I wrote a post earlier this week discussing Harry Caray impressions, which sent me searching for a Harry video for today’s post.
I found this gem with Caray summing up the 1991 season finale by saying
“Sure as God made green apples, someday the Chicago Cubs are going to be in the World Series, and maybe sooner than we think.”
Caray says the Cubs have the ingredients for a winner, but it “requires a veteran manager because this is a veteran team–a mixture of guys who are young but still veterans.”
The reference is aimed at the Cubs (77-83) managerial change after just 37 games, when Don Zimmer (18-19) was replaced by Joe Altobelli (0-1), who warmed the seat for one game until Jim Essian (59-63) took over.
As far as those young veterans on the Cubs (from youngest to oldest):
Position Players: 22- Gary Scott, 23 – Jose Vizcaino, 24 – Rick Wilkins, 25 – Jerome Walton, 26 – Joe Girardi, 27 – Mark Grace, 27 – Dwight Smith, 28 – Shawon Dunston, 31 – Ryne Sandberg
Pitchers: 23 – Chuck McElroy, 24 – Shawn Boskie, 24 – Mike Harkey,
25 – Heathcliff Slocumb, 25 – Greg Maddux
The Cubs finished the year with four straight wins, including a three-game sweep against the Cardinals. The video begins with Maddux wrapping up his 15th win of the season, a complete game, 7-3 victory against St. Louis on the season’s final day.
As Caray wraps up the postgame show he reads “Total: 7-10 & 2 for the Cubs…3-6 & 0 for the Mets.”
It’s impossible not to love this man.
A recent Name That Cub! post struck a chord with one reader.
The answer to the trivia question was Mark Grudzielanek.
He of course was the Cubs’ second baseman from 2003-04.
Twitter follower @mfrost503 responded to the post:
“I still remember his big hit against the Cardinals in the 4 game series in September 2003, a triple if I remember correctly“
It turns out mfrost503′s memory is correct…with one small exception.
It was actually a five-game series due to a double header at Wrigley.
Nonetheless, in the fourth contest against St. Louis on Sept. 3, 2003, Grudzielanek tripled against Woody Williams in the bottom of the eighth.
The hit drove home Tony Womack for the go-ahead run. The Cubs won 8-7.
They also won the following day to take 4 of 5 against the rival Cards.
Chicago continued to win its next 4 games to tie Houston for the division lead.
And by the end of the month the Cubs would clinch the NL Central title!
The rest, as they say, is history.
The above print is a painting done by Andy Jurinko.
Many years ago I purchased a calendar of Jurinko’s prints of numerous old baseball cathedrals.
I cut out the Wrigley Field print and had it framed, which I still have today.
The painting is of a game between the rival Cardinals and the Cubs on Sunday August 14, 1988.
The Cubs won 8-3 on a hot 93-degree day at the Friendly Confines.
Darrin Jackson’s pinch-hit 2-R HR in the bottom of the sixth gave the Cubs a
4-3 lead. Mike Bielecki pitched seven strong innings allowing three runs and Les Lancaster earned the save throwing two innings of no run, no hit baseball.
In The Print:
Rafael Palmeiro (2-for-5) is playing left field
Ryne Sandberg (0-for-3) is at second base
Mark Grace (1-for-4) is at first
Shawon Dunston (0-for-4) at short
Vance Law (1-for-3) at third
Mitch Webster (2-for-4) in center
Gary Varsho (1-for-2) in right
Damon Berryhill (2-for-3) catching
Andre Dawson pinch-hit, walked and scored a run
In the Cardinals lineup:
LF Vince Coleman
SS Ozzie Smith
2B Jose Oquendo
RF Tom Brunansky
3B Terry Pendleton
CF Curt Ford
1B Mike Laga
C Tony Pena
*No batter’s eye in CF
*No advertisement on old Budweiser building
*Notice the smaller bleacher seating in LF
*Notice the absence of rooftop stands on Waveland Ave
*Only two divisions at the time, as seen with the flags atop CF scoreboard
The Cardinals didn’t run out of postseason pixie dust. They were just outplayed by the Giants the past two-games. Imagine that.
In fact, it’s stunning how beatable the Cardinals look when their opponent actually steers clear of choking away games with poor fielding and ninth-inning collapses (you know who you are: Phillies, Brewers, Rangers, Braves & Nats).
Lately, however, it’s been St. Louis sputtering in the clutch while letting its 3-1 series lead slip to a Game 7.
Last night the Cards failed to get a single leadoff man on base while plating just one-run…their only tally over the last 19-innings. Even worse, four costly fielding errors have lead to the Giants scoring 10-unearned runs this series–the most ever allowed in an NLCS.
