Monday, June 30, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Billy Bruton, who missed the entire 1957 World Series with knee injury, led all hits in the next Fall Classic with a .412 batting average. Too bad his Milwaukee Braves came up a little short against the New York Yankees this time.

Billy didn't start game one, but did he ever come through later. He sent the home crowd home happy! With the score tied at three in the bottom of the ninth inning, Billy hit for Andy Pafko. Facing the Yankees' Ryne Duren, he went down on strikes. Ryne was on his way to five strikeouts in this game. But the Braves put two on before Duren got out of the inning.

Warren Spahn also had to get out of a bit of a toughie situation in the top of the tenth. Gil McDougald singled with two outs and Mickey Mantle walked. Elston Howard flied out to end that. The stage was set for some Bruton dramatics in the bottom of the frame!

Hank Aaron fanned to start things off for Milwaukee. But Joe Adcock singled. Wes Covington was retired on a fly to left. But Del Crandall singled to keep the inning alive. When Billy Bruton hit a single that landed past both Mickey Mantle and Hank Bauer in right-centre, the Braves had a dramatic 4-3 win.

In game two, with the Yankees up 1-0 going into the bottom of the frame, it was Bruton starting and hitting in the leadoff spot. He blasted a Bob Turley offering to right to tie the game. Before the inning was over, Milwaukee added six more runs. Bruton was the first and last batter of the inning. While Mickey Mantle went yard twice later and Hank Bauer added a long ball of his own, it was the Braves that took game two, 13-5.

Bruton added a single in the fourth, but was stranded. He also singled with two down in the bottom of he sixth, but nothing came of it. But in the eighth inning, Billy walked and came home (along with Red Schoendienst) on an Eddie Mathews' single.

When the 1958 World Series shifted to the Bronx for game three, Milwaukee seemed to lose their offence. They lost game three, 4-0. Bruton was out on an attempted bunt to lead off the game against Don Larsen. In the third inning, Billy walked, advanced to third on a single, but was stranded.

In the fifth inning, Bruton was out on a foul popup to third, but he was not done yet. While he failed to get a hit (and the Braves would finish the game with just six) he walked with two outs in the top of the seventh inning. Milwaukee, losing 2-0 at the time, now had the tying run on first in Bruton. But Larsen retired Schoendienst to end that.

In the top of the ninth inning, it was Johnny Logan that drew a walk off reliever Ryne Duren. Casey Wise fanned and Bruton ended the game by hitting into a double play. New York won 4-0 and now trailed the World Series, two games to one.

Bruton, as in game one, did not start game four, but did see action. In the top of the top of the eighth, with Milwaukee leading 3-0, Johnny Kucks gave up a single to Hank Aaron that moved Eddie Mathews to third. When Wes Covington drew a two-out walk, the bases were loaded. Bruton came in to run. Kucks got out of there when Andy Pafko forced Billy at second.

Bruton stayed in the game at centre, but did not get a plate appearance. The Braves, however, won the game 3-0 and needed just one more win for their second straight Fall Classic triumph. But the one win never came.

In game four it was Lew Burdette vs. Bob Turley in a rematch of game two. Burdette was at this point, 4-0 against New York in the last two World Series.

Bruton led off the game with a walk. Schoendienst moved him to second with a bunt. But Billy got no further as Milwaukee's big guns, Mathews and Aaron, flied out.

Burdette seemed to have no problem with the Yankees as he got 'em 1-2-3 in the first two innings. Bruton came back to the dish in the top of the third, but Turley fanned him. Bullet Bob K'd the side despite allowing a single to Schoendienst.

Gil McDougald broke Burdette's spell with a home run to left in the bottom of the frame. It wasn't quite like Carlton Fisk's in game six of the 1975 Fall Classic, but it did hit the foul pole. This was all that Bob Turley would need as he put down the Braves in order in the next two inning. Burdette kept Milwaukee close.

Bruton singled to lead off the top of the sixth. But then came perhaps the play that was the turning point in the Series. Schoendienst flied out to shallow left, where Elston Howard made a fine catch. Bruton had motored towards second. Mantle, standing right next to Howard, quickly alerted Ellie of Bruton plight towards the second sack. The Yankees doubled up Bruton. Eddie Mathews hit a single, but when Aaron went down on strikes, the promising inning was over. New York was only up 1-0, but now they had just gotten a huge lift!

And in the bottom of the frame, New York drove out Burdette with six runs. Turley sailed through the rest of the game, although Bruton got a single in the eighth and Covington got one of his own in the ninth. New York won, 7-0. It was back to Milwaukee for game six.

Bruton did not start the game, and for a while it looked like they would not need him. Spahn, with a 2-1 lead, looked poised for his third win of this World Series. In the top of the sixth inning, Bruton came in to play centre for Pafko. But the Yankees tied the game on a sac fly by Yogi Berra which scored Mickey Mantle.

Ryne Duren came in again and fanned the side in the bottom of the frame. Bruton was the last out of the inning. Covington had singled with two down.

In the bottom of the ninth, with the score still tied at two, Duren again fanned the side, but this time, no one reached first. Billy Bruton was the second strikeout of the inning and fifth of the game by Ryne. Then, in the top of the tenth inning, New York scored twice to take a 4-2 lead.

Milwaukee almost won the game and series in the bottom of the frame, however. Aaron singled home a run, and when Joe Adcock followed with a single of his own, the fleet Aaron made it to third. A single would tie the game. A double would win the 1958 World Series for the Braves.

Bob Turley, the game five shutout winner, came in. Frank Torre was sent up to pinch hit for Del Crandall and Felix Mantilla came in to pinch run for Adcock. Covington was on deck. Torre got under it and sent a soft liner to McDougald at second. The Yankees had squared this Fall Classic at three game with a 4-3 win.

Bruton batted in the second spot in the deciding game seven. Red Schoendienst started the bottom of the first with a single. Bruton waked. Frank Torre got them to scoring position with a bunt. Aaron walked and Covington grounded out. 1-0, Braves. Bruton was on third. A walk to Mathews loaded the bases, but the Braves could only get that one run.

Burdette, after a 1-2-3 top of the first, gave up two runs the next inning. Mathews made two costly errors at third. The Yankees loaded the bases, got a groundout and a fly ball to take a 2-1 lead.

Bruton singled to start the top of the third inning. When Aaron singled with one out, it knocked Don Larsen out of the game. Turley came in to pitch. It was his third straight appearance. A groundout by Covington moved both runners into scoring position, but Crandall also grounded out to end the inning.

The Yankees themselves put two runners on in the bottom of the fourth inning, but Burdette got out of that. The Braves needed two runs, now. But with Bullet Bob going strong, it looked like an impossible task.

The game's next twelve batters were retired in order, including Bruton in the bottom of the fifth on strikes. But just when it was beginning to look hopeless for Milwaukee, they finally got another run!

