Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October 21, 2000: The Greatest Game I Ever Saw?


October 21, 2000: Game 1 of the 1st Subway Series since 1956 – it doesn’t matter what Met fans call those Interleague series in the regular season, it’s not a true Subway Series unless it happens in October – is played at the original Yankee Stadium. It turns out to be, quite possibly, the greatest game I’ve ever seen. At the least, it was the most nerve-wracking game I've ever seen.

After 39 years of hoping, wishing, praying for a chance to beat the Yankees in a World Series, Met fans finally have that chance. And they were sure they were going to win it. After all, Al Leiter was going to start Games 1 and 5, and Mike Hampton was going to start Games 2 and 6. And, as everybody knows, “The Yankees can’t hit lefthanded pitching. Especially in the postseason.” I guess Met fans, the Flushing Heathen, hadn’t noticed how the Yankees beat all pitchers, left and right alike, in winning the Series in 1996, ’98 and ’99, and winning another Pennant to put them in this Series.

Still, Met fans always wanted this chance. In the immortal words of Leonard Nimoy -- who, being a Bostonian, probably knows just how illogical baseball can be -- “You may find that having is not so fine a thing as wanting.”

Leiter outpitches Andy Pettitte, but 4 baserunning blunders by the Mets leave the score 3-2 in the Mets’ favor entering the bottom of the 9th. Still, to be able to take Game 1 at Yankee Stadium would be a huge boost to the Mets.

Manager Bobby Valentine brings in his closer. Unfortunately for him, it’s Armando Benitez. Paul O’Neill fouls off pitch after pitch, and finally draws the most clutch walk in baseball history. The Yankees bring him around to score on DH Chuck Knoblauch’s sacrifice fly, and the game goes into extra innings.

It goes to the bottom of the 12th, and a Met castoff, Jose Vizcaino, playing second base because Knoblauch is not fielding well, singles home the winning run.

Yankees 4, Mets 3. Essentially, the World Series that Met fans had waited their whole lives for has been decided in Game 1. Had the Mets won this game, the Series would have been very, very different.

*

October 21, 1845: According to John Thorn, author of a bunch of books about baseball and now Major League Baseball's official historian, the first real baseball game may have been played on this date. It also begins the baseball rivalry between New York and Brooklyn, which will still be separate cities until 1898.

October 21, 1861: At the Elysian Fields in Hoboken‚ the greatest event of the baseball season‚ the Grand Match for the Silver Ball‚ takes place between all-star teams from Brooklyn and New York. The Silver Ball Trophy is the same size as a regular baseball, and will be kept by the club whose members score the most runs during the match.

A crowd of 15,000 fans sees the Brooklyn team‚ behind their star Jim Creighton‚ defeat New York 18-6. This is the same Jim Creighton who will be dead within a year.

October 21, 1887: The National League Champion Detroit Wolverines clinch the World Championship with their 8th victory in Game 11 of the series this afternoon, over the American Association Champions, the St. Louis Browns, 13-3 on neutral ground in Baltimore.

With a rainout yesterday in Washington‚ this morning's rescheduled Game 10 sees the Browns pull off a triple play and win‚ 11-4‚ to delay elimination. But the Wolverines take Game 11 to clinch.

But they will end up losing money, and fold at the end of the next season. Detroit will not return to major league ball until the American League and the Tigers arrive in 1901, and will not win another World Championship for 48 years. The Browns will win their 4th straight AA title the next season, but will go 38 years before winning another Pennant. In 1892 they join the NL; by 1901, they will be named the Cardinals.

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October 21, 1917: An exhibition game in Kansas City features the 2nd and last matchup between Walter Johnson and Grover Cleveland Alexander. Alex's team wins‚ 4-3. Included in Alexander's lineup is 21 year-old Cardinals rookie Rogers Hornsby. In his 1962 book My War With Baseball, Hornsby described his last at-bat:

Johnson had two strikes on me. He threw me a real fast ball and I knocked it straight for the fence. The ball knocked out the knot and went through the fence for a home run and we won 4-3. The hole‚ I admit‚ was one of the biggest cases of pure luck I ever heard of. I'm convinced he absolutely had the best fastball of anyone who ever played baseball.

Hornsby will face Johnson again in 1924.

October 21, 1928: Edward Charles Ford is born in Manhattan, and grows up in the adjoining Queens neighborhoods of Long Island City and Astoria. Known as Whitey for his hair, now white but even as a kid it was very light blond, and as the Chairman of the Board because he was such a commanding figure on the mound (and he loved the nickname, as he was a big Frank Sinatra fan and Sinatra also had the nickname), his 236 wins are the most by any Yankee.

Among all pitchers with at least 200 decisions, his .690 career winning percentage is the highest. (For a while, Pedro Martinez was ahead of him, but finished his career at .687.) And that percentage is higher than the percentage of the Yankees he pitched for, so as good as the Yankees were when he didn’t pitch, he still made them better when he did.

Of the 2 pitchers, with more than a few decisions, ahead of him, 1 is Al Spalding, who pitched in the 1870s with the pitching distance at 45 feet; the other is former Yankee Spurgeon “Spud” Chandler, was 109-43 for .717, but that’s just 152 decisions; Whitey was 236-106 in 342. The current active leader is Clayton Kershaw, at .667, but that's at 98-49, just 147 decisions.

Whitey's 2.75 career earned-run average is the best among starting pitchers in the post-1920 Lively Ball Era. The leader among all post-1920 pitchers, at 2.21, is Mariano Rivera; the only other ahead of Whitey is also a reliever, Hoyt Wilhelm. Among Lively Ball Era starters, Sandy Koufax is 2nd, with the top 10 being rounded out by Chandler, Jim Palmer, Andy Messersmith, Met legend Tom Seaver, Juan Marichal, Bob Gibson, Harry Brecheen and Dean Chance. Pedro Martinez was ahead of Whitey for a while in this category, too, but fell to 2.93 and is now 11th among Lively Ball Era starters. The current active leader, given enough innings to qualify, is Kershaw at 2.48, but that's only over 7 years. Among pitchers with at least 10 seasons, it's Felix Hernandez -- at 3.08.

Whitey’s 10 wins in World Series play has never been approached –- Gibson won 7, and as great as he was in his wins, Koufax won “only” 4. And Whitey still holds the record for consecutive scoreless innings in Series play, 33. Mariano holds the record for postseason play, 33 1/3.

“There’s really only four numbers that should be retired” by the Yankees, he says, “and mine’s not one of them.” Nevertheless, his Number 16 was retired by the Yankees in 1974, when he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, making him the 1st Yankee pitcher thus honored. He was also 1 of the 1st 2 Yankee pitchers awarded a Plaque in Monument Park, honored along with Lefty Gomez in 1987.

It says something about this great competitor that my Grandma, a dedicated Brooklyn Dodger fan who hated the Yankees (especially Casey Stengel and Yogi Berra, for some reason), loved 2 Yankees: Phil Rizzuto and Whitey Ford. That both were from her home Borough of Queens had something to do with it, but she also loved that Whitey was smart and didn’t rely on overwhelming force, mixing up his pitches like her favorite Dodger pitchers, Don Newcombe, Carl Erskine and especially Preacher Roe. (And also like her favorite Met pitchers, Tom Seaver, Ron Darling, David Cone and Al Leiter.) She had no patience for pitchers who were fastball-reliant, like Ralph Branca of the Dodgers. She also hated hotheads like Billy Martin, Eddie Stanky and Roger Clemens. She loved that Whitey kept his cool.

Years later, Erik Schrody, a white rapper from Long Island using the nom de rap of Everlast, would also nickname himself “Whitey Ford,” and title an album Whitey Ford Sings the Blues, with the follow-up titled Eat at Whitey’s and another Love, War and the Ghost of Whitey Ford.

*

October 21, 1938: Carl Thomas Brewer is born in Toronto. A 4-time All-Star defenseman for his hometown Maple Leafs, he helped them win the Stanley Cup in 1962, ’63 and ‘64. He died in 2001.

October 21, 1942: Lou Lamoriello is born in Providence, Rhode Island. He coached the hockey team at Providence College into the NCAA Final Four, a.k.a. the Frozen Four, and since 1987 has been the general manager of the New Jersey Devils.

The team made the Playoffs every year but one from 1990 to 2010, including 10 Atlantic Division titles, 4 Eastern Conference championships and 3 Stanley Cups. It has now added a 5th Conference Championship after missing the Playoffs in 2011.

But El Baldo has also made some puzzling trades, and has been so cheap that he has let go some terrific players without lifting a finger, including Scott Niedermayer (who helped the Anaheim Ducks win the Cup in his first season away from the Devils, 2007), Brian Rafalski (who helped the Detroit Red Wings win the Cup the very next season, 2008), John Madden, Brian Gionta and Zach Parise. The Devils have now missed the Playoffs in 3 of the last 4 seasons, with the 2012 Conference Championship mixed in.

And yet, every time I start thinking Lou Lam has to go, that’s when he manages to build another Cup team. Only 6 players played for all 3 Devils Cup teams, and barely more than half the players on each of them was on the next one. (Martin Brodeur, the last one left who played on all 3, is now a free agent, and Patrik Elias is the only other one left who played on any of them.)

The Devils won their 1st 3 games this season, but have now dropped 3 straight, including to the damn Rangers tonight.

I have never figured Lamoriello out, and I doubt that I ever will.

October 21, 1949: Two very different kind of legends of hockey are born. Michel Briere, of Malartic, was one of the brightest young players the Province of Quebec has ever produced, and put together a terrific rookie season for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1969. But in 1970, he was in an awful car crash and fell into a coma. He died in 1971. His Number 21 was immediately taken out of circulation by the Pens, although there was no official retirement ceremony for 30 years.

Also on this day, Mike Keenan was born in Bowmanville, Ontario. He coached the Philadelphia Flyers into the Stanley Cup Finals in 1985 and 1987, and did the same with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1992.

But he’s best known for the one and only season in which he coached the New York Rangers, 1994. With the highest payroll the NHL had yet seen, and seasons veterans all over the place (many of them, led by Captain Mark Messier, from the Edmonton Oilers, including some who had beaten his Flyers in the ’85 and ’87 Finals), he led the Broadway Blues to their 1st Stanley Cup in 54 years -- their only Cup in the last 74 years.

But he demanded a big new contract right after that, and threatened to take the Madison Square Garden Corporation to court if he didn’t get it. Instead, they let him walk, and he signed with the St. Louis Blues. It was one of the most shocking “divorces” in the history of New York Tri-State Area sports, and the Rangers have won just 1 Stanley Cup Finals game since. He is a mad genius, but except for once, and that once just barely, the madness is what has triumphed. In 2014, he led Metallurg Magnitogorsk to the Gagarin Cup, the championship of Russia's Kontinental Hockey League.

Also on this day, Benjamin Netanyahu is born in Tel Aviv, Israel. He is now Prime Minister of his nation for the 2nd time. As with the 1st time, he has been unable to avoid being a warmonger, though (as far as we know) he has avoided the financial scandals and adulteries of his 1st term, that made him look like he was taking the worst of Bill Clinton and the worst of Newt Gingrich and combining them, instead of the best of each. (I’m still not sure Gingrich has a “best” – he and Netanyahu are both really smart, but have serious blind spots.)

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October 21, 1956: Carrie Frances Fisher is born in Beverly Hills, California. No relation to Frances Fisher, a redheaded actress of similar age. But she is the daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher, and half-sister of actress Joely Fisher (daughter of Eddie and actress-singer Connie Stevens).

She will forever be known as Princess Leia Organa in the Star Wars saga, but she’s also an accomplished writer and director, having written the novel Postcards On the Edge about her relationship with her mother and struggle with drug addiction, later writing the screenplay for the film version. She co-wrote the TV-movie These Old Broads, which starred her mother, and Shirley MacLaine (who played the Reynolds character in the film version of Postcards), and Elizabeth Taylor, the woman her father left her mother for.

October 21, 1959: George Bell is born in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. A left fielder and a 3-time All-Star for the Toronto Blue Jays, he hit a walkoff for the last home run in Exhibition Stadium. He also hit the 1st homer at the SkyDome.

At that dome, now named the Rogers Centre, his name hangs in the “Level of Excellence,” the Jays’ team hall of fame that, until Roberto Alomar's Number 12 was retired, served as a substitute for retiring numbers such as Bell’s 11. (The NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs don’t retire numbers, either, except for 2 very special cases; instead, they have a system of “Honoured Numbers” that remain in circulation.) However, the Jays never won a Pennant until after trading Bell, brother of major leaguer Juan Bell.

*

October 21, 1964, 50 years ago: After just 11 years in Milwaukee‚ the Braves’ Board of Directors votes to ask the National League for permission to move to Atlanta. Milwaukee County officials sue to block the move. The end result is that they must play the 1965 season in Milwaukee, as lame ducks.

Attendance, once booming as the city embraced Major League Baseball for the first time in 50 years, collapses, and only 14,000 come out for the final Milwaukee Braves home game 11 months later. The reason? Partly, it was the novelty wearing off. Partly, it was the Minnesota Twins taking away huge chunks of their market, including the entire States of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, and even westernmost Wisconsin. The Brewers will arrive in Milwaukee in 1970.

