Oct 28

What Game 6 History Will Be Made Tonight?

A classic World Series is usually defined by seven games, but that can’t be without a Game 6. One way or another, it ends after Game 7.

Gone is the sense of urgency, of desperation, of finality, by the team trailing entering Game 6. The feeling the game could turn on any play hangs like a cloud over the trailing team.

FISK: Best game ever?

FISK: Best game ever?

Many of baseball’s most dramatic moments were born in a Game 6.

I have put together a list of the most compelling Game Sixes in World Series history.

Note: For this list, a Series must go seven games, which excludes Toronto’s 1992 championship over Philadelphia, which, despite ending on Joe Carter’s walk-off homer, lasted six games.

These are only World Series games, and to make the list, I must have watched the game.

IF IT STAYS FAIR:  One of baseball’s most enduring images, and perhaps its greatest game, came in the 1975 World Series on Fisk’s game-ending homer in the 12th inning as Boston beat Cincinnati, 7-6. Fisk’s homer was made possible by Bernie Carbo’s three-run, two-strike, pinch-hit game-tying homer in the eighth inning.

Fisk’s moment delayed what Red Sox fans would call the inevitable, as Boston lost Game 7 at Fenway Park.

THE CARDINALS STAY ALIVE: Pitch for pitch, this one compared to the Fisk game as the Cardinals twice were one strike away from elimination, but rallied to tie with a two-run ninth and two-run tenth to stun the Texas Rangers, 10-9, and force a Game 7, which they won.

The title iced a remarkable season in which the Cardinals overcame a 10 ½-game deficit to reach the playoffs.

Local boy, David Freese, tied it with a two-run triple in the ninth and won it with a homer in the 11thinning.

The game-turned-heavyweight fight featured five ties and six lead changes, and nobody complained that it lasted 4 hours, 33 minutes.

That’s one of the beauties of baseball. When it’s compelling and dramatic like the above Game Sixes, the games can last indefinitely and will leave you wanting more.

THE BALL GETS BY BUCKNER:  Another moment etched in time is the ball that squirted through Bill Buckner’s legs in the 1986 World Series. Down to their last out, the Mets rallied for three runs to beat Boston, 6-5, with the game-winner coming on Mookie Wilson’s dribbler through Buckner’s legs.

The Mets went on to win Game 7, and overcame a three-run deficit to do it.

That game was made possible because the Mets prevailed against Houston over 16 innings in Game 6 of the NLCS. Keith Hernandez called it a crucial victory as it kept the Mets from facing Mike Scott, who beat them in Games 1 and 4.

MAYBE THE WORST CALL EVER:  One of the game’s most infamous calls came in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the 1985 World Series that might have kept St. Louis from winning. Facing elimination and down 1-0 going into the ninth inning, umpire Don Denkinger ruled Kansas City’s Jorge Orta safe at first on a play in which he was clearly out.

The Royals went on to win that game, 2-1, then routed the Cardinals, 11-0, in Game 7.

WE’LL SEE YOU TOMORROW:  That was Jack Buck’s great call after Minnesota’s Kirby Puckett homered in the 11th inning off Atlanta’s Charlie Leibrandt to keep the Series alive for the Twins with a 4-3 victory in the Metrodome.

Puckett’s drive set up Jack Morris’ ten-inning shutout, 1-0, in arguably, outside of Don Larsen’s perfect game, might have been the greatest Series game pitched.

HAIL, THE RALLY MONKEY: I loved the Angels’ rally monkey, which began with a famous movie clip where the monkey was interjected at the critical spot. My favorite was the Animal House screen where John Belushi was on the ladder and instead of the girl undressing you see the monkey.

Often forgotten, perhaps because the game wasn’t decided on a game-ending hit, Anaheim rallied from five runs down in the seventh inning to beat San Francisco, 6-5. The Angels scored three in the seventh and three in the eighth to win, then won Game 7.

ORIOLES STAY ALIVE:  The Orioles faced elimination when they returned home for Game 6 of the 1971 World Series. The Pirates started reliever Bob Moose, who took a 2-0 lead into the sixth. The Orioles chipped away to send the game into extra innings.

The Pirates loaded the bases in the tenth inning, but Dave McNally came out of the bullpen to snuff the threat, and Brooks Robinson won it, 3-2, with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning.