With two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, it was Crandall, who sort of seemed due for a big hit (having fanned three times in game six and once here so far), hitting a long ball to tie it. Series tied at three, score tied at two, after six inning in game seven!

But Turley got all three batters (including Bruton) to ground out in the bottom of the seventh inning. Then, in the top of the eighth, New York put this game away.

With two outs, Yogi Berra got a double, and then Elston Howard singled him home to make it 3-2, Yankees. But they were not done. Andy Carey's single moved Elston to third. Moose Skowron's three-run home run made it 6-2, effectively ending the 1958 World Series.

Turley had a 1-2-3 bottom of the 8th, then almost got some more runs in the top of the ninth. You can never have too many runs in the World Series, eh?

Don McMahon got the first two Yankee batters on strikes in the bottom of the frame. But then Gil McDougald singled and Mickey Mantle drew a walk. Yogi Berra ended the inning by grounding out to Schoendienst at second.

Mathews led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk, but Turley settled down. Crandall flied out to Howard in left. Johnny Logan also flied out to Howard. But Joe Adcock batted for McMahon and singled to left. Mathews, now on second, looked over at Tony Kubek and they had a chat over their terrible performances in the World Series: Kubek, .048 and Mathews .160!

They both couldn't suppress a grin at that!

Red Schoendienst was at the dish with two on and two outs. Bruton was the next scheduled batter. But when Schoendienst flied out to Mickey Mantle in centre, New York had come all the way back from three games to one down to win the 1958 Fall Classic.

Bruton could take some solace in that he finally got to play in the World Series. Coming so close the year before (and having your team win) must have been hard on him. But with this appearance (and it would prove to be his only World Series) Billy Bruton certainly made the most of it!

Brodeur: Where Will He Fit, Where Should He Go?

So Marty Brodeur is the NHL's all-time leader in games played (1259), wins (688), losses (394), shutouts (124), you-name-it-he's-got it. He's also an free agent July 1st.

Now what about the teams he could go to? It's been narrowed down to about five or six teams by insiders. Can Marty go to any of them? Where will he fit best? Where would it not work?

Boston has recently joined in the fray. Following their loss to Montreal, my guess is the Bruins feel that Brodeur could spell Tuuka Rask for some short or long stretches. Hey, wait a minute! Didn't Tuuk just win the Vezina? Sure bet Rask took 'er home. So why would the Bruins want an aged veteran? Well, they did sign Niklas Svedberg to a one-year deal, but they lost Chad Johnson, who looked like one fine backup! Rask was not the reason the Bruins lost to the Habs last season, but he needs better insurance behind him. Read this one.

Svedberg played just one game for Boston and isn't ready to step-in. Brodeur could sure provide a step-in. Plus, Rask wouldn't have to feel any pressure if first place or game seven is around the corner. Brodeur is still a winner, you know: (19-14-6)

And the system Boston plays could make things a lot like they were in New Jersey for Marty. He could find the situation helpful. And with the Bruins a likely contender next season, Marty could go out in style. It would be a good fit, and Brodeur could see a lot of playing time to let Rask get some well-deserved rest.

Pittsburgh lost to the Rangers, and it wasn't their goalie's fault. Actually, I thought Marc-Andre Fleury played quite well. Two shutouts against New York! Why that's more blankings than Crosby had goals! Fleury doesn't have the ready backup yet. Jeff Zatkoff did look strong at times. He gave a credible performance, but I'm not sold yet, are you? The Pens always treat Fleury as the fall guy when the team losses. It's amazing how many times Pittsburgh just forgets about the play in their own end and poor Marc has to takes the heat. Brodeur coming in can sure be a help, as Marty could be a great mentor to Marc and young Jeff, but I'm not sure he'd want to play in a place where the defence is undisciplined.

Not that Marty couldn't help. Much like he could spell Rask for stretches, he could for Fleury. Fleury's confidence sometimes dips, but playing beside Brodeur could give him an inspiration. Who knows, maybe Sid and his mates will see The Higher Power in net and play better defence for him, and then do the same for Fleury? That would help this franchise!

Toronto has a good starter in Jonathan Bernier, but James Reimer is on the trading block and I don't think Drew MacIntyre is quite NHL-ready yet. So there is an opening. If Brodeur comes to TO and gets the Leafs back to the playoffs, why he'd be a hero! Not that it's going to be easy. One thing is for sure, the Leafs are the team he'd see the most action with if he signs. The Leafs have the Pens same problem but are also minus some offence as well. Marty would see a lot of 3-2, 4-3, and 5-4 games in the Leaf net. Can he still win them? Being out-shot, ala Bernier and Reimer all last season? Perhaps.

I'm not sure Toronto would want a goalie for one year, because regardless of how Marty does, where are the Buds a year from now? Back to square one (or maybe square zero) in the backup role. The Leafs need a long term answer there, not a short-term one.

Chicago is certainly an interesting fit for Marty. Just look at the legends that have played there. Gardner, Hall, Esposito, Belfour. Why not add another legend? Sounds good to me. But in reality, Corey Crawford has the number one job down and Antti Raanta is there in the second spot in the pipes. Where would that leave Marty? Really, no place for him to play. The Hawks challenge is going to be staying under the cap and staying younger. Could they sign Marty for little? Or fork out the dough and not play him? Seems like a waste of time to me. I mean, he could go there and help, no doubt.

But the Hawks don't seem like a good fit. And the fan in me doesn't want to see Brodeur spend all the time riding the pine. The Hawks, for those not old enough, played Tony-O a grand total of 18 games his last season (1983/84), which was an insult. You gotta let the Proud Old Man get his way, no matter what happens. Same thing with Brodeur. Gotta play him, use him, and make him part of the team. Looking at the Hawks right now, that's not going to happen.

Montreal would welcome the hometown kid with open arms. Only now, the kid is 42. But the Habs have some serious things to do first. With an unexpected great performance from Dustin Tokarski (one of the best postseason stories last year), this could be it for Peter Budaj, who was good as the backup to Carey Price. But I don't know if the Habs want to get older in nets, give up on two guys (not to mention kill their confidence by being sent down) and let Price know that they need a legend to back him up. Hey, didn't the guy just win a gold medal and play better than Brodeur ever did in the Olympics? Well, actually, Marty posted a .981 S% in 2002 and Price's was .972 in 2014. A pair of gold medallist, but Marty got another in 2010 for good measure.

No, that's not going to create a rift. But Carey needs to ride the way of his confidence into next year. Don't forget, this guy played in 72 games back in 2010/11 and led the NHL with 38 wins that year. And he's been with the Canadians since 2007/08 and won the Calder Cup in the AHL with the Bulldogs. I'm not sure Brodeur would see much playing time. And again, is Montreal just going to shove Tokarski to the minors after all that playoff fun? No, that kid deserves a 20-30 game look-see this upcoming season. Good old shot-in-the-arm. There would be no place for Brodeur for that to happen!

