Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Common Denominator: Al MacAdam

"Scored the GWG to eliminate the Toronto Maple Leafs in the deciding game of the 1979/80 playoffs. Then scored the GWG in the deciding game to eliminate the Montreal Canadians in the 1979/80 postseason."

That would be the Minnesota North Stars' Al MacAdam. Al was a player to be feared that year, scoring 42 goals and adding 51 assists. The right winger took home the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. He had some software.

In the 1978/79 season the Habs had won their fourth Stanley Cup in a row (Beating Toronto along the way), and sixth of the decade. The North Stars had finished 28-40-12. Would the next season be any different?

Well, Montreal lost their coach, Scotty Bowman. They lost Ken Dryden, their great goalie,. Jacques Lemaire was gone. Yvan Cournoyer was also gone. Of those, mentioned above, only Bowman was involved in the NHL in 1979/80, that as the coach of the Buffalo Sabers. Minnesota and Buffalo would each be in the final four that year. The Habs and Leafs would not.

The Leafs came into the 1979/80 playoffs five games below .500, but had Darry Sittler (97 points), Wilf Paiement (74 points), Rick Vaive (22 goals in only 69 games). Plus Borje Salming and Ian Turnbull. Toronto had plenty to test Minny goalie Gillies Meloche. But he had a pretty good goals-against average of 3.06 that year. Could Toronto get some by him? They were 7th in the 21-team league that season with 304 goals.

But they ran into a stop sign as the playoffs began.

The first two games of the first round between Minny and Toronto were right there in the North Stars' ring. The home team weathered the storm in the first two contests. They pounded the Leafs for an amazing 61 shots on goal in the first game, prevailing 6-3 (It was only 4-2 after 40 minutes). Game two was all Minnesota, however. They looked for the sweep after winning it so easily, 7-2. It was 4-0 after two periods in this on, and Al MacAdam had two goals in it!

Game three was at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens. Would now be a good time to tell you this was a best-of-five? The Maple Leafs had to win. The led 2-1 after 2 periods. But in the third, it was the Stars tying it, and then taking the lead. John Anderson tied it at 3 in the third with little more than five minutes to play. In overtime, Al MacAdam won it just 32 seconds it.

Next came the Montreal Canadians. Seeking their fifth cup in a row, they swept past Hartford in the first round. Minnesota surprised them in the first two contests in Montreal. The North Stars were 36-28-16 that year. But the Habs? All those departures and they still were 47-20-13. How did they end the season in their last 21 games? 15-0-6. So when the quarterfinals started, Montreal was essentially 18-0-6. Can you say, tall order for Minny?

Minnesota couldn't score a goal on Dennis Herron through two in game one, and neither could Montreal dent Meloche. In the third period, it was the visitors breaking lose with three goals, MacAdam getting his fourth of the playoffs. He was averaging a goal a game.

Meloch was amazing in game two, as well, stopping 40 of 41 shots. Minny won 4-1. But when if shifted to Minnesota, Montreal woke up. Game three saw the Habs make a crucial decision. Bunny Larocque, ken Dryden's old backup, was no slouch in goal. Although Herron posted better numbers in the regular season, 25-3-3, 2.51 GAA, Bunny had all the experience to get the Canadians back in this on the road.

Stopping all 25 shots that came his way, Bunny got Montreal's first shutout of the 1980 playoffs. The game itself was a rout, 5-0 for the Habs. And what a little confidence will do for you, eh? Montreal blasted the home team again, 5-1 in game four. Yvon Lambert was playing amazing. 8 goals in as many games played.

Back home for game five, Larocque, who'd beaten Hartford in the third contest of the first round, upped his playoff record to a perfect 4-0 with an easy 6-2 win. Well, the Habs were for real.

Amazingly, they'd need a game seven to clinch. Minnesota went home and Meloche regained his form. Montreal looked poised to finish 'em off. They had 10 shots on goal in the first period and the only goal, but Minnesota came back with five of their own in the second. Rick Chartraw scored the only goal of the third, but that really didn't matter. The 5-2 win by the home team sent this one back to Canada.

Game seven was back-and-forth, but you had to figure the Canadians would find a way. Yet tied 2-2 with only 86 minutes to play, it was Al MacAdam's 6th goal of the 1980s playoffs that put Minnesota up 3-2. The Habs failed to get the equalizer, much to the amazement of everyone.

Minnesota faced Philadelphia next game, and even won the first game. From there, though, it was all the Flyers, who reached the finals after winning the next four contests. MacAdam had only one goal in those five games.