October 21, 1967: Paul Emerson Carlyle Ince is born in East London. The midfielder helped restore Manchester United to glory, winning back-to-back Premier League titles after not having won England’s predecessor league for 26 years, and winning 2 FA Cups – taking both titles, or “The Double,” in 1994. He was also the 1st black Captain of the England national team.

After managing some lower-division teams, including Milton Keynes Dons, in 2008 Blackburn Rovers signed him, making him the 1st black manager in the 1st division of English football (either as “the Football League Division One” or as “the Premier League”). He won only 3 of 17 matches in 6 months and was fired. He has since managed MK Dons again and also Notts County and Blackpool, a team that included his son Tom Ince, also a midfielder. Tom now plays for Hull City.

Also on this day, an antiwar protest hits Washington, D.C. The marchers head across the Potomac River to the Pentagon, and, to this day, some marchers claim they actually "levitated" the building. Uh-huh. This was the day of the famous photograph of the long-haired (but not hippie-length-haired) kid in the turtleneck sweater sticking a flower in the barrel of a rifle held by a soldier "protecting" the Pentagon from the demonstrators.

October 21, 1968: Elston Howard announces his retirement after 14 big-league seasons, the first 12½ with the Yankees. He will soon be named a Yankee coach, making him the 1st black coach in the American League. He was preceded in the National League by former Kansas City Monarchs 1st baseman and manager John "Buck" O'Neil, with the Chicago Cubs, and former 2nd baseman Jim "Junior" Gilliam with the Dodgers.

October 21, 1969: Morris “Mo” Lewis is born in Atlanta. The All-Pro linebacker played in 200 games for the New York Jets, 3rd-most in franchise history at the time he retired.

He is probably best known for his sack of Drew Bledsoe of the New England Patriots early in the 2001, which injured Bledsoe and forced the Pats to bring in a new quarterback. Tom Brady. So maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to praise Mo, because that sack altered the course of NFL history, and not for the better!

Also on this day, Jack Kerouac dies. The novelist and poet whose works led the Beat Generation writing genre had been a football and track star at Lowell High School in Massachusetts, but injuries and squabbles with coach Lou Little ended his football scholarship at Columbia.

By the mid-Sixties, his fellow Beat writer and close friend Allen Ginsberg noticed that he no longer looked like the handsome young athlete he had so recently been when they met in 1944, or even the mature (physically if not emotionally) writer who became famous with the publication of On the Road in 1957. Rather, Allen though that Jack now looked like his father Leo, the result of 25 years of massive drinking. That drinking burned an ulcer in his esophagus, and that’s what killed him at age 47.

(By contrast, Ginsberg, who rather enjoyed various mind-altering drugs but wasn’t a serious boozer, lived to be 70; and the other member of the Beats’ Big Three, William S. Burroughs, who abused himself in countless ways, turned out to be the last survivor, outliving Ginsberg by a few weeks and passing away peacefully at 83.)

Kerouac and the early Beats loved jazz, especially bebop, whose two main leaders were saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker and trumpter John “Dizzy” Gillespie.  Parker died in 1955, on March 12, Kerouac’s birthday, which crushed Jack. Jack himself then died on an October 21, which was Gillespie’s birthday.

*

October 21, 1973: Game 7 of the World Series at the Oakland Coliseum. Bert Campaneris and Reggie Jackson hit home runs off Jon Matlack, and the A’s beat the Mets, 5-2, for their 2nd straight World Championship.

Reggie is named Series MVP. After having missed the previous year’s Series with an injury sustained while scoring the winning run in the NLCS, he has begun to build his reputation as a big-time postseason performer.

A's reliever Darold Knowles -- who once said of Reggie, "There isn't enough mustard in the world to cover that hot dog -- becomes the 1st pitcher, and remains the only one, to appear in all 7 games of a Series.

The Mets had a 3-games-to-2 lead, but considering what that A’s team was capable of, and that the A’s had the home-field advantage for Games 6 and 7, it’s hard to say that the Mets "choked." They just got beat.

They had a great run, coming from last place and 11 1/2 games back in August, to win a Division that no one seemed to want to win, doing it with just 82 wins, and fighting off Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine in the NLCS and taking the defending World Champion A’s to the limit.

And, considering how good the A's were, it might not be fair to blame Yogi Berra, then the Met manager, for losing the Series by pitching Tom Seaver on 3 days' rest in Game 6. A, Yogi was hoping he could prevent a Game 7 entirely.  B, Seaver didn't pitch all that badly on short rest.

Reliever Frank "Tug" McGraw had given the Mets their late-season rallying cry, "Ya gotta believe!" But what you should believe is that this Series was not lost by the Mets nearly so much as it was won by the A's, the better team. This time, unlike in 1969 (and 1986), the Mets simply ran out of miracles.

Also on this day, Fred Dryer of the Los Angeles Rams becomes the 1st player in NFL history to score 2 safeties in the same game. The Rams beat the Green Bay Packers, 24-7 at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Dryer, an All-Pro defensive end, remains the only player ever to accomplish the feat, but will become better known as an actor, starring in the police drama Hunter.

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October 21, 1975: Game 6 of the World Series. You may have heard about this one.

In The Curse of the Bambino, his somewhat skewed history of his beloved Boston Red Sox, Dan Shaughnessy called it “a brilliant autumn day in New England,” following a 3-day delay for rain. Brilliant though the Tuesday afternoon may have been, this game was played at night at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox trail the Cincinnati Reds 3 games to 2, and must win to force a Game 7. The Sox haven’t won the World Series in 57 years, including a loss as recently as 1967; the Reds, 35 years, including 2 Series losses in this decade already. Both teams need it badly.

Shaughnessy wrote, “Game Six has taken on a life of its own in the years since it was played, and it gets larger and more thrilling in each retelling. Some distance allows that there may be other contenders for the title of The Greatest Game Ever Played, but by any measure, 1975’s Game Six will stand as one of the top ten games in World Series history, and one that came at a time when baseball needed it most.” In The New Yorker magazine, Roger Angell wrote, “Game Six... what can we say of it without seeming to diminish it by recapitulation or dull it with detail?”

Fred Lynn’s homer gave the Sox an early 3-0 lead. But, as they would say in English soccer, Three-nil, and they fucked it up. Typical Boston choke, leading to a Reds win? As Lee Corso would say, Not so fast, my friend. Six-three, and they fucked it up. Bernie Carbo, a former Red, hit a pinch-hit home run of Rawley Eastwick in the bottom of the 8th.

The game went to extra innings, because in the bottom of the 9th, because Denny Doyle thought Sox 3rd-base coach Don Zimmer was telling him, “Go, go, go!” to tag up, when in fact he was saying, “No, no, no!” and George Foster threw Doyle out at the plate.

The top of the 11th featured an amazing over-the-fence catch of a Joe Morgan drive by Sox right fielder Dwight Evans, who then started a double pay to end the Reds’ rally. During that rally, Pete Rose was batting, and he turned to Sox catcher Carlton Fisk and said, “Can you believe this game?” (Some sources have Rose’s comment as, “Some kind of a game, isn’t it?”)

At 12:34 AM on October 22, 1975, Fisk leads off the bottom of the 12th against Pat Darcy, and hits a 1-0 pitch down the left-field line. It’s got distance. Will it be fair? Will it be foul? Fisk, thinking it will actually influence the flight of the ball, waves his arms to his right. The ball hits the pole near its top, for a home run. Final score, Boston 7, Cincinnati 6. The Series is tied, and will go to a Game 7.

John Kiley, the organist at Fenway Park (and also at the Boston Garden, thus the answer to the corny old joke about “the only man to play for the Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins”), plays George Friedrich Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” Then he plays “Stout-Hearted Men.” Then he plays “The Beer Barrel Polka.” (“Roll out the barrel, we’ll have a barrel of fun.”) Then he plays “Seventy-six Trombones.”
(It was late.)

The shot of Fisk thinking he can wave the ball fair, which I’ve dubbed the Fenway Twist, is the most familiar clip in the history of televised sports. (As they had with every World Series since 1947, NBC was televising it, although they would begin to alternate with ABC starting the 1977 season.)

From seeing this clip so much, and hearing so much talk about Game 6 of ’75 from Red Sox fans, a reasonable person might have asked (through 2004 anyway), “Wait a minute. The Red Sox haven’t won the World Series since 1918. That means... they lost Game 7! So why do people make such a big deal about this homer?” Well, it won one game, not a World Series, but it was still one of sports’ greatest epics.

Dick Stockton was the lead broadcaster for NBC in this Series. A young writer named Lesley Visser was part of the Boston Globe's coverage. Stockton and Visser would both go on to become key cogs in CBS Sports' programming. Supposedly, they met on this night. Other sources say they met at another Boston-based event in 1982. Either way, they married in 1983, but got divorced in 2010, and Visser has married someone else.

*

October 21, 1976: The Cincinnati Reds beat the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, and complete a four-game sweep of the World Series. Johnny Bench hits 2 home runs and is named Series MVP. The 9th inning featured Bench’s homer, which helped the Reds go from a 3-2 to a 7-2 lead, which holds until the end.

A frustrated Billy Martin, with nothing left to lose (except maybe a fine from the Commissioner), argues with the umpires and gets thrown out, the only Yankee manager ever to be tossed from a World Series game.

Thurman Munson excels in defeat, tying a Series record with 6 straight hits. On the official Series highlight film, Reds manager Sparky Anderson is heard telling Bench and Pete Rose, “That fella can flat-out hit, now. Ooh, is he a good hitter. He just stays with the ball.” Rose responds by comparing Munson to Bill Madlock, then with the Chicago Cubs, who had just won the 2nd of what turned out to be 4 NL batting titles.

But in a postgame press conference, Anderson is asked to compare Munson to Bench, and he says, “Don’t ever embarrass someone by comparing him to Johnny Bench.” In all fairness, even at his best, and 1976 was his MVP year, Munson was not as good as Bench. Bench was the greatest catcher in NL history, and in all of baseball history the only catchers that could be greater are the 2 Yankee legends, Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra; Bench and Berra were voted by fans to the All-Century Team in 1999. But Munson did have the right to be offended: Comparing him to Bench did not embarrass him, nor did it embarrass Bench.

The Reds have their 4th World Championship, and become the 1st (and still only) NL team to win back-to-back World Series since the 1921-22 New York Giants. (The 1995-96 Atlanta Braves came within 2 games of doing it, but we all know how that ended.) The Reds had also swept the Phillies in the NLCS, and they remain the only team ever to make it through both the LCS and the World Series undefeated. Their 7-0 postseason record has never been matched, although the Yankees went through the ’99 postseason, with an extra round, 11-1. And, with the 2014 World Series starting tonight, the Kansas City Royals are 8-0, but will have to face the San Francisco Giants, who've played 9 World Series games in this decade and won 8 of them.

As for the ’76 Yankees, they were in their 1st Series in 12 years, most of them were in postseason play for the 1st time, and they were physically and emotionally exhausted after their ALCS battle with the Royals that ended with Chris Chambliss’ Pennant-winning home run. Against the experienced and rested Reds, they had little reason for confidence. But they will be back, while the Reds will win only 1 Pennant in the next 37 years.

October 21, 1978: Joey Harrington is born in Portland, Oregon. The University of Oregon star was supposed to be the quarterback who led the Detroit Lions out of the wilderness. Unfortunately, the highlight of his career was a game after they cut him, and he led the Miami Dolphins to victory over, yes, the Lions at the Silverdome. He has since retired, become a broadcaster, and runs a charitable foundation.

October 21, 1979: Khalil Greene is born in Butler, Pennsylvania. An All-Star for the San Diego Padres, the shortstop has not played in the majors since 2009, and has gone into the music business.

Also on this day, Gabe Gross is born in Baltimore. The son of former New Orleans Saints center Lee Gross, he was an outfielder for the Tampa Bay Rays, and played on their 2008 AL Pennant winners before retiring before the 2011 season.

October 21, 1980: After 98 seasons of play, the Philadelphia Phillies are one game away from finally winning their 1st World Championship. They are the last of the “Original 16” teams to have not won one. The last World Series won by a Philadelphia team was by the Athletics, 50 years ago.

It’s Game 6 against the Royals at Veterans Stadium. Steve Carlton pitches 8 shutout innings, and closer Tug McGraw, one of the heroes of the Mets’ 1969 and ’73 postseason runs, takes a 4-0 lead into the 9th in front of 65,838 Phanatics. But he lets a run in, and loads the bases with one out.

Nervous about fans running onto the field and vandalizing the stadium, as happened 10 years earlier when the Phils played their last game at Connie Mack Stadium, Philadelphia Mayor Bill Green has ordered police on horseback to surround the field to keep fans from running onto it.

McGraw, already in a jam, looks around, sees one of the horses, and sees the horse's tail go up. “They did not send us stadium-trained horses,” he would later say. “And I’m thinking, if I don’t get these guys out, and something bad happens, that’s what I’m gonna be: What that horse is getting rid of.” In baseball, “horseshit” is a common term for something lousy.

A popup sails over the area in front of the Phillies’ dugout, and catcher Bob Boone grabs it, but he can't hang onto it, and it pops out of his glove. This is the kind of play that has led Phillies fans to think that their team is jinxed, that they will never win the big one. Except, this time, the bobbled ball is snared by 1st baseman Pete Rose, who shows it to the umpires so they know it's a legit catch, and promptly spikes the ball on the Vet’s hideous artificial turf as if he’s just scored a touchdown. (Pete was a high school football star, as well as baseball.)