Anywhere else? I've seem Tampa Bay mentioned. But Ben Bishop is proving to be one goalie that the Ottawa Senators should have kept. Anders Lindback is set to be a free agent, however. Marty might see a lot of playing time there, as Bishop is not quite a goalie that logs a lot of time and still has much to prove, at least come playoffs. Vancouver could be a good fit, with Luongo gone. But the Canucks are taking a look at a starter first, then perhaps a backup. Plus they have Eddie Lack there, and he was pretty good last year behind Luongo until Roberto's trade to Florida. Speaking of which, how about a nice time in the sun a little further south for Marty. Hmmm? You thinking?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Jackie Robinson got the first hit for the Dodgers in the 1956 World Series. He was also their last batter in games six and seven. And for good measure, Jackie was the first Brooklyn baserunner in game three. Another Brooklyn / New York World Series. Another seven games. Another classic. And Jackie provided some drama it what was to be his final act as a player!

Brooklyn, looking to repeat on their great triumph of '55, sent one of their arch-enemies, Sal Maglie to the hill in game one. But Sal had gone 13-5 with a 2.89 ERA, so he was the right man to be there. Better still, Sal had finally done something that season that all pitchers dream about, a no-hitter!

The Barber, as he was called, was purchased from the Cleveland Indians on May 15th, and the Dodgers had needed him. Over and over again he came through. But in the opening tilt, it was Mickey Mantle that smacked a two-run home run in the top of the first inning to give the visiting Yankees a 2-0 lead.

Whitey Ford, New York's starter, got the Dodgers in order in the bottom of the frame. But in the bottom of the second, it was Robinson hitting a home run of his own to lead it off. It proved to be the last round-tripper he would ever hit. Inspired by this, Brooklyn tied the game. And then, the next inning, it was Gil Hodges that smashed a three-run home run to put the Dodgers up 5-2.

Maglie allowed a solo blast by Billy Martin in top of the fourth, but the Dodgers the three-run lead back in the bottom of the frame on a single by Sandy Amoros. The score was 6-3, Brooklyn and it remained that way for the rest of the game.

Game two also went the way of the Dodgers, as they took it 13-8. But when the Series moved to Yankees Stadium for games three, four and five, it's as if the momentum shifted, too.

Jackie walked to start things in the top of the second against Whitey Ford in game three. He later crossed the plate with the first run. The Dodgers actually took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. But a three-run home run by Enos Slaughter put New York up for good.

Robinson got a hit and a walk in game four, but this one was all New York. They thumped the Dodgers, 6-2. Jackie did score the last run of the game, and the Dodgers loaded the bases with just one out. But they could not get another man home. In the next game, it became even more difficult.

Sal Maglie was back. Actually, he had just appeared on the show, "What's My Line" the day before. His performance that game would have normally won many a game for Brooklyn. In the World Series, you need these performances. But the Yankees got a perfect game from Don Larsen. And on only five hits and two runs (one on another Mickey Mantle special), New York took game five of the 1956 World Series, 2-0. Now, they led three games to two.

In game six, back at the Taj Mahal of Brooklyn's Ebbet's Field, more good pitching. This time, it would prove to be enough for the Dodgers to prevail and square this series at three.

The problem for Brooklyn in this game was, while Clem Labine tossed a complete-game shutout, Bob Turley stayed right with him. It was a pitcher's duel that was not far off Maglie / Larsen's efforts in game five.

Jackie popped out to leave a man on in the bottom of the first frame. He drew a walk in the bottom of the fourth, but was stranded. The Dodgers looked like they were due for a breakout when Turley walked two men in the bottom of the sixth. There was just one out when Robinson came to bat. But all Jackie could do was pop out. When Gil Hodges did the same, the inning was over.

In the bottom of the eighth, Brooklyn got a leadoff ground-rule double from Clem Labine, who seemed to be doing it all on this day. But Turley fanned Jim Gilliam (before the day was over, Bullet Bob would finish with 11 K's). Pee Wee Reese flied out to Mickey Mantle in centre. Then the other great centerfielder in this Fall Classic, Duke Snider, was given an intentional walk. But Jackie Robinson popped out to third to end the inning.

Labine finished the ninth inning with a shutout, and got New York 1-2-3 in the top of the tenth inning. But he had only five strikeouts. The Yankees had gotten seven hits off him.

In the bottom of the frame, Labine himself popped up to Billy Martin at second. Gilliam drew Turley's seventh walk of the afternoon. Reese, hitless on the day, bunted to Turley, who got it to first for the second out. Gilliam was now on second and Snider was now at the dish. Turley walked him intentionally. And, leave it to Jackie to finish it!

Lashing a single over Enos Slaughter's head in left, Gilliam trotted home with the winning run. The 1956 World Series would go to a deciding seventh game. But it turned out to be anti-climatic.

The Yankees stormed out of the game, going for the quick kill of Don Newcombe and Brooklyn in game seven. Hank Bauer singled and stole second to start things. But Newk fanned Billy Martin and Mickey Mantle. Against Berra, he got a little to careful and Yogi smashed a home run over the tall wall in right. It was 2-0, New York. Bill Skowron fanned to end it. Newk had fanned the side, but he and the Dodgers needed Jackie and his mates to get him some runs. They failed to do so.

Johnny Kucks, not exactly a good pitcher, started the game for New York. Jim Gilliam grounded out to Skowron at first, but Reese walked and Snider (the first of two hits for the Duke) singled. The tying run was on first just like that. A hit by Jackie here could tie the game. Alas, Robinson hit into an inning-ending double-play. As it turns out, the Dodgers would never get another chance to win this game.

Newk had a easy inning in the top of the second, despite a walk. But Brooklyn went down 1-2-3 as Kucks' confidence must have soared. And, in the top of the third, it all came undone for Don Newcombe and company.

Bauer grounded out, but Martin singled. Newk fanned Mantle again. Now, all that remained was Berra, as had been the case in the first. But Yogi again went yard. As he rounded the bases, Yogi said to Newk, who had been widely criticized for his failure to win a game in the World Series, "It was a good pitch, Newk!" Newcombe nodded in agreement, but New York was now up 4-0. Skowron popped up. But Brooklyn's bats just were failing them. And worse, it was against three pitchers (Larsen, Turley and now Kucks), who weren't exactly in Whitey Ford's class.

Brooklyn went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the frame, and Elston Howard's home run to lead off the top of the fourth inning finished off Newcombe and the Dodgers. Don Bessent, as he had all series long, came in and shut down the Yankees. No one will ever remember that.

