Monthly Archives: October 2013

Screen Grabs from YouTube MLB Classics: Game 6, 1975 World Series – Cincinnati at Boston

It was 38 years ago today, October 21, 1975, that the Red Sox came into Game 6 of the 1975 World Series on the brink of elimination, down 3-2, to the Cincinnati Reds. They needed two wins at Fenway Park to capture what would have been at that point the team’s first world championship in 57 years.

Carlton Fisk hit one of the most famous home runs not only in Red Sox team history, but in the entire annals of the sport. The shot of Fisk willing the ball fair is the most iconic, recognizable image. However, there were numerous other details from earlier that night that served as fitting prelude to that epic moment in the bottom of the 12th inning.

WSBK-TV 38’s lead announcer in the mid-70s was Dick Stockton, who provided the play-by-play for NBC’s national broadcast through the middle of the 5th inning. At that point, he passed off to Joe Garagiola. Tony Kubek provided color commentary and left the booth in the late innings to camp out in the Cincinnati clubhouse in case they had clinched the series once they took a three-run lead in the 8th. He spent the next four-plus innings shuttling back and forth between clubhouses awaiting the winning rally.

(Interesting side note: Stockton met his future wife, Lesley Visser, at this game. Visser, who was then a reporter for the Boston Globe, would later marry Stockton. The couple divorced in 2010.)

The virtuosity of the recently deceased Harry Coyle was on display throughout this game. Coyle was a visionary, pioneering influence for the way modern sporting events are broadcast. As highlighted in this recently uploaded footage, Coyle once navigated the end of a Red Sox-Brewers game in 1982 with the benefit of a single camera. Even a fuzzy upload on YouTube of 1975’s Game 6 is a testament to how compelling a baseball game stripped-down of modern graphical amenities can be.

00:05: El Padre Tiante is shown before the ballgame, cigarette hanging from his mouth and fist tightly pumping just above his head. This GIF of Tiant posted on FanGraphs last year is awesomely mesmerizing…

 Tiant's dad

00:28: El Tiante taking his warm-up tosses. Tiant came into the game with cartoonish postseason numbers, having gone 5-0 with five complete games in which he allowed two runs (one earned) for an ERA of 0.20. He’d struck out 33 batters while walking eight and allowing 20 hits.

Tiant warmup tosses

1:28: Reds leadoff batter Pete Rose lines a ball to Carl Yastrzemski, who makes a diving catch for the game’s first out.

Yaz diving catch 1st

2:24: Coyle’s cutting-edge camera placement pays immediate dividends as an NBC camera guy planted in the left-field scoreboard catches Yaz fixing his socks after the play.

Left field scoreboard camera

9:26: Just before Tiant dispatches Johnny Bench swinging to end the first, a shot of the flag over the third-base stands shows the wind blowing generously out toward center field.

Wind blowing out

11:41: Reds starter Gary Nolan deals to Denny Doyle in the bottom of the 1st. Doyle came into the game as the only player to have a hit in each of the first five games of the ‘75 Series.

Nolan to Doyle in first

16:27: After two quick outs in the bottom of the 1st, Carl Yastrzemski keeps the inning alive with a single to right and Carlton Fisk pulls a single to left. Nolan hangs his first pitch to Fred Lynn on the inner half of the plate and Lynn doesn’t miss it, delivering a three-run home run over the home bullpen in right field.

Lynn HR in 1st

Boston takes a 3-0 lead.

Lynn at home plate after HR in 1st

18:48: During the top of the 2nd, NBC shows an establishing shot of another well-placed cameraman in a “precarious spot” at the extreme edge of the Fenway Park roof, right next to the left-field foul pole.

 Camera guy in LF roof

19:20: In the early going, Kubek gushes over Tiant’s many deliveries and pitching motions. On this pitch, with his center of gravity in extreme torque and his plant leg kicking in the exact opposite direction of home plate, Tiant does one of his signature skyward head lifts, and still manages to turn and lurch forward, landing with complete balance.

Tiant's torque

19:35: The pitch itself isn’t so bad, either. Tiant gets Tony Perez to reach so far outside on this slider that he is still caught helplessly following through on a lunging swing, even as Fisk is in his throwing motion toward third base for around the horn. One of the commentators puts it brilliantly: “Perez almost looked like a question mark on that swing.”