All that remains is for Tug to get the Royals’ Willie Wilson out. At 11:29 PM, the exhausted Tugger fires, and Wilson swings and misses for strike 3.

(While tipping your hat to the Phils for this magnificent victory, have a moment of silence for Wilson: It was his 12th strikeout of the Series, a record that would stand until 2009 when it was broken by... Phillies 1st baseman Ryan Howard.)

From Scranton in the north to Rehoboth Beach in the south, from Atlantic City in the east to Lancaster in the West, Phillies fans erupt in the kind of joy they had never experienced – not with this team, anyway. Dallas Green’s bunch has done it. Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski, Garry Maddox, all the rest, after 3 failed trips to the postseason before this, they have their ring at long last. Rose and McGraw, opponents in the ’73 NLCS and each with a previous ring (in Rose’s case, 2), add to their collection.

The next day’s Philadelphia Daily News fills up their entire front page beneath the masthead with the words “We Win!” A parade goes down Broad Street from City Hall to the Sports Complex, and a massive rally at John F. Kennedy Stadium, whose 105,000 seats is a lot more than the Vet’s 65,000. It remains the greatest moment in the history of Philadelphia sports.

Also on this day, Kimberly Noel Kardashian is born in Los Angeles. Unlike another L.A.-based heiress with an embarrassingly released sex tape, Kim is not an “heirhead.” She actually works for a living, and not just as a model: She worked for the music-marketing company that was run by her late father, Robert Kardashian, who had given up being a high-powered L.A. lawyer to do it, returning for one last case in 1994-95 (the murder defense “Dream Team” of O.J. Simpson).

She and her sisters Kourtney and Khloe also run high-end women's clothing stores, one in their hometown near L.A., one in Miami's South Beach, and one in New York's SoHo. She has been the main focus of the E! reality series Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

What does Kim have to do with sports? Well, after her parents Robert and Kris divorced, Kris married Olympic decathlon Gold Medalist Bruce Jenner. (Though it looks like they have now split up.) Kim recently married New Jersey Nets player Kris Humphries, following sister Khloe's marriage to Los Angeles Lakers player Lamar Odom. However, the Kardashian-Humphries marriage collapsed after 72 days, and Kim is now married to Kanye West, and they have a baby girl named North West. Previously, Kim dated, among others, running back Reggie Bush, in a relationship the gossip pages liked to call “Kush.” And if “Bush” and “Kush” rhyme with a prominent part of Kim’s anatomy, that’s not my fault!

October 21, 1981: The Yankees take a 2-0 lead in the World Series, as Tommy John and Goose Gossage combine on a 3-0 shutout of the Dodgers at Yankee Stadium. Bob Watson has 2 hits and an RBI.

The Yankees are 2 wins away from their 23rd World Championship. No one can imagine it now, but it will take them 15 more years to get that 23rd title.

The Yankees also make a trade today, sending 22-year-old outfielder Willie McGee to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitcher Bob Sykes. It will be one of the worst trades in Yankee history, as Sykes, a native of nearby Neptune, New Jersey, is already damaged goods, and never appears in another big-league game, finished at 27; while McGee helps the Cards win the next year’s World Series and 3 of the next 6 NL Pennants, and by the time his career begins to slow down in the mid-1990s, Bernie Williams will have been ready.

Also on this day, Nemanja Vidić is born in Uzice, Serbia. He is a dirty soccer player, and was the Captain of Manchester United. I don’t think we need a 3rd reason to loathe him. He now plays for Internazionale in Milan, Itlay.

October 21, 1983: Donald Zackary Greinke is born in Orlando, Florida. Zack won the AL's Cy Young Award in 2009, and pitched the Milwaukee Brewers to their first Division title in 29 years in 2011. He now pitches for the Dodgers.

He is married to Emily Kuchar, a former beauty-pageant winner and Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader. If they have kids, I hope the Cowboy gene is the recessive one.

October 21, 1986: Here's an October 21 that Met fans can get behind. Game 3 of the World Series at Fenway Park. Desperate for a win to keep their “inevitable” World Championship alive, the Mets turn to lefty Bob Ojeda, who had been with the Red Sox until last season. With Len Dykstra leading off the game with a homer, as he had also hit the walkoff homer in Game 3 of the NLCS, Ojeda cruises, and the Mets win, 7-1, to get back in the Series.

*

October 21, 1993: Curt Schilling’s stellar pitching and Kevin Stocker’s 2nd-inning RBI double keeps the Phillies alive, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 5-0 in Game 5 of the World Series.

This is the kind of pitching that will lead Phillies GM Ed Wade to say of Schilling, "One day out of every five, he's a horse; the other four, he's a horse's ass." But Schilling will not reach his greatest fame with the Phillies. Neither will most of the baseball world realize what a horse's ass he is during his tenure with the Fightin' Phils.

This turns out to be the last postseason baseball game ever played in Veterans Stadium, and the last postseason game the Phillies will win for 15 years.

October 21, 1996: Greg Maddux shuts out the Yankees, as the Braves take Game 2 of the World Series, 4-0. The Yankees have been embarrassed in the first 2 games, and now have to go to Atlanta in front of 52,000 war-chanting, tomahawk-chopping rednecks.

The outlook is grim.  Anybody predicting a new "Yankee Dynasty" at this point sure looks delusional.

October 21, 1998: The Yankees beat the San Diego Padres, 3-1 at Jack Murphy Stadium (Qualcomm), and complete the sweep for their 24th World Championship. Scott Brosius, who hit 2 homers last night, takes a grounder at 3rd base for the final out, and is named Series MVP.

The Padres had maybe their best team ever. Arguably, so did the Cleveland Indians that the Yankees beat in the ALCS.  Maybe, so did the Texas Rangers that the Yankees beat in the ALDS. All of them had the bad luck to run into what may have been anybody’s best team ever.

*

October 21, 2001: The Arizona Diamondbacks defeat the Atlanta Braves‚ 3-2‚ to win the NLCS and reach the World Series for the first time in their history. They get to the Series faster than any expansion team in history‚ doing so in the 4th year of their existence. Randy Johnson gets the win for Arizona. Erubiel Durazo's pinch-hit 2-run homer is the key blow. Craig Counsell is named the NLCS MVP.

The Yankees take a 3-1 lead in their ALCS matchup with Seattle‚ defeating the Mariners by a score of 3-1 at Yankee Stadium. Bret Boone's 8th inning homer broke a scoreless tie‚ but Bernie Williams homers in the bottom half of the inning to tie the score. The Yankees win on Alfonso Soriano's 2-run walkoff dinger in the 9th. Mariano Rivera gets the victory in relief.

In spite of this defeat, Mariner manager Lou Piniella makes a bold prediction: His team will win Game 5. “We’re going back for Game 6,” he tells the media, meaning back to Seattle. Sweet Lou should have known better than to test the Yankees’ Ghosts of October. After all, he was one of them.

October 21, 2003: The Yankees beat the Marlins‚ 6-1‚ behind the pitching of Mike Mussina and the hitting of Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams. Jeter gets 3 hits off losing starter Josh Beckett (the only hits Beckett allows)‚ while Williams and Aaron Boone hit home runs. Williams' homer is his record 19th in postseason play. His 65 RBI are also a new postseason record.

The Yankees lead this World Series 2 games to 1. Things are looking good for them. No one can yet imagine that it will take them 6 years to win another World Series game -- and that, when they do, it will be in a new Yankee Stadium.

October 21, 2004, 10 years ago: After blowing a 2 games to none lead, the Cardinals come from 3 games to 2 down to beat the Houston Astros 5-2 in Game 7 of the NLCS. Craig Biggio leads off the game with a home run off Jeff Suppan, but Scott Rolen takes Roger Clemens deep, and the series concludes with the home teams having won every game.

For the Cards, it is their 1st Pennant in 17 years, and the beginning of a run that saw them win 4 Pennants in 10 seasons. For the Astros, Year 43 ended just like Years 1 through 42: Without a Pennant. Fortunately for them, they only have to "Wait 'Til Next Year" 1 more time.

October 21, 2006: In the 1st-ever match-up of rookies to start Game 1 of the World Series, Anthony Reyes bests Justin Verlander as the visiting Cardinals beat the Tigers at Comerica Park, 7-2. The 25-year old righthander allows 2 runs and 4 hits striking out 5 Redbirds in eight innings of work.

This game also makes Detroit the 2nd city to host a Super Bowl and a World Series in the same calendar year. San Diego had done so in 1998. Detroit had also hosted a World Series and an NFL Championship Game in the same year in 1935. Cleveland did so in 1964. New York did it 7 times: 1934, 1936, 1938, 1941, 1956, 1958 and 1962.

Reaching the World Series and the NFL Championship Game in the same calendar year? New York 11 times (1933, '38, '39, '41, '56, '58, '61, '62, '63, '69 and 2001; '33 being both sets of Giants, '69 being the Mets and Jets, and all the others being the Yankees and the football Giants), Baltimore twice (1969 and '71), Oakland twice (1989 and '90), Boston twice (1986 and 2004), and once each for Chicago (1932), Detroit (1935), Cleveland (1954), Pittsburgh (1979), San Francisco (separate from Oakland in 1989) and Atlanta (1999).

October 21, 2009: In Game 5 of the NLCS, the Phillies defeat the Dodgers, capturing their 2nd straight pennant, the 1st time the franchise has ever done it, and the 1st time any Philly baseball team has done it since the 1929-30-31 A's.

Philadelphia, with their 10-4 victory at Citizens Bank Park, becomes the 1st NL team to win back-to-back Pennants since the Braves in 1995-96.

How to Be a Devils Fan In Ottawa -- 2014-15 Edition


The New Jersey Devils played the Ottawa Senators in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 1998 (we lost in the 1st round), 2003 (we beat them at their place in Game 7 of the Conference Finals) and 2007 (a pathetic performance, losing in the Conference Semifinals). The Senators also beat us in the 1st game at the Prudential Center, on October 27, 2007.

Needless to say, while they're not exactly a geographic rival or a perennial Playoff opponent, we don't like them.

Hardly anyone does. While Canadian fans were glad to see another Canadian team in the NHL, they share a common trait with several countries: Wanting to stick it to their national government, and that includes wanting the teams in the capital city to lose. So if we can beat the Sens, Canadians from Newfoundland to British Columbia will like it.

And, of course, if you can add Ottawa to the list of NHL cities you've been to and seen the Devils win at, you will like it very much.

Before You Go. Ottawa is in Canada -- indeed, it is the nation's capital, hence "Ottawa Senators," just as our federal capital once had the Washington Senators, and various State capitals had minor-league baseball teams named the Trenton Senators, the Albany Senators, etc. Canada may be a country very much like our own, but it is still a separate country.

So, on top of having to bring a valid passport and change your money, you should contact your bank, and let them know that you're going there. If they see credit card charges or ATM withdrawals listed as being in a country other than the U.S., they may get suspicious and think your card has been stolen, and cancel it. So let them know that (barring an actual loss or theft) any such transactions will be legit.

One big difference between being a Yankee Fan going to see your team play in Toronto and being a Devils fan going to see your team play anywhere in Canada is that it's a lot harder to get your money changed. Living in New York City, you can find currency exchanges all over. On the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, it's a lot harder.

If you're flying to Ottawa, you can get it done at Newark Airport. Otherwise, you may have to search for a place. Some malls have them: Jersey Gardens in Elizabeth, Menlo Park in Edison, Bridgewater Commons.

I would advise leaving yourself with at least $50 in cash and $1.00 in change in American money, just in case you have difficulty finding a place to change your money back before you leave. And, while the differences in the countries' paper money will be clear, the differences in the coins will be harder. Make sure you keep your American coins and your Canadian coins separate.

As of Tuesday afternoon, October 21 (4 days before the game), C$1.00 = US 89 cents, and US$1.00 = C$1.12. In other words, the exchange rate currently favors us. But since the exchanges need to make a profit, you might not get much of an advantage over the border.

Since Canada is part of the British Commonwealth, you'll also have to deal with the metric system. In other words, that speed limit you're seeing is 100 kilometers per hour (about 62 MPH). And don't be thrilled at the gasoline prices: That's per "litre," not per gallon. A liter is a little more than a quart, so 1 gallon = 3.785 liters. So that's not US$1.12 per gallon you're seeing as a gas price: That's C$1.12 per litre, or about US$3.78 per gallon. So, it's much worse up there, despite the fact that Canada is a big oil-producing nation. (Indeed, American imports more oil from Canada than from any other country. Why so much? Taxes. Gotta pay for that great national health service somehow.)

One thing you won't have to do is fiddle with your watch or your phone. Ottawa is in the Eastern Time Zone, and all times there will be the same that they would be here.

At 45' 17" north latitude, the Canadian Tire Centre is not the northernmost arena in the NHL (it's actually the southernmost of the 7 Canadian teams' arenas), but it's considerably north of most arenas you're likely to visit. As a result, while late October will be cool in New Jersey and New York City, it could well be genuinely cold in Ottawa. That said, if you're going to be spending the weekend in Ottawa, seeing the city instead of just going up for the game and coming back, your biggest issue may not be cold, but rain. The Ottawa Citizen newspaper (a broadsheet, and far more responsible in journalism than the tabloid Ottawa Sun) is predicting a 60 percent chance of rain on Saturday, dropping to 30 percent on Sunday. The temperatures are forecast as being in the low 50s in daylight, and the high 30s at night. Bring a winter jacket.