Reese led off the bottom of the fourth with a walk. But Duke Snider forced him at second. Robinson tried to bunt, but it ended up being a harmless pop up. Hodges grounded out.

Bessent held the Yankees scoreless in the top of the fifth and sixth, but Kuck retired Brooklyn in order in the meantime. Then, in the seventh inning (Bessent having bee pinch hit for in the bottom of the 6th), Skowron hit a grand slam off Roger Craig to make it 9-0, Yankees.

Snider popped out in the bottom of the frame, but Robinson drew a walk. Gil Hodges then did what you don't want to do in these situations: he grounded into an inning-ending double play!

Ed Roebuck had got the last three men out in the bottom of the seventh. In the eighth, he had a 1-2-3 inning. Carl Erskine also had a 1-2-3 ninth for the Dodgers. But this was all too late. And with no offence to speak off, it was also pretty useless, even if New York had only scored a single tally.

The Dodgers got their second hit of Johnny Kucks in the bottom of the eighth by Carl Furillo, but it led nowhere. And in the bottom of the ninth, the defiant Dodgers came up one last time in the World Series as the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Gilliam grounded out to Skowron at first. Reese tried to bunt, but ended up popping out to Berra behind the plate. Duke Snider collected his second hit of the game. But it was with two outs and it was also just the third hit of the game for the Dodgers. Jackie Robinson struck out, but the ball got away from Yogi and Robinson dashed to first and Snider to second. But Robinson did not make it in time. Brooklyn had lost, 9-0. It was a sad end for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The Dodgers would never return to the World Series in Brooklyn. Jackie Robinson had played his last game. From his rookie season in 1947 to 1956, Brooklyn had reached the World Series six of those years. Some of the other important Dodgers of 1956 would also not be there when they returned to the fall classic in 1959: Newcombe, Maglie, Campanella and Erskine!

But by 1958 it was the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 1956 World Series marked the end of a glorious era in baseball from the Yankees, Dodgers and Giants. All had been great for long enough that their memory still lingers on nearly sixty years later!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Thoughts On The Big Four And Others At The Big W

So, Wimbledon is underway and their are four players to watch on the men's side. Four, or more? But The Big Four are on the top of everyone's head. Tennis is just like that these days, I guess!

Roger Federer, having lost early last year and going out early in Paris this year, is an interesting player to start on. He won in Halle, on grass, after losing in the fourth round in the French Open. But how about last year's debacle? Well, I think Federer is playing better this year. But last year, it was the same deal. Fed won in Halle. But then he lost in the second round at Wimbledon.

Roger faces Gilles Muller in the second round. Should he win that, he's looking at an interesting draw filled with old friends an foes from his past. In the fourth round, a potential opponent is the very man who win this thing twelve years ago, which was ancient history. Lleyton Hewitt. But Hewitt must get by Jerzy Janowicz first. JJ happens to be the 15th seed. From there, it could be Stan Warwinka or John Isner in the quarter-finals. After that, a potential Roger-Raf semi-finals. Who wouldn't want to see that?

As for Nadal, how's this for a second round opponent? Lukas Rosol (!). The two have a very interesting history at Wimbledon. Should Nadal take that one to the bank, his third round opponent would probably be either Richard Gasquet (semi-finalist here back in 2007) or Gael Monfils. A quarter-final spot would see Nadal face either Canadian Milos Raonic (eigth seed) or Kei Nishikori, who's been having a (surprisingly) fine year so far.

Novak Djokovic, who seems stuck in "Grand Slam Finals Losing" mode for about a year now (Wimbledon finals lost, US Open finals lost, French Open finals lost), has no seeds left on his draw until the fourth round. I expect him to win his next two matches. From there, it's going to be either Mikhail Youzhny or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (twelve seed and semi-finalist to Djokovic after beating Federer in the quarter-finals in 2011). And then, a potential rematch of last years final's with Andy Murray looms! Only this time, a round earlier!

Ahhh, Murray. Stuck without a title this year, but with a new coach. Hey, notice they have the same initials? Well, first and last name! But Slam-wise, it hasn't been too bad. A quarter-finals appearance in Australia, then a surprising semi-finals appearance in France. I thought his run to the semis there back in 2011 was a fluke, but now I don't. I also think that result can give him the confidence of a repeat. Or at the very least, a third straight Wimbledon finals appearance.

First, though, Murray has to get to the third round. I don't see him losing his second round match. From there, it gets a little tough. I think he will face Kevin Anderson in the round of 16. Anderson has to probably beat Febio Fognini, who has had an interesting year, especially with umpires, right? Andy's quarter-finals opponent will probably be either Grigor Dimitrov or David Ferrer. I think Murray can beat both of those guys.

As for the others. The new top ten player, Ernests Gulbis (but only the twelfth seed) faces someone that has something very much in common with him. That opponent has beaten Roger Federer prior to a quarter-finals in a grand slam. I'm referring to Sergiy Stakhovsky, who beat Federer here last year. In the fourth round, it's a potential rematch of Gulbis and Tomas Berdych, who is seeded sixth. Gulbis won their match in the quarters of the French Open, but here, Berdych has reached a finals (back in 2010). He, too, has also beaten Roger Federer at Wimbledon, back in 2010. He also beat Djokovic in the semi-finals before falling to Nadal in the finals. Tomas always seems stuck in the quarter-finals, semi-finals, or finals of a slam!

Wawrinka, the fifth seed (no use in saying who the first four seeds are, right?) could face Denis Istomin in the third round, but he is not seeded. From there, Stan would probably have to face big-serving John Isner (ninth seed) in the round of sixteen. Then, assuming Fed wins his matches (and that might be assuming a lot), it's an all-Swiss affair in the quarter-finals!

Federer: A Look At His 2013 and 2014 Tournament Performances

So prior to entering the prestigious Wimbledon event (where he exited in the second round last year), Roger Federer's performance this year compared to last:


Event 2013 2014
Brisbane DNP F
Australia SF SF
Davis Cup (Jan) DNP 1-0
Rotterdam QF DNP
Dubai SF W
Indian Wells QF F
Miami DNP QF
Davis Cup (April) DNP 2-0
Madrid R16 DNP
Monte Carlo DNP F
Rome F R32
Roland Garros QF 4R
Halle W W
Events Entered 8 9
Davis Cup Ties 0 2
Matches Played 33 41
Overall (W-L) 26-7 34-7
W % 0.788 0.829
Titles Won 1 2
Finals Or Better Reached 2 5
SF " " " 4 6
QF " " " 7 7
Losses Prior To QF 1 2

Thursday, June 19, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Mariano Rivera's first save was game one of the 1998 World Series. And it was not without a little drama.