Perez swinging K

27:03: And, of course, as if all Tiant did wasn’t enough, pitchers still had to hit in World Series play in 1975, even in AL parks.

Tiant at bat

31:55: Not all the fancy-pants tricks NBC had up its sleeve worked all that well. This overlay of Tiant and his father cheering from the stands in the 3rd inning is maybe a bit too creepy for comfort.

Tiant overlay

1:15:26 – 1:16:58: Tiant walks pinch-hitter Ed Armbrister with one out in the 5th inning. After a Rose single moves Armbrister to third, Ken Griffey hits a long drive to center and Fred Lynn launches himself into the unpadded cement wall, near where the left-field wall converges with the wall directly below the center-field camera well. Lynn lays crumpled in a heap in center as Yaz runs over. Fenway goes completely silent for several minutes before Lynn gets up and ultimately stays in the game.

Fred Lynn launches

Lynn crumpled in heap

1:17:45: Lynn shows the center field crowd exactly where it hurts. Thankfully, he was able to turn and kick his foot off the wall just hard enough to spare his head, which came dangerously close to slamming into the concrete along with his lower back. Cincy would wind up tying the game with its three-run 5th inning, snapping Tiant’s streak of 40 ⅓ scoreless innings. But Lynn’s staying in the game would be a key for Boston.

Lynn lower back

1:23:18: Halfway through the ballgame, Dick Stockton passes the play-by-play duties off to Joe Garagiola. The camera angle here makes it look like the guys are sitting in the middle of the diamond. (Stockton later took back the play-by-play baton in the 10th inning.)

Stockton passes the mic

1:24:17: Tom Yawkey (middle) and Haywood Sullivan (right) watch from the owner’s box.

Owners box

1:53:22: Tiant continues to look human for the first time in weeks. Ken Griffey begins the 7th with a single to right and Joe Morgan follows suit. A batter later, George Foster doubles off the center-field wall, giving the Reds a 5-3 lead.

5 to 3 Cincy graphic

1:56:00: This establishing shot shows just how low the top tier of Fenway Park was in 1975. The 600 Club and the multi-tier press box above were still more than a decade away from being built. Studies – and Wade Boggs – later confirmed that wind patterns and baseball flight paths were meaningfully impacted.

Fenway top tier

1:59:37: Cesar Geronimo leads off the top of the 8th by hooking this pitch around Pesky’s Pole in right. 6-3, Cincinatti. Lefty Roger Moret enters the game for Tiant, who winds up giving up six earned runs.

Geronimo HR

2:00:10: Somebody in the Cincy dugout gets a nice feel of Geronimo’s ass.

Geronimo ass pat

2:05:42: Fred Lynn serves the first pitch of the bottom of the 8th off Pedro Borbon’s leg and reaches first safely to start the inning.

Lynn single in 8th

2:10:06: After Rico Petrocelli works a walk, Sparky Anderson replaces Borbon with Rollie Eastwick, who inexplicably foregoes a ride to the mound on the bullpen cart. Garagiola makes note of this odd behavior.

Eastwick in

2:10:26: Right here, it kind of feels like Johnny Bench is going to start walking toward the camera and spray the lens with Krylon Paint.

Bench looks at camera

2:18:09: With runners on first and second, Dwight Evans strikes out and Rick Burleson flies to right. Pinch-hitter Bernie Carbo steps to the plate.

Carbo to the plate

2:18:51: Carbo puts a perfect swing on a pitch that’s left out over the outer half of the plate and belts a home run into the straightaway center bleachers.

Carbo HR to center

2:19:04: The Fenway crowd, quiet most of the night after the Lynn injury, is absolutely ecstatic.

Fenway ecstatic

2:19:11: Carbo, arms raised.

Carbo arms raised on bases

Carbo arms raised

2:26:05: A fan and his or her (androgynous 70s haircut makes it hard to tell for sure) “Big Red Machine Has Power Failure” sign as Boston gets ready for the bottom of the 9th.

Power failure

2:29:22: Denny Doyle gets to third base with none out in the 9th inning thanks to a Yaz single to right.