The Ottawa River forms part of the border between English-speaking Ontario and French-speaking Quebec. That said, the Outaouais (pronounced the same as "Ottawa") region of western Quebec, including the cities of Gatineau and Hull, is among the most Anglophone parts of the Province. And most Quebecois, while they would prefer to converse in French, can do so in English. So while you'll see a lot of things in French, it's not necessary to speak or understand the language. If you can speak French, and someone wants to speak French with you, go ahead. But trying to impress people with your ability to speak it won't work: If you're wearing Devils gear, they won't treat your ability as anything more than a courtesy; if you're not wearing Devils gear, their first inclination will be to think you're one of them -- unless they consider your accent to be strange.

Tickets. Canadians love their hockey. The Senators averaged 18,108 fans last season, about 94 percent of capacity. This will make getting tickets difficult.

Note that these prices are in Canadian dollars, since they come from the club website. 100 level seats are $156 between the goals and $115 behind them, 200 level seats are $125 and $78, 300 level seats (easily the most available at this point) are $72 and $37, while the last few rows in the 300 level are $53 and $16. Granted, that $16 is far, but it's one of the cheapest prices in the NHL.

Getting There. It's 442 miles from Times Square in New York to Parliament Hill in Ottawa, and 428 miles from the Prudential Center in Newark to the Canadian Tire Centre in the suburb of Kanata. (Yes, that's pronounced roughly like the name of the country.) It's in that weird range of "Too close to fly, too far to get there any other way.)

Air Canada, voted North America's top airline 5 years in a row, is the cheapest way to fly there. Except it's not cheap: Over $1,100 round-trip. And they don't fly non-stop: You'd have to change planes in Toronto. And you'd have to stay overnight in Ottawa, as the last flight out would be during the game on Saturday night. So, what are your other options?

The train is not an option. Amtrak does not go directly there. You could get on the Adirondack out of New York's Penn Station at 8:15 Friday morning, and arrive at Montreal's Gare Central at 7:06 that night. But while VIA Rail Canada offers 6 trains a day from Montreal to Ottawa, it takes about 2 hours, and it's only C$55 each way, the last one each day is at 5:05 PM, about 2 hours before you'd arrive in Montreal from New York. So unless you want to get a hotel in Montreal and start out the next morning, you can't get from New Jersey to Ottawa by rail.

So your best options are to take the bus or to drive. Greyhound does operate in Canada. However, again, you would have to change in Montreal. This time, however, it could be done. You could leave Port Authority at 12:00 midnight on Friday, reach Montreal at 7:55 on Saturday morning, switch to a bus to Ottawa at 9:00, and be in Ottawa by 11:30. The return trip is a little trickier: Presuming the game ends before 10:00 on Saturday night, the next bus back to Montreal will be at 2:30 Sunday morning, arriving in Montreal at 5:00, and then you would catch your New York bus at 7:30 and arrive at 4:35 in the afternoon. This is still doable, whereas the train really isn't. Round-trip fare is $228, but can drop to $179 with advanced purchase. The Ottawa Central Station is at 265 Catherine Street, at the intersection of Catherine Street and Kent Street.

If you’re driving, get to Interstate 80, and take it all the way across the State. Shortly after crossing the Delaware River and entering Pennsylvania, take I-380, following the signs for Scranton, until reaching I-81. (If you’ve driven to a game of the Yankees’ Triple-A farm team, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, you already know this part.) Take I-81 north into New York State. (If you’ve driven to a game of the Mets’ Double-A farm team, the Binghamton Mets, you already know this part.) Continue on I-81 past Binghamton, Syracuse and Watertown, all the way up to the border, at the Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River.

You need to take this next part seriously. Because Canadian Customs will. You'll be asked your citizenship, and you'll have to show your passport and your photo ID. You'll be asked why you're visiting Canada. Seeing a Devils vs. Senators game should be reason enough, although, if you got your tickets by mail, showing them to the Customs agent won't hurt.

If you're bringing a computer with you (counting a laptop, but probably not counting a smartphone), you don't have to mention it, but you probably should. Chances are, you won't be carrying a large amount of food or plants; if you were, depending on how much, you might have to declare them.

Chances are, you won't be bringing alcohol into the country, but you can bring in one of the following items duty-free, and anything above or in addition to this must have duty paid on it: 1.5 litres (53 ounces) of wine, or 8.5 litres (300 ounces or 9.375 quarts) of beer or ale, or 1.14 litres (40 ounces) of hard liquor. If you have the slightest suspicion that I'm getting any of these numbers wrong, check the Canada Customs website. Better yet, don't bring booze in. Or out.

As for tobacco, well, you shouldn't use it. But, either way over the border, you can bring up to 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, and 200 grams (7 ounces) of manufactured tobacco. What you cannot bring from Canada back into the U.S. is Cuban-made cigars. They are still illegal to even possess in the U.S. So you need to note that President Obama hasn't had that law changed, or dropped the embargo against Cuba. (If he is a Communist or a Socialist, that's yet another reason why he's not very good at it.)

If you've got anything in your car (or, if going by bus or train, in your pockets or your luggage) that could be considered a weapon, even if it's a disposable razor or nail clippers, tell them. And while Canada does have laws that allow you to bring in firearms if you're a licensed hunter (you'd have to apply for a license to the Province where you plan to hunt), the country has the proper attitude concerning guns: They hate them. They go absolutely batshit insane if you try to bring a firearm into their country. Which, if you're sane, is actually the sane way to treat the issue.

You think I'm being ridiculous? How about this: Seven of the 44 U.S. Presidents -- 9 counting the Roosevelts, Theodore after he was President and Franklin right before -- have faced assassins with guns, 6 got hit and 4 died; but none of the 22 people (including 1 woman) to serve as Prime Minister of Canada has ever faced an assassination attempt. John Lennon recorded "Give Peace a Chance" in Montreal and gave his first "solo concert" in Toronto, but he got shot and killed in New York. In fact, the next time I visit, I half-expect to see a bumper sticker that says, "GUNS DON'T KILL PEOPLE, AMERICANS WITH GUNS KILL PEOPLE."

(Another note about weapons: I’m a fan of the TV show NCIS, which airs in Canada on Global Network TV. If you are also a fan of this show, and you usually observe Gibbs Rule Number 9, "Never go anywhere without a knife," you need to remember that these are rules for members of Gibbs' team, not for civilians. So, this time, forget the knife, and leave it at home. If you really think you're going to need it -- as a tool -- mention the knife to the border guard, and show it to him, and tell him you have it to use as a tool in case of emergency, and that you do not plan to use it as a weapon. Do not mention the words "Rule Number 9" or quote said rule, or else he'll observe his Rule Number 1: "Do not let this jackass into your country, eh?" And another thing: Border guards, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, most likely will observe a variation on Gibbs Rule Number 23: "Never mess with a Mountie's Tim Hortons coffee if you want to live.")

And if you can speak French, don't try to impress the Customs officials with it. You're going into Ontario, not Quebec.

When crossing back into the U.S., in addition to what you would have to declare on the way in (if you still have any of it), you would have to declare items you purchased and are carrying with you upon return, items you bought in duty-free shops or (if you flew) on the plane, and items you intend to sell or use in your business, including business merchandise that you took out of the United States on your trip. There are other things, but, since you're just going for hockey, they probably won't apply to you. Just in case, check the Canadian Customs website I linked to above.

After going through Customs, this would take you right onto the Queen Elizabeth Way (the QEW). After the Pennsylvania Turnpike, this was North America’s second superhighway, and was named not for the current Queen but for her mother, the wife of King George VI, the woman most people now under the age of 65 called the Queen Mother or the Queen Mum. (You know: Helena Bonham-Carter in The King's Speech.) This road will hug Lake Ontario and go through the Ontario cities of Niagara Falls, St. Catharines and Hamilton before turning north and then east toward Toronto. Toronto’s CN Tower is so tall that you may actually see it, across the lake, before you get to Hamilton.

After being let through, I-81 will become Ontario Route 137. You won't be on this for long, as it terminates at O-401, the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway. (This road is named for the founding fathers of English and French Canada, respectively: First Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, and George-Etienne Cartier, responsible for getting Quebec's support for Confederation, Canada's 1867 independence.)

Take the Freeway East, to Exit 721A, which will put you on O-416 North. Exit 75A will put you on the Trans-Canada Highway West. You'll take this until Exit 140, east on Terry Fox Drive, named for the man who tried to walk across Canada on one leg to raise money for cancer research until his own cancer returned and stopped him. The 1st right will be Palladium Drive. (The arena's original name was The Palladium.) The Canadian Tire Centre will soon be on your right. The official address is 1000 Palladium Drive in Kanata, about 14 1/2 miles west of downtown.

You should be in New Jersey for an hour and 15 minutes (after getting out of your driveway, that is), Pennsylvania for an hour and a half, New York for 3 hours, and Ontario for an hour and 45 minutes, for a total of 7 and a half hours. If you make 3 rest stops – I would recommend at or near Scranton and Syracuse, and count Customs, where they will have a restroom and vending machines – and if you don’t do anything stupid at Customs, such as fail to produce your passport, or flash a weapon, or say you watch South Park (a show with a vendetta against Canada for some reason), or call Sidney Crosby a cheating, diving pansy (even though he is one) – the trip should take less than 11 hours.

Once In the City. The name Ottawa comes from the Algonquin word meaning "to trade," as it was founded in 1826 as a trading post. On December 31, 1857, Britain's Queen Victoria was asked to choose a common capital for the Province of Canada, and she chose Ottawa. Her advisers suggested she pick Ottawa for several reasons: Ottawa's position in the back country made it more defensible, while still allowing easy transportation over the Ottawa River. Ottawa was at a point nearly exactly midway between Toronto and Quebec City (310 miles between the capitals of Ontario and Quebec). The smaller size of the town also made it less prone to rampaging politically motivated mobs, as had happened in the previous Canadian capitals.

Ottawa is home to about 900,000 people, making it the 10th-largest in the NHL (13th if you split up the New York and Los Angeles markets), but its metropolitan area has just 1.2 million, making it smaller than any U.S. metro area with a major league sports team. It's already lost 2 pro football teams and a Triple-A baseball team in the last 20 years, although they rejoined the Canadian Football League team this year and will get a new Double-A baseball team next year.

Canada's Conservative Party government got rid of the hated Goods & Services Tax (GST), but replaced it with a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), which is 13 percent in Ontario -- in other words, it's a consumption tax that hits the poor and the middle class a lot harder than it hits the rich, which means Canada's conservatives are just as bastardish as America's.

Ottawa's north-south streets increase in address numbers moving away from the Ottawa River, while the Rideau Canal divides the city into east and west. OC Transpo runs public transit in the area, with single rides costing C$3.45. Get a DayPass for C$8.10.

Going In. The Number 401 bus goes directly from Ottawa Central Station to the arena, taking 26 minutes. Unfortunately, I can find no reference to how much parking costs there. So, if you're driving, I simply don't have the information for you.

The building is round, and therink is laid out east-to-west. The Senators attack twice at the west end.

Food. Getting something to eat at Canadian Tire Centre isn't going to be a problem.The 111 Deli & Pub and the 212 Deli & Pub, named for the sections they're behind, feature sandwiches and standard "pub grub." Bytown Grill, named for the original name of Ottawa (after the general who commanded the first fort there), and The Ledge Carvery & Bar serve similar fare. Frank Finnigan's, a restaurant named for an early Senators great (more about whom shortly), is more "casual dining."

The arena goes international as well, with stands for Chef Bento Sushi, Golden Palace Egg Rolls, and the Toronto-based "favourite" Pizza Pizza. There's Burger Shack stands, and what would a Canadian point of interest be without Tim Hortons? Ottawans may hate the Toronto Maple Leafs, for whom Horton played so nobly for so long, but they're still Canadians, and so they gotta have their Timmy's.

And, while the Outaouais region includes western Quebec, no one says you have to eat that foul poutine, which, in one bite comes close to undoing all the good La Belle Province has ever done. Nevertheless, if you can actually keep the stuff down, Smoke's Poutinerie stands are at Sections 107, 113, 119, and a larger section at 225.

Team History Displays. Only 2 men associated with the current Senators franchise have been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame: Roger Neilson, who coached them from 2001 to 2003, and the newly-elected Dominik Hasek, who tended goal for them in the 2005-06 season. The Senators do not have a team hall of fame, including either the current incarnation (1992-present) or the old one (1883-1934). Nor did they announce a 20th Anniversary Team in 2012. Perhaps their 25th Anniversary in 2017 will inspire some kind of team honors -- or, as they would write it in Canada, "honours" -- consideration.

Although the Number 11 of Daniel Alfredsson has not been given out since he left the team after the 2012-13 season, the only number the franchise has officially retired is the Number 8, in honor of Frank Finnigan. He came from Shawville, Quebec, not far from Ottawa, so he was a "local boy makes good." He was honoured for his play from 1923 through 1934 for the original Ottawa Senators, as a right wing, 1923–31 & 1932–34, including being an integral part of their 1927 Stanley Cup win.

