1987 World Series DVD: Game 7

January 7, 2008

At long last I have worked my way through the entire series. I predicted a few months ago that I would finish by the holidays, and I actually did finish watching Game 7 on New Years Day. In some ways, having an 11-month-old in the house made me enjoy the DVD set more, taking my time to work through it rather than watching it all in a week like I would have in my former life.

Onto the game. In the case of the first six games, it was the first time I had seen each since they originally happened (save a few snippets on FSN Classics). I have Game 7 on tape, so while it has been a few years since I last saw it, I am more familiar with this game than the others.

One of my favorite moments from the game is the quip that Al Michaels got in as the Minnesota crowd insisted on doing the wave in the fourth inning of a 2-1 World Series Game 7: something along the lines of the wave being about in style as the leisure suit.

As for the play itself, this would have been a real frustrating game to relive had the Twins lost. The team ran itself out of runs on several occasions, and at least one was taken away by a bad call at the plate. Had the Twins not been so aggressive on the base paths, it is likely that the final score might have been in the 7-2 range rather than 4-2. I guess that the result is what matters, and watching the team celebrate after the final out never gets old.

Some notes on the series:

I started out believing that 1987 Tim McCarver was less annoying than 2007 Tim McCarver. While that statement is probably still true, even the 1987 version started wearing on me. It may have been his insistence on referring to Tim Laudner as “Loud-ner,” but by Game 7 he had me wishing that I could mute him and just listen to Michaels and Palmer. The AL clinching out is featured in the extras, called by my favorite team of Bob Costas and Tony Kubek, simply making me ponder what might have been had NBC carried the series instead of ABC.

It seems that overall the umpiring in this series was very good. There were a few blown calls in the final game, but it basically equaled out for both teams. The strike zone tended to get bigger as the game went along, but I am all for anything that makes the game go faster.

Here are the stats from the entire series (scroll down to see composites). One of the things that is always fascinating to me is the way that the stats differ from the way things unfolded in my memory, particularly in regards to individual performances. I knew that Puckett had a monster series (particularly due to his performance in the final two games), but didn’t realize that Tim Laudner and Steve Lombardozzi should have garnered MVP consideration (more so with Lombo; Michaels et al. were all over Laudner’s success in the early games of the series, at least until Lawless gave them another unsung hero to talk about).

Most instructive about the series is the difference in extra base hits. The Cardinals batted .259 for the series compared with the Twins’ .269, but the nature of the hits was completely different. The Twins had 20 XBH’s to the Cardinals’ 10, including a 7-2 edge in home runs. That translated into a 38-26 run differential in favor of the winning team.

It can’t be too long before the 1991 World Series comes out on DVD, can it? I’d really like to see 1965 as well.


1987 World Series DVD: Game 6

November 30, 2007

Game 6 was a good illustration of the difference between the Cardinals and the Twins at that point of the 1987 season. The Cardinals scored first, and scratched together five runs over the first five innings primarily on the base paths. Tom Herr’s first inning home run aside, the Cardinals took some time to score their runs, did so by exchanging outs to move runners, and didn’t score more than twice in any single inning.

The Twins, on the other hand, scored eight runs over two innings, did so with home runs and extra base hits, and generally scored quickly.

More random thoughts from the game:

-ABC recruited Paul Molitor and Tony Gwynn to film scouting reports on the important pitchers in the series; Molitor for the Twins’ pitching staff and Gwynn for the Cardinals’. The insight the future Hall-of-Famers gave in their 30-second reports was greater than anything FOX generally gives over the course of the full broadcast. Good stuff, and I would like to see a network bring that concept back.

-In the eighth inning some college football scores rolled across the screen. The first: #2 Nebraska 42, Kansas St. 3. Ah, the good ol’ days.

-During one of Dick Such’s (Twins pitching coach) visits to the mound, the crew discussed his 1967 season in the Eastern League. Such’s line that season was 0-16 with a 2.81 ERA. Micahels made the comment that Such was still called up to the majors late that year despite his poor record. Now, I don’t know what the run-scoring environment was in the 1967 Eastern League, but a 2.81 ERA indicates that Such did have some success that season, an idea that at least Michaels couldn’t seem to wrap his head around.

-In the top of the ninth inning, the Twins had a six-run lead and with two outs the Cardinals had Vince Coleman at first. Coleman took off, and despite the game situation Steve Lombardozzi covered second and ultimately let a Tom Herr routine ground ball get through the space he left to cover second. Tom Kelly was livid in the dugout. Apparently the focus on fundamentals never turned off.