Doyle to 3rd

2:32:50: The first order of business for left-hander Will McEnaney is to issue an intentional walk to Carlton Fisk.

Fisk IBB

2:33:55: Rico Petrocelli comes up with the bases loaded and nobody out and lifts a fly ball along the wall in shallow left field. Foster makes the catch and throws Doyle out on a perfect throw to Bench.

Foster catch

Bench tags out Doyle

2:48:48: Dick Drago pitches the 10th inning for Boston. As the Sox briefly conference at the mound with a runner on and one out, the announcers note that The Tonight Show will not be seen this evening.

Sox mound conference in 10th

2:51:31: Carbo makes an adventurous catch in shallow left to end the 10th as the wind blows it just far enough out of fan interference territory.

Carbo catch

2:59:40: Leading off the 11th, Pete Rose does a cute little pirouette next to an inside pitch and convinces the umpire it hit his jersey. Half-speed replay proves Peter Rose to be a dishonest man.

Rose AB 11th

Carlton Fisk isn’t amused. Rose is soon erased trying to advance to second on a weak Griffey bunt that is fielded by Fisk.

Fisk isn't amused

3:05:11: Everything happens so fast on the famous Dwight Evans catch on the deep drive off Morgan’s bat that it is difficult to capture clearly in still frame.

Evans leaps

Evans leaps a few yards short of the wall and makes a full extension catch before landing his left shoulder into the padded right-field fence. Griffey is caught so far off first base that he is doubled off even though the throw into the infield from Evans nearly winds up in the Red Sox dugout. Inning over.

Evans lands

3:12:34: The Red Sox went quietly in the bottom half of the 11th. Rick Wise took the mound in the top of the 12th inning as the 12th pitcher to take the mound in the game, which was a World Series record at the time.

Rick Wise

3:13:23: Ever the innovator, Harry Coyle goes to a quadruple camera split screen as Wise warms.

Wise four cameras

3:15:05: The wind again seems to aid Boston here as it pushes this foul popup behind home plate back onto the warning track and into Fisk’s glove. Wise would put two on but strike out Geronimo to end the top of the 12th.

Fisk catches foulout

3:25:44: With Darcy in the game for Cincy, Carlton Fisk comes to the plate for Boston.

Fisk digs in 12th

Fisk takes a first-pitch ball high. The second pitch is left over the inside part of the plate. The images tell the story from here:

Fisk swings

Ball approaches LF pole

Ball approaches LF pole2

Fisk waving

Ump signals HR

Fisk jumping

Fisk clapping

Fisk jumps on home

Fenway bedlam

Final score

Other YouTube Screen Grab Posts:

Game 5, 1986 ALCS at California

Game 3, 1999 ALCS vs. New York (Pedro vs. Clemens I)

Game 5, 1999 ALDS at Cleveland

Game 1, 1990 ALCS vs. Oakland

Terse Predictions: ALCS Game 6, Detroit @ Boston

1. Boston will record three hits in the first two innings in which the batter swings at the first pitch dealt from Max Scherzer.

2. Another Xander Bogaerts start – another game in which the rookie reaches base safely multiple times.

3. Ryan Dempster will pitch two innings in the ballgame.

4. Clay Buchholz will run up two full counts in the first inning.

5. Dustin Pedroia will hit a home run.

6. So will Prince Fielder.

7. Joquin Benoit will not record another out this season.

8. One of the teams will top the series-high seven runs scored by Detroit in Game 3.

This Week in Boston Baseballing, October 11 – 17

After Boston got shut out in Game 1 of the ALCS Saturday night, 1-0, the Red Sox came back from a 5-0 deficit during Sunday night’s Game 2 emotional victory. Offense at Comerica Park was at a premium during the next three games, but Boston somehow managed to win two of three, including wins against two of the best pitchers in the AL this year in Justin Verlander and Anibel Sanchez.

The Red Sox are one win away from a third World Series appearance in 10 years. Clay Buchholz takes the mound for Boston on Saturday against Max Scherzer.