The majors all-time leader in games finished (952) and saves (652) did not pick up a save in the 1996 Fall Classic vs. Atlanta, but was a solid contributor nonetheless. The Yankees prevailed in that one. But New York failed to reach the summit in 1997. Rivera was the closer on the Yankees in 1998 when they took on the San Diego Padres. The Series would open in Yankee Stadium, and the Yankees put on quite a show in heroics with their bats and on the pitcher's mound!

But it did not look like Rivera would get the save in game one. Actually, it did not look like the Bronx Bombers were going to win. Trailing 5-2 going into the bottom of the seventh inning, New York caught fire and scored seven times. Now with a 9-5 lead, it still didn't look like Rivera was coming in. But Jeff Nelson was! David Wells, the Yankee starter, hadn't pitched that well. But he was the pitcher of record as Nelson took the hill in the top of the eighth

But Tony Gwynn singled to lead off  for the stubborn San Diego Padres. Greg Vaughn hit into a force at second. When Ken Caminiti walked, things must have gotten a little tense for Nelson and New York. Jim Leyritz fanned, but Jeff's night was over. Guess who came in?

Mariano hopped in from the bullpen. Because there were two men on, the tying run was on deck in this 9-5 game. So it was a save situation after all! The first batter Rivera faced was Wally Joyner. He hit a ground ball that seemed destined to get Mariano and the Yankees out of there. But an error by Chuck Knoblauch enabled a run to score and the inning to continue. Rivera needed to get the next batter out before it got too serious. Fortunately, Mariano got Steve Finley to ground out to first and end that. It was still 9-6 for New York.

And did Rivera ever get the job done in the 9th. Greg Myers pinch hit for Carlos Hernandez and Mariano K'd him! Then another pinch hitter, John Vander Wal batted and Rivera did the same to him. When Quilvio Veras popped out to third, it was the Yankees victorious, 9-6. And Rivera had his first World Series save!



Mariano Rivera was not about to stop there. New York took game two, 9-3 and the 1998 Fall Classic was off to San Diego. New York won game three, 5-4. Rivera came onto the hill in the top of the eighth inning and allowed an inherited runner to score. He also gave up three hits. But it went into the record books as his second career World Series save.

Rivera came into game four with the Yankees up, 3-0. Again, it was the eighth inning. Again, it was not easy. Ken Caminiti, the first batter to face him, hit a single. Mariano got Jim Leyritz out to end that. The Padres managed to get another hit in the bottom of the ninth inning before a double play and ground out gave the Yankees a 3-0 win. It completed a sweep of the Padres and Mariano had three saves in this series. Not a bad start to his World Series career as a closer.

Rivera had watched John Wetteland do all the closing in 1996. Two years later, he had climbed the mountain and brought the World Series home in the closer role. This is one that he would assume the rest of his career. While it had not been easy in 1998, Mariano had taken that big step towards immortality among closers in the Fall Classic! And Mariano would only get better after this! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Parting Shots From The Men At Paris!

So, we are now halfway through the tennis year in terms of slams! Sorry for the delay in this one, busy with some other blogs!

Rafael Nadal won is, as predicted by me. Interesting to note, obviously, it ties Sampras for second behind Roger Federer. But how about this one: Nadal also ties Sampras and Bjorn Borg in career ATP titles won, with 64!

Pretty good company! But the 66-1 record at the French Open? Wow. Will we ever see that topped? I don't think so. And with five straight French titles, that means something else interesting. Since 2003, three different slams have been won five years in succession. Roger Federer at Wimbledon, 2003 to 2007. Federer at the US Open, 2004-2008. Now, Nadal at Paris, 2010-2014! Does it end?

Can he do it again next year, make it six straight and make it double digits? Wouldn't bet against Raf. But this year was still a bit of a struggle on clay. Losses at Monte Carlo and Rome, plus a struggle just to win in Madrid made it look like he was on his way to relinquishing the French Open for the first time since 2009. But he prevailed in the end. Nonetheless, I have to believe Novak Djokovic is fast on his heels on clay. The two are destined for another showdown in the finals in Paris next year.

Novak Djokovic looked primed, poised and possessed enough to finally take home the crown at Paris, but alas, it was not to be. Here is a slam that just continues to just elude him. Amazingly enough, this was the first slam that he reached the quarter-finals of, back in 2006. That was one year before his big breakout year. Here's all Novak has done at France so far. Finals, 2. Semi-finals, 4. Quarter-finals 2. He's done it all but win. Almost seems like Ivan Lendl's story at Wimbledon! Novak has won in Italy three times, including this year. And he's won in Monte Carlo and Madrid. He's done it all on clay except win in France. Next year, I predict he will win it, finally. Novak has now lost the last three grand slam finals he has reached. He's stuck in bridesmaid mode! But Novak, at 27 years old, is tied with Thomas Muster for twelve place on the all-time pro titles won since 1968 with 44.

Andy Murray. Just when it looked like this year was going to be a washout, he had a surprising run. This was actually his second semi-finals appearance. Can he ever win this thing? I'm not sure. He finally has that new coach now. He also has yet to win the Australian Open or reach #1 in the world. A better clay court season next year might make #1 in the world possible. Andy is stuck on zero titles and zero finals reached in 2014. Still, he's the defending champion at the next slam. I think that, along with the semis in Paris should bring him around. At Paris, he has two quarter-finals appearances in addition to his two final four placements. Djokovic and Nadal will be tough to beat, even in the coming year, that's for sure!

Roger Federer lost early, even for him at this stage of his career. That's the first time Roger has been Roger-and-out this early at France since his 2004 loss to Gustavo Kuerten in the third round. I think this loss pretty much ends any hope of him ever winning here again. Nothing to be ashamed of. We'll be hearing this for a long time: But for Nadal what would Federer have done at the French Open?

Indeed, Federer has his 2009 win, four finals and two semi-finals to look back on. Just one win, but so many deep runs. And his 2014 clay court season was not a total washout. Granted, he lost in the second round in Rome, but at Monte Carlo, he beat Djokovic in the semi-finals in straight sets and came within a whisker of beating Stan Warwrinka in the finals.

Stan Wawrinka looked like a fluke semi-finalist at the US Open a year ago. Then he stunned the world with an Australian Open win this year. Reality then may have set in as he lost in the fourth round at Indian Wells and Miami. The change of surfaces brought him the Monte Carlo title. But a second round lost at Madrid, a third round loss in Rome and finally a first round exit at Paris brought him down to earth, seemingly for good. He'll need a great run at Wimbledon to regain his momentum and confidence.

Ernests Gulbis was the surprise of the tournament, beating Federer and Tomas Berdych (the sixth seed) back-to-back. Do you know he's 2-2 all-time vs. Federer? He was also just 1-4 coming into his match against Berdych. Seeded 18th when all this went down, Ernests now is in the top ten going into Wimbledon. Another deep run and I'm a believer!

World Series: Did You Know?

