single to left, Kevin Mitchell singled to center, and then Ray Knight followed with an RBI single to right center scoring Carter and advancing Mitchell to third. At this point Sox manager John McNamara brought in Bob Stanley to try to secure the elusive third out. Stanley promptly throws a 2 – 2 wild pitch sending Mitchell in with the tying run. On Stanley’s next pitch Mookie Wilson bounces a grounder to first and a hobbled Bill Buckner valiantly tried to make the catch but the ball rolls between his legs allowing the winning run to score tying the series at three games each.

Question: How did the Montreal Expos react to this game? Write a 900 page thesis about it. (Sorry, I was helping my ten year old with a Common Core math problem.)

Just like 1975, Boston blows an early 3 – 0 lead in game 7. All Buckner’s fault, eh?

There something to be said about great relief pitching, which the Red Sox didn’t have in 1986. I guess that was Bill Buckner’s fault too.

More Useless Trivia; if you’ve ever watched replays of Hank Aaron’s 715th home run in old Fulton County Stadium, that’s Bill Buckner of the Los Angeles Dodgers climbing the fence in a futile effort to catch the historic baseball.

Come to think of it, we could blame Buckner for a lot of things; our economy, the lack of jobs, higher taxes, the Tea Party political movement, Obamacare (Bucknercare just didn’t sound good), problems in the Middle East, terrorism, global warming, World Wars one and two, Watergate, Whitewater Gate (Google it), Steve Bartman, and gridlock in Washington D.C.

O.K., so I’m a bit facetious. I like to think of myself as an Old Phart. (F words look so much more impressive when started with Ph.)

Well, at least the Cubs didn’t win the World Series. Along with 28 other teams.

Incredibly Useless Trivia; in case you’re keeping score at home, since the beginning of the millennium in 2000, the National and American League have won eight series each. Unlike the previous millennium.

75 Years Ago; Tuesday October 8, 1940 – Reds overcome a three games to two deficit in this World Series by shutting out the Detroit Tigers in Monday’s game 6, 4 – 0. Game 7 was an epic pitcher’s duel with Paul Derringer and Bobo Newsom. Tigers scored a single run in the third and the lead held until the last of the seventh when Cincinnati’s Frank McCormick and Jimmy Ripple led off the inning with back to back doubles to tie the game, a sacrifice bunt sent Ripple to third followed by a Billy Myers sacrifice fly. Derringer’s clutch pitching allowed the 2 – 1 lead to stand enabling Cincinnati to claim its second World Championship.

40 Years Ago; Wednesday October 22, 1975 – at 12:32am Game 6 came to a dramatic close with Boston’s Carlton Fisk’s leadoff homer in the twelfth inning. Twenty hours later, Game 7 began. The Red Sox jumped to a 3 – 0 lead in the third thanks to Don Gullett’s inability to find the strike zone. With the Big Red Machine, however, no lead was safe, Cincinnati chipped away scoring two on Tony Perez mammoth home run in the sixth, tied the game in the seventh on Series M.V.P. Pete Rose RBI single, and winning the game on a “Texas League” single from N.L.M.V.P. Joe Morgan in the ninth. Reds closer Will McEnaney retired the Red Sox in order to end the Greatest World Series ever.

25 Years Ago; Saturday October 20, 1990 – This game was supposed to be the crowning achievement for one of baseball’s greatest teams, the 103 win Oakland A’s featuring two twenty game winners Dave Stewart and Bob Welch. Unfortunately for the Athletics, Cincinnati never got the memo. The Reds thoroughly dominated Oakland winning 7 – 0, 5 – 4(10 innings) and 8 – 3, to take a commanding 3 – 0 series lead. Game 4 started rough for Cincinnati, losing Billy Hatcher and Eric Davis to injuries. The A’s took a 1 – 0 lead in the first but thanks to the tenacity of Series M.V.P. Jose Rijo, the lead held until the Reds eighth. (Rijo retired the last 20 batters he faced.) Consecutive singles by Barry Larkin and Herm Willingham put runners on first and second. A Dave Stewart throwing error on a Paul O’Neill grounder loaded the bases. Glenn Braggs grounded into what should have been a double play, but his hustle down the first base line enabled the Reds to tie the game and leave the bases loaded. Hal Morris drove a Stewart pitch deep into right field for a sacrifice fly giving Cincinnati a 2 – 1 lead. “Nasty Boy” Randy Myers nailed down the final two outs to send the Reds to an improbable sweep.

As a postscript, I had the pleasure to speak to Rob Dibble a few years ago when he was the host of an MLB Network radio program. I mentioned that the Athletics never scored past the third inning of any game of that series, a fact that he said he was not aware of.

Ah, what sweet memories, unlike the putrid taste from this past season.

Now that the leaves have fallen, and all the baseball equipment is packed away, the internal clock within me is telling me it’s time to hibernate. Have a blessed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years’, see you in the spring.


Dan Howard

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