The Koji Factor
Koji Uehara recorded the final five outs of the game last night. They didn’t come nearly as easily as the outs he’s been getting over the last few months. The Tigers extracted 27 pitches out of Koji, even managing to lay off eight of his offerings. But the game, even a one-run game, felt a lot more secure in his hands than anyone else’s. Uehara retired all five batters he faced, striking out two.


Big Papi Did It Again

The legend was already pretty well set in place before the 2013 playoffs began.These last few years of regular season production felt like they could have been the icing on the cake. Now, it feels like there may be a few more layers to this guy’s mystique. You know the guy is pretty well established when it takes four minutes to piece together all the late-innings heroics he’s managed in the postseason alone.

Napoli Starts Mashing
Mike Napoli has always been a streaky hitter. Boston’s willingness to ride out the slumps now look to be paying dividends. Napoli’s solo home run Tuesday paced Boston’s unexpected victory against Verlander and his 440-foot shot to dead center last night led the way during a 3-for-4 night.

Napoli HR off Sanchez

Stan Grossfeld Still Has It
The sense here is that most people feel they have to categorize the shot of the Boston Police officer in the bullpen as iconic because of unfortunate events earlier this year that have thrust law enforcement personnel into the spotlight. Even Deadspin, which rarely passes up the chance to pick nits when it comes to Bostonian sports fan behavior, called the Stan Grossfeld shot at the front of Monday’s Boston Globe Sports section the “Photo of the Year.” Maybe that’s as fair a take as any.

Can’t we all just agree it’s nice to see a Boston Police officer do anything in uniform other than stand at an intersection and stare at a smartphone while a jackhammer screeches behind him?

John Lackey Continues His Renaissance
Lackey’s dominant performance in which he outdueled Justin Verlander on Tuesday afternoon was not only one of the best games of the pitcher’s career but also, given the context, one of the best starts by a Red Sox pitcher in the team’s playoff history.

From Jonah Keri on Grandland:

Of the 97 pitches he threw Tuesday night, Tigers hitters swung and missed at 16 of them, including six whiffs out of the 31 sliders thrown.

Somehow, what John Lackey has done in 2013 has nearly vindicated all of the drudgery of his first two years in Boston. It is almost as though his first two years, followed by his missing 2012 after Tommy John surgery, were a test of tolerance and patience – one in which we all failed as fans one way or another.

This would be the guy taking the ball in a potential Game 7.

Figuring Out Who John Farrell Trusts Is Getting More Confusing
Generally speaking, it appears the Red Sox manager determines the level of trust he has in a given player based primarily on seniority. One can make pretty solid, albeit debateable arguments he left two veterans in their respective ALCS starts too long – Clay Buchholz in Game 2 and Jake Peavy in Game 4. Moreover, Farrell has steadfastly refused to replace the struggling Stephen Drew in the lineup. Second-year “veteran” Will Middlebrooks also continued getting starts up until Game 5, when Xander Bogaerts was finally given a well-deserved look.

Meanwhile, there is a good possibility that Farrell occasionally gets swept up in the same narratives that are advanced by the media. For example, he declined to pinch hit Daniel Nava for Jonny Gomes in the 8th last night against right-hander Jose Veras.

None of this is really surprising to anyone paying attention to Farrell’s bullpen usage this season, when he exhibited a puzzling trust in rookie Brandon Workman during several key late and high-leverage situations. It appears younger players, especially rookies, have limited opportunity to impress Farrell enough to be given special leeway. Established veterans, meanwhile, are Established Veterans™.

Farrell has done an incredible job this year managing the team. But going forward, he’ll need to develop a better stomach for playing prospects because this is likely a ballclub that will only continue to get younger during the next few years. Maybe Bogaerts’ steady performance on Thursday night in which he doubled, scored a run and saw 19 pitches in just three ABs will help open Farrell’s mind when assessing younger players as viable options.

Terse Predictions: ALCS Game 5, Boston @ Detroit

Completely sincere, highly specific forecasts for a pivotal Game 5 at Comerica Park tonight.

1. Xander Bogaerts starts and he will work himself into multiple full-count at-bats.

2. The offensive breakout continues for both sides. Neither Jon Lester nor Anibel Sanchez will look sharp and each will allow at least four earned runs in six innings.

3. There will be a total of five double plays turned in the game. Stephen Drew will have his right foot on second base – at some point anyway – during two of them.

