Wednesday, February 22, 2012
10,000 days since the Steve Garvey gamePosted by Chris Jaffe
10,000 days ago was one of the most dramatic and heart-pounding games in baseball postseason history, and it featured one of the greatest clutch performances any player ever had in one game. It truly was one of the greatest games of the 1980s.
Unless you’re a Cubs fans. Then it just plain sucked, and sucked, and sucked some more.
It was Oct. 6, 1984, and the Cubs and Padres squared off in Game Four of the best-of-five NLCS. The Cubs had already won two games, so a victory in this contest would give them the franchise its first pennant since 1945.
Early on, it looked like San Diego would be able to frustrate Chicago’s hopes. In the bottom of the third inning, the Padres drew first blood with a pair of runs scoring on a Tony Gwynn sacrifice fly and a Steve Garvey RBI double.
That early lead wouldn’t last long as back-to-back home runs by Jody Davis and Leon Durham in the top of the fourth gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead and put them just 18 outs from the pennant.
Chicago kept that slender lead until the fifth, when Garvey hit a two-out RBI single to even the game, 3-3.
Two innings later, San Diego went ahead on another RBI single by—who else?—Garvey. In three straight at-bats, he’d bedeviled the Cubs with three straight run-scoring hits. His single also sent another runner to third, who scored shortly after on a passed ball. With just two innings left to play, the Padres led, 5-3.
Ah, but the Cubs weren’t done yet. In the eighth, two singles and a double turned into a pair of runs, and re-tied the game at five runs apiece.
That’s where it stood entering the bottom of the ninth. Cub relief ace Lee Smith, who’d pitched the eighth for the Cubs, came out again to try his hand in the ninth. He fanned Alan Wiggins and then walked Gwynn. So the tying run was on, but extra innings were just two outs away. Under normal circumstances, you had to like Chicago’s odds to force overtime in this game.
But this wasn’t normal circumstance. After Gwynn walked, the worst thing that could happen to the Cubs on the day happened: It was Garvey’s turn to bat.
He already had three hits and three RBIs and had played a role in every Padre rally so far. This didn’t look good for Chicago, not at all.
After taking Smith’s first pitch for ball one, Garvey liked the second served offered to him. That pitch, the 30th by Smith on the day, was right in Garvey’s wheelhouse, and he blasted it over the fence for a walk-off home run.
The Padres were ecstatic. San Diego manager Dick Williams was especially thrilled. In his playing days, he’d been a part of the 1951 Dodgers who lost the pennant to the Giants on Bobby Thomson’s famous walk-off home run. In his autobiography, Williams would say that when Garvey’s homer left the yard, he finally knew how those Giants felt back in 1951.
The series was now all tied up, and the Padres were in far higher spirits. It came as little surprise to anyone that San Diego won the next game and clinched its first pennant. The Cubs lost their chance back then, and still haven’t won a pennant in the 10,000 days since then.
Aside from that “day-versary,” many other baseball events have their day-versary or anniversary today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d prefer to just skim the list.
5,000 days since Will Clark gets his 2,000th hit. It takes him exactly 1,800 games to get there.
5,000 days since Florida trades Craig Counsell to the Dodgers.
5,000 days since Frank Thomas’ longest hitting streak maxes at 21 games. He’s gone 33-for-82 for a .402/.463/.610 line in that time.
5,000 days since a Mets win gives manager Bobby Valentine a career record of 803-802. He’s been over .500 ever since.
6,000 days since Albert Belle of the Indians hits three home runs in one game for the second time in his career.
9,000 days since Brook Jacoby hits three homers in one game.
9,000 days since Astros infielder Dickie Thon bolts the team, putting him on the disqualified list as a result. He’s done for the season.
9,000 days since the Royals retire Dick Howser’s number.
20,000 days since Boston writers reaffirm their decision to ban women from the press box.
20,000 days since Yankee outfielder Hank Bauer is arraigned for the recent Copacabana Incident. He’ll be cleared afterward and threaten to sue Edward Jones, the man who suffered a broken jaw and concussion in the incident.
20,000 days since Jim Bunning has his longest career outing: 13 IP, 10 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, and 11 K for a Game Score of 92 and a career-best WPA of 0.964. He gets a no-decision as his Tigers top the Orioles in 16 innings, 2-1.
1854 Jumbo McGinnis, star pitcher of the 1880s who once threw 40 wild pitches in one year, is born.
1874 Bill Klem, Hall of Fame umpire, is born.
1892 Clarence Mitchell, long-lasting starting pitcher, is born.
1910 The Yankees release Wee Willie Keeler.
1915 The Reds select Fred Toney off waivers from Brooklyn. They also sign veteran position player Tommy Leach as a free agent.
1918 Charles O. Finley, A’s owner and architect of the Mustache Gang, is born.
1929 Ryne Duren, hard-throwing pitcher with coke-bottle glasses, is born.
1934 Sparky Anderson, Hall of Fame manager, is born. As old as he always looked, when he retired he was only slightly older than Joe Maddon currently is.
1937 Brooklyn releases Freddie Lindstrom, who is an (ill-deserved) Hall of Famer.
1938 Steve Barber, Orioles pitcher, is born.
1945 MLB decrees that a player needs at least 400 AB to qualify for the batting title.
1957 Walter O’Malley says the Dodgers might play 10 exhibition games in California in 1958.
1966 The Phillies trade poor-fielding first baseman Dick Stuart to the Mets.
1972 John Halama, Mariners swingman pitcher, is born.
1977 J.J. Putz is born.
1981 Andy High dies.
1983 Casey Kotchman, infielder, is born.
1987 A police officer threatens to arrest Kirby Puckett because he keeps hitting balls out of the park in spring training and they’re landing in the parking lot, damaging property.
1990 In labor negotiations, owners drop their demand for arbitration and salary minimums, but the lockout remains, so there’s no collective bargaining agreement in place.
2000 The Florida Dept. of Corrections report says Darryl Strawberry tested positive for cocaine last month.
2004 Andy Seminick dies.
2006 Free agent Kevin Millwood is signed by the Rangers.
2009 The Dodges sign free agent second baseman Orlando Hudson.
2010 Detroit signs free agent outfielder Johnny Damon.
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.