The Minnesota North Stars made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals the next year, as MacAdam scored nine more goals. They didn't become the next dynasty, however. That title belonged to the New York Islanders, who'd won it in 1980 and then beat Minny in just five games in '81. They'd win it the next two years for good measure.

The North Stars had to wait until 1991 to make it back to the finals, losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. MacAdam was long gone by then. The team was off to Dallas for the 1993/94, although a new team, called the Wild, arrived in time for the 2000/2001. The Stanley Cup has yet to make it's way to the city, however.

But they still managed to eliminate two of the the most prominent teams in one magical season many years back.

"The information used herein was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by The Hockey Summary Project. For more information about the Hockey Summary Project please visit:





"Hockey Summary Project." Hockey Summary Project. N.p., 1 Nov. 2008. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. <http://hsp.flyershistory.com/>

Sports Reference LLC. Hockey-Reference.com - Hockey Statistics and History. http://www.hockey-reference.com/. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Common Denominator: Djokovic And Murray.

"Born a week apart in 1987, finished a year on a tremendous 24-match winning streak not long after a loss at the US Open."

For Novak Djokovic, born May 22nd, 1987, that was 2013. He watched as Nadal caught up to him and passed him in the rankings that year, including beating him in a four-set US Open finals. However, the Serb was not about to lose again.

He won both his rubbers at a Davis Cup tie vs. Canada, beating both Milos Raonic and Vaskek Pospisil (Both of whom were in the top 50 at that time). Neiter player managed to win a set off Djokovic. Then Novak went to Beijing and beat Richard Gasquet in the semis and Nadal in the finals.

Novak won in Shanghai, beating Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Juan Martin del Potro in the last three rounds. Challenges were coming his way, and Djokovic was meeting them with open arms.

At Paris, he beat David Ferrer in the finals, having overcome a pair of players from Switzerland in the previous rounds named Wawrinka and Federer. Roger won set of him. Wawrinka and Ferrer weren't so lucky. 6-4, 6-3 and 6-3, 6-3.

Federer, del Potro and Gasquet then put up spirited fights at the ATP Finals in London, but Djokovic beat them all in three sets. Wawrinka and Nadal managed to win a combined total of 13 games against Djokovic in the semifinals and finals. It was all-too-easy after three early scares.

One more hurdle existed in 2013 for Djokovic. The Davis Cup finals was against Czech Republic. Check out the score vs. Tomas Berdych. 6-4, 7-6, 6-2. Check out the score vs. Radek Stepanek, 7-5, 6-1, 6-4.

Djokovic found himself being hounded by Andy Murray three years later. He lost the US Open finals to Wawrinka. But Novak beat Andy in the Australian Open final and later at the French Open finals.

Murray, though, won Wimbledon, and then the Olympics. He lost a Davis Cup tie vs. del Potro after losing in the quarters of the US Open. The loss to Juan was Andy's last of 2016.

He came to China following Great Britain's loss (Although Murray beat Guido Pella in his other singles' match) to Argentina at the Davis Cup. In China, Andy roared to the finals without losing a set. Grigor Dimitrov had been hammered into submission by Andy Murray in the round of sixteen at the US Open, and played much better in the finals. But not good enough to win a set. Murray won, 6-4, 7-6.

Shanghai, and the same. Murray didn't lose a set. In the finals, he beat Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6, 6-1.

Off to Vienna, and Andy was a little more human. He dropped a set in his first two matches, then didn't lose another. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was the last to fall to him, 6-3, 7-6.

Paris saw Andy Murray beat Tomas Berdych in the quarters, Milos Raonic (by default) in the semis, and finally John Isner in the finals. This time, Murray dropped a set. He'd routed Isner at Vienna. Here, the Scotsman scraped by, 6-3, 6-7, 6-4.

In the round robin of the ATP Finals in London, Murray dropped a set to Kei Nishikori. In the semifinals, Milos Raonic was his opponent. The Canadian gave him all he could handle, but Andy Murray found a way, 5-7, 7-6, 7-6.

The finals should have been a challenged, but Andy Murray had all the answers for Novak Djokovic's quest for another Year-End Championship. With a 6-3, 6-4 win, Murray had title #9 on the year, and would finish #1 for the first time in his career.

The 29-year old was born on May 15th, 1987, one week before his vanquished opponent, who happened to have five ATP Finals titles to his name. 2016 had started out frustrating for him. But it ended with 24 wins (Plus 2 more by default). Djokovic likewise ended 2013 with 24 consecutive victories, and still is great player on all surfaces. Both players will be 30 in May of next year. Their rivalry will no doubt continue to be a riveting one. However, other than the Grand Slams, they'll be looking out for the #1 ranking in 2017.