This was Roberto Clemente’s World Series, which was noted for playing games at night for the first time.

Who knows what history will be written tonight?

 

 

Oct 23

Mets Player Review: Ike Davis

ike-davis-gordon-donovan

IKE DAVIS, 1B

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS

After missing most of the 2011 season with an ankle injury, Davis struggled for much of the first half but avoided a trip to the minor leagues with the promise of the 19 homers he slugged in his 2010 rookie season when he finished seventh in the Rookie of the Year balloting. Davis responded with a scorching second half in 2012 that salvaged his season with 32 homers and 90 RBI. The wishful thinking on the Mets’ part was two strong halves could lay the groundwork for perhaps the breakout season they had long hoped for the first baseman with the looping swing and game-breaking power. Even with the homers Davis produced some worrisome numbers, such as a .227 average, .308 on-base percentage, and 141-61 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. If Davis could cut down on his swing and improve his patience at the plate, why couldn’t he become a star?

CAREER STATS

Screenshot_2

2013 SEASON REVIEW

Davis didn’t come close to two strong halves. He didn’t even have two mediocre halves; try an awful first half and a poor second half. Davis couldn’t avoid the minor leagues this year, and consequently played in just 103 games with 317 at-bats. Davis hit .305 with a .326 on-base percentage, .334 slugging percentage, nine homers, 33 RBI and 101 strikeouts with 57 walks, and most discouraging, had no better plate presence when he returned than when he left for Triple-A Las Vegas. The season ended with speculation the Mets might not tender him a contract and let him leave as a free agent. Davis made $3.1 million last year, and even a miniscule arbitration raise would seem too much for the budget conscious Mets. The current plan is for Davis and Lucas Duda competing for the first base job in spring training.

LOOKING AT 2014

John Delcos Says: Manager Terry Collins said after the season he didn’t think it would be likely the Mets could carry both Davis and Duda coming out of spring training. Trading Davis for anything of quality would be highly unlikely this winter. Teams needing a first baseman might gamble on the Mets waiving Davis as not to give up a player. Should Davis make the Opening Day roster, how could anybody project with any confidence he will finally have a breakout season? Davis’ track record is one of injury and poor performance, with one good second half in 2012. Given that, there’s nothing other than blind hope for the Mets to expect anything productive from Davis. The season ended with Davis needing a lot of work to become a viable major leaguer let alone a good one. He didn’t get that work over the winter.

Satish R. Says: You know, if you asked me a couple days ago what I thought the organizational opinion was on Ike Davis — I’d tell you that they had no faith in him whatsoever. When they mentioned that first base is a position they wanted to upgrade at, it felt like the Mets were saying they had no confidence in Lucas Duda or Ike Davis — which is the feeling of most of the fanbase as well. But then I read this tweet from Jon Heyman that said the Mets passed on Abreu because of Davis, Duda, and guys like Josh SatinDaniel Murphy, and Wilmer Flores. Talk about your mixed signals, right?

If Sandy Alderson meant anything that he said about spending this offseason, and the team turns out to be in a better position — you have probably seen the last of Ike Davis in a Mets uniform. But honestly, if we’re not going to make any actual moves this winter, the Mets might as well tender Ike a contract and give him one last chance. As I always say, players don’t hit 32 home runs by accident, especially 22 in one half — so there’s potential there. I just don’t know if he’ll be able to tap into it again…

TOMORROW: Lucas Duda

Oct 17

2012 Mets Player Review: Jonathan Niese, LHP

JONATHAN NIESE, LHP

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: Jonathan Niese was another Mets pitcher who went into spring training coming off an injury. He pulled a right rib cage muscle in Sept. 2011, while pitching against the Phillies and was shut down. Two years earlier, Niese’s season ended with a severely pulled hamstring. While the Mets weren’t worried about his arm, two muscle pulls had them wonder if he was susceptible to such injuries. Foolishly, Niese felt discomfort in his previous start, but continued to pitch against the Phillies. In 2010 and 2011, Niese won nine and 11 games, respectively, and displayed composure and an ability to work out of trouble. Niese doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but throws a plus cutter and fall-off-the-table curveball. When he’s able to command those pitches, it increases the effectiveness of his fastball. Assuming his health, the Mets expected him to continue to develop and hopefully win as many as 15 games as a No. 3 starter.