Detroit had more hits then St. Louis after six and half innings in game one of the 1968 Fall Classic. Guess Denny McLain wasn't getting overwhelved that badly by Bob Gibson on this day. The St. Louis Cardinals were looking for their third World Series crown of the decade, and even Detroit's best pitcher was going to be asking for a little run support after this game!

As mentioned before, McLain didn't pitched that bad in the opening act. Just seemed like Bob Gibson was better. He brought the heat!

Mickey Stanley actually got the first hit of the game for the Tigers (right there in the first inning!), but he was erased when he tried for a steal of second. Gibson, on his way to seventeen K's on this day, fanned the other two batters.

McLain kept pace with Gibby by having a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the frame. But while Gibson struck out the side in the top of the second inning, McLain got a reality check of what he was up against. McLain was #17 of the Tigers, and Hoot must have liked that number. And in the bottom of the second McLain would experience the Cardinals making solid contact! It would be one of the game's hardest his balls!

With one out, Tim McCarver smoked a triple to center. Denny was in trouble. But he got Mike Shannon on a rising fastball. Julian Javier looked at strike three. McLain had weathered the storm. But it was as if that inning taught the Cardinals that they had nothing to fear in McLain despite his 31-6, 1.96 ERA in 1968.

But he was up against Bob Gibson, who was 22-9. The nine losses is a hard number to wrap your head around when you consider he had an ERA of 1.12 that year. McLain seemed in over his head!

But each team hand only one his through two innings. But Bob Gibson loved these low-scoring games. A tie ball game was but another challenge for him, too. Gibson loved challenges!

Bill Freehan went down on strikes to start the third inning. Don Wert got the Tigers' second hit of the game. But McLain batted and tried to get Wert to second via the bunt. What he ended up doing was bunting foul for strike three! Bob then got Dick McAuliffe to ground out.

McLain had more problems in the bottom of the frame. Dal Maxvill\ walked. Then, Bob Gibson showed McLain how it's done (as if he wouldn't show Denny how it's done on the mound at the end of the day, right?) at the plate. Gibby put a bunt down that got Maxvill to second. McLain then made a nice play on a Lou Brock comebacker. He noticed Maxvill going to third. Soon, it was the Tigers' infield that had Dal trapped in a rundown. Shortstop Mickey Stanley made the putout. But it was now time for the Lou Brock show!

Brock stole second. Then third. Curt Flood would have to be dealt with as St. Louis had a runner ninety feet from the dish for the second straight inning. Flood would pop out to Stanley to end that. McLain was hanging on, but barely. Gibson, you had to have the feeling, was just getting stronger as the game progressed!

So Detroit now had two hits after three innings. St. Louis, one. But it was the Cardinals that looked more dangerous with their speed. That made even a single a threat. McCarver, for a catcher, sure had some hustle on that triple. McLain was going to have to be careful, even when pitching to the singles hitters. Not that the Cards had many of them! Brock and Flood could easily go to second with one swing of the bat. Then on the next pitch, they're on third!

The fourth inning was again, nothing doin' for Detroit. They went down in order. Kaline K'd! But in the bottom of the frame, St. Louis got to McLain.

Roger Maris got it all started with a walk. Orlando Cepeda was retired on foul ball that first basemen Norm Cash put the squeeze on. But McCarver walked. Mike Shannon got the Cardinals' second hit of the game to score Maris. There was more bad news for Detroit. On Shannon's hit to left, McCarver made it to third with that hustle again. Willie Horton then made an error on the hit and Shannon ended up on second. A crucial mistake. And one that St. Louis always seemed to take advantage of! When Julian Javier singled, McCarver and Shannon scored to make it 3-0, St. Louis. It was now the Cards with more hits (three) then the Tigers (two). And with a 3-0 lead and Bob Gibson on the hill, this one was as good as over!

The Tigers could manage only a walk off Gibson in the top of the fifth, but McLain got it back together for is half. Cash made an error on Maris' grounder (so sad to see that. Cash and Maris both had those monster 1961 seasons, then both died too young in 1985 and 1986, respectively). That would proved to be St. Louis' only base runner of the inning. But it was the Bengal's that needed some base runners, fast!

Dick McAuliffe singled to right with one out in the top of the sixth. But Gibson fanned Stanley this time. Al Kaline, though, got the first extra base of the game for Detroit with a double to left. McAuliffe held at third as the Tigers' had the tying run at the dish. They also now had the lead in hits, 4-3. But St. Louis had the lead in runs, 3-0. Gibson was not going to let that change. He fanned Norm Cash to end the threat.

McLain's day was over, having been pinch hit for in the top of the sixth. Pat Dobson took over in the bottom of the frame and did not give up a hit in the inning. Javier walked, but was caught stealing.

Gibson though, was still around in the top of the seventh. Horton got his bat on the ball and lined out to short. The next two batters weren't so lucky. Jim Northrup fanned. As did catcher Bill Freehan.

Dobson got the first two men out in the bottom of the inning, but then had to face Brock. Brock proved to be no singles hitter as be blasted a solo home run to center. That made it 4-0 St. Louis and gave the Cardinals four hits, just like the Tigers. When Flood followed with a single, the Cards had the lead in hits for good. The game itself was hopelessly lost by the Tigers.

Mike Shannon singled with two outs in the bottom of the eighth against Don McMahon. It was the last hit of the game for St. Louis. Not that they needed that or any more runs. Gibson fanned the last three batters for 17 strikeouts and a 4-0 win by the Cardinals.

While the hits were close and the Tigers at one point had the lead, the real stat in the World Series and regular season is the runs scored. Doesn't matter how you do it. The St. Louis Cardinals walked four times to Detroit's one. Detroit also made three errors to St. Louis' zero.

The World Series, like baseball itself, is sometimes just that. You have to find ways to score, even with less hits. Or you have to make due with very few hits, like the Cardinals six here. Of course, having Bob Gibson there makes it at little bit easier, if you know what I mean!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire of the Oakland A's had only one hit each in the 1988 Fall Classic. But was each hit ever huge. The type you'd expect from the Bash Brothers. But baseball can be an interesting game, especially around October!

To get things going in game one in LA, the Athletics put some fear into the Dodgers in the top of the first. Following a single by Dave Henderson, Canseco was hit by a pitch. McGwire walked with two away and the bases were loaded. But Los Angeles starter Tim Belcher got out of that jam.

When Mickey Hatcher of the Dodgers stroked a surprising two-run dinger of Dave Stewart in the bottom of the frame, it looked like Los Angeles wouldn't have to worry about the Bash Brothers after all. 2-0 for LA!

But in the very next inning, Oakland got a leadoff single by Glen Hubbard. Walt Weiss fanned, but Dave Stewart (at the plate for the first time in a long time) walked. Carney Lansford also looked at ball four. With two down and bases loaded, Jose was the man of the hour.