"Andy Murray Career Statistics." Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia . Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Unknown, 2016. Web. 28 Nov. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Murray_career_statistics>

"Novak Djokovic Career Statistics." Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia . Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Unknown, 2016. Web. 28 Nov. 2016 <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Novak_Djokovic_ career_ statistics>

"Official Site of Men's Professional Tennis | ATP World Tour | Tennis." ATP World Tour. Emirates. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.  <http://www.atpworldtour.com/>

Saturday, November 26, 2016

World Series: Did You Know?

Roberto Clemente got a hit in every game. And his Fall Classic appearances were eleven years apart.

Clemente was on the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates who faced off against the New York Yankees in that year's World Series. Clemente was wielding a hot bat!

The home team at Forbes Field saw Roger Maris put the Yankees up 1-0 in the top of the first, but back came the Bucs in the bottom of the frame. Facing Art Ditmar, and having watched his pals score twice, Clemente delivered a single to make it 3-1. That was the end for Ditmar and the Yankees. Pittsburgh won the game 6-4.

New York snapped right back in the next two games, winning 'em 16-3 and 10-0. Roberto did collect two hits in the second contest, and another in game three at Yankee Stadium. But it did little. Pittsburgh won the next two games, however, and were heading home up 3-2, with a chance to finish 'em off in game six.

Clemente had just a hit in games four and five, collecting his second RBI of the postseason in the last game at the Stadium. His team was blown out for a third time, 12-0 in game six, but Roberto got two hits of Whitey Ford, who'd shut 'em out in game three.

So, in the winner-take-all game seven, Clemente popped out in the bottom of the first as Pittsburgh got two runs off Bob Turley. Two more runs in the second seemed good, but Roberto wasn't doing anything. He hit into a double play to end the third. The Yankees seized up on this and scored seven runs to take a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth.

Clemente's single scored the second run of that inning, as the home team refused to die. Trailing still, 7-6, Hal Smith hit a three-run home run off Jim Coates to make it 9-7! Three more outs!

Well, the Yankees refused to die, too. They scored twice in the top of the ninth to tie it at 9. Bill Mazeroski then won it for Roberto and company with a walk-off home run off Ralph Terry in the last of the ninth. Clemente sort of had to take a back seat to Maz's big hit. But so too, did Bill Virdon's great defence and Harvey Haddix's excellent pitching.

The sad thing out of all this for Pittsburgh was, they had a team that seemed destined for a rematch in 1961. The Yankees, of course, were back. The Pirates? Not quite. They dropped below .500 (75-79). New York kept returning until 1965, when the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Minnesota Twins. The Dodgers boasted pitchers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. They'd won in 1959, again in 1963, and finally, '65. They reached back to the Fall Classic the next year, only to be swept by the Baltimore Orioles.

The Yankees fell to Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964, and that put 'em on the map. The Cards hadn't made it to the World Series since 1946. They'd return again in 1967 and 1968. The New York Mets amazed the world with a five-game win over the Baltimore Orioles in 1969. The Cincinnati Reds, who were in the 1961 World Series instead of the Pittsburgh Pirates, made it back in 1970. But let me tell you about the next year!

The Pirates had a much different team. Now, they had Willie Stargell, Al Oliver and Bob Robertson. Their pitching staff was great. Dock Ellis, Steve Blass were there. Nelson Briles, who'd helped the Cards make it to the Fall Classic in 1967 and 1968 was there with his experience. Mudcat Grant, there on the Twins in '65 was now a Pirate. Bob Johnson, Luke Walker and Bob Moose completed the lucky seven.

So, after beating the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS, it was off to the Wordl Series against the Baltimore Orioles.

This time, it was on the road for games one and two. The Orioles won 'em both. Clemente lashed two hits in game one, and another pair of 'em in the second contest. Baltimore won game two, 11-3.

So in Pittsburgh, Clemente got just one hit. Willie Stargell got none (Although he walked three times). However, just take a look at the final score: 5-1 for Pittsburgh! Steve Blass had himself a fine 3-hitter!

Game four was close, but Roberto Clemente was all over the place. 3 hits, a walk. Surprisingly, he didn't knock in a run or touch home. But his team did four times to the O's three. And game five? It wasn't close. Pittsburgh won, 4-0. Nelson Briles trumped Mr. Blass. He allowed Baltimore two hits. Speaking of hits, our favourite player on the Pirates had one, and it knocked home the final run of the ballgame in the bottom of the fifth. The Pirates had this contest from the get-go!