1987 World Series DVD: Game 5

November 12, 2007

The end of the baseball season, combined with the fact that I didn’t see much of the 2007 World Series due to illness, has made me return to the only baseball I can watch. So, after a brief hiatus, I watched Game 5.

I was struck right away by the contrast between 1987 Tim McCarver and 2007 Tim McCarver. I can handle 1987 McCarver. 2007, not so much.

On to the game. I love a good pitching duel, and Game 5 was just that through the first five innings. Neither Bert Blyleven or Danny Cox seemed to be really dominant, but both held the other team scoreless through the early innings.

In the fifth inning, Whitey Herzog small-balled his team’s way out of a scoring threat. With runners at first and third and the pitcher batting, Herzog called for a squeeze bunt. With two strikes, the squeeze was still on. It looked as though Tom Kelly called for a pitch out, but it may have just been a bad pitch by Blyleven. Either way, Cox jabbed at a pitch that was well out of the strike zone and the runner at third was out to end the inning.

A pair of infield singles by the Cardinals in the sixth seemed to undo Blyleven a bit. Jim Palmer made the point that a walk or single by Vince Coleman was as good as a double, and it was clear that Blyleven was not comfortable with him on base, at least in the sixth inning. Coleman and Smith eventually scored on a single by Curt Ford, and before the Twins got out of the inning the Cardinals had enough runs (3) to eventually win the game. It was a “Cardinals type of inning” according to McCarver.

At the end of the day, the Cardinals had five stolen bases against Twins pitching, and a 3-2 lead in the series. Al Michaels made the point, however, that the Twins might have the Cardinals right where they want them with two games left to play at the Metrodome.

Another interesting note from the game and the DVD jacket. Both the Cardinals and the Twins had losing records the previous season. The only other time that the two World Series teams had losing records the previous season was in 1965. Of course, we all know that it happened again in 1991. Perhaps that bodes well for 2008?

I need to add this as well. Keith Atherton looked more like a trucker than a baseball player.

1987 World Series DVD: Game 4

August 30, 2007

This was the game in which the Cardinals turned the tables on the Twins and used a six-run fourth inning to run away and hide early. The Card’s win tied the series at two game a piece after it looked as though the Twins might win in a laugher. This is also the game that made Tom Lawless a star.

Let’s get the Tim McCarver-isms out of the way.

Bottom of the 3rd Inning after the pitcher Greg Mathews grounded out to short on the first pitch of the inning: “that is the first time he has made an out this post season. He is 2-for-2 with two sacrifices.” I’m not sure if this was a slip or just the facts based on the way the sacrifice is revered in baseball. The fact that a sacrifice = an out seems to be lost not just on McCarver, but on many others who enjoy small ball.

Later that same inning after Ozzie Smith scored from third on a Jim Lindeman single (Smith initially reached by walking): “it’s amazing how many walks score, as opposed to guys who have to battle their way on base.” We’ll forget the fact that study after study has indicated that a player who reaches first via single, hit by pitch, catcher’s interference, etc, is no more or less likely to score than a player that was walked (most of that research was probably done since 1987). What bothers me more is that a former major league hitter doesn’t seem to think that it requires all that much skill to draw a walk. There are guys who battle their way on base, and guys who get there by walking apparently.

Alright, now on to Lawless. His home run off of Frank Viola in the fourth inning is infamous in Minnesota, mostly for the way he trotted up the line and flipped his bat. The announcers that day (and others since) love to make a big deal about Lawless’ .080 average that season and the fact that he didn’t hit a single home run the entire regular season. Well, as it turns out, the entire regular season meant 25 at-bats to Lawless, who was on the roster the entire season as a third catcher (Jim Palmer mentioned that early in the game) and didn’t get much playing time. There are plenty of great hitters that have gone numerous stretches of 2-for-25 with no home runs, so it isn’t really that remarkable that Lawless would find the bleachers at some point – even Al Newman and Jason Tyner have gone deep once in their careers. It just so happened for Lawless that the time came in the World Series.

In regards to the bat flip, I can see why it got under the skin of players and fans at the time, but it really wasn’t any worse than what Juan Berenguer did in the ALCS that year. How was Lawless supposed to know how to act after hitting a home run anyways?

The only other item of note from the broadcast of Game 4 was the conversation around George Frazier when he entered the game in the later innings. Paul Molitor implied in his “Inside Pitch” segment that Frazier was known to throw wet pitches. When Frazier struck the mighty Lawless out in the seventh, McCarver quickly chimed in about how the pitch “looked like a wet one” to him. Palmer quickly corrected McCarver, saying that it was actually a hanging breaking ball that caught Lawless looking.

