Oct 25

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Could Game #6 give us another classic?

The champagne was on ice. Baseball officials were setting up the congratulatory phone call from the President of the United States. A makeshift stage was set-up in the Boston clubhouse.

And, for a few seconds, the Shea Stadium scoreboard flashed the message, “Congratulations Red Sox On Your World Series Victory.’’

The Red Sox never tasted champagne that night because in the words of Mets catcher Gary Carter, in describing what happened and also the essence of his sport, said, “none of us wanted to make the last out.’’

``It gets through Buckner ... ''

``It gets through Buckner ... ''

Carter might not have meant it as such, but he acutely described the beauty of baseball seen in no other sport. Football and hockey have sudden death, but mostly their games have a foreseeable ending when clock winds down.

Not so in baseball, which only ends with a last out.

Game 7 is the glamour game, but there’s more a sense of urgency, of tension, of finality in Game 6. Tonight marks the 23rd anniversary of the night Mookie Wilson’s ground ball went through the legs of Bill Buckner in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

Eleven years earlier, Carlton Fisk’s homer in arguably one of the greatest World Series games ever, prolonged the 1975 Series with Cincinnati. The Mets played that night because they survived a memorable Game 6 less than two weeks earlier at Houston.

Whom will the fates choose tonight’s Game 6 between the Yankees and Angels?

Unfairly, but that’s how sports sometimes can be, today’s game could define a career as that play did the careers of Buckner and Wilson, who’ll forever be linked in time in the manner of Ralph Branca and Bobby Thomson.

However, baseball history is rarely that precise and measurable. The Red Sox lost that night for several reasons, including Roger Clemens leaving the game with a blister and manager John McNamara mis-managing, Bob Stanley’s wild-pitch and Calvin Schiraldi’s bullpen meltdown.

Let us also not forget, that the 5-3 lead Boston kicked away in ten innings was their third blown lead of the game.

``Here comes Knight ... ''

``Here comes Knight ... ''


Wally Backman and Keith Hernandez flew out to open the inning, and as the story goes, the latter, not wanting to see the Red Sox celebrate, retreated to the manager’s office to watch the rest of the game on television.

“When you’re down two runs in the last inning against their ace reliever, it’s not the most comfortable feeling in the world,’’ Wilson said that night. “But you don’t give up. Two runs is not a great deficit to make up. How did we do it? Mirrors, maybe. Whatever, but we did it.’’

But Carter singled to left, and Kevin Mitchell and Ray Knight followed with singles for one run. Enter Stanley, who promptly wild-pitched in the tying run.

Defeat for Boston was a formality, with Buckner’s slow roller only to delay the inevitable. Wilson still insists he would have beaten Buckner to the bag, and it was bearing down hard on the injured Red Sox first baseman, of whom it is often forgotten should have been removed for defense.

No, Buckner was not distracted by Wilson.

“I did concentrate on that ball,’’ Buckner said that night. “I saw the ball bounce and bounce, and then it didn’t bounce. It just skipped. It didn’t come up. I can’t remember any time I missed a ball like that, but I’ll remember that one.’’

So too, will history.

NOTE: This was posted early. I’d love for you to tell me what you remember from the Buckner game, the Houston Game 6, or anything on your mind. Then, keep it here for the Yankee game. Talk with you tonight.

Oct 24

Game #6: Will they or won’t they?

Heavy showers forecast for tonight could wipe out Game #6 at Yankee Stadium. If so, it would be played tomorrow night with a possible Game #7 on Monday.

If Game 6 is washed away, Angels manager Mike Scioscia would consider bringing back John Lackey on three days’ rest to pitch a potential Game 7 against CC Sabathia, who already has stymied the Angels twice in the series.

Will rain wash away Game 6?

Will rain wash away Game 6?


“We’ve talked about a lot of different scenarios,” Scioscia said. “We’re going to let this thing unfold a little bit and see how the weekend goes. If there is an opportunity to look at bringing a guy like John back, it’s something we certainly would consider. We’ve talked about a bunch of things.”

Lackey shut down the Yankees for much of Game 5, but was pulled with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh. The Yankees scored six runs that inning, but the Angels rallied to force the return trip to New York.

“It doesn’t get any better than this, especially going into that ballpark,” said Angels infielder Chone Figgins. “It’s going to be another crazy game, I can tell you that. You go back and just enjoy it. The pressure is on both teams.”

While the Angels face elimination, they are also playing with house money. They weren’t favored and are lucky to be here. The Yankees, meanwhile, have pressure to wrap things up immediately so they can enter the World Series against well-rested Philadelphia their pitching intact.

If there’s a Game 7, the Yankees won’t be able to use Sabathia until Game 3 of the World Series at the earliest. The Phillies have already said Cliff Lee would start Game 1. If the ALCS lasts seven games and the Yankees prevail, they’d have AJ Burnett going in Game 1.

Andy Pettitte will start tonight, or tomorrow depending on the weather, for the Yankees. Pettitte has 15 career playoff wins, including four series clinchers.

“However many starts I’ve had in the postseason or how many innings, it’s not going to help me when I go out there,” Pettitte said. “It’s a matter of getting out there and my cutter cutting, my location being good, and this is a game of just inches.”

Oct 23

Mets talking Chapman ….

When you’re young, left-handed, and can throw a ball 100 mph., you’re going to get the attention of major league scouts. And, because he escaped the attention of those assigned to guard him, Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, is starting to make the rounds.

He’s talking with the Mets today.

CHAPMAN: Fishing for a ML deal.

CHAPMAN: Fishing for a ML deal.


Edwin Mejia, Chapman’s agent, says his client has a two and four-seam fastball, curve, slider, change and forkball. That’s a hefty scouting report, but until we get the same report from major league scouts take it with a grain of salt.

It has also been reported Chapman will get a contract up to $50 million, which is a lot for somebody who hasn’t thrown a pitch in the major leagues. Let’s also not forget he has left behind a wife and daughter, parents and sisters. Who is to say he won’t be distracted by being away from them. Orlando Hernandez and Jose Contreras had separation pangs.

It’s reported he’s 21, but there’s no real assurances yet, of that. Latin players are notorious for lying about their age. Hey, Hernandez still is.

While there’s no disputing there’s a wealth of talent in Cuba, remember it is not major league talent. We do not know what Chapman is capable of against major league hitters. We also don’t know how he’ll deal with the pressures and anxieties of living away from home.

If he’s the real deal, the Mets should be interested. But there are a lot of variables, so buyer beware.

Oct 22

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Yankees going for the kill in ALCS.

The last time the Yankees were this close to their mission statement they folded in one of baseball history’s greatest collapses. Up 3-0 over the Boston Red Sox in 2004, the Yankees couldn’t close the deal.

OK … few expected the Red Sox to be swept, so staying alive in Games 4 and 5 weren’t a shock because the Yankees would take care of business at the Stadium.

“If you have the opportunity to get something over with, you’d like to do it,” said Derek Jeter. “It’s not always going to happen.”

Curt Schilling won Game 6 in the Bloody Sock game, and the Yankees were cooked by the second inning in Game 7.

BURNETT: Pitches for the Series tonight.

BURNETT: Pitches for the Series tonight.


The Yankees, who could’ve lost the first two games of this series had it not been for Los Angeles’ faulty defense, can close it out tonight with AJ Burnett going against John Lackey. Should the Angels stay alive, Games 6 and 7 will be this weekend in New York.

Burnett has pitched well in the postseason, but is winless.

“This is why I signed – the opportunity to pitch in the postseason,” said Burnett. “The first year over here, I have an opportunity, so I’m taking full advantage of it.”