In Baltimore for game six, Pittsburgh got a big blow off the bat of Roberto. He tripled his first time up off the great Jim Palmer, who'd whipped Pittsburgh in the second contest. Clemente was stranded, the Pirates scored the next inning. Here's where Roberto took over. He hit a solo home run in the third to make it 2-0. Palmer though, had 'em in the bag after that. He handcuffed the Pittsburgh Pirates the rest of the contest. It took extras, but Roberto Clemente and the Pirates were denied, 3-2.

No denials in the seventh game, however.

It came down to Steve Blass going on the hill for Pittsburgh vs. Mike Cuellar for Baltimore. Clemente could only ground out in the top of the first.

But in the top of the fourth, it was a different story. He took Cuellar out of the park for a home run. That marked the second straight game that Roberto had helped the Pirates with the long ball.

It was still 1-0 Pittsburgh in the top of the eighth when Willie Stargell singled to start the inning. Jose Pagan singled him home. The insurance run was needed, for the Orioles scored a run off Blass in the bottom of the frame.

Steve settled down, and Clemente had to settle for one hit. But when Baltimore was retired 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth, the Pittsburgh Pirates had won the 1971 World Series.

Roberto Clemente finished the 1971 Fall Classic with 12 hits, 2 home runs, and a splendid batting average of .414 to nab the MVP honours. He was just so dominating. Sadly, he'd die little more than a year later, and the young age of 38. The Pirates have only won the World Series one more time since, and that was in 1979. But although the time inbetween the World Series was more than a decade for Clemente, he made the most of all seven games each time.


Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 26 Nov. 2016.

Friday, November 25, 2016

World Series: Did You Know?

David Ferriss handed the St. Louis Cardinals their only shutout on the road in the 1940s. The Cards had a dynasty going with appearances in the 1942-1944 World Series. After the Tigers beat the Cubs in 1945, it was the Boston Red Sox's turn in 1946 to face the St. Louis Cardinals.

The teams split the first two games, and Ferriss pitched game three at Fenway. Murry Dickson started for the road guys.

It all seemed to come apart early for Dickson and company. In the bottom of the first, Joe Pesky singled with one out. Dom DiMaggio grounded out, moving Pesky to second. With first base open, Ted Williams was walked intentionally. Rudy York hit a home run to left. 3-0, Boston.

Ferriss seemed to get stronger as the game moved on. In the top of the sixth, it was Dickson himself with a double. But DiMaggio in centre caught up to Red Schoendienst's short fly. Not only did Dom made the catch, he fired to Pesky the shortstop covering second. Two down. Terry Moore ending the inning by striking out.

Another double play got the Red Sox out of any trouble in the next inning. Harry Walker singled in the top of the eighth, but nothing came of it. The Red Sox scored an unearned run off Murry Dickson in the bottom of the frame, effectively sealing the win.

Schoendienst and Moore were retired by Ferriss to start the ninth. Stan Musial tripled to keep St. Louis alive. But when Enos Slaughter fanned, the game was over and Ferriss had the shutout. Boston also had a 2-1 lead in the 1946 World Series.

The St. Louis Cardinals went on to win three of the next four games, even though Ferriss started game seven. Neither team was to return to this point until the 1960s (Boston and St. Louis met in the 1967 World Series, and twice so far in the 21st century).

Ferriss had lead the American League in W% in '46, .806. Although his career came to an end in 1950 before he was 30, Dave posted an excellent W-L record of 65-30 for a career W% of .684. He'd won 21 games in 1945 and added 21 in the pennant-winning season. So there was no doubt he belonged on the hill in games three and seven of the Fall Classic in 1946, although Boston came up a tad short in the last contest.


Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 25 Nov. 2016.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

World Series: Did You Know?

Although he allowed six hits in just 2 1/3 innings pitcher, Ralph Branca was the winning pitcher in game six of 1947. The Brooklyn Dodgers lived to fight another day.

Branca had started game one, and lost. He allowed a Yogi Berra home run in game three, but Brooklyn held on for a 9-8 win. But once it got to game six at Yankee Stadium, it was do-or-die for the Dodgers.

Well, the Dodgers dodged defeat. It wasn't easy.

Vic Lombardi started for the visiting Dodgers, and Brooklyn got up 4-0 going into the bottom of the third. Here's where New York woke up. They scored twice and had runners on first and second, with two down.