For once a National League team is taking advantage of Cardinals’ mistakes–and not the other way around.
The Giants’ lineup has capitalized on those extra outs and combined it with sensational starting pitching, a recipe for success against anyone, even the never-say-die Cardinals.
This of course has nothing to do with an immunity from postseason hocus-pocus, but everything to do with the Giants’ realization St. Louis is more poppycock than pixie dust.
Whether or not the Giants believe this truth for a third straight game is yet to be seen. But I’d love it if just once Cardinals fans experienced what it feels like to be defeated with pixie dust, especially in a Game 7.
Poof! Season over. NLCS choked away.
My gut feeling was the Giants couldn’t win two-in-a-row against St. Louis. So far I’m right.
I also said Game 3 was a must-win for San Fran if they were to maintain any chance of winning the NLCS. Of course, the the Giants lost 3-1, and in doing so seemingly assured us of another Cardinals vs. Tigers World Series.
Oh, the joy.
Perhaps what’s more frustrating, however, is the continued realization the National League’s best clubs are at home after choking away in the division series while the Cardinals get to play big brother against the bay boys.
That thought, in particular, has made it hardly bearable watching the Giants waste countless scoring opportunities against St. Louis, and even more difficult to understand how they failed to score despite posting the highest team-batting average (.272), on-base percentage (.348) and OPS (.707) of any team remaining in the postseason.
The Giants are getting scoring opportunities by the boat load this series, especially last night when Kyle Lohse walked 5 batters in 5.2 innings. But San Fran couldn’t capitalize on a single one, left 15 men on base all totaled, including going 0-for-5 with RISP and 2-outs and grounding into 2 double plays.
Where are the Nationals & Reds when we need them?
The big miss has been the Giants’ supposed big-hitters. Buster Posey has been virtually non-existent going 2-for-10 with no RBI and no extra base hits in the LCS. And for all the pre-game rah-rah chatter from Hunter Pence, he’s 1-for-11. Neither player has a single hit with a RISP.
When Ryan Theriot has your biggest clutch knock (a bases loaded 2-run single in Game 2) you know you’re performing well below standards offensively.
The Cards, meanwhile, have only outscored the Giants by a messily 2-runs through 3-games. But that’s already enough to force the Giants into winning 3 of the next 4 to advance. Anyone willing to take that bet?
Sadly, Orangetober as we know it is dead. Albeit, unofficially. And even if the Giants do have a heartbeat, it’s not detectable…or better said, not scoring.
Must be nice for the Cardinals facing an opponent lacking a ‘clutch gene’ as the lone remaining hurdle to reaching the World Series. Only against the Red Birds would the National League make it so easy.
I wouldn’t bet on the Giants holding the Cardinals’ lineup in-check for a second consecutive game.
St. Louis has easily scored the most runs (45) and driven in the most RBI (28) with RISP of any team this postseason.
That kind of production can be halted with good starting pitching, which the Giants have plenty, but those Red Birds also have a knack for rebounding quickly from postseason losses.
Only once over its last 4 postseason series have the Cardinals lost back-to-back games: coming in Games 4 & 5 of the World Series at Texas last year, and even that didn’t prevent St. Louis from winning the next 2 contests and the world championship.
So from my perspective, that makes Game 3 a must-win for Matt Cain and the Giants this evening.
Otherwise, if St. Louis wins Game 3 and then simply goes on to trade victories with San Francisco, as they did through Games 1 & 2, the Cardinals eventually take the series in 7-games.
Of course, the Giants would still be alive even if St. Louis wins the next 2 contests, but what are the odds San Fran strings together another 3-game winning streak the likes of what they accomplished vs. Cincinnati in the division series?
We know the Cards will get their runs. The question is, will the Giants score enough runs of their own to win tonight? If they can’t, we can go ahead and pencil St. Louis into the World Series.
Do you know what the Phillies, Brewers & Braves all have in common? They each rolled over and died in the NL playoffs against the Cardinals. For good measure we can add the Rangers from last year’s World Series, too.
I suppose at some point I’ve got to give the Cardinals credit, which I begrudgingly did after St. Louis won the championship last year. But for goodness sake, why is it teams forget how to pitch effectively, field the ball and hit in the clutch against the Cards?
Is St. Louis really that much better of a club than its opponents, or is the opposition simply giving games away the way I believe they are?
Let’s go back to last October…
Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt & Roy Halladay allow a combined 14-earned runs against St. Louis in the NLDS. In the decisive Game 5 Philadelphia committed more errors (2) than runs scored (0) finishing off its pathetic series (1-2) at home and essentially put a clown nose on its 102-win regular season.
