December 8, 2013
Get It Now!Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
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Sunday, October 21, 2012
Every generation has some iconic movies, and today marks a “day-versary” in the life of one of them. Ever seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? It’s one of those films that apparently everyone my age (except me) has seen. Well, it turns out that Ferris Bueller’s day away from school was 10,000 days ago.
Oh, there is a baseball tie-in, by the way. In fact, it’s thanks to baseball researcher (and former THT writer) Larry Granillo that we know when Bueller’s big day was. You see, part of Bueller’s school-skipping activities was taking in a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Granillo noted that there was too much info and play-by-play in the game to be a mere recreation. This was a real game.
Granillo noted several clues given in the game to determine when Ferris Bueller’s real day off was. It was a Cubs-Braves game, and it must have been in 1985. The only game that fits all the markers noted in the movie was on June 5, 1985.
Lee Smith faced the Braves that day (as seen in the movie). When you see Chicago’s No. 10 holding Atlanta runner No. 18 at first, that’s Leon Durham and Paul Zuvella. Oh, and when Ferris catches a foul ball, its hit by Claudell Washington.
That was a Wednesday. The Cubs at the time were defending champions in the NL East and looking to repeat. When that game began, Chicago was in second place, a game behind the Mets with a record of 29-18. The Cubs lost that game in 11 innings to the Braves (with the winning run scoring shortly after Ferris caught the foul ball), but the Mets lost, too.
Unfortunately for Ferris and the Cubs, things were about to implode. The entire Cub pitching staff went down with injuries at the same time, and exactly a week after Bueller came to the Friendly Confines, Chicago began a franchise-record tying 13-game losing streak. The contending days were over, and the CUbbies finished under .500. Call it the Curse of Bueller.
As for the Braves, they were having a poor season. This win moved their record up to a substandard 20-29 mark as they trudged their way to an unfortunate 66-96 season. That’s 14 games worse than the 80-82 mark that got manager Joe Torre canned the year before. In the Year of Ferris, the Braves wouldn’t even wait until the end of the season to fire their skipper, dumping new boss Eddie Haas in late August, giving him quite a few days off.
It’s been 10,000 days and in some ways, the game shows how things have changed. Hall of Fame reliever Bruce Sutter entered the game in a non-save situation and lasted three innings. Atlanta’s bullpen threw five full innings on the day but used just two relievers total. When was the last time you saw that happen?
The Cubs also used their relief ace in a non-save situation, as Smith came on to pitch in the 11th. He pitched just one inning—because starter Scott Sanderson lasted a full 10 frames. The Cubs have had a pitcher last that long only six times since then, most recently in 1990, when Mike Bielecki did it. A pitcher has done it against the Braves only three times since the Bueller game.
The game featured one Hall of Famer in Sutter and two men still on the Cooperstown ballot, Smith and Atlanta outfielder Dale Murphy. As it happens, Bueller saw quite possibly the worst game of Murphy’s career, or at least one of the worst, as Murphy was 0-for-5 with four strikeouts. He had just three games in his career with four whiffs, no hits, and at least five at-bats. Another one took place just five days later, when he was 0-for-8 against the Giants, but at least Murphy scored in that one. Despite his bad day, Murphy would pace the league with 37 homers and 90 walks on the season while batting .300.
Two future managers appeared in the game, Larry Bowa and Davey Lopes, both playing for the Cubs. Also playing for Chicago was current Cubs radio broadcaster Keith Moreland.
Ryne Sandberg was not in the game. He apparently dinged himself at the beginning of the month and was in the midst of a seven-game stretch where he didn't play. That was his longest period off the field from Opening Day 1982 until mid-June 1987. In other words, Ferris Bueller's Day Off took place during Ryne Sandberg's Week Off. But they both apparently were at Wrigley Field on June 5, 1985, 10,000 days ago.
Aside from that, many other baseball events have their anniversary or “day-versary" today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim through things:
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