Branca came in and Billy Johnson singled. 4-3. Bobby Brown batted for Jack Phillips and singled. That scored the great Joe DiMaggio. Game tied, 4-4.

The next inning was tough, too. Branca gave up a single, got two strikeouts, then allowed another single. Yogi Berra singled to score the go-ahead run, but DiMaggio hit into a force. Brooklyn needed some offence.

They didn't get any in the top of the fifth. In the bottom of the frame, Ralph Branca held the fort. Johnson grounded out. George McQuinn popped to second. Phil Rizzuto singled to keep the inning going, but Aaron Robinson grounded out to second to end that.

In the top of the sixth inning, the Dodgers scored four times to take an 8-5 lead. Branca had been removed for a pinch hitter. Joe Hatten took over on the mound for Brooklyn. He held the fort, but the Yankees still managed to get to him eventually.

In the last of the ninth, Johnson singled and McQuinn. Hugh Casey came in. Rizzuto flied out to centre. Robinson singled, however, and the bases were loaded.

Lonny Frey batted for Butch Wensloff, and singled home Billy Johnson. 8-6. Stuffy Stirnweiss grounded out to Casey, and the Dodgers had the game.

Alas, in game seven, the Dodgers couldn't hold an early 2-0 lead. It was the Yankees scored the game's final five runs, to take the 1947 World Series in 7 games. Branca was not done pitching in the Fall Classic, however.

Two years later, the two teams met again. Ralph pitched much better this time around. Given the ball for game three at Brooklyn, he allowed a third inning run, then seemed to settle down. The Yankees gave up the lead in the bottom of the fourth when Pee Wee Reese homered.

The game stayed tied at 1 going into the top of the ninth. New York pulled it out as Yogi walked with one out. When Joe DiMaggio popped out, Branca seemed safe. Bobby Brown singled Berra into scoring position. Gene Woodling walked to load the bases. And when Johhny Mize singled, Berra and Brown scored. Jack Banta came into relieve Branca, who'd allowed just four hits over eight and two-thirds innings pitched. Jerry Coleman singled to make it 4-1.

The Brooklyn Dodgers had quite a bottom of the frame. Three outs away from losing, they sure didn't quit. Gil Hodges was retired, but Luis Olmo, the left fielder, hit a solo home run. 4-2. Joe Page, pitching in relief and going for the win, fanned Duke Snider. Then, Roy Campanella hit a solo shot of his own, 4-3. Bruce Edwards went sent to the dish for Banta, but Page got him looking to end game three.

And Brooklyn lost the next two games.

Branca never pitched again in the World Series, although he was on the Dodgers' postseason roster in 1952, the year after famous Giants pennant win over Branca's team. The '52 World Series went seven, and again, Brooklyn lost. They'd finally win in 1955 (After suffering a six-game defeat in '53 and watching the Giants win again the next year.) but Ralph was no longer pitching for Brooklyn. Soon, he retired from baseball, not much past his 30th birthday.

The Dodgers suffered a lot of heartbreak, long before Ralph Branca arrived. Was 1947 especially hard? They were so close, yet the Yankees made 'em look so-close-yet-so-far in game seven. In '52 they had games six and seven at home, coming up just empty. Even after Brooklyn's big win in 1955, the New York Yankees took their revenge in seven the following season. The Dodgers headed west to Los Angeles and won in 1959, 1963 and 1965. By then their pitching staff was primarily Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, so the opposition didn't have a chance.

Branca passed away yesterday, age 90. The Dodgers haven't won since 1988 and the San Francisco Giants (Having also gone west in '58) have recently won the Fall Classic three times. The New York Yankees have 27 World Titles to their name, while Brooklyn / Los Angeles has had to settle for 6. The Giants are up to 9, tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for the most of any National League team. But Ralph Branca was part of some great Brooklyn teams, and remembering him for Bobby Thompson's home run just doesn't seem right.


Enders, Eric. 100 years of the World Series. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. New York, 2005. Print.

Neft, David S., Richard M. Cohen, and Michael L. Neft. The Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball, 1992. 12th ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992. Print.

Neft, David S., and Richard M. Cohen. The World Series: Complete Play-by-play of Every Game, 1903-1989. 4th ed. New York: St. Martin's, 1990. Print.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 24 Nov. 2016.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

World Series: Did You Know?

Jerry Koosman never lost a game in the all-important October finale! In fact, he never lost a postseason game, period.