2012 SEASON REVIEW: Although Niese fell short of 15 victories, he continued to make strides to become one of the Mets’ most reliable pitchers. Satisfied he was healthy, the Mets signed Niese to a $25.5 million contract extension with team options for 2017 and 2018. Largely unproven, the Mets were banking on Niese’s potential and at the time GM Sandy Alderson said he was the type of player the club could build around. The contract enables the Mets to avoid arbitration and Niese’s first shot at free agency, which is paramount in cost control. Niese tied his career high of 30 starts and logged 190.1 innings. Niese, like most Mets’ starters save R.A. Dickey, suffered from a lack of run support and bullpen collapses. Niese responded from a combined 4-5 in July and August to win this final three starts to finish at 13-9 with a 3.40 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. Niese had an impressive 155-49 strikeouts-to-walks ratio and worked into the seventh inning or longer in 17 appearances. He only had two starts in which he did not work at least five innings. Niese did miss a start after he was pulled for a June 3 game with a rapid heartbeat.

LOOKING AT 2013: Although Niese did not have a reoccurrence of the rapid heartbeat in the second half, he will undergo surgery at the Cleveland Clinic to alleviate the problem. It is considered minor surgery, but anything involving the heart can’t be thought of as minor. Figuring he will make a full recovery, the Mets expect him to build on 2013. Considering his age and salary, he would be in high demand on the trade market, but a pitcher of Niese’s potential is exactly what the franchise needs. Niese’s overall numbers were good and assuming he receives run support – the Mets failed to score more than three runs in 17 starts – 15 victories and 200-plus innings should be reachable. Niese would enter next year as the No. 3 starter assuming everything works in the positive with Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey.

TOMORROW: Dillon Gee, RHP

Oct 16

2012 Mets Player Review: R.A. Dickey, RHP

R.A. DICKEY, RHP

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: R.A. Dickey had been a journeyman with a trick pitch his entire career, winning a career-high 11 games in 2010. Realistically, they had no right to expect more than that from him at age 37 and figured to be third or fourth in the rotation at best. Only injuries or poor performance from others could elevate his status, and was why he was in the Mets’ rotation in the first place. However, he pitched well in stretches the last two years and was a workhorse in 2011 with 208.2 innings. If he could log a comparable number in 2012, the pitching depleted Mets would be happy. Dickey had a solid ERA in 2010 and 2011 with hitters batting .251 and .256, respectively, against him. Since joining the Mets, for the most part Dickey pitched with composure and minimized damage. The Mets hoped he’d be a positive influence.

2012 SEASON REVIEW: Not only was Dickey a positive influence on the younger pitchers, he was arguably the team’s most important player. At 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA, he was 14 games above .500. Overall, the Mets finished 14 games below, so I’ll leave it to your imagination as to where the team would have been without him. Dickey threw 233.2 innings in 33 starts – he made one relief appearance – and limited hitters to an anemic .226 average, a career best by 30 points. Hitters had a .278 on-base and .640 OPS against him and he registered a 1.05 WHIP, easily his career best. Dickey’s All-Star season – it’s a shame Tony La Russa didn’t see fit to start him – included five complete games and three shutouts with back-to-back one-hitters. Clearly, in a game dominated by hard throwers, splitters and cutters, Dickey prevailed with the toughest pitch of all to control, walking only 54. He did this playing for a team in a free-fall for the second half and deserves the Cy Young Award.

LOOKING AT 2013: For all his numbers, it was only his third since 2001 with a winning record, which could make the Mets wondering if it was all done with smoke and mirrors. Dickey is on the books for $5 million next year, but it isn’t a given he’ll return, and if he does, stay for long. Dickey said his re-signing with the Mets is largely contingent on whether they also bring back David Wright. The two, on and off the field, represent the Mets and they would be taking a dramatic public relations hit if they traded or let them walk after 2013. An argument can be made if the Mets don’t see themselves as contenders next summer they could continue their rebuilding by dealing them for prospects. Any such deal, however, would be contingent on the other team being allowed to negotiate with them before making a trade. It would also be an admission they are a long way from being competitive.

TOMORROW: Jon Niese.