It is also worth mentioning that the Twins showed some life after the Cardinals’ big inning, and looked to be rallying in the top of the fifth until Ozzie Smith and Vince Coleman made back-to-back great defensive plays on balls hit by Gaetti and Brunansky to end the inning with only one run across.

At the rate I am going, I probably won’t finish Game 5 until the holidays.

Born August 30, 1979
Luis Rivas
He was a starter in the AAA All-Star Game this year.

Born August 30, 1956
Roger Erickson

1987 World Series DVD: Game 3

August 2, 2007

Editor’s note: It was a tough night here in the Twin Cities last night. I am relieved to say that my immediate family was all a safe distance from the bridge collapse. Thoughts and prayers go out to all who were affected. I composed this a few days ago and decided to still post it this morning, if for nothing more than distraction, much like the game last night.

Here is my recap of Game 3, and here is Game 2 since I didn’t link it in the DVD write up. Also, frequent commenter Beau pointed out that the jacket of the Game 2 DVD incorrectly states that the Twins outscored the Cardinals 16-5 in the first two games. The actual composite score of the first two was 18-5. I found no similar errors on the Game 3 jacket.

-Whitey was right on the umpires again prior to the game in regards to the perceived balking that Bert Blyleven did in Game 2. I was wondering to myself why he was doing it, thinking it was simply a distraction for his team; but to my amazement, he got the call in the second inning of Game 3. The replay showed that Straker paused about the same amount of time as Blyleven did in Game 2, but the call went the Cardinals way early. Jim Palmer noted that he had a guy write him to explain that the rule didn’t state that a pitcher had to pause for a second, something Palmer had said in Game 2, but rather that the pitcher simply has to pause. Palmer did a good job in the series so far, but the fact that some guy had to write to him to correct his understanding of the rule is a little odd.

-All three of the broadcasters were making a big deal about Les Straker’s lack of experience. Interesting that he pitched a very good game in the first tight game of the series.

-As Tom Herr batted in the sixth the graphic flashed showing that he had the second lowest batting average in World Series history up to that point. As if he had something to prove, Herr immediately singled.

-On a similar there, in the top of the eighth with two out and a man on third, Tim McCarver started to openly question the positioning of the Cardinals defense for Gary Gaetti, specifically the third baseman Jose Oquendo who was hugging the line. McCarver’s exact quote: “he’s positioned where he is most apt not to hit the ball.” On the very next pitch Gaetti hit a hot line drive to third that hit right in Oquendo’s glove.

-In fairness to McCarver, he made a very good point in the seventh, the inning in which the Cards scored all of their runs. With a man on first and nobody out, Tony Pena made a few attempts to sacrifice the runner over with the pitcher on deck. He quickly got behind 0-2 and the bunt sign was removed. A few pitches later Pena singled and would later score the go-ahead run when Ozzie Smith singled later in the inning. McCarver pointed out in the ninth inning that had Pena been successful with his sacrifice attempt, the Cardinals’ seventh would have looked a lot different. He sounded downright ahead of his time.

-The lighting in Busch Stadium was horrible, but I suppose that was pretty common at that time.

-A couple of great plays:

1. Greg Gagne tagged and took third on a foul pop that Pena had to dive into the dugout to catch. Head’s up play, and probably a reason that Gagne was one of my favorite players.

2. Classic Ozzie Smith play on a grounder off of Hrbek’s bat later in the same inning. Not only was it a great play, but it saved at least one run.

Game 3 was the most dramatic of the series so far, and was the most fun for me to watch as well. Still, the wrong team won. On to Game 4.

Born August 2, 1978
Matt Guerrier

Born August 2, 1952
Bombo Rivera

1987 World Series DVD: Game 2

July 11, 2007

Got around to watching Game 2 in parts. I actually recently saw some of this game on an FSN classic, but this is the first time seeing the whole thing. Once again, the game was lacking but that really isn’t the point of these nostalgic DVD’s. Here are my thoughts as I watched Game 2:

-Before the game started ABC showed footage of Lee Weyer (home plate umpire) dusting off the black part of the plate. He was quoted by the announcers as saying “I won’t give you the high or low calls, but I will give you the corners” (or something to that effect). It made me long for the days when umpires could call their strike zone, not one dictated by a machine. Today the only way an umpire has to distinguish himself is by how colorful his “strike” call is, and how he handles managers.