As a member of the 1969 New York Mets, he was given the ball in the very first NLCS. His team had beaten the Atlanta Braves 9-5 in the first contest.

The game started well for New York. After three innings, it was 6-0. After 3 1/2 in Atlanta, it was 8-0 for the visitors. The Braves got a run in the bottom of the frame, and then the Mets countered that with another tally of their own in the fifth, making it five straight innings of at least one run. However, Hank Aaron hit a 3-run home run in the bottom of that inning to cut it to 9-4. Ex-Yankee Clete Boyer drove home two more before the inning was over, and suddenly, it was 9-6. There were two outs, but that was all for Koosman as manager Gil Hodges replaced him with Canadian Ron Taylor. New York held on to win, getting some breathing room via a 2-run home run by Cleon Jones.

So, after finishing off Atlanta, is was off to the World Series to face the Baltimore Orioles. This would be no easy task. The O's beat Tom Seaver 4-1 in game one. Could Koosman win game two on the road this time? Send it back home for games 3, 4 and 5 even steven?

You bet! It wasn't easy, but a fine 2-hitter and some more help from Taylor, and this thing was heading home tied 1-1.

The Mets, as you can see, had to pull it out in the top of the ninth. The Orioles got two on after Koosman retired the first two batters as the O's were down to their last gasp! You take the 2-1 win if you're the Mets.

Game three went to New York 5-0, but it was closer than that. Seaver then won game four by the same score of Koosman's game two win. But this one required extras! Up 3-1, but with games six and seven in Baltimore, could Jerry end it all in game five?

Well, Baltimore didn't even ponder that thought. Their pitcher, Dave McNally, who'd battled Koosman to a gem of a duel in game two, actually hit a home run off him in the top of the third. It was a two-run shot. Frank Robinson hit a solo drive later that inning! 3-0, Baltimore.

New York scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth via a two-run home run by Don Clendenon. But McNally got the next three batters out, and seemed to have it back together. However, Al Weiss tied the game 3-3 with a home run in the bottom of the seventh. McNally was then removed for a pinch hitter in the top of the eighth, but Jerry Koosman got 'em 1-2-3.

The bottom of the frame saw the Mets go ahead via two doubles. The Orioles then committed two errors on one play to allow another run to score. 5-3, New York.

Frank Robinson drew a walk as the Orioles batted in the top of the ninth. A fielder's choice got the Mets to within two outs of wrapping it up. Brooks Robinson flew out to right. Davey Johnson then sent a ball to left. But when Jones made the catch, the home team had the 1969 World Series won!

Four years later, it was another NLCS for the Mets. Koosman was clutch. He beat the Cincinnati Reds 9-2 in the third game, and New York went on to win it in five games. The World Series was against Oakland.

Koosman started game two, following a win by Oakland in the opener. He just didn't have it. The A's got six hits off him in only two and a third innings. The Mets, however, fought back and eventually won in extras, tying the 1973 World Series, 1-1. Just like in 1969, it was on to home sweet Shea Stadium for games three, four and five.

The teams traded wins and game five would decided who went up 3-2. Jerry Koosman, given the ball, made sure that was the Mets. Jerry pitched well. The Mets scored twice off A's starter Vida Blue, and it was up to Koosman to make that stand up.

Jerry allowed three hits in the game. But in the top of the seventh, Gene Tenace drew a leadoff walk. One out later, Ray Fosse hit a double, and the tying run was at second. Tug McGraw came in.

Deron Johnson walked to load the bases. Koosman had allowed 4 walks in 6 1/3 innings. McGraw walked three more himself. But would you believe it? The A's didn't score!

The next two batters, you see, didn't even get the ball out of the infield. There were more chances for the Athletics, however. In the very next inning McGraw retired the first two men, but then Reggie Jackson drew a walk. So too, did Tenace. Jesus Alou lined to third to end that.

New York got a pair of baserunners on in their half of the inning, but neither scored. McGraw, however, had it in the ninth, getting the side in order. Tug fanned the last two batters for an exclamation mark on the save. Jerry Koosman had another win. The Mets, however, lost games six and seven.

Koosman, now 4-0 in the postseason, had one last appearance in him, but I'm sure he'd rather forget it. He was on the Chicago White Sox and facing the Baltimore Orioles in the third contest of the ALCS in 1983. The series was tied. But the third contest was a rout.

It was already 7-1 in the top of the of the ninth at Comisky Park by the time Koosman came in. John Shelby pinch hit and walked. Tito Landrum came in to bat for Jim Dwyer and flied out. Cal Ripken doubled. Eddie Murray was walked intentionally, loading the bases. That was the last batter Jerry Koosman faced in the postseason.