Crushing a grand slam to deep center (that actually hit the top of the NBC camera) it was suddenly the A's with a two-run lead. Canseco was off to a great start!

Better still, Stewart settled down. Canseco hit into a fielder's choice in his next at-bat in the top of the fourth, but then stole second. He had done a lot of home runs and stolen bases in 1988. Forty-plus of each. McGwire walked again. But Tim Leary, in for Belcher, got Terry Steinbach swinging to end that. But Canseco and McGwire were looking real dangerous!

The Dodgers, meanwhile, finally got another run off Stewart in the bottom of the sixth, but it would prove to be the last run they got of the man with the menacing stare.

In their last at-bats of the game, Canseco fanned and McGwire foulded out in the top of the ninth. But Oakland was still leading, 4-3. And when Dennis Eckersley easily retired the first two men to start the bottom of the frame, it was really over!

But a walk to Mike Davis and a dramatic two-run home run by Kirk Gibson saved the Dodgers! Gibby came off the bench to pinch hit and delivered on a 3-2 pitch off The Eck.



The 5-4 win in the opening game was a tough one for Los Angeles to win, but how about having Orel Hershiser on the hill in game two? Things would be much easier!

Indeed! Bulldog went out and shut down the vaulted A's offence on a fine three-hitter. And Orel stroked three hits himself. He singled and scored the only run he would need in the bottom of the third. The Dodgers scored four more times for good measure.

Hershiser would expand on the heroics with a double and another run scored in the bottom of the fourth. How did he handle the Bash Brothers?

Pretty well. They managed not a hit. In fact, only Dave Henderson got any for Oakland. He did have a bit of a scare in the top of the 7th. There was a runner on first on an error. Canseco would prove to be the second out as Orel seemed safe. But a single by Parker brought McGwire to the plate. On a 1-0 pitch, McGwire gave it a bit of a ride But fortunately for the Dodgers, he got under it and was out on a fly to right. Los Angeles won it, 6-0.

In game three at home, Canseco and McGwire were having all kinds of problems with the Dodgers pitching. So were the rest of Oakland. Each team scored a run, and this one headed towards the last of the ninth inning.

Jose led off against Dodger reliever Jay Howell. First pitch swinging, it was no way Jose. Canseco was out on a popup to second. But McGwire equaled Gibson in the walk-off heroics when he stroked a dramatic home run to left. The long ball came on the eighth pitch of the at-bat. The A's not only won 2-1, but the Dodgers now only led the 1988 Fall Classic two games to one. Game five, in Oakland would be necessary, after all!

The Dodgers needed to put the A's on the brink in a crucial game four. With two runs in the top of the first, it was a good sign. But Oakland got one back in the bottom of the frame. Luis Polonia started it all off with a single. A passed ball to Dave Henderson got him to second. Henderson grounded out, but now Polonia was at third with only one out. You had to pitch to Canseco with the red-hot Parker on deck. Canseco grounded out, but Polonia scored and it was 2-1, Los Angeles after one.

McGwire fanned in the bottom of the second as Tim Belcher, back for another go-around, was pitching well. Los Angeles got the two-run lead back in the top of the third. Could the Bash Brothers get it back?

In the bottom of the fourth, it was Henderson with a single to lead if off. Canseco walked. But Belcher got Dave Parker to fan. Mark McGwire could only pop out. Carney Lansford grounded out to end the threat.

In the bottom of the sixth, it was Henderson with another leadoff single. Canseco and Parker were retired. But McGwire walked and Lansford singled to score Henderson and get the tying run into scoring position. Lansford ended the drama by grounding out. But it was a one-run lead again and Canseco and McGwire were gonna get at least one more crack here!

Dave Stewart, back again, got one out to start the seventh inning, but them another future Blue Jay, Alfredo Griffin walked. When Steve Sax singled to center, Stew was gone. There were runners on the corners with one out. Greg Cadaret, still another future Toronto Blue Jay came in. Tracy Woodson pinch hit and grounded out. But it scored an all-important insurance run for Los Angeles, who now led, 4-2.

But once again, back came Oakland. And it would not be a long time to wait.

With one out, Walt Weiss singled. Polonia grounded out, but Weiss made it to second. There were now two outs and Belcher seemed safe. That is, until Henderson came up with another hit. This time, it was a double that scored Weiss. 4-3. Guess who's next for the poised Athletics?

Canseco would not face Belcher. His night was over. The Los Angeles Dodger's troubles were not. Jay Howell was back. Jose Canseco walked for the second time in the game. Dave Parker sent a liner that Alfredo Griffin muffed at short. Bases loaded! Howell would now have to face McGwire. Another bad pitch to him, and it's 7-4, Oakland!

But Howell threw Mark an inside fastball, and McGwire popped it up. Howell and the Dodgers had dodged a bullet. However, there was still plenty of time left in this game. As in, two innings. This uprising meant Canseco and McGwire could bat again before the night was over!

Howell gave up a two-out single to catcher Ron Hassey in the bottom of the eighth, but got Walt Weiss out to end that. Cadaret and Dennis Eckersley stopped Los Angeles cold in the top of the eighth and ninth. Howell had to face the truth, again!

He started out on the right track by getting the dangerous Polonia out on a fly to left. But Henderson got his fourth hit of the game next. That brought Jose Canseco to the dish.

Howell got ahead in the count 0-1, and then threw Jose a bad pitch. It was a curveball that was too high. These were pitches that Canseco took you downtown on. But Canseco only got a piece of it for a foul ball. Howell was shaken and missed with the next three pitches! Full count. Slider for strike three!

But there was still Dave Parker Wouldn't it be something if Cobra (as he was called) went downtown for a World Series with three walk-offs in four games?

But it was not to be as Parker popped out to third. Los Angeles not only won the game 4-3, but they now had a 3-1 stranglehold on the 1988 World Series. And Orel Hershiser was all ready to go in game five!

Los Angeles got two in the top of the first. Canseco fanned for the third (straight) out in the bottom of the frame. Now that's a start, eh?

Hershiser then got all three batters again in the bottom of the second, including Mark McGwire. But in the next inning with runners on second and third and only one out, Stan Javier got Oakland's first run with a sac fly. Henderson's walk brought Jose back to the dish. Heshiser got him to hit into a force.

And when the Los Angeles Dodgers got two more runs in the top of the fourth (via Mike Davis' two-run home run on a 3-1 pitch), it was 4-1 for LA. Could Oakland do anything more?

It was Los Angeles doing more with another run in the top of the sixth to make it 5-1. Meanwhile, Hershiser did not permit a hit in the fourth, five, sixth and seventh inning. But Oakland made a push for more in the bottom of the eighth.

