Sunday, October 30, 2016

World Series: Games Three and Four

My favorite baseball team of all time is the 1977 Los Angeles Dodgers.  They were a great team.  They jumped out to a 33-11 start.  They won 98 games -- and no Dodger team has won so many games in any season since then.  They beat the Big Red Machine by 10 games in the NL West.  They beat a tremendous Philadelphia team in four games to capture the National League title.  And they split the first two games of the World Series in New York.  Coming home to Los Angeles for Games Three, Four, and Five, I thought that the Dodgers would surely take at least two out of three, and possibly sweep the Yankees and win the Series.

I was wrong.  On the night of Friday, October 14, 1977, the Yankees scored three runs in the top of the first.  The Dodgers tied the game with three runs in the bottom of the third.  But the Yankees tacked on runs in the fourth and fifth, and beat the Dodgers 5-3.

The next day -- Saturday afternoon -- the Yankees again jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, and won 4 to 2.

For years afterward, I wondered what happened to my team.  Why did they lose those games?  And the answer is really quite simple.  In those 18 innings -- the most important 18 innings of the year -- the Dodgers were scoreless in 16.  They got a three-run homer from Dusty Baker in Game Three.  They got a two-run homer from Davey Lopes in Game Four.  And that was it.  In Game Three, Mike Torrez pitched a complete game for the Yankees, giving up three runs on seven hits, with nine strikeouts.  In Game Four, Ron Guidry pitched an even better complete game, giving up two runs on four hits, with seven strikeouts.  My heroes lost because their good hitting was checked by better pitching.

That's pretty much what happened to the Cubs in Games Three and Four.  They came home to an exultant Chicago after splitting the first two games in Cleveland -- and then nothing happened for them.  On Friday night, four Cleveland pitchers combined for a five-hit shutout, with eight strikeouts.  Cleveland prevailed 1-0.  The next night, three Cleveland pitchers allowed two runs on seven hits, chalking up eight more strikeouts.  The Tribe won 7-2.  After four games, the Cubs were batting .204, with 39 strikeouts.  Their only home run was a meaningless solo shot toward the end of Game Four, when the Tribe already had a 7-1 lead.  Chicago has been outscored 15-7, and they are in big trouble.

In 1977, facing elimination at home, the Dodgers came out like champions.  Don Sutton pitched a complete game, the Dodgers got 13 hits -- including two home runs -- and the Dodgers rolled to a 10-4 victory.  I was so excited that I barely noticed Reggie Jackson's home run in the top of the 8th -- not realizing that it was a sign that Reggie was really locked in.  Of course, Reggie buried us in Game Six, and I mourned that loss for a very, very long time.  But I was, and am, glad that the Yankees didn't win that title at Dodger Stadium -- that the Dodgers at least had one game where they showed their quality in front of their fans.  Tonight we will see if the Cubs can do the same. 

Chicago 0 - 1 Cleveland
Chicago 2 - 7 Cleveland

Cleveland leads Chicago 3 games to 1.

1 comment:

  1. That was a great, great Chicago win last night. I've been rooting for the Cubs this World Series because of about a half-dozen friends who are Chicago fans. Two of them flew up to Chicago for the weekend to see the games at Wrigley. They missed Friday night as their plane got held up on the tarmac in Evansville because of the plane fire at O'Hare. Anyway, I was glad to see the Cubs win for them at Wrigley on Sunday night.

    But I helped move a retired couple out of their Madisonville home on Saturday, and, over the course of conversation that day, I was reminded that the husband is a giant Indians fan. He's from Warren, Ohio, and he became a baseball fan as a 10-year-old boy in 1948. At this very moment, he's driving a U-Haul truck stuffed to the gills to Florida, while oldest daughter, wife and dog follow behind in a car dragging an (also-gills-stuffed) U-Haul trailer. I'm praying today for safe travels--and that their movers have both vehicles unloaded by tomorrow night and get the TV connected in their new condominium before 7:30 Eastern tomorrow night.