The Brewers were then outscored by 17 total runs in the 6-game NLCS series while committing an unheard of 9 errors…NINE! And despite the most home wins in the majors during the regular season (57), Milwaukee went just (1-2) at Miller Park in the series.
In the Fall Classic the Cardinals outscored the Rangers by 8-runs, thanks in large part to a 16-7 drubbing in Game 3 at Texas. But the Rangers then blew a 3-run lead after 7 innings and a 2-run lead in the top of the 10th in Game 6.
In fact, the Cards were down to its final strike before David Freese delivered his game-tying triple in the bottom of the 9th…and then a game-winning walkoff home run in the bottom of the 11th. And to make matters worse, Texas made 8 fielding errors in the 7-game series…EIGHT!
And what did we see Friday in Atlanta? The Braves, with the highest fielding percentage in the league, committed 3 errors leading to 3 unearned runs in a 6-3 loss.
The Braves also had not lost behind its starting pitcher, Chris Medlen, in his last 23-starts–the longest such streak in modern baseball history! Not only that, but the Braves also had home field advantage in the 1-game play-in but still blew it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fuming over the Cards’ performance. Heck, I wish the Cubs were half the opportunist St. Louis has been in the postseason. But what the heck’s going on with the rest of the Senior Circuit?
Is it just my personal dislike for the Cardinals that’s preventing me from validating St. Louis’ October success…or am I not the only one who’s ticked the rest of the National League is pulling a choke job worthy of the Cubs’ approval?
Heaven help me if the Nationals fall in line with the rest of the NL when it comes to finishing off the Cardinals. But quite honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they do…everyone else seemingly has.
Maybe St. Louis is just that good…or maybe not? Either way, I just wish somebody would make the Cardinals earn a postseason series instead of giving it away. At least then I could live with it.
The infield fly call was a bad one, and I don’t care if it was technically the right call within the rules.
It’s a judgment call by the umpire…and his judgment was off, which is evident in the replay. The umpire’s call came too late to begin with, and unfortunately, killed what could have been a game-changing rally for Atlanta.
But it’s hardly the reason the Braves lost the game. Three fielding errors led to three unearned runs…and the Braves lost by those three unearned runs 6-3. That can’t happen in the postseason, especially when you’re statistically the best fielding team in the league, as the Braves are.
“Ultimately I think that when we look back on this loss, we need to look at ourselves in the mirror,”… “We put ourselves in that predicament, down 6-2. You know, that call right there is kind of a gray area. I don’t know. But I’m not willing to say that that particular call cost us the ballgame. Ultimately, three errors cost us the ballgame, mine probably being the biggest.” –Chipper Jones
And let’s not forget the Braves were the beneficiary of a late timeout call at the plate in the second inning, one which gave David Ross another cut…the result of which landed the next pitch in the bleachers for an early 2-0 lead.
That particular bad call actually changed the game on the scoreboard, whereas the blown infield fly ruling did not.
The Braves, not the umpires, decided the outcome of this game, and per the usual, the Cardinals were happy to take advantage.
However, hats off to Fredi Gonzalez for handling the loss with class. He didn’t gripe or complain (at least from what I heard) but simply shouldered the blame for his team’s poor fielding.
I can only hope Davey Johnson won’t have to do the same following the NLDS.
The Cubs’ inability to win its weekend series against St. Louis effectively ended the National League wild card chase, which I found more frustrating than the club’s pursuit of avoiding a 100-loss season. Chicago still needs four more victories, by the way, to reach 63-wins.
So go ahead and pencil the Cardinals in as the second wild card team (Atlanta) now that both the Dodgers and Brewers find themselves 3.5 games back of St. Louis.
The Cards, meanwhile, began its season-ending stretch with another win against the pathetic Astros Monday night…and they’re certain to win at least one more game at Houston to wrap up the three-game series.
Although the NL East champion Nationals visit the Cardinals next, Davey Johnson says he’ll rest his starters before the postseason. And it’s likely the same will be said for Dusty Baker’s NL Central champion Reds, who follow Washington to St. Louis to finish out the 162-game schedule.
Even if St. Louis only manages to go .500 the rest of the way (4-4) they’ll finish with 87-wins, meaning Los Angeles and Milwaukee will need to win eight of its remaining nine-games just to tie the Cardinals…hard to believe that happens. Sigh…
So which teams roll-over against St. Louis this October? Nats, Reds, Giants, Braves…Rangers? I’d count on the Brewers and Phillies, but neither apparently wanted to wait as long as last year to disappoint.