The Orioles scored four times that inning, as future Toronto Blue Jay Dennis Lamp couldn't hold the fort. The game ended 11-1 for Baltimore, who also won game four, 3-0. The Orioles went on to win the World Series over Philadelphia in just five games.

Koosman pitched two more seasons, both with Philadelphia, coincidentally. He went 20-19 from 1984 to 1985 before he retired. And while one might think of names like Dwight Gooden, David Cone, Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan and maybe some other starting pitcher in the Mets postseason history, it's Jerry Koosman who was Mr. Clutch when the chips were down. He got the Mets back into that Fall Classic in 1969, pushed his team to within a game of another World Championship in 1973, and won two crucial NLCS games. It's save to say the New York Mets of 1969 and 1973 wouldn't have done so well in the World Series without their lefty, Jerry Koosman!


Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

World Series: Did You Know?

Bill Bevens no-hit bid in 1947 was not his last game. He would return in game seven. The Yankees, who lost that heartbreaker to the Dodgers in the fourth contest, made sure to wrap it all up at Yankee Stadium three games later.

Bevens had been just 7-13 in the regular season that year, but pitched a good game four sans all those walks. 10 to be exact. Holding the opposition scoreless on the road in the Fall Classic is no small feat. But game seven was at home and the Yankees (Who'd beaten the Dodgers in just five games in '41) didn't want to lose it there.

So they sent out Spec Shea, who lasted all of 1 1/3 innings. Bevens got the call, three days after his near-miss. Spider Jorgensen greeted him the hard way. His double scored a run, putting the visiting Brooklyn Dodgers up, 2-0.

Bevens got out of that mess with no further damage. Phil Rizzuto drove home a run in the bottom of that second frame, and it was 2-1. Bill, for his part, fanned both Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson to start the third, and got out of that inning after allowing a walk. The next frame saw Brooklyn get the first batter on via a single. Bevens thwarted 'em again, getting the next three batters out. But it was still 2-1 Brooklyn after 3 1/2.

With two on and two out in the bottom of the fourth, Bobby Brown batted for Bill Bevens (A lot of "B's" there, eh?) and delivered a clutch double. After Snuffy Stirnweiss walked, New York had runners on the corners. Old Reliable, Tommy Henrich, lived up to his nickname and scored Phil Rizzuto from third with a single. Both Brown and Stirnweiss moved into scoring position following that hit, but they ended being stranded.

The Yankees, however, had the lead for good.

Joe Page, their ace reliever, came in and retired the first 13 men to face him. New York tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth and seventh. The Dodgers finally got a hit off Page in the ninth, but a double play erased that and ended the game.

Page ended up getting credit for the win, although by today's rule, it would have been Bevens. Sadly, Bill was gone from the majors for good (Although he pitched in the minors until 1952). 9 year later, Don Larsen did him one better, getting a perfect game against the Dodgers in game five of the 1956 World Series.

Bevens finished his career with a mediocre 40-36 record, despite a 3.08 ERA. The Yankees, despite not returning the next season (And without Bevens) were on their way to five in a row beginning in 1949 under Casey Stengel. Bill, of course, was not a part of that. So sadly, not only did Bill miss out on becoming the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the World Series, he also missed out on the dynasty years of the Yankees. Fate just didn't seem to be in the cards for this hard-luck pitcher.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Sure Could Have Fooled Me: Mike Montgomery!

Mike Montgomery's save in game seven of the 2016 World Series brought the championship to the Chicago Cubs, right? It was also his first save at the MLB level! Wow!

Mike started out as a starter. Although only 4-6 in 2015 with Seattle, he recorded two shutouts. That was good enough to tie four other starters for first place. His 4.60 ERA was not a good sign, however.

2016 was a little better with the W-L record. He was 3-4, but lowered his ERA to just 2.34, starting just 7 of 49 games for Seattle. Traded to the Chicago Cubs, he went 1-1 with a 2.82 ERA. Of the 17 games Montgomery pitched for Chicago, only 5 were starts.

Then came the postseason. The NLDS saw Mike collect a hold and a loss, but record a great ERA (1.69). The NLCS was not as good. Montgomery won a game, but posted an ERA of 6.23 in 4 games.

How about the Fall Classic against Cleveland?

Mike fanned four batters in just two innings in the second contest, won by Chicago, 5-1. Montgomery pitched the next two games, but could help little. The Cubs lost 'em both, going down 3-1 to the Indians.