Due to the Great Depression, the Senators did not play in the 1931-32 season, and the Toronto Maple Leafs were allowed to sign him, enabling him to win that season's Stanley Cup with the Leafs. He was the Senators' Captain upon their return, and represented the Senators in the Ace Bailey Benefit Game of 1934, now recognized as the 1st NHL All-Star Game. But after that season, they moved to St. Louis, already known for good support of a minor-league team. Finnigan scored the final goal in the history of the old Senators. The St. Louis Eagles were terrible in 1934-35 and folded, selling him back to the Leafs, for whom he played until 1937. He served in the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II and managed hotels.

He was the last surviving Senator from the Stanley Cup winners of 1927 -- still the last Cup won by an Ottawa team -- and participated in the "Bring Back The Senators" campaign. Sadly, he died in 1991, living long enough to see the city returned to the NHL, but not long enough to see them play. His Number 8 was raised to the rafters of the Ottawa Civic Centre, and his son Frank Finnigan Jr. was invited to drop the ceremonial puck before the 1st home game.

The Senators retain his Number 8 banner in the rafters at the Canadian Tire Centre, and also hang 11 Stanley Cup banners, representing the achievements of the original team, which started as the Ottawa Hockey Club in 1883 and lasted until 1934. The banners represent the Cup wins of 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1920, 1921, 1923, 1927. (Until 1910, the Cup was a challenge trophy, and there was frequently more than one win per season. The Montreal Wanderers won it in 1906, 1907, 1908 and 1910, including beating the Senators, but also losing to them.)

A street that loops around the arena is named Cyclone Taylor Blvd., and the street on the east side of the new arena is named Frank Finnigan Way. Other nearby streets are Frank Nighbor Place and Silver Seven Way. (Back in the days when hockey had 7 players on the ice, including the now-discarded position of "rover," the Ottawa Hockey Club was nicknamed the Silver Seven, before they officially became the Senators.)

In addition to Finnigan, Taylor and Nighbor, other Hockey Hall-of-Famers from the original Senators include

Stuff. Souvenir stands are all over the arena. There are large team stores at Gate 1 at street level, a "vintage" products location at club level, a "Main Street" location on the 200 level, and a jersey-customization shop on the upper bowl level.

There aren't many books about the Senators. The best one I could find on Amazon was about the original version, Chris Robinson's Ottawa Senators: Great Stories From the NHL's First Dynasty. Team videos are also in short supply: The only thing I could find on the Sens was the 2007 Stanley Cup highlight film -- and they lost the Finals, ignominiously, in 5 games to the Anaheim Ducks. Of the 5 times a Canadian team has reached the Stanley Cup Finals since 1993, that was the only time they didn't win at least 3 games, and then get screwed by the league and lose in Game 7. The Senators were so pathetic, Gary Bettman didn't have to have his officials fix the games, or (in the case of the Boston Bruins letting the ice melt a little in Boston for Game 6) allow the American team to cheat.

During the Game. You do not need to fear wearing Devils gear to a Senators game. Maple Leafs, maybe. Canadiens, possibly. But not Devils. As long as you don't mock their country, their flag or their National Anthem, they will leave you alone.

Since the game is in Canada, the National Anthem presentation will be unusual to you, with the order reversed from what you're used to: "The Star-Spangled Banner" will be sung first, and then "O, Canada." Because Ottawa is next-door to Quebec, "O, Canada" may be begun in French, and switched to English halfway through, as is traditionally done in Montreal. (When Quebec still had the Nordiques, it was sung entirely in French, although "The Star-Spangled Banner" was sung entirely in English.)

In addition to Spartacat the Lion, their original mascot, the Senators have outright ripped off the baseball team in our nation's capital. Instead of "Racing Presidents," they have 4 guys in period suits with big foam heads designed to resemble 4 of Canada's most prominent Prime Ministers: Sir John A. Macdonald (the 1st, 1867-73 and 1878-91), Sir Wilfrid Laurier (1896-1911, the 1st Francophone PM and, for the way he espoused Canadian nationalism, often compared to our Theodore Roosevelt), Sir Robert Borden (1911-20, including during World War I) and William Lyon Mackenzie King (the longest-serving PM, off and on from 1921 to 1948, including during World War II).

Each of them is on Canadian paper money: Laurier on the $5 bill, Macdonald on the $10, Mackenzie King on the $50 and Borden on the $100. (Queen Elizabeth II is on the $20 and all the coins, while there hasn't been a $1 or $2 bill for many years.)

Each of Canada's 1st 8 Prime Ministers were knighted by the British Empire, but Borden is the last to receive this honor, and Mackenzie King's assertion of Canadian control, rather than British control, over Canada's government ended such things. To do this, he had to outflank the man who was then Canada's Governor-General -- the monarch's representative in the country and thus head of state -- and also Canada's greatest living military hero, Viscount Byng of Vimy. If the Viscount's name seems familiar, it's because his wife donated the award for "the most gentlemanly player" in the NHL, the Lady Byng Trophy.

Of course, these Prime Ministers don't race around the "field": Rather than put on skates and go on the ice, they just go around the arena and do typical mascot things. But, because they are "old men" -- Sir John A. was 76 when he died in office, Laurier 70 when he was finally defeated by Borden, Borden 66 when he retired, and Mackenzie King 74 when he packed up his 3rd and final government -- they've been jokingly compared to Statler and Waldorf, the elderly hecklers from The Muppet Show.

ESPN hockey writer Patrick Smith commented, "Old, grey-haired men with straight faces or frowns don't really scream, 'Get excited for hockey,' unless the face is Don Cherry's. That said, former Prime Ministers in Ottawa makes sense, because of the political nature of the city." And, with Mackenzie King having died in 1950, there's no chance of a more recent figure stirring up resentments, the way John Diefenbaker (1957-63), Pierre Trudeau (1968-84), or the still-living Brian Mulroney (1984-93) or Jean Chretien (1993-2004) might do. (The Washington Nationals have added a John F. Kennedy, who's now widely seen as a "safe" figure, but not the much more recent Ronald Reagan.)

The Senators' goal song is "Wake Me Up" by Avicii. This is a horrible recording (what did you expect, the people of Sweden can play hockey and tennis well, but they can't make music worth a damn), with no chantable lyrics or even sounds. Their victory song is "You Make My Dreams Come True" by Hall & Oates. Not exactly a big rouser -- and hardly anybody has made Senators' fans dreams come true since the 2007 Eastern Conerence Finals.

After the Game. The Canadian Tire Centre is an island in a sea of parking in a suburb of a big city. Safety will not be an issue. You will be safe. If you drove in, your car will be safe, too -- even if you have a Maple Leafs sticker on your car. (But why would you?)

There isn't much around the arena, just office parks, car dealerships and big-box stores. So you may have to head all the way back downtown to get a postgame meal or pint. The Senate Sports Tavern & Eatery, at 33 Clarence Street, just a few steps down from the U.S. Embassy on Parliament Hill, has been noted as a hockey fans' bar.

Sidelights. By American standards, Ottawa is very small-time. For decades, the biggest sports team in town was a Canadian Football League team that, while once very successful, no longer exists. Pro football has had a troubled last 20 years there, they've never had a Major League Baseball team, they didn't have a Triple-A baseball team for very long, they've never had an NBA team, the pro basketball team they do have is minor-league (Canada does have a league, but it's not even at the level of the NBA's D-League), and from 1934 to 1992, hockey fans in the region had to rely on the junior and university levels. And even when the Senators arrived, in their 2nd season, 1993-94, they set an NHL record by losing 70 games. It was like, "We waited 58 years for this?"

Nevertheless, by Canadian standards, Ottawa would be an important city even if it were not the capital. Here are some notable sites in the area:

* Ottawa Baseball Stadium. As Triple-A stadiums go, its 10,332-seat capacity is about average. As Double-A stadiums go, and the new Ottawa team for 2015 will be in a Double-A league, it's huge.

The Ottawa Lynx of the International League played there from 1993 to 2007, and won the Pennant in 1995. Appropriately, they were then the top farm team of the Montreal Expos, producing players such as Rondell White and Cliff Floyd. But new owners moved the team to Pennsylvania, and 2 other teams have failed in the interim.

The Ottawa Champions will begin play there next April in the independent Can-Am League. 300 Coventry Road at Vanier Parkway, in the East End. Number 9 bus.

* Ottawa Civic Centre complex. This was originally the site of the Ottawa Exposition Grounds, used for equestrian events, lacrosse and rugby -- which, as in  America, evolved into a game that its home country called "football." The team that became known as the Ottawa Rough Riders began play there in 1876, and were Canada's oldest continually-operating sports team when financial difficulties forced them to fold in 1996.

Lansdowne Park, Ottawa's longtime football stadium, began when a grandstand was built on the north side in 1908. A south side grandstand was built in 1924, and replaced with a larger stand in 1960.

The north side grandstand was demolished so that a new arena, the Ottawa Civic Centre, could be built, and a new north side grandstand was incorporated into the structure. The arena opened at the end of 1967, and a new Ontario Hockey League team, the Ottawa 67's -- named for Canada's Confederation and Centennial years, as well as for their debut -- began play there.

The 67's have played there ever since, except for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, when the Civic Centre was renovated, and they had to groundshare with the Senators. They've won the Memorial Cup, the championship of Canadian junior hockey, in 1984 and 1999.

The Senators played their 1st 4 seasons there, 1992 to 1996, but the buildings small capacity, 10,585, made it unsuitable as a long-term home, necessitating the building of the Palladium, which became the Corel Centre, Scotiabank Place, and now the Canadian Tire Centre. The Civic Centre also hosted Ottawa's entries in the World Hockey Association, the Nationals and later the Civics.

At its peak, the stadium, renamed in 1993 for longtime Rough Riders coach and general manager Frank Clair, seated nearly 31,000 people. (Clair was from the Cincinnati area, and played end at Ohio State and in 1941 for the Washington Redskins.) The Riders -- known as Ottawa Football Club from 1876 to 1897, and the Senators until 1930 -- won Canada's football championship, the Grey Cup, 9 times: 1925, 1926, 1940, 1951, 1960, 1968, 1969, 1973, and in their Centennial season of 1976.

From 2002 to 2006, the Ottawa Renegades played at Frank Clair Stadium, wearing the red and black "colour" scheme of the Riders, but were short on cash and victories, and folded. This summer, a new team, with the unimaginative named of the Ottawa Redblacks, launched at a renovated complex, with the stadium and arena both now named for TD Bank. (TD stands for Toronto-Dominion.) The new owners wanted to bring back the Rough Riders name, but the Regina-based Saskatchewan Roughriders (1 word, as opposed to the 2 that the Ottawa club had used) didn't want to go through that again.

The Aberdeen Pavilion, a long barnlike structure with a domed cupola, was adjacent to the stadium. Built in 1898, it is the oldest building in North America to have hosted the finals of a major league sport, having hosted the old Senators (then still Ottawa HC or the Silver Seven) in the 1903-04 season, including the Finals. (They were in a dispute with arena owner Ted Dey.) As with the Grand National Livestock Pavilion outside San Francisco, a.k.a. the Cow Palace, it hosted livestock shows, and was nicknamed the Cattle Castle. Nearly demolished due to its disrepair, it was renovated instead, and reopened to the public in 1994.

1015 Bank Street at Queen Elizabeth Drive, on the Rideau Canal, about 2 miles south of downtown. Number 1 bus.

* Homes of the old Senators. The Senators bounced around a bit in their earlier days, settling at Dey's Arena, downtown at the northwest corner of Bay Street & Gladstone Avenue. The Senators won the Stanley Cup there in 1903, 1905 and 1906 (with the 1904 Cup being won at Aberdeen Pavilion). This rink burned down in 1920.

Dey's Arena was quickly outgrown, so the Deys built a 7,000-seat structure named simply The Arena, or the 1907-08 season. Here, the Silver Seven/Senators won the Cup in 1909, 1911, 1920, 1921 and 1923. (Actually, the '21 and '23 Cups were clinched on the road, but it was still their home ice at the time.) Despite being the largest arena in Canada at the time, and having a heated locker room (a big innovation at the time), it wasn't so good for the fans, as interior support poles obstructed a lot of views.

After the Senators moved into the Auditorium in 1923, The Arena's days were numbered. It was torn down in 1927, and Confederation Park was put on the site. That park, across Laurier Avenue from City Hall, contains memorials to Canadian soldiers and sailors of the Boer War, and to Aboriginal war veterans (a.k.a. First Nations or, as we would say here, Indians or Native Americans). Downtown at Slater & Elgin Streets, Laurier Avenue and the Rideau Canal.

* Ottawa Auditorium. Opening in 1923, this was the last home of the original Ottawa Senators. It hosted the clinching game of the 1924 Stanley Cup Finals, because the Montreal Canadiens asked for it since their new Forum hadn't yet been built. The Senators won the Cup there in 1927.

It seated 7,500 people for hockey, but could be expanded to 10,000 for concerts, and was sold out for 2 shows by Elvis Presley early in his career, on April 3, 1957. Lots of early rockers played the Auditorium, including Buddy Holly, Ray Charles, and Ottawa native Paul Anka. The Rolling Stones played it in 1964, and Bob Dylan in 1966. The last event there was a concert by, appropriately, Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians, in Canada's Centennial year of 1967.

The auditorium was then demolished, having been made obsolete by the building of the Civic Centre. A YMCA now stands on the site. O'Connor Street between Argyle Avenue and Catherine Street, downtown.

