Monday, January 12, 2009

Rickey steals second, steals third, scores on a basehit by Carney Landsford to tie it

Good old MLB Network played Game 2 of the 1989 ALCS between the A’s and the Blue Jays in honor of Rickey’s day today. I turned it on in the fourth inning when Rickey walked. Mustached A’s third baseman Carney Landsford strode to the plate knowing full well what was about to happen. Jays’ pitcher Todd Stottlemeyer stood on the mound, his shoulders tense, his attention on only one thing, and it wasn’t pitching. He threw over. Rickey got back. He threw over again. Same result. Staring into the catcher’s mitt, Stottlemeyer stood and waited. The diamond became frozen in time, when players moved nary a muscle in anticipation. The fans grew impatient, and a scattering of boos grew in intensity. Finally, the pitch. There he goes!


The batter in tight eighties pants stepped out of the box and took a few swings to give the base thief some time to remove the infield dirt from his home white uniform. The rattled pitcher remounted the rubber, and the dance was repeated. A look back, a pause, another look back, a pitch. There he goes!


Rickey trotted home on a Landsford basehit, manufacturing a run for the series favorites. Landsford then scored on a skinny Mark McGwire double.

Rickey came up again in the bottom of the fifth and promptly singled to left. He took off for second in the fifth but Landsford grounded out to end the inning, one of the more disappointing outs of the game. In the seventh, the Jay’s pitcher committed a cardinal sin by walking Rickey. There he goes!


There he goes!


Rickey stole third for his fourth stolen base of the game – a record for a post season game – and his sixth in the series. In Game 2. He manufactured another run when Landsford was picked off first and the throw down to second went into his back.

Rickey ended the series 8 for 8 in stolen bases and went on to steal 3 of 3 in the World Series infamous for the earthquake. A perfect 11 for 11.

I was 12 years old when this series took place, yet I remember it as well as any series that happened this decade. I loved that A’s team with Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. Remember, McGwire was the “second best” player on the team. Canseco was my favorite player not in a Cincinnati uniform back then. Jose did not start the game due to a “migrane headache” but pinch hit in the sixth inning against a skinny David Wells. (Yeah, Wells really was thin once. Or thinner. He still had a gut.)

Boy, that was a good team. They had two Hall of Famers (Henderson and Eckersly), one should be Hall of Famer (McGwire), and one could have been Hall of Famer (Canseco, if he hadn’t destroyed his career. Dude still hit 462 career homers despite it all.) Then there is future Hall of Fame manager Tony Larussa (and his trusty sidekick, Dave Duncan). It’s no wonder these guys went to three straight World Series.

Some related notes:

It’s funny, but none of us could have predicted that the Reds would be World Champs the very next year, defeating these same A’s in a four game sweep. And I couldn’t have envisioned it would be the Reds’ last for a very, very long time.

Bob Costas is an excellent baseball announcer. It’s too bad corporate media won’t let him broadcast games anymore because he works for the wrong network. Why do we have to suffer through the likes of Tim McCarver and Joe Morgan when there is a true baseball fan who is skilled in the art who is relegated to lesser sports?

I love watching old games. Wouldn’t it be something if there were a website where you could go to watch any game that was ever recorded? What kind of servers would you have to have to host such a service? MLB could charge a subscription fee or add a few extra dollars to an MLB.TV package. They could also sell DVDs of each game – with the ease of burning DVDs these days (even I have a DVD burner on my new laptop), it wouldn’t take much effort (or money) to burn an obscure game from 1965 someone wanted because it was his first ever MLB game.

Imagine the possibilities. Why can’t we order a DVD copy of the games we attend while we are at the ballpark? Have a stand specifically for ordering them while we are at the game, where we can pay for them right there, and then have them shipped to us in a few weeks. You could even have your own personalized copy – you can have someone with a camera walking around the stadium taking some shots of you and your family and friends that can be inserted into the game. There were a couple of games I attended in 2008 that I would have liked to purchase if such a purchase were possible, the first being Johnny Cueto’s rain soaked Major League debut and the second being the debut of Jay Bruce.

But – back to Rickey. I hated him as much as a 12 year old could hate anything. I hated his arrogance. I'm sure a lot of it had to do with what other people said about him, being impressionable and all.

But what I wouldn’t do to have another Rickey Henderson in the league. In this day and age of sterile media, of tape recording quotes and formulaic articles, we certainly could use some personality to spice up our baseball reading. Aside from Joe Posnanski, Jeff Passan, and a handful of other writers (I find our own Trent Rosecrans entertaining, and I am becoming a big fan of the Enquirer’s John Erardi), baseball media is pretty dull. The formula is a little of what happened, quote, a little more, quote, a little more, and the quotes are directly out of the "Talking to the Media" handbook the players seem to have. I'd rather have no quotes and some real writing than:
"Player hit a two run homerun in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded to win the game. 'I'm just doing what I can to help the team,' player said."
Wouldn't it be nice to see:
"Henderson hit a two run blast in the bottom of the ninth to win the game. 'He threw Rickey the pitch he wanted, and after that, it was just Rickey being Rickey.' said Henderson. 'Rickey knew it was out as soon as it left the pitcher's hand, because that's what Rickey does. When he's not stealing bases, he's hitting homers. No one can stop Rickey.'"
Oh, and congrats to Jim Rice, too. It's about time.

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