A win at home in game five sent it back to Cleveland for games six and seven. In the sixth contest, it was Chicago with a 9-3 win. The Indians hit the ball hard against him, but they couldn't score a run despite getting a hit and a walk. Aroldis Chapman, the closer, pitched 1 1/3 of an inning and Cleveland did score on him. He'd gone 2 2/3 innings in game five, getting the save to keep Chicago alive. He'd be needed again in game seven.

And in that game, it was Chicago up 6-3 as Chapman came in with one on and two out in the bottom of the eighth. Four more outs. However, a three-run home run by Raja Davis tied the game. Chapman, still on the hill, got 'em 1-2-3 in the ninth, keeping it tied at six, and sending it to extras.

Chicago seized the moment. They scored twice in the top of the 10th to make it 8-6, and seemed to have it wrapped up. Carl Edwards, with two saves in the regular season, was the man the Chicago Cubs sent out to bring 'em home a winner!

It seemed like the right move. The first two batters were retired, bringing the Cubs to within one out of a World Championship. But then Brandon Guyer coaxed a walk from Edwards. Then, he took second base on the first pitch to Davis. On the second pitch, it was Raja continuing to keep his team in the game. Smacking a single to centre, it was 8-7. Mike Montgomery was the new pitcher and Michael Martinez was the batter.

Mike got a strike on Michael, who then sent a grounder to third. Kris Bryant picked the ball up, tossed it to first and Chicago had the game, 8-7! Montgomery, lost in all this hoopla, got his first save at the Big-League level! Could it have come at a better time? I don't think so! Anytime you get a save in game seven of a World Series, it's memorable!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

World Series: Did You Know?

The Chicago Cubs are the only team to win game seven on the road in extra innings. Not only did their win in 2016 erase a long drought you see, but it was a first of it's kind.

1924 Washington Senators won game seven, at home, in extras. Ditto for the 1991 Minnesota Twins. Florida, 1997, same deal.

Chicago trailed Cleveland 3-1 at their place, Wrigley Field. They managed a 3-2 win in game five, sending it back to Cleveland.

All Chicago in game six, 9-3. This one was going to a deciding game seven.

The Cubs, seeking their first World Championship since 1908, surged ahead 6-3 going into the bottom of the eighth, despite the home team scoring twice on a wild pitch in the fifth. The visitors needed just six more outs!

John Lester, pitching a great game for Chicago, then got the first two men out in the bottom of the eighth, and just four more outs were needed. However, Jose Ramirez sent Lester to the showers with a single to left.

Aroldis Chapman came in to pitch for the third straight game. Brandon Guyner greeted him with a double on a 3-2 pitch, scoring Ramirez and cutting it to 6-4. When Rajai Davis deposited Chapman's 2-2 into the left field stands, it was all tied, 6-6. Chapman gave up still another hit before getting out of that inning.

The Cubs tried to retake the lead the next inning, getting a man to third with less than two outs. But Bryan Shaw extricated the Indians from that problem. Chapman had an easy 1-2-3 ninth to send it to extras.

And get this: Chicago scored twice in the top of the 10th off Shaw to make it 8-6! They had a chance for more, as the bases were loaded and there was one out. Trevor Bauer relived Shaw and got the next two batters out without any further damage.

So it was up to Carl Edwards to close this one out. He blew strike three past Matt Napoli for the first out. Ramirez grounded out. At last! The moment had come for Chicago!

Or had it?

Edwards walked Brandon Guyer, getting just one strike. Rajau Davis was back up, again representing the tying run. Guyer took second on defensive indifference, the pitch being ball one. Davis wasted no time in adding to his heroics of the night, singling to centre on the next pitch. Guyer, off with the crack of the bat, motored on home, 8-7. The Cleveland team was just not going away!

But just when it appeared this one might never end, Mike Montgomery came in to pitch. The tying run was at first. Mike had 100 innings pitched to his name that season, but this was gonna be his most memorable moment in baseball, one way or another.

The batter was Michael Martinez.

Montgomery got a called strike. On the next pitch, Martinez grounded to short! The game and the Fall Classic were over! Chicago had an 8-7, extra-inning win in game seven on the road. The first team to do that.

The long wait was over in Cubbie Land. Chicago had kept at it, not letting themselves get discouraged at Cleveland's comebacks. And they were rewarded for their patience. 7 games, 10 innings, and 108 years were over with that last grounder!


Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 08 Nov. 2016.