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 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.”

Oct 20

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: We have a series in the AL.

There is nothing quite like the drama that is playoff baseball, where seasons fade and stay alive with a swing of the bat. There is an ebb and flow of emotions in baseball unlike any other sport and we saw them all last night when the complexion of both series changed on the game’s final play.

The Dodgers, one pitch away from tying their series at Philadelphia, are now in life support and face elimination tomorrow night. The Angels, who stared at the end of their season at the beginning of last night’s game, have fresh life.

SABATHIA: Going on three days rest.

SABATHIA: Going on three days rest.

Last night Jimmy Rollins sent the Dodgers closer to winter, and hours earlier the Angels turned the ALCS from a blowout to a series that could be for the ages. After gift-wrapping two victories to the Yankees, the Angels are alive and in position where they could knot that ALCS at two games apiece tonight after Jeff Mathis’ two-out double in extra innings Monday.

The Yankees could regain control and send Los Angeles to the brink of elimination with CC Sabathia on the mound or the Angels can get us back to square one behind Scott Kazmir.

“This is the type of series we expected it to be,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

KAZMIR: Pitching to keep Angels alive.

KAZMIR: Pitching to keep Angels alive.


Sabathia, who will be going on three days rest, is 6-7 with a 4.42 ERA in 15 career starts against the Angels. The Yankees are going with a three-man rotation in the ALCS meaning if there is a Game 7 in New York, Sabathia will get the ball.

Kazmir, who represents one of the worst trades made by the Mets, is in position to be a postseason hero for the Angels. Kazmir, who gave up five runs in six innings against Boston in the ALDS, was acquired from Tampa, Aug. 28, and went 2-2 with a 1.73 ERA in six starts for Los Angeles. He is 6-5 with a 2.66 ERA in 14 career starts against the Yankees.

Regardless of what happens tonight, Game 5 is Thursday at Anaheim.

Oct 19

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: LA teams hoping to delay winter.

By midnight tonight winter could be on the doorstep of both Los Angeles teams, as the Angels and Dodgers each hope to avoid a third loss in their LCS match-ups against the Yankees and Phillies, respectively.

WEAVER: Holds Angels' hopes.

WEAVER: Holds Angels' hopes.


The Angels will send Jered Weaver to the mound to stave off the Yankees’ offense, but in reality, the ALCS has been about their inability to play clean ball as opposed to New York’s bats. Game 1 featured three errors and their should have been four; Game 2 watched the Angels’ bullpen kick away the lead.

The Angels, a team noted for playing crisp, alert baseball and being able to hold their own against the Yankees, has been an enigma in the first two games. To advance, the Angels know they must return to the Bronx, but they also know they can be done by tomorrow night.

Torii Hunter also knows the Angels need a short memory.

“We’ve got to calm it down and have some fun,” Hunter said. “You’ve got to have amnesia, and you’ve got to let the past go. … (Against the Yankees) you can try to play too much. You can let that history get in your mind, and their payroll, and you really try to do too much. We have to block that out and play our game.”

Angels manager Mike Scioscia remains confident despite his team’s spotty play.

“We know this thing can turn in a heartbeat,” Scioscia said. “If we win Game 3, we’ve got a different vibe in this series, and that’s what you want to create.”

PETTITTE: Money pitcher goes for Yankees.

PETTITTE: Money pitcher goes for Yankees.

However, they’ll have to do it against Andy Pettitte, a money pitcher going after a record 16th postseason victory.

Pettitte won all but one of those games for Joe Torre, currently the manager of the reeling Dodgers, who were blown out, 11-0, in Game 3 of the NLCS Sunday night. The Dodgers also need a short memory.

“You never want to get your rear end kicked,” Torre said. “But, you don’t toss and turn and wonder if you made the right move. It’s still only one game and we’re in position to tie the series tomorrow.”

That move Torre was talking about was starting Hiroki Kuroda over Randy Wolf. Kuroda didn’t make it out of the second.

WOLF: A future Met?

WOLF: A future Met?


Wolf, whom the Mets by-passed last winter, but might get another chance this offseason.

“They have a very solid lineup, from top to bottom,” Wolf said of the Phillies, his former team. “You know, you’ve got to be really on your game against this lineup because not only do they have guys that hit the ball out of the park, but they have very patient hitters, as well.”

Red hot is Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, who has six RBI in the series and is batting .385 (10 for 26) with 12 RBI overall in the playoffs.