4. The game will take more than four hours to complete.

5. Tigers CEO / GM Dave Dombrowski will finally let out the massive fart he’s clearly been holding in since the late innings of Game 1 at Fenway Park. The results will be disastrous.

dave dombrowski

Terse Predictions: ALCS Game 4, Boston @ Detroit

The accuracy rate for these forecasts is getting embarrassing. But on we go.

1. A day after Jonny Gomes did the same, Daniel Nava will make another nice diving catch in left field.

2. Neither starter will get through six innings. Jake Peavy will pitch 5 ⅔; Doug Fister will pitch 5 ⅓.

3. Fox will milk the whole “Jake Peavy likes cursing at himself on the mound” element. The camera will catch him saying “fuck” and variations of “fuck” on four separate occasions.

4. Xander Bogaerts will score a run in the ballgame.

5. Detroit will hit two home runs in the game.

6. The final score of Game 4 won’t look like a soccer match, although Comerica Park will continue to sound like a European football stadium thanks to Tigers fans’ singing the chorus to “Seven Nation Army” in unison.

Terse, Hopefully Not Too Painfully Inaccurate Predictions: ALCS Game 3, Boston @ Detroit

Specific forecasts for this afternoon’s ballgame.

1. Shane Victorino will get hit by a pitch WELL outside the strike zone. But it will happen at a point in the game when it is clear that it was accidental.

2. Building on the previous thought, warnings will be issued to both dugouts by the home plate umpire at some point in the first three innings of this game.

3. Miguel Cabrera will hit a solo home run in the fifth inning to right field.

4. John Lackey will hit 95 mph on the radar gun multiple times during the 6th inning.

5. Jonny Gomes and Mike Napoli will combine for six strikeouts.

6. Stephen Drew will hit a triple.

7. Justin Verlander will NOT post double-digit strikeouts. Anyone taking the over 7.5 strikeouts line being thrown around Vegas and Bovada.lv will still be sweating their wager in the 7th inning.

8. First-pitch strikes will rule the day for both Lackey and Justin Verlander, resulting in a ballgame clocking in under three hours.

Terse Predictions: ALCS Game 2, Detroit @ Boston

Under-explained forecasts for Game 2 of the ALCS:

1. A night after the two teams scored a total of one run , the Red Sox and Tigers will combine to score 11 runs.

2. Mike Carp will be the man at the plate for 20 of the pitches thrown by Max Scherzer tonight.

3. David Ortiz will hit two doubles tonight – one to right field and one off the left-field wall.

4. Daniel Nava will have a pinch-hit single tonight.

5. Scherzer will strike out nine Red Sox batters.

Terse Predictions: ALCS Game 1, Detroit @ Boston

Under-explained predictions for tonight’s ALCS Game 1 at Fenway Park, ranked roughly in the order each will be confirmed or debunked.

1. David Ross will hit a home run sometime in the middle innings (4th through 6th).

2. Jon Lester will pitch less than 6 innings and will labor through 110+ pitches, but will record a victory.

3. Jacoby Ellsbury will steal two bases.

4. Prince Fielder will hit a home run over the visitor’s bullpen. A solo shot.

5. Clay Buchholz’s wife Lindsay Clubine will show up with the couple’s infant daughter during the second inning and sit in her usual seat behind home plate. She will exit before the game prior to the end of the 6th inning.

6. Craig Breslow will pitch the equivalent of a full inning in the game.

7. Koji Uehara will pitch in the game and will record an out total other than three.

Bonus: Nobody is going to purchase that opened copy of Fever Pitch that Curt Schilling is trying to pawn off as part of his estate sale.

This Week in Boston Baseballing, October 4 – 10

Much to the chagrin of local media yahoos who declared the Best of 5 Division Series “over” after two games, Boston did indeed travel to Tampa Bay and it actually took the Red Sox four games to take care of the Rays to advance to the American League Championship Series. Boston will face the Detroit Tigers in ALCS Game 1 at Fenway Park on Saturday night.

Kudos to NESN’s Jenny Dell, who broke the news first on Twitter mere minutes after last night’s deciding ALDS game against Detroit and Oakland went final at the Coliseum last night.