* Parliament Hill. Running along Wellington Street, bounded by the Ottawa River, the Portage Bridge and the Rideau Canal, this is home to Canada's national government -- like Capitol Hill in Washington, often shortened to just "The Hill." The original fort protecting the city was on the site, as a natural defense (or "defence" as they'd spell it).

The original Parliament building, the Centre Block, opened in 1866, in time for Confederation the next year, on Wellington at the foot of Metcalfe Street. It burned down on its own 50th Anniversary, on February 3, 1916 -- during World War I, leading many to suspect German sabotage. (Like with the USS Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898, triggering the Spanish-American War, no such sabotage was proven. Unlike the Americans of 1898, the Canadians of 1916 kept their heads.) Parliament met in a hotel for 4 years while reconstruction was undertaken.

By 1920, the new Centre Block was ready for Parliament to sit again, and in 1927 the Peace Tower was topped off, restoring the look of the old Victoria Tower and giving Ottawa its signature building. A new renovation is underway, and is expected to take until 2020.

The Supreme Court of Canada is 3 blocks west on Wellington, at the foot of Kent Street. The National War Memorial, a.k.a. The Response, is on a triangle bounded by Wellington and a fork of Elgin Street. It includes a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and, like our counterpart at Arlington National Cemetery, always has a guard on duty.

* Government Houses. Rideau Hall is the official residence of the head of state, the Governor-General, the official representative of the British monarch, as Canada is still a part of the British Commonwealth. 1 Sussex Drive, at Princess Avenue and Rockcliffe Parkway. It is open to public tours.

Unlike Rideau Hall, the official residence of the head of government, the Prime Minister, doesn't have an official name like The White House. Rather, it is best known by its address, "24 Sussex" -- 24 Sussex Drive, at the foot of MacKay Street. Built in 1868, and the official residence since 1951, it is strictly a residence and a reception area: The Prime Minister's office is on Parliament Hill, in the Langevin Block. So while "The White House" is a pseudonym of the President of the United States, or "10 Downing Street" or "Number 10" for the Prime Minister of Britain, no one refers to the Prime Minister's office (either the role or the actual workplace) as "24 Sussex." (Rather, the Prime Minister's Office is called just that, sometimes abbreviated to "the PMO.") It is not open to public tours, however, a virtual tour can show you the interiors.

Both Rideau Hall and 24 Sussex are about 2 miles northeast of Parliament Hill, across the Rideau River (as well as the Rideau Canal), in the New Edinburgh section of town. Number 7 or Number 9 bus from downtown.

Museums. Canada doesn't have "libraries" or museums for their Prime Ministers like we have for many of our Presidents. The aforementioned rival Prime Ministers, Wilfrid Laurier and Robert Borden, are buried in Ottawa: The former, a French Catholic, in Notre-Dame Cemetery; the latter, an English Protestant, in Beechwood Cemetery. Lester Pearson, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who served as PM from 1963 to 1968, and for whom Toronto's main airport is named, is also buried near Ottawa, at MacLaren Cemetery in Wakefield, Quebec. (As for the other 2 PM mascots: The Macdonald is buried in his hometown of Kingston, Ontario, and Mackenzie King in Toronto.)

As I said, Canada didn't have an official Prime Minister's residence until 1951. Laurier lived at what became known as Laurier House from 1897 until he died in 1919, and his widow stayed there until her death in 1923. She willed it to Mackenzie King (who never married), and he lived there until he died in 1950. His successor, Louis St. Laurent, didn't want to make it the official PM's residence, because he knew that, one day, the Conservative Party would make a comeback, and he didn't want any Tories living in the house of Liberal icons Laurier and Mackenzie King.

So Canada's former answer to the White House is now under the banner of Parks Canada, and, unlike 24 Sussex, open to public tours. 335 Laurier Avenue East at Chapel Street, in the Sandy Hill district. Number 5 bus from downtown.

The Canadian War Museum tells Canada's military story from the French and Indian War of 1756-63 to the present. Needless to say, with the Centennial of World War I having arrived this past June, the museum is focusing on that conflict, which was central to establishing Canada's identity on the world stage. (Prime Minister Borden's lobbying of the British government led to the first separate Canadian Army, instead of having Canadian units assigned to British units, as had been the case through the Boer War.) 1 Vimy Place at Booth Street, down Wellington Street, west of Parliament Hill. Several bus lines go there from downtown.

A much more peaceful setting is the Canadian Museum of History, formerly the Canadian Museum of Civilization. (While they use the American spelling, rather than the British "Civilisation," they use the British pronunciation -- hence, both major Star Trek captains, Montrealer William Shatner and Yorkshireman Patrick Stewart, say, "To seek out new life, and new SIV-il-igh-ZAY-shuns," instead of the American, "SIV-il-ih-ZAY-shuns.")

It serves about half the function of New York's Museum of Natural History, with a big anthropology and aboriginal peoples' section, and also the function of the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History, telling the story of a people that were a "nation" long before they were a "country." Like New York's Hayden Planetarium (part of the Museum of Natural History complex), it has an IMAX theater. 100 Rue Laurier at Rue Papineau in Gatineau, across the Alexandra and Portage Bridges from downtown. Oddly, bus service doesn't get very close, so you're probably better off walking the 20 minutes from Parliament Hill.

The other half of our Museum of Natural History's function, the story of the planet and its life, can be found at the Canadian Museum of Nature. 240 McLeod Street at Metcalfe Street downtown. A short walk, no bus necessary.

Canada's answer to our Metropolitan Museum of Art -- or, more accurately, the Smithsonian's National Gallery of Art -- is the National Gallery of Canada. 380 Sussex Drive, at St. Patrick Street, at the foot of the Alexandra Bridge. Number 9 bus from downtown.

Ottawa isn't much for tall buildings. In fact, much like the fact that most of the taller buildings in Washington D.C. are, due to regulations in the District itself, across the Potomac River in Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia, so, too, are some of the tallest buildings in the Ottawa area across the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec. This includes the tallest, Les Terrasses de la Chaudière. Built in 1978, and standing 407 feet high, it houses over 6,500 government workers. Rue Eddy at Blvd. Alexandre Taché, right across the river from the War Museum. Number 8 bus from downtown.

Although Alanis Morissette is from Ottawa, and Avril Lavigne got her big break by winning a contest to sing with Shania Twain onstage at the Canadian Tire Centre (then the Corel Centre), Ottawa isn't really known as a big music city the way Canada's big 3 cities -- Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver -- are. It does have an independent music scene, and the arena does host major music tours.

But the Beatles did not visit Ottawa on their North American tours, limiting their Canadian shows to the Montreal Forum and Maple Leaf Gardens. Nor did Elvis sing in Ottawa during his latter years, since his manager, "Colonel" Tom Parker, was actually an illegal immigrant from the Netherlands and couldn't cross borders.

There have been a few TV shows and movies set in Ottawa -- national capitals are a natural for them -- but most Americans would never have heard of any of them. So I'll skip this, although quite a few shows and films are now being filmed there, as Toronto, once a destination of choice for studios wishing to save money, has gotten a bit expensive.

*

Unlike Montreal, which is on a direct route, Interstate 87, north of New York and New Jersey, Ottawa is a bit out of the way for us. But Canada's capital is worth a visit, for reasons above and beyond hockey.

Monday, October 20, 2014

10 Years Since the Roid Sox Ruined Mickey Mantle's Birthday


October 20, 1931: Mickey Charles Mantle is born in Spavinaw, Oklahoma, and grows up in nearby Commerce. Wasn't nothing to do there, back then, but work in the mines, and until you were old enough, play football and baseball. Mickey played baseball, and the rest is history.

October 20, 2004, 10 years ago: The Red Sox ruin the anniversary of Mickey's birth. Unlike the 2003-13 Red Sox, Mickey didn't need no steroids. The chemicals he ingested were, most definitely, not performance-enhancing.

Having dropped 3 straight to the Sox to force a Game 7 at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees tried to invoke luck against the Red Sox one more time. They had the hero of 1978, Bucky Dent, throw out the ceremonial first ball to the luckiest man alive, Yogi Berra.

It was the last pitch any Yankee Fan felt good about. Manager Joe Torre started Kevin Brown. What was he thinking? That Brown was a big-game pitcher? That he'd helped the Florida Marlins win the World Series in 1997 and the San Diego Padres a Pennant in 1998? That was 7 and 6 years earlier. Brown had still not fully recovered from breaking his hand by punching the dugout wall in September. He was pitching on just 3 days' rest, and had been knocked out of the box in the 3rd inning of Game 3, a game the Yankees won anyway, 19-8. He had nothing, and Torre, a former catcher who'd been in Major League Baseball, by that point, for 44 years, should have known that

What were his other options? Jon Lieber had started the day before, Mike Mussina 2 days before, and Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez 3 days before -- giving them 0, 1 and 2 days' rest, respectively. Javier Vazquez had pitched 4 innings in Game 3, giving him 3 days' rest. Esteban Loaiza, who'd won the Cy Young Award with the Chicago White Sox the year before, had fallen apart that season, making him available in the first place, and had pitched the last 4 innings in the 14-inning loss in Game 5, 2 days earlier. Unless Torre wanted to take a chance on a too-soon El Duque or Loaiza, his choices were limited to "Brownout" and "Home Run Javy."

The Red Sox led 6-0 after 2, and Torre had burned both of his available starters. He ended up pitching Loaiza anyway, for 3 innings. It was 8-1 after 4.

This was not the kind of loss that crushes you because you had it won at the end, and blew it. We got beat early. And we had to stick it out, all 9 innings, and hear those Red Sox fans give us the business in our house for, as it turned out, 3 hours and 31 minutes. Never mind what the clock said: This was the longest game in Yankee history.

From the 1st inning onward, we knew the Red Sox were going to win the game. We knew it, and their fans knew it. There was nothing that could be done.

Or... was there? In the bottom of the 7th, with the game still 8-1 Boston, manager Terry Francona brought Pedro Martinez in to pitch. No one expected the "Who's Your Daddy?" chant to affect the Fenway Punk. But we were the one team that had his number.

Hideki Matsui led off with a double. Bernie Williams doubled him home. 8-2. Jorge Posada grounded out, getting Bernie to 3rd. Kenny Lofton singled home Bernie. 8-3. With John Olerud up, Lofton stole 2nd. A 4th run was in scoring position.

For one brief shining moment, the thought crossed my mind: You don't suppose... the Red Sox could blow this? Forget 1949, 1978, 1986, or even last year (2003), blowing this one would be as bad as all the others put together!

Pedro buckled down, and struck Olerud out, and got Miguel Cairo to fly to right. The inning ended, 8-3 to Boston, and the Sox tacked on additional runs in the 8th and the 9th. 10-3 was the final.

It was 12:01 AM, October 21, when Ruben Sierra grounded to 2nd for the final out. So not only had the Sox ended the Curse of the Bambino, they had ruined the birthdays of both Mickey Mantle (dead since 1995) and Whitey Ford (then, as now, still alive).

Finally, after losing the Pennant to the Yankees on the final day in 1949, blowing the Division title to the Yankees in 1977 and 1978, losing the ALCS to the Yankees in 1999, and the shock of 2003, the Red Sox and their fans had their revenge over the Yankees. "We danced on their lawn" became a common saying in New England.


But, as 2 of The Boston Globe's biggest columnists pointed out, the job wasn't done.

Bob Ryan: "Let's get this out of the way right now. The question is asked, 'If the Red Sox lose the World Series, would it be enough to have beaten the Yankees?' The answer is, 'No!'"

Dan Shaughnessy, who popularized the phrase: "The Curse of the Bambino isn't 'The Red Sox can't beat the Yankees.' The Curse of the Bambino is 'The Red Sox can't win the World Series.' The Red Sox lost the World Series in 1946, 1967, 1975 and 1986, and those didn't have anything to do with the Yankees."

The Sox had also blown a Pennant in 1948, messed up a potential Division title in 1972, blown another Division title in 1974, looked like idiots in the ALCS in 1988, did the same thing in 1990, and looked like idiots in the ALDS in 1995. None of those had anything to do with the Yankees, either.

At the time, it was easy to be big about it, and say to the Sox, now calling themselves "The Idiots," "Good luck in the Series. You earned it."

On July 30, 2009, it was revealed that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, the 2 biggest reasons the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and again in 2007, had failed steroid tests. They hadn't earned thing.

Ortiz was still there when they won it all again in 2013.

Those 3 titles are fake, and they goddamned well know it. 1918 * Forever.

They would say the Yankees "cheated" to win their titles. Really? The evidence against the 1996-2003 Yankees is incredibly flimsy. The evidence against the 2003-2013 Red Sox is overwhelming.

The baseball media, of course, will never give the Yankees the same benefit of the doubt that they give the Red Sox.

Well, to hell with them. The world knows the truth, whether they accept it or not.

*

October 20, 1803: The U.S. Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase, making possible the major-league cities of St. Louis, Kansas City, Minneapolis and Denver. If you count cities that have major-league teams in other sports but not baseball, add to the list New Orleans and Oklahoma City.

October 20, 1910: The Philadelphia Athletics dispose of Chicago Cub starter Ed Reulbach in 2 innings‚ then pin the loss on reliever Harry McIntire‚ who lasts a third of a inning. A's pitcher Jack Coombs coasts on 1 day's rest‚ 12-5‚ and helps himself with 3 hits.

Cub manager/1st baseman Frank Chance becomes the 1st player ejected from a World Series game when umpire Tom Connolly chases him for protesting a Danny Murphy home run drive against a sign over the right field bleachers. Chance opines too loudly that it should be a ground-rule double.


