Posts Tagged ‘Alfredo Griffin’

25 Years On

October 16, 2013
Dodgers first baseman Franklin Stubbs

Dodgers first baseman Franklin Stubbs

Normally I do a post about this time each year dealing with what happened 25 years ago. I’ve held off this year because the post would involve the Dodgers and they happen to be still playing (although for how much longer is a question). But it’s time to remind you what happened a quarter century back.

It was supposed to be a matchup between the “Bash Brothers” of Oakland and the Mets. Everyone agreed that the World Series would be between the two best teams in baseball and those were the Athletics and the Mets. The A’s were dominant in the American League. Led by MVP Jose Conseco who became the first player with both 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases, “Bash Brother” Mark McGwire only one year removed from his Rookie of the Year performance, a fine pitching staff, and Hall of Fame reliever Dennis Eckersley Oakland rolled over Boston to keep up its end of the bargain.

In the National League the Mets, two years removed from their World Series win, rolled to the NL East title and had only to dispatch the Dodgers, a team they held an 11-1 record against, to meet the A’s in what was a hugely anticipated World Series. On the way to that Series showdown, the Dodgers pulled off one of the greatest upsets since David took out Goliath in the first round.

It was a fairly nondescript Dodgers team. Most were players no one had heard of prior to 1988. The infield was, first around to third, Franklin Stubbs, Steve Sax, Alfredo Griffin, and Jeff Hamilton. Sax was a former Rookie of the Year (1982), Griffin was a Toronto cast-off who’d failed to cross the Mendoza line with his bat, and Stubbs and Hamilton were, at least to most fans, unknown. The outfield had Mike Marshall (not to be confused with the 1970s relief man) who had some power, John Shelby (another cast-off, this time from Baltimore), and Kirk Gibson. Gibson was new to the team, a free agent from Detroit. He’d become the heart and soul of the team and was destined to pick up the NL MVP award at the end of the season. Mike Scioscia was the catcher. The staff consisted of Orel Hershiser, having his career year and destined to win the NL Cy Young Award, and a pair of Tims, Leary and Belcher. Fernando Valenzuela was hurt, Don Sutton had just retired. John Tudor was over from St. Louis, but had pitched only nine games for LA> Although Jay Howell had emerged as the primary closer, Alejandro Pena (not yet a closer for the Braves), and Jesse Orosco (a Mets cast-off) had, together, as many saves as Howell. Other than Hershiser, it was a less-than-stellar staff.

But then they beat the Mets. It took seven games, but they did it. Scioscia and Gibson had big hits, Hershiser picked up a win, and of all things, a save (only his second relief appearance of the year) and the Dodgers won the playoff. Along the way, Gibson’s injuries mounted and it was considered unlikely that he’d play in the Series.

Of course you know the result. Conseco smashed a grand slam in game one putting Oakland ahead 4-0 and confirming people’s belief that the Series would be short and one-sided. Then Gibson’s sub, Mickey Hatcher hit the first of his two home runs (he’d had one all season) and the Dodgers clawed back to 4-3 before Gibson pinch hit one of the two most famous home runs in Dodgers history (Bobby Thomson hit the other) and win game one. Hershiser was magic in game two throwing a three-hit shutout . The A;s managed a win in game three on McGwire’s walk off home run.

The key game was game four. Using what Bob Costas described as the weakest lineup in World Series history, the Dodgers pulled off a surprise. With backups Hatcher, Mike Davis, and Rick Dempsey (Scioscia got hurt during the game) playing and Danny Heep as the designated hitter, they beat Cy Young candidate Dave Stewart 4-3. Then Hershiser came back to win game five, the Series, and the Series MVP the next evening.

For the Dodgers it was a great one year run. they dropped to fourth in 1989 and didn’t get back to playoff baseball until 1995. They have not been to the World Series since. Oakland, on the other hand, won two more AL titles, and the 1989 World Series. They won one more division title in 1992, then slid back.

It was a fascinating Series, dominated today by Gibson’s magical home run. But each game was individually interesting with three games being decided by one run. It’s kind of a shame that has become known for one play.

Game Six: Bunt?

August 12, 2011

The period 1991 through 1993 produced three extraordinary game six dramas. I talked about 1991 in my last post. Most people who follow baseball know about Joe Carter, Mitch Williams, and game six of 1993. I really don’t want to look at three in a row, so I think I’ll skip it to look at the 1992 game six, which was also an interesting game. It ended on, of all things, a bunt.

Cito Gaston

1992

Game six of the 1992 World Series was played in Atlanta on 24 October. The Toronto Blue Jays were ahead of the Braves 3 games to 2. It was the first trip to the World Series by a Canadian team and Cito Gaston was in position to become the first black manager to win a World Series. Steve Avery (who started game six in 1991) gave up a leadoff hit to Devon White who later scored the first run of the game.  Jays pitcher David Cone made it hold up until the third when the Braves got the run back. Candy Maldonado put the Jays back on top with an answering leadoff home run in the top of the fourth. The game settled down to a pitching duel, although the Braves went through pitchers like Tony LaRussa. In the bottom of the ninth, Gaston brought in stopper Tom Henke to close out the Series. Henke had 34 saves during the regular season and two already in the Series. He couldn’t get one more. The Braves bunched together a handful of singles and  sacrifices and tied the game, sending game six into extra innings for the second year in a row.

Toronto managed one hit in the tenth, failed to score, and Atlanta went down in order in the bottom of the inning. In the eleventh the Blue Jays used a hit batsman, a single, and a run scoring double by Hall of Famer Dave Winfield to plate two runs.  The Braves answered with a single, then got help from the Jays on an error by Alfredo Griffiin. After one out, the Braves got a run on a ground out and sent pinch runner John Smoltz to third. That brought up center fielder and lead off man Otis Nixon. Nixon was 33 (and looked 63), had stolen 41 bases during the regular season and five in the Series. He decided to get on base and score the tying run from third with a bunt. He hit it too hard. Pitcher Mike Timlin picked it up and flipped it to first baseman Joe Carter. The Jays had won their first World Series.

A lot of people wondered at ending the Series on a bunt. For a while it even overshadowed the true importance of the game. For the first time the World Series champion played its home games outside the United States. And as importantly, a black man became a winning manager of a World Series team. It may not have been the greatest game six ever, but it was historic.