 

Big Papi and Koji Uehara: Two Heterosexual Guys Celebrating A Playoff Series Win
Look, let’s all be adults about this here. For one thing, somebody sped up the footage here to make it appear more suggestive….

Click to enlarge, be horrified

(GIF courtesy of OvertheMonster.com.)

And for another, Koji could be seen earlier celebrating with catcher David Ross in a similar fashion, complete with a similar fist raise. Koji!

Koji celebrates with Ross

Ticket Prices Remain Reasonable for ALCS Games 1 and 2
The secondary market for tickets to the first two games of the ALCS Saturday and Sunday was relatively soft as of Friday morning. Strangely, upper-tier bleacher seats were listed on Stubhub for around $150.00-$200.00, right around the same going rate as unobstructed infield grandstand seats behind home plate.

Stubhub ALCS G1

The “Most Expensive World Series” In History Won’t Happen
A Forbes article from Wednesday broached the possibility that if the Pirates and Red Sox had advanced to the World Series, tickets to the games at Fenway Park and PNC Park would have reached historic peaks.

It would be the first World Series in Pittsburgh since Three Rivers, and the first world series there in a real baseball stadium since Bill Mazeroski walked off against the Yankees….If that were to happen, it could be the most expensive World Series in history, with two teams with average prices above $1,500.

It would also be the first time that an American League team from Boston played a National League team from Pittsburgh in the post-season since 1903. That was the year that the Boston Americans of the newly-formed American League beat the favored Pittsburgh Pirates in a best-of-nine series. It was the first ever World Series and neither Forbes Field or Fenway Park were even a twinkle in the eye of the baseball Gods. Forbes Field opened in 1909 and Fenway Park opened in 1912.

Xander Bogaerts Draws Two Huge Walks, Proves He Belongs
In his first postseason at-bat, 21-year-old Xander Bogaerts fell behind in the count 1-2 before working a key walk that spurred Boston’s series-clinching, two-run rally in the sixth inning in Tampa on Tuesday night. Earlier that day, Farrell had insinuated Bogey was perhaps still not quite ready for prime time when explaining why he’d not pinch hit for Stephen Drew against a lefty in Game 3 the night before. Well, a day later Farrell exercised his right to change his mind. Just in case there was any question that it was a fluke, Bogaerts worked a second full count before drawing another walk two innings later. He would score an insurance run prior to Koji Uehara’s dominant ninth inning.

Jake Peavy Comes Through
Right-handed veteran Jake Peavy gave the Red Sox 5 ⅔ key innings in the clincher in Tampa in what was by far the best postseason start of his career. While he was a more accomplished pitcher earlier in his career, Peavy could still very much be in the process of penning his ultimate legacy.

In an interview posted on Fangraphs earlier this week, the former Cy Young winner remarked about his transformation, which has included changes to his arm slot and the development of a cutter in the wake of diminished fastball velocity and a lower ground-ball rate compared to his peak.

“Everybody in the world has a way they throw a baseball. They start that from the time they’re a youngster and go from there. You can look at guys who people say have the best mechanics in the world, and their arms may not last. You have other guys who throw in an unorthodox fashion and never have an arm injury. I don’t think anybody has it down to an exact science. But I also don’t think anybody is going to watch me and say, ‘Hey, son, watch the way Jake Peavy throws. Let’s mimic that.’ Not too many people are teaching their kids to throw the way I throw.”

Craig Breslow May Be Pitching Even More Than Usual
The left-handed reliever threw 3 ⅔ scoreless innings in the Rays series and demonstrated no difficulty getting right-handed hitters out (1 for 9). Breslow was in fact better in 2013 against righties (.205 AVG) than lefties (.253) and, overall, threw the equivalent of almost 10 more innings against right-handers (34 ⅔) than lefties (25 innings).

Going into the ALCS, John Farrell’s confidence in Breslow seems to be at its peak. Detroit’s 3-4-5 hitters are Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez (righty, lefty, switch). Cabrera’s power has been sapped in recent weeks by groin and abdominal strains. It would not be a surprise to see Breslow face the likely AL MVP once or twice as his ability to get strikes on outside breaking balls could prove a key asset.