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Dodgers Into 5th NLCS in 6 Seasons

The Los Angeles Dodgers rode Codey Bellinger’s (I do not care what he hit in the “reg,” Mr. Bellinger is a clutch “ringer,” and has been such for L.A.– now, in my opinion, a too high, 11 to 5 fave vs the Braves in the NLCS.) 1 out, rbi single , T9 to (2-1) 107 wins S.F. and advance to their 5th NLCS in 6seasons, missing only in 2019 when eventual champion, wild card Washington (Nationals) rallied to beat them, led by eventual World Series star, Howie Kendrick.

L.A. has now won 6 straight tilts, facing elimination, all in the past two seasons, 3 each year. The Giants had won 6 straight decisive entity games games, last losing one in the 7th game of the 2002 World Series.

As per their history, better and near great Giants’ teams such as this one and certainly the ones with 5 future Hall of Famers, (Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda and Gaylord Perry), came up short, juxtaposed with not so hot/”value” teams, such as their namesake NFL counterparts in ’07, ’11 and maybe even ’90, the baseball Giants winning it all in 2010,2012 and 2014.

Alas ’twas a “quarter” matching a 107 wins eventual loser and 106 wins “div” winner, but I strongly disagree with and frankly resent Vin Scully calling last night’s game, the most important in Giants vs Dodgers annals.

Bobby Thomson and yes Ralph Branca and even Stan Williams will be waiting to register their protest at your ridiculous assertion, Mr. Scully. Alas too much of that “over rate the moment hype,” might require extra lessons by the Jesuits, for “walk on water” Scully, who again showed why he, as with all of us, does NOT.

Worse was Brian Kenny, so hopped up in his showing of previous history between the teams. It is Mathewson not Matheson, Mr. Kenny, regarding Christy, a great, great pitcher, whose wife knew when to put the roast on, looking through her window. The Giants trailed (4-1) in the still and forever, most important game between the teams (’62 game 3, exactly 11 years is second) but Kenny said (4-2).

At least Scully, who I should appreciate as an announcing great but as said here before not the greatest and certainly not one who walked/walks on water, did not get the facts wrong (Do not “worry” I can cite plenty of instances when he did, the latest find saying 25 and 10 is a little BETTER than 2 and a half to one, that in reading Juan Marichal’s record in “reg” play vs the Pirates as he broadcast the Pirates (2-1) win, (another (2-1) Giants loss) on Rich Hebner’s solo homer, b8 in game 3 NLCS, 50 years ago. Maybe a math lesson can be provided Mr. Scully as well) as Kenny, an all-time, abrasive “know it all” did.

Dodgers At Giants Notes

Tonight at 9 P.M. or so Eastern Time on TBS, an epic, albeit only a “quarter,” decisive game between the 107 wins San Francisco Giants and 106 wins, Los Angeles Dodgers at “The city by the bay.”

Some notes will follow:

In route to their first 5 and until 2010, only titles, the Giants faced no must win games, going an incredible (25-5) (Sandy’s ’63 record), in those 5 winning World Series (three of the losses were in a best of 9, (5 games to 3) W.S. win vs the Yankees in 1921.

In winning the three consecutive “even year” titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014, as S.F. (the 5 previous crowns were as the New York Giants), they faced and won 5 must games, also in which victory meant advancing or in the case of the Madison Bumgarner brilliant relief pitching stint led #7/’14 W.S. an actual crown.

Those other four “must win”/advance with a win games were in the 2010 decisive 5th of the bastardized/division series vs Atlanta (The Braves, to be in their 13th NLCS (5-7) in previous and sans a victory in such since 1999, await the winner of tonight’s tilt), the 2012 division series at Cincinnati and its then manager Dusty Baker (his Astros are over 7 to 5 favorites to represent the A.L. in the World Series for the third time in 5 seasons), the 2012 decisive 7th/NLCS at S.F. vs the Cardinals, and the 10/8 game at Pittsburgh in ’14 (Brandon Crawford’s big belt/H.R. there is no injured Brandon Belt for the Giants).

Meanwhile the Dodgers, sans a title until 1955, have faced and obviously won 6 “must games” en route to 5 of their 7 crowns. They won #7/W.S. behind John Podres in ’55 and Sandy Koufax in 1965. They did not face a must game, though they were in a best of 3, unscheduled ‘off vs Milwaukee (Braves) in route to their second title in ’59 nor in ’63 when they swept the two time champion (also an insane 20 titles in 40 seasons going into that ’63 World Series, the last of the tragically too few 47 with John F. Kennedy on the earth) Yankees.

In winning their 3 other titles, the Dodgers won “must”/”Win and advance” games (two in ’81, the strike caused extra round decisive 5th at home vs the then N.L. team, Astros and the decisive 5th/NLCS at Montreal on Rick Monday’s home run, T9. The Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals and won an all road 7 game World Series vs the Astros in 2019).