October 20, 1927: Joyce Diane Bauer is born in Manhattan, and grows up in Far Rockaway, Queens. We knew her as famed psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers. She appeared on The $64,000 Question in 1955, and won the eponymous top prize (worth about $568,000 in 2014 money). Her subject was boxing, and it led to her becoming the 1st female commentator for a televised prizefight, the middleweight championship fight on CBS on September 23, 1957, in which Carmen Basilio took the title from Sugar Ray Robinson at Yankee Stadium.

In 1958, she became the 1st advice columnist to have her own TV show. In 1981, she played herself as a guest on “James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub Party” on Saturday Night Live, with Eddie Murphy playing “The Godfather of Soul and Hot Tub Man Number 1, James Brown!” Great sketch. Dr. Brothers died last year, at age 85.

October 20, 1932: Roosevelt Brown is born in Charlottesville, Virginia. The greatest offensive tackle of his time, he anchored the New York Giants line that reached 6 NFL Championship Games in 8 years, including the 1956 World Championship.

Although his Number 79 has not been retired by the Giants, he is a member of their Ring of Honor at MetLife Stadium and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and was named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. In 1999, The Sporting News ranked him Number 57 on their list of the 100 Greatest Football Players. Still the greatest offensive lineman in the history of New York Tri-State Area football, he died in 2004.

Also on this day, William Christopher is born in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois. Best known for playing Lieutenant, later Captain, John Patrick Francis Mulcahy, S.J, on M*A*S*H, he says he has often been asked near his Southern California home, “Father Mulcahy, say a prayer for the Dodgers.” “I suppose I should actually say one for the Angels,” he says, “but I do root for the Dodgers.”

In a 1st-season episode, the officers are listening to Armed Forces Radio for the Army-Navy football game, when Mulcahy walks in with his Notre Dame pennant. He’s told Notre Dame, America’s unofficial Catholic university due to its legendary football program, isn’t playing today. “Then what’s all the commotion?”

In another early episode, he is playing in a pickup game in camp, wearing a helmet that’s Notre Dame gold, but anachronistically has a two-bar facemask. Hawkeye asks him how the game’s going. He says, “Protestants 7, Catholics 3, but we’ll get ‘em!”

Mulcahy was also a big boxing fan, having coached boxing at the CYO in his native Philadelphia, and would minister to a former boxing champion who ended up dying at the 4077th while on a tour for the troops. But Christopher admitted knowing nothing about boxing.

Mulcahy also had “my sister the Sister,” who took the nom de nun of Sister Angelica, who first played and then coached basketball at her all-girls’ high school in Philly.

In 1975, Christopher played an Army doctor on Good Times -- an inside joke on CBS' part, I suppose. He later teamed up with castmate Jamie Farr in a stage version of The Odd Couple -- I'm presuming Christopher played Felix and Farr played Oscar -- and with Farr and Loretta Swit on Diagnosis Murder and Lois & Clark. He has again played priests on Heaven Sent, Mad About You, and, in 2013, Days of Our Lives.

October 20, 1937: Juan Antonio Marichal Sánchez is born in Laguna Verde, Dominican Republic. Known for his high leg-kick during his windup, he won more games in the 1960s than any other pitcher, and until Dennis Martinez surpassed him, his 243 career wins were the most of any Hispanic pitcher.

He helped the San Francisco Giants to the 1962 National League Pennant and the 1971 NL Western Divison title, although they fell just short a few other times while he was there. They have retired his Number 27, and dedicated a statue to him outside AT&T Park. He was the 1st Dominican player, and the 1st Hispanic pitcher (aside from Negro League star Martin DiHigo, who was not strictly a pitcher), elected to the Hall of Fame.

Sadly, like the other serious contender for the title of the greatest Hispanic pitcher, Pedro Martinez, he is best known for a moment of violence, hitting Dodger catcher John Roseboro over the head with his bat in a tight Pennant-race game in 1965. Unlike Pedro, however, this was out of character for Marichal, and Roseboro not only accepted his apology, but, after Marichal failed to be elected to the Hall in his 1st 4 years of eligibility, Roseboro spoke up on his behalf, and he was elected on the 5th try.

He went on to become a broadcaster for a Spanish-language network in the Caribbean, and called games in the 1990 World Series, including the 2 won by Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jose Rijo, who not only wore Number 27 in tribute to Marichal, but at the time was married to Marichal’s daughter Rosie, who can be seen on the official highlight film, yelling from the stands, “Let’s go, Rijo!”

*

October 20, 1951: Drake University of Des Moines, Iowa plays football against Oklahoma A&M – the name will be changed to Oklahoma State in 1958 – at Lewis Field in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Drake quarterback Johnny Bright, one of the first black players to receive serious consideration for the Heisman Trophy, is assaulted by white A&M defensive tackle Wilbanks Smith. “Unnecessary roughness”? Three times in the first 7 minutes of the game, Smith knocked Bright unconscious, the last time breaking his jaw.

A&M won the game, 27-14, Drake’s 1st loss of the season. Photographs of what becomes known as "the Johnny Bright Incident," by Don Ultang and John Robinson, were featured on the front page of the next day’s Des Moines Register, and won the Pulitzer Prize.

Neither his school nor the Missouri Valley Conference disciplined Smith, nor did the Conference discipline the school or any of its coaches, in any way. As a result, Drake left the league in protest. So did Bradley University of Peoria, Illinois, also integrated by that point. The NCAA issued new rules about blocking and tackling, and mandated better head protection, including facemasks for helmets.

Bright recovered, and finished 5th in the Heisman balloting, which was won by Dick Kazmaier of Princeton, who will likely remain the last Ivy Leaguer to win it. (Ed Marinaro of Cornell, in 1971, was the last one to even come close. He later played a cop on Hill Street Blues.)

Drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, Bright didn't want to play there -- not because he thought Philadelphia was a racist city (long before Dick Allen and Curt Flood thought so, they had already racially abused Jackie Robinson there), but because he knew there were a lot of Southern players in the NFL. He would play in Canada and receive many honors (or, as they would spell it, “honours”) there, including 3 straight Grey Cups with the Edmonton Eskimos.

When he retired in 1964, he was the CFL’s all-time leading rusher, with 10,909 yards, a total then surpassed in the NFL only by Jim Brown, but Brown’s amazing 5.2 yards per carry, often cited as a reason why he's the game's greatest ever player, never mind running back, is actually surpassed by Bright, with 5.5, making him North America’s all-time leader in that stat at the time. Only 2 CFL players have passed him in rushing yardage since.

He is a member of the Eskimos’ Wall of Honour, and the College Football and Canadian Football Halls of Fame. Drake retired his Number 43 (he wore 24 with the Esks) and named the field at Drake Stadium after him. After serving as a teacher and principal at an Edmonton high school, he died in 1983 from complications from surgery. Ernie Davis of Syracuse became the 1st black Heisman winner in 1961.

October 20, 1953: Keith Barlow Hernandez is born in San Francisco. Elaine: “Who does this guy think he is?” Keith: “I’m Keith Hernandez!”

He also thinks he’s the 1979 NL batting champion and co-MVP (a unique tied vote, shared with Willie Stargell), a member of World Series winners with the 1982 St. Louis Cardinals and the 1986 New York Mets, and one of the best-fielding 1st basemen ever.

These days, he thinks he’s a broadcaster with the Mets. He also thinks he’s really smart, which he is, but he’s not nearly as smart as he thinks he is. Although his acquisition made the Mets a contender and then a champion again after some very dark years, they have strangely not retired his Number 17. Nor has he been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

October 20, 1955: Aaron Pryor (no middle name) is born in Cincinnati. The former junior middleweight champion of the world overcame drug abuse, and is now an ordained minister and an anti-drug counselor. His sons Aaron Jr. and Stephan have also become professional boxers.

October 20, 1959: Washington Senators owner Calvin Griffith makes a public statement that he will not move the team. As Congressman Joe Wilson would say, 50 years later, to a better man than either of them, “YOU LIE!”

*

October 20, 1960: Ralph Houk, former Yankee catcher, former Yankee coach, and manager of the 1957 International League Champion Denver Bears, is officially named manager of the Yankees. He will lead them to the next 3 AL Pennants and the next 2 World Championships.

As callous as the Yankees seemed in firing Casey Stengel, they had to make Houk their manager.  With 2 new expansion teams coming into the American League for the 1961 season, and 2 more into the National League in 1962, and with plenty of teams changing managers during the course of a season, Houk would have been hired by somebody, so the Yankees needed to promote him in order to keep him. It was a matter of "Use it or lose it."

The results spoke for themselves -- until the farm system ran dry.

October 20, 1961: Ian James Rush is born in St. Asaph, Wales. He was a superstar in the English soccer league, leading Liverpool to 6 League titles. He scored more goals in FA Cup play than any player in the 20th Century, shares with 1966 World Cup hero Geoff Hurst the record for most goals scored in League Cup play, and is the all-time leading goalscorer in Merseyside derbies (Liverpool vs. Everton). After a brief spell managing Chester City, which had been his 1st pro club as a player, he became a pundit for Sky Sports. He is now a club ambassador for Liverpool. With 346 goals, he is their all-time leading scorer.

There was a daunting statistic that Liverpool had never lost a game in which Rush scored. That stat held until the 1987 League Cup Final at the old Wembley Stadium, when he scored, and then London-based Arsenal came back with 2 goals by Charlie Nicholas to win, 2-1.

Rush had a difficult 2-year spell with Juventus in the Italian league, before returning to Liverpool.  Not the 1st British player to be a bust in Italy, nor the last, he was asked if the language barrier would be a problem. He denied it: "I don't even speak English that well." (The Welsh do have their own separate language, but Rush can be understood in English, unlike later Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher, whose Scouse accent is so thick he needs a translator.)

October 20, 1965: Just 1 year after he helped the Cardinals win the World Series and was named NL Most Valuable Player, team Captain Ken Boyer is traded to the Mets, for pitcher Al Jackson and 3rd baseman Charlie Smith.

Jackson had been one of the few respectable players in the Mets’ early years, while Smith is best known for getting traded by the Cardinals just one year later, even-up, for Roger Maris. An insult to Maris.

October 20, 1967: Having just moved the Kansas City Athletics to Oakland, owner Charlie Finley names Bob Kennedy as their 1st manager. He does not, however, try to trade for Yankee 3rd baseman John Kennedy. Nor does he try to hire Hockey Hall-of-Famer Ted Kennedy as a consultant.

October 20, 1969: Juan Alberto Gonzalez Vazquez is born. Known as Juan Gonzalez, the All-Star right fielder for the Texas Rangers hit 434 home runs in his career, won AL MVP awards in 1996 and 1998, and scared the hell out of us Yankee Fans by nearly ruining the 1996 season with his 3 home runs in the 1st 2 games of the ALDS.

But injuries ruined his career, leading him to being traded repeatedly, and his nickname “Juan Gone” began to refer less to the balls he hit, and more to his propensity for being out of the lineup. He had his last productive season at 33, and he was done at 35.

Wow, he really, really fits the steroid profile. Fat chance of ever getting into the Hall of Fame, Juan.

*

October 20, 1971: Laura Mendez is born in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  We know her as Mrs. Jorge Posada.


I met her once, at a YES Network function. As in, YES, she looks just as good in person. And, YES, she's as nice as you would hope someone who looks that good is. And, YES, he ended up with her.  So here's hope for all of us.

October 20, 1973: The Sydney Opera House, Australia's most famous structure, opens. The Rolling Stones hit Number 1 on the U.S. singles charts with "Angie." The Six Million Dollar Man premieres on ABC, starring Lee Majors as astronaut-turned-bionic-federal-agent Steve Austin. (Definitely not to be confused with the Stone Cold "professional wrestler" using the same name.)

And Game 6 of the World Series is played at the Oakland Coliseum. The Mets just need to win 1 of the last 2 games against the Athletics in Oakland, and they will have their 2nd World Championship in 5 seasons -- it has been 11 years since the Yankees went all the way. And Tom Seaver, "The Franchise," is on the mound.  What can go wrong?


This can go wrong: Met manager Yogi Berra has sent Seaver out on 3 days' rest, hoping "Tom Terrific" can close out the defending World Champions on their own patch, so that no Game 7 will be necessary.

But Reggie Jackson, not yet a New York baseball legend, hits 2 doubles, scores 1 run and knocks in 2, as the A's beat the Mets 3-1. So there will be a Game 7 tomorrow.

To this day, many Met fans are angry at Yogi for starting Seaver on short rest. I'm sure some of them think of him as a Yankee and hate him for that reason alone. They shouldn't: There are only 3 living human beings who have managed the Mets to a Pennant: Bobby Valentine, Davey Johnson, and Yogi.

(I looked it up: Reggie, the defining Yankee of his generation, and Seaver, the defining Met of that generation, faced each other 43 times, the 1st in the 1973 All-Star Game, the last in a Red Sox-Angels game in 1986. I'll have a more detailed post about this in the coming days. Reggie reached base in 15 of those 43 plate appearances, including 3 home runs and 8 RBIs, but Seaver also struck him out 13 times.)

But the big story of October 20, 1973 is in Washington, and it has nothing to do with sports. The day before, in an effort to get away with whatever he did that was recorded on his Oval Office tapes, President Richard Nixon offered a compromise: He would allow Senator John Stennis to review the tapes and present Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox with summaries.