-An interesting note from the ABC crew: Gary Gaetti led the majors in double plays in 1987 (he’s listed with 25 at baseball-reference.com), while Willie McGee led the National League (24). Speaking of McGee, I don’t know about the rest of his career, but his silly swings at bad pitches for third strikes in the World Series remind me a bit of Jacque Jones. For the record- McGee’s strikeout rates were well below Jones’, so it may have been just a bad couple of games for him.

-Whitey Herzog started getting on the umpires early about Bert Blyleven in the stretch. Blyleven didn’t really come to a complete stop, so Herzog may have had an argument. That said, the fact that he kept at it even when his team was down by five was a bit much. Palmer even noted that umpires never call that (have a mentioned that I like Jim Palmer?). To me, that would be more distracting than helpful as a player.

-The Cardinals first walk of the series came with nobody out in the top of the fifth inning of Game 2. Curt Ford’s pass was the only Cardinals’ walk in the first two games.

-The bottom of the fifth brought the first mention of sign stealing by the Twins. Palmer noted that Gary Gaetti hit a 3-1 curve ball like “he knew it was coming”- though Palmer also admitted it was a hanging curve ball from Lee Tunnell.

-I complained about the fact that Kelly left Viola in too long in Game 1. His decision was partially explained by the crew in Game 2. Apparently, Kelly remembered a game he was managing in the minors in which his team had a 9-0 lead and he was convinced to bring in a young pitcher, who promptly allowed eight runs, forcing Kelly to say “never again” when it comes to taking a pitcher out too early. My answer to that would be that neither Jeff Reardon nor Juan Berenguer would hardly be considered a young minor-league pitcher.

I’m looking forward to game three, if for no other reason than it was a close game and is probably the most dramatic of the series.

1987 World Series DVD: Game 1

June 29, 2007

I finally got my copy of the DVD set for Father’s Day (do I have the greatest son in the world or not?). This is my attempt at a review. The game itself was not particularly good, but I would guess that the game itself is not important to those who would buy this particular DVD set (myself included).

For what it’s worth, this was the game where the Twins scored seven runs in the fourth inning, including Dan Gladden’s grand slam, to eventually win 10-1. Here is my recap of the game from earlier in the year if you are interested. Some thoughts from the first World Series game to be played indoors:

-Al Micheals, Tim McCarver, and Jim Palmer had the call for ABC. I don’t particularly care for Micheals today, but in 1987 he wasn’t so bad. McCarver managed, so far in the series, to be less annoying than he is at present, and Palmer added a lot of insight that you just don’t get on national broadcasts today. Overall, the announcers were good. They weren’t Bob Costas/Tony Kubek good, but they didn’t really take away from the game, and they did their best to keep conversation interesting when the game was not.

-I remembered Tony Pena’s glasses but I didn’t remember the story behind them. Apparently, Pena’s numbers in 1987 were bad because he couldn’t see across the clubhouse, according to Palmer. He got the glasses just in time for the post season and, according to the announcers, it made all the difference in the world. He batted .381/.458/.476 in the NLCS and .409/.480/.455 in the World Series in a year when his line was .214/.281/.307 for the regular season. 1987 in an extremely poor year compared to Pena’s career numbers, which seem to back the story up. I have never hit a major league fastball, but I would imagine that hitting .214 is pretty good when you can’t see the pitcher.

-In the third inning, with Greg Gagne at bat and Dan Gladden on first, Joe Magrane threw to first nine consecutive times before he pitched the ball to Gagne. The best part is that Gladden actually stole second later in the inning.

-It took just four Magrane pitches for the Twins to load the bases in the fourth; it took six pitches for them to score their first two runs of the game.

-As the game went on, it became clear that Dave Phillips’ strike zone was growing with the Twins’ lead. I suppose that wouldn’t happen today thanks to Quest-tech.

-It was interesting that Tom Kelly kept Viola in as long as he did. With a nine run lead, and the desire to send his ace back out with short rest, he let him throw eight innings and 102 pitches. It’s not as if the bullpen needed rest, this was the Twins’ first game in five days. It all worked out pretty well, but still was a curious move. The announcers were even suggesting an inning for Berenguer and an inning for Reardon would be in order, but they didn’t say anything when Kelly stayed with Viola, then brought in Atherton for the ninth.

-I love watching the game without commercials. The official time of the game was 3:36, but thanks to the magic of DVD I saw every pitch in just over two hours.

I haven’t started watching game two yet, but I will post my thoughts when I get around to it. So far it has been fun if for no other reason to see a time capsule of what baseball was like in 1987.