Saturday, May 14, 2005

Today's the day

Brother quoted a comedian the other day about birthdays, saying: "There's an age after which people shouldn't be expected to give a shit about your birthday. That age is 11."

It is with this sentiment in mind that I say that tonight is the end of my rookie year, game #162. I celebrate here by giving my top three games I've ever had the pleasure of attending:

Game #3: October 3, 1995. Braves 5, Rockies 4 (Game 1, ALDS).

My only experience with scalped tickets...a work buddy from the dog track (yes, I sold bets at a dog track for a year or my life) picked up tickets for us at a very inflated price. But it was worth it...it was a hell of a game.

My first playoff game. It was intense, back-and-forth all day. My Then-Beloved Rockies took a 3-1 lead when Vinny Castilla homered off of Greg Maddux, but when Chipper Jones hit his second homer of the day, the Braves came back to take a 5-4 lead in the 9th. The Rockies loaded the bases in the 9th with one out when Andres Galarraga struck out. Two out, and the pitcher spot due up...but dammit, Don Baylor had so overmanaged the game (loads of earlier pinch-runners, etc.) that the bench was empty. He pinch hit a pitcher, Lance Painter, because he was left handed. And what do you know, he struck out. Big let-down for the ending, but there were so many intense moments that my heart nearly stopped.

GAME #2

June 28, 1994 (first game) at Mile High Stadium. Rockies 10, Padres 9.
Dad and I. Doubleheader. Really cool.

The Padres took an 8-0 lead after three-and-a-half innings, but anyone who has ever seen a game in Denver knows that early leads aren't safe...no matter how big. Homers by Derek Bell, Eddie Williams, and Melvin Nieves (the latter back-to-back) made it look like it'd be a boring day...but by the end of the fifth inning, the Rockies led 9-7 (thanks to a two-run blast by Galarraga and a grand slam by a still-alive Howard Johnson). Tony Gwynn homered later to make it 9-8, but amazingly, the Rockies held them scoreless in innings 7, 8, and 9. I'll never forget the last inning, when the Padres got Brian Johnson on with a leadoff double. If he scores, we're screwed. Pinch-hitter Phil Clark...flies out. Leadoff guy Bip Roberts...struck out. That put Craig Shipley up with Tony Gwynn on deck. It was IMPERATIVE that we not face Gwynn. Shipley was rung up on strikes, much to his displeasure. Game over. Everybody going crazy. It has been matched, but not surpassed, as the biggest comeback in Rockies' history.

GAME #1

August 29, 2000 at Safeco Field. Mariners 5, Yankees 3.

With my baseball buddy David and, if I recall, the then-girlfriend, this night included the loudest I've ever heard a ballpark. And it starred my favorite ballplayer of all time, Edgar Martinez.

It looked like a typical BS Yankee-Mariner matchup when Andy Pettitte started the game with 5 2/3 no-hit innings. In fact, he had faced the minimum...a double-play had erased his only walk. And since the Yankees had scored 3 early, it looked over. But oh, that bottom of the eighth. Singles by David Bell, Carlos Guillen, and Rickey Henderson. Stan Javier's single makes it 3-1 with one out. Jeff Nelson comes on in relief, and strikes out Alex Rodriguez for the second out. Edgar is up, and he pounds a grand slame deep to right field. After the intensity of the no-hit bid, the place absolutely went bonkers. Not just because of the grand-slam homer. Because it was the Yankees. And because it was Edgar.

I loved Edgar. He is the most unassuming guy ever. Because of his less-than-stellar looks, thick Puerto Rican accent, and god-awful stage presence, he never had any big national endorsement deal. His local endorsement deals, with places like Eagle Hardware, were hilarious because Edgar was so terrible on camera...he couldn't deliver a line to save his life, and you could see the coaching he received on exactly where to look and what to say for his few lines. I think this combination of foibles made Seattle love him more than good-looking guys leading charmed lives like Griffey and A-Rod. He just felt like one of us, except he could hit the damn baseball so well. Man, I hope he gets into the Hall of Fame, but I don't think they'll take him.

This sounds funny, but I already miss Edgar terribly. Whoever thought I could get so emotionally attached to a ballplayer.

Those of you who read these game summaries...thanks! We now continue with our regularly scheduled second set-of-162-games. Expect a new top 20 in another 8-9 years or so.

4 comments:

Jim said...

I've enjoyed your series. Your eidetic memory for baseball is awe-inspiring.

lemming said...

You write well - always have. 'nuff said. :-)

TeacherRefPoet said...

Jim.

I'm Mr. Eidition
Should be on Morning Edition
I'm rockin' in Eidicity
Such vivid specificity
Radical
Eidical
Memoretical
Detailical
Eiditicisty, that's me.

(I love having to look up words. Thanks for the new one.)

TeacherRefPoet said...

(Although, to be fair, it's not my memory that you're impressed with. It's my old scorebooks' collective memories.)