Saturday, November 17, 2007

Nine years after

During a rare domestic endeavor -- house cleaning prior to welcoming Thanksgiving guests -- I found myself sorting through dozens of VHS tapes stored in and around the TV stand.

Near our family's cherished copy of What About Bob?, were several tapes of sports contests I taped.

Matches from soccer's 2002 World Cup? I've got 'em. Game 7 of the 1991 World Series? Yep. Clinching games from the Chicago Bulls' National Basketball Association championships? MJ, if you need a copy, give me a call.

I'll just tape these games, I told myself, and watch them on those winter evenings when I have nothing else to do.

Yeah, right. My batting average of watching those tapes is -- if my math is correct -- right around .000.

That streak was broken today. While dusting, vacuuming and taking a break for lunch, I popped one of those tapes in the VCR. It was from Monday, September 28, 1998.

The occasion was a one-game playoff between baseball's San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs, to determine which team would face the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the National League playoffs. The Cubs and Giants tied for the Wild Card berth in the playoffs with identical 89-73 records, so a 163rd game was played at Wrigley Field.

I knew that the Cubs won this one -- I still had the tape, didn't I? -- but after nine years I had forgotten the particulars about the 1998 Cubs, including manager Jim Riggleman. I was surprised how many of the Cubs personnel I had forgotten.

OK, a quick summary:

  • Cubs 5, San Francisco 3.
  • Gary Gaetti, released by the Cardinals and picked up by the Cubs for their final six weeks of the 1998 season, put the Cubs on the scoreboard with a two-run homer in the fifth inning.
  • The Giants scored three times in the top of the ninth, to make everyone in Wrigley more than a little nervous. But a tired reliever Rod Beck, aka The Shooter (pictured), gutted it out for the save.
  • Today it was somewhat sad seeing Beck close out the game, knowing that less than nine years afterward he would be dead. The Shooter died this summer, just a few weeks short of his 39th birthday.
  • It was the final game for Joe Carter, a former Cub and Toronto's 1993 World Series hero. Carter had already announced his intention to retire at the end of the 1998 season. As it happened, Carter made the final out in his final game -- a weak pop-up to first baseman Mark Grace.
  • Also appearing were sluggers Barry Bonds (who hit 37 homers in 1998) and Sammy Sosa (career-high 66). In this game, they went a combined 2-for-8, with Sosa collecting two singles. Of course, today we know that Bonds and Sosa have had their own "issues" regarding performance-enhancing drugs -- and, in Bonds' case, whether he will go to prison for lying about it.
All in all, it was not the most exciting game ever contested, but it was the Cubs' last win of the season. They went on to be swept from the playoffs by the Braves.

Interested in this game -- or virtually any game, player, umpire or manager associated with the major leagues? The best web sites to look up anything are Retrosheet. and BaseballReference.com.

1 comment:

erik hogstrom said...

As a lifelong GIANTS fan, I feel I simply must add the following:
"Boooooooooooooo!!!"