On this day, Cox publicly refuses to accept this compromise. He knows that Stennis is not only a conservative from Mississippi and a supporter of Nixon's -- he's a conservative Southern Democrat, a.k.a. a "Dixiecrat," and no friend of mainstream Democrats -- but also hard of hearing. If those tapes reveal that Nixon committed an impeachable offense, Stennis might not hear it properly. And even if he does, he might refuse to admit it to Cox.

Nixon decides that, in order to survive as President, he has to fire Cox -- whom he had never fully trusted, as Cox had been Solicitor General under President John F. Kennedy and an old friend of JFK's, and thus a partisan Democrat.

 
So he instructs his Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, the man with the power to do it, to do it.  Richardson refuses, because he thinks it will spark a Constitutional crisis. Nixon says do it or you're fired. Richardson does the honorable thing and resigns his post.

So Nixon goes to the next man in line, Richardson's Deputy Attorney General, William Ruckelshaus.  He tells Ruckelshaus to fire Cox. He refuses. Nixon says do it or you're fired.  Ruckelshaus still refuses, but does not resign. Nixon fires him.

So with the top 2 men in the U.S. Department of Justice now gone, Nixon goes to the Number 3 man, the Solicitor General, and tells him to fire Cox. He does. 

Word quickly gets out, and the Washington press corps quickly dubs these events "The Saturday Night Massacre." People wake up the next morning to bold headlines in their Sunday papers. The Sunday morning news shows, NBC's Meet the Press, CBS' Face the Nation, and ABC's Issues and Answers (the predecessor program to This Week), can talk about nothing else.

The pressure on Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against Nixon vastly increases. And, with the Vice Presidency vacant, as Spiro Agnew has resigned and Gerald Ford has not yet been confirmed by either house of Congress as the new VP, the next man in line is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Carl Albert of Oklahoma -- a Democrat. This would have been a political earthquake, much bigger than the end of Nixon's Presidency actually turned out to be.

Within days, Nixon realizes what a blunder he has committed, and tells the Acting Attorney General to appoint a new Special Prosecutor. That man would be Leon Jaworski. By December 6, Ford would be confirmed by both houses and sworn in as Vice President, and the danger of Nixon being impeached and removed, and replaced by a President of the other party, was gone, and things calmed down in Watergate -- for a while.

There would be ramifications, of course -- some lasting much longer than the Nixon Administration itself. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan appointed that former Acting Attorney General to the U.S. Supreme Court, as his judicial views fit the archconservative vision that Reagan had for the country.  But his role in the Saturday Night Massacre was held against him -- although it's possible that he might have been rejected by the Senate anyway. His name was Robert Bork.

*

October 20, 1977: A Convair CV-300 plane carrying the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd crashes outside Gillsburg, Mississippi, killing lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, backup singer Cassie Gaines (Steve's sister), assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, and co-pilot William Gray.

Also on board, surviving but badly hurt, were guitarists Allen Collins and Gary Rossington, bass guitarist Leon Wilkeson, keyboardist Billy Powell, drummer Artimus Pyle, backing vocalist Leslie Hawkins, road crew member Steve Lawler, band security manager Gene Odom, and road crew members Ken Peden and Marc Frank.

An engine malfunction caused the pilots to mistakenly dump the plane's extra fuel, instead of transferring it to another engine like they intended. That's right, the plane crashed because it ran out of gas. Maybe Neil Young was right after all, albeit in an incredibly different context: “Southern Man, better use your head.”

To make matters worse, in a case of "Timing is everything," just 3 days earlier, Skynyrd had released a new album, titled Street Survivors. The cover shows them standing in the middle of a fire. One of the more familiar tracks on the album is titled "That Smell." The lyrics include the words, "tomorrow might not be here for you," and, "the smell of death surrounds you."

October 20, 1980: Jose Veras is born. The pitcher was a Yankee from 2006 to 2009, but was designated for assignment before he could pitch in that great postseason. He pitched for the Tigers in the 2013 ALCS, and now pitches for the Houston Astros.

October 20, 1981: Game 1 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium. A banner is hung: “Don’t the Dodgers Ever Learn?” Not yet, as Bob Watson’s 1st-inning homer and the pitching of Ron Guidry and Goose Gossage shut the Bums down, 5-3.

Also on this day, Willis Andrew McGahee III is born in Miami. The former University of Miami star has been plagued by injuries, but made 2 Pro Bowls while with the Baltimore Ravens. He is now a free agent, and may well have played his last game.

October 20, 1982: Game 7 of the World Series at Busch Memorial Stadium. The Cardinals, including birthday boy Keith Hernandez, rally for 3 runs in the 6th to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers, 6-3.

The Cardinals win their 9th World Series, a total surpassed only by the Yankees. (Since then, if you combine their Philadelphia and Oakland titles, it has been matched by the A’s, although the Cards have now made it 11.)

The Cardinals will win 2 more Pennants in the decade, and have remained more or less competitive ever since. The Brewers have never played another World Series game, and did not even play another postseason game for 26 years.

October 20, 1988: World Series MVP Orel Hershiser ends his dream season with a 5-2 four-hitter over the A's in Game 5 of the World Series. Mickey Hatcher starts the Dodger scoring with a 2-run homer in the 1st off Storm Davis‚ his 2nd homer of the Series.

The win gives the Dodgers a tremendous upset, and their 5th World Championship since moving to Los Angeles 30 years earlier, their 6th overall. But in more than a quarter of a century since, they have never won another Pennant.

*

October 20, 1990: The talk of an Oakland dynasty is proven premature‚ as the Cincinnati Reds beat the Athletics 2-1, to complete one of the most stunning sweeps in World Series history.

Series MVP Jose Rijo (2-0‚ 0.59 ERA) retires the last 20 batters he faces to give the Reds their first World Championship since 1976, their 5th overall. However, the Reds have not won a Pennant since – in fact, they haven’t even won an NLCS game since.

Not joining the celebration at the end is Eric Davis‚ who ruptures his kidney diving for a ball during the game, and is taken to the hospital. This is the 1st of several injuries that ended up derailing what could have been a great career, although he did play on until 2001 and hit 282 home runs. He and Rickey Henderson are the only players to hit 25 home runs and steal 80 bases in a season, and he and Barry Bonds (before the steroids) are the only players to hit 30 homers and steal 50 bases in a season. He's now a roving instructor for the Reds, and they have elected him to their Hall of Fame. One of his teammates called him "the best hitter, best runner, best outfielder, best everything I've ever seen."

That teammate was Paul O'Neill. The Reds' manager was former Yankee great Lou Piniella. An intense right fielder who came up big in big moments, O'Neill reminded me even then of a lefthanded version of Sweet Lou, and I was thrilled when the Yankees traded for him. He would go on to win 4 more World Series with the Yankees, for a total of 5.

October 20, 1992: For the 1st time, a World Series game is played outside the United States of America, as Game 3 is played at the SkyDome (now known as the Rogers Centre) in Toronto.

The Blue Jays take a 3-2 win over the Atlanta Braves on Candy Maldonado's bases-loaded single in the 9th inning. Duane Ward gets credit for the victory in relief of Juan Guzman‚ and Joe Carter and Kelly Gruber homer for Toronto. In the 4th inning‚ Jays center fielder Devon White's sensational catch nearly results in a triple play. Deion Sanders was ruled safe on the play‚ but replays show he should have been the 3rd out.

Braves manager Bobby Cox is ejected from the game in the 9th‚ becoming the 1st manager to be thrown out of a Series game since 1985. By starting in right field‚ Toronto's Joe Carter becomes the 1st player to start the 1st 3 games of a World Series at 3 different positions. He started Game 1 at first base and Game 2 in left field. Little did he know that a bigger distinction was yet to come: Catching the last out of the Series. And an even bigger one the following season.

October 20, 1993: Game 4 of the World Series at a rainy Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. Charlie Williams becomes the 1st black man to serve as a home plate umpire in a World Series game. The Phillies blow a 14-9 lead over the Blue Jays in the 8th inning, capped by a Devon White triple (he seems to like playing on October 20), and lose 15-14, the highest-scoring game in Series history, breaking the record of a Yankees-Giants game from 1936.

If you’re a Phillies fan, this is when the Series was lost, not when Mitch Williams came in to relieve in Game 6. But then, if you’re a Phillies fan, you’ve felt much better the last few years.

October 20, 1994, 20 years ago: Burt Lancaster dies from the lingering effects of a stroke. The great actor had played football players and boxers, and might be best remembered for the title role in Jim Thorpe, All-American. But his last film was as baseball player-turned-doctor Archie “Moonlight” Graham in Field of Dreams. He was 80.

October 20, 1996: Game 1 of the World Series, the 1st Series game at Yankee Stadium in 15 years. The Atlanta Braves spoil the party with a 12-1 shellacking of Andy Pettitte and the Yankee bullpen. Andruw Jones, the Braves’ 19-year-old sensation from Curacao, becomes the youngest player in Series history to hit a home run – in fact, he hits, 2, joining Gene Tenace of the '72 A's as the only 2 players ever to homer in their 1st 2 Series at-bats.

After the game, George Steinbrenner barges into manager Joe Torre’s office. George yells about how the Yankees were embarrassed -- which, if we're being honest, they were. But Torre, who formerly managed the Braves to a postseason berth, and had just been clobbered in the 1st World Series game of his life at age 56, is unfazed. He tells George that they’ll probably lose Game 2 as well. “But we’re heading down to Atlanta,” he says, “and that’s my home town, and we’ll win 3 straight there, and come back here and win it.”

Joe later says, "He looked at me like I had 2 heads." (Well, Joe's head is rather large.) George later says he thought Joe was nuts, but he appreciated the confidence. That confidence will be rewarded.

October 20, 1998: Game 3 of the World Series, in front of 64,667 at Jack Murphy – excuse me, Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Having hosted Super Bowl XXXII in January, this becomes the 1st time the Super Bowl and the World Series have been played in the same stadium -- or even in the same city -- in the same calendar year. The Metrodome in Minneapolis hosted the World Series in October 1991, Super Bowl XXVI in January 1992, and the NCAA Final Four in April 1992. But no stadium has hosted a Super Bowl and a World Series in the same calendar year since, and Detroit in 2006 is the only city to do so (in stadiums built next-door to each other). In the pre-Super Bowl era, World Series and NFL Championship Games had been played in the same city in the same calendar year as follows: New York, 1936, 1938, 1956 and 1962; Detroit, 1935; and Cleveland, 1954.

The San Diego Padres take a 3-0 lead on the Yankees, but 3rd baseman Scott Brosius, having the season of his life, hits a home run to make it 3-2. In the top of the 8th, with the Yankees threatening with 2 men on, the Padres bring in their closer, Trevor Hoffman.

The Padre fans, believing him to be the world’s greatest relief pitcher, wave their white towels and cheer wildly. The words, “IT’S TREVOR TIME” appear on the scoreboard. The public-address system blasts the song “Hell’s Bells” by AC/DC.

Steinbrenner, not familiar with the hard rock music of the Seventies and Eighties, tells the media, “When they played that death march, it sounded like the WWF, when the Undertaker comes in. That’s who I thought they were bringing in!”

Certainly, for NL batters that season, Hoffman might as well have been an undertaker. The whole production had become one of the most intimidating scenes in baseball.

But these are not NL batters, these are the New York Yankees, and they fear nobody. Brosius takes him over the center field wall for a 5-3 Yankee lead, soon to be a 5-4 Yankee victory. The actual best closer in the game, Mariano Rivera, finishes it off, and the Yankees can wrap up the Series with a sweep tomorrow.

October 20, 1999: Calvin Griffith dies at age 87 – 40 years to the day after he announced he wouldn’t move the Washington Senators, before actually doing so a year after that. The nephew and adopted son of Hall-of-Fame pitcher and executive Clark Griffith, he inherited control of the Senators in 1955, and moved them to Minnesota to become the Twins in 1961.

In 1978, he told a Lions Club dinner why he took the Senators out of D.C., which was on its way to becoming a majority-black city: "I'll tell you why we came to Minnesota: It was when we found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don't go to ballgames, but they'll fill up a rassling ring, and put up such a chant it'll scare you to death. We came here because you've got good, hardworking white people here."

Although the Twins came within 1 win of the 1965 World Championship, later decisions left the team mediocre through most of the Seventies. Griffith was so cheap and shortsighted that he was said to have engaged in one of Minnesota’s great outdoor pastimes, hunting for a type of fish known as walleyes, caught his legal limit, brought them to the supermarket, and traded them for a box of Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks. He sold the Twins in 1984 to Carl Pohlad, a billionaire who, ironically, turned out to be nearly as cheap as Griffith.

October 20, 2002: Francisco Rodriguez, a 20-year-old righthanded reliever from Venezuela, becomes the youngest pitcher ever to win a World Series game. With just 15 days of major league experience, "K-Rod" throws 37 pitches, retiring 9 consecutive batters in 3 innings, to pick up the victory when the Angels outslug the Giants in Game 2 of the Fall Classic, 11-10.

October 20, 2004, 10 years ago: Lost in the excitement of the Red Sox' revenge over the Yankees, Jim Edmonds hits a home run in the bottom of the 12th inning, to give the Cardinals a 6-4 win over the Astros, and send the NLCS to a decisive Game 7.