L.A.  bombed Ron Darling and won game 7 of the ’88 NLCS vs the Mets and also won #7 of the 2020 NLCS.

Astros To 5th Straight ALCS, Braves To 2nd Straight, While A La Great Ones In ’51 and ’62–Giants And Dodgers, “Eagles” It–“Taking It To The Limit.”

While the 107 wins Giants will host the 106 wins Dodgers in a decisive 5th game of their “div” series in S.F. tomorrow night (Bay Area-er and once Giants fan, Tom Brady and his champion Bucs will get better ratings for their tilt at the Philly Eagles, another and different “Eagles” reference within a baseball update), both the Houston Astros (a record tying, if one counts ’94 as a “miss” when in fact, there was NO P-Season action, 5th straight time, joining the (’71-’75) A’s and (’95-’99) Braves) and Atlanta Braves (a second straight NLCS “app,” a 13th in 52 possibilities/one fourth, with eight coming in successive completed seasons from ’91-’99, with as cited, no post-season play in ’94)

The Oakland A’s “cashed in” with 3 titles during their glorious 5 straight “one quarter” division titles streak from ’71-’75, winning it all (’72-’74), while being swept by eventual 7 game World Series losing Baltimore (Orioles–remember them) in ’71 and Boston Red Sox in ’75.

Houston has one title to show for its 4 straight ALCS appearances, losing in the round to eventual champion Boston (Red Sox), their LCS opponent this year as well, with higher ranked Houston about 7:5 series favorite) and 6 game W.S. losing, T.B. last year.

The Astros took the Dodgers in game 7 at Dodger Stadium in the ’17 World Series while losing an incredible, totally unprecedented all road World Series to Washington with the exponentially annoying “Bellman” cashing in 2019, his number and #’s.

During that incredible run of 8 straight NLCS appearances, the Braves managed to win but one crown, to this point, the only one in their 54 completed Atlanta seasons (’66-2020, with no completed season in 2020) and also the lone Atlanta major North American sports title in roughly 170 seasons (55 Falcons, 53 Hawks, whose fine play into a 6 game “semis” loss to the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks–the “div” series some “revenge” for Atlanta vs Milwaukee, may have “turned” Atlanta/Georgia fortunes, as the college Bulldogs are ranked first and Saban(o) and ‘Bama lost at Texas A and M. Alas never count Nick “insurance ads” Saban(o) out. We shall see. You add the combined Thrashers and Flames seasons, all of course sans title.)

 

Giants/Dodgers: History Repeats, However, This Is Best Of Five. Red Sox Oust A.L. Top Seed, Rays

While the Boston Red Sox, now (7-7) in bastardized/division series play, led (5-0) were tied at 5, eventually (6-5)ing the still no title, Rays to advance to their 7th ALCS in 19 seasons (2003-2021), the Giants shutout the Dodgers for a second time, to lead what unlike the unscheduled ‘off for the pennant in ’51 and ’62, is best of five, not three, 2 games to 1.

In both ’51 and ’62, the Giants won games 1 and 3, the latter with two incredible 9th inning rallies, to win the pennant.

Elsewhere, also with two shutout wins, the Atlanta Braves have a (2-1) series lead vs the Milwaukee Brewers, in a battle between the late great Henry Aaron’s two teams and cities in which he played.

Today there are 3 tilts as the Houston Astros up (2-1) look to close out the Chicago White Sox, after a game 3 Sunday night loss, in which “Chi” down (5-1) doubled Houston (12-6). Yesterday’s game was postponed.

In ’51, the Giants “won the pennant” (Russ Hodges said it “win the pennant” four times) on Bobby Thomson’s game ending 3RHR. A link between the two N.L. bastardized series (why so vs the wild card?!!–How about so many less people would be talking about Bobby’s home run had the bogus wild card been in place these now 70 years ago) is Henry Aaron got his chance to play with Milwaukee when Bobby Thomson was injured.

“Chi”Sky/Phoenix Mercury (25th season) WNBA Final

Today commencing around 3:30 P.M. the opening game of the best of five, 25th WNBA final series matches the visiting (16-16) Chicago Sky and the home team/series home advantage team, Phoenix Mercury (19-13) in the 32 game “reg.”

This is a redux of the 2014 final, in which the Mercury copped their 3rd crown, sweeping the Sky in the latter team’s only previous final round appearance.

Phoenix is still led by 3 time WNBA champion, Diana Taurasi and one time winner Britney Griner. Candace Parker the final entity MVP in 2016 as her L.A. Sparks “titled” is on “Chi” and is seeking her second WNBA title.

Astros up (2-0) ‘Offs Notes

After a pair of 5 run wins (so far in this tournament, not only intrinsically boring games but lack of competition, as only 2 of 8 post-season tilts have been at all, in doubt) the