Tony Phillips walked, but Hershiser got Weiss out on a grounder. Phillips was on second, but he represented a meaningless run. Stan Javier, at the plate, was a little more important. But Hershiser did not get Stan out. Javier hit a single to score Phillips. 5-2, Los Angeles. When Dave Henderson walked on four pitches (Orel's fourth walk of the night), the tying run was at the plate. And it was Jose Canseco!

Orel pitched very carefully to Jose. The count went to 1-2 and Canseco fouled one off. But when Hershiser threw him an inside fastball, Jose popped it up to fiirst. There were two outs. But Bulldog's first pitch to Dave Parker was wild, and both runners advanced. Orel then got Dave on a 1-2 pitch! Three more outs and Los Angeles would have and improbable World Series win over Oakland.

The Dodgers went down in order in the top of the ninth, so Orel didn't have to wait long to go back out to finish the job. He started out in fine form by getting Mark McGwire to fly out. Ron Hassey then became Hershiser's eighth strikeout of the game. One more out to go! Carney Lansford singled to keep Oakland alive. But it would prove to be the last hit off Orel. On the second pitch to Tony Phillips, Lansford went to second when nobody covered the bag. On the very next pitch, Lansford went to third when nobody covered the bag. Orel had also fallen behind in the count, 3-0. But Orel was a battler, and got two called strikes. Then, with the full count, he fanned Phillips. Los Angeles won the game 5-2 and the 1988 Fall Classic, 4-1.

The A's two biggest hitters had left the yard only twice combined. Canseco hit .171 and McGwire .188. The Bash Brothers had been reduced to the Bruised Ego Brothers. If nothing else, the 1988 World Series proved good pitching overcomes good hitting. Even when you face a team with two of the most feared sluggers. You got pitching, right? Takes care of the job sometimes!

Monday, June 16, 2014

World Series: Did You Know?

Tony Gwynn got his first and last Fall Classic hits off two pitchers who combined for 510 wins!

Gwynn, who just passed away earlier today, was a member of the 1984 and 1998 San Diego Padres. In '84 they were up against a team for the ages, the Detroit Tigers. The Bengals started off 1984 35-5. And they were there in the October classic and had not the slightest intention of losing any games!

So game was at home for Gwynn and the gang. And Detroit was off and running in the top of the first. And scoring, too!

Lou Whitaker, the second basemen for the Motor City, led off the game for the Tigers against the Padres starter Mark Thurmond. It was a great at-bat, going ten pitches. But Lou doubled. Alan Trammell, who formed the dynamic double play combo with Lou at short, then went almost ten pitches himself. On the eighth pitch, Alan singled to score his buddy. A fitting start for the Tigers. Trammell then made a rare mistake and was caught stealing. But Detroit put two more runners on via singles before Thurmond got out of the inning. Needless to say, Mark was lucky to give up just that one run.

But Detroit sent to the hill Jack Morris. Morris, the winner of 254 games lifetime, always loved being there in big games. Not the guy San Diego wanted to face. Proof of that came as Alan Wiggins fanned to start things off. Gwynn was out on a fly to Kirk Gibson in right. Two outs, nobody on. What could the Padres do now?

Steve Garvey kept the inning alive with a single. When Greg Nettles followed suite, San Diego had something going. When Terry Kennedy surprised everyone with a double to left, San Diego had the lead, 2-1!

Gwynn batted again in the bottom of the third. Wiggins had gotten a single to start it off. Gwynn walked. But Garvey hit into a double play. The Padres got another man on as Nettles walked, but Jack got the Tigers out of the mess with a fly ball out from Kennedy.

The Tigers then took advantage of that missed opportunity as Larry Herndon hit a two-run home run in the top of the fifth. Detroit reclaimed the lead, 3-2. Gwynn and his boys had some work to do!

Morris got the first two batters out in the bottom of the frame, but Tony Gwynn got a single to keep the inning going. Then, for good measure, he stole second. Runner in scoring position. Steve Garvey could only ground out.

The Padres them got a little too aggressive on the base paths in the bottom of the seventh. Kurt Bevacqua, who was the last ever DH in a National League ballpark in the Fall Classic, led off with a double. Kurt was out trying to make it a triple. With two down, Gwynn walked. But when Tony tried for another theft of second,, Tiger catcher  Lance Parrish threw him out. The promising inning was over. And Detroit still had the 3-2 lead.

Morris would retire the next six batters as Detroit took this close one, 3-2. And although San Diego took game two, it was Detroit's last loss of 1984. The Tigers would win it all in just five games!

Fourteen years later, Gwynn was back in the World Series on the same team, but with a lot of new faces. But here, the Padres were up against the New York Yankees. This was another team to be reckoned with. And the Bronx Bombers proved that by winning game one, 9-6, game two, 9-3. Game three in San Diego went 5-4 for New York. The Padres needed game four to avoid the sweep.

It was an almost impossible task as the Yankees sent Andy Pettitte to the hill. Pettitte, winner of 256 games lifetime, was in fine form on this day. Gwynn and his mates may as well have been facing Jack Morris again the way this one went down!

Gwynn was the second batter for the Padres in the bottom of the first inning and grounded out. He was also the second batter in the bottom of the third. Again, all Tony could do was ground out.

The Yankees took a 1-0 lead of Padres' starter Kevin Brown in the top of the sixth inning. Bernie Williams scored Derek Jeter with a ground out. Gwynn came to the plate again in the bottom of the frame.

Leading off the bottom of the sixth, Gwynn came through with a single. But Greg Vaughn would force him at second and Ken Caminiti hit into an inning-ending double play.

The Yankees plated two more runners in the top of the eighth as Scott Brosius singled home a man with the bases filled. Ricky Ledee followed with a sac fly to make it, 3-0 for New York. The end was growing near for San Diego.

John Vander Wal batted for pitcher Kevin Brown to begin the bottom of the eighth for the Padres. He flied out out to center off Pettitte, who was still working on the shutout. But Quilvio Veras, the Padres' leadoff hitter, walked. When Gwynn followed with a much-needed single, San Diego had the tying run at the dish with only one out!

Pettitte had thrown his last pitch as Jeff Nelson came in. It was a good move by Yankees' manager Joe Torre, as Greg Vaughn went down on strikes.

Mariano Rivera replaced Nelson but gave up a single to Ken Caminiti. The bases were loaded and there were two outs. But Rivera got it together and got Jim Leyritz out on a fly to center. San Diego got another hit of Mariano in the bottom of the ninth before the game ended.

Tony Gwynn will be missed by all, and his 1984 and 1998 World Series appearances would prove to be the only time his team's advanced to the Fall Classic. But still, to have gotten your first World Series hit off Jack Morris, such a great competitor in the postseason, and your last off Andy Pettitte (19-11 in the postseason himself) must have been something. Sometimes it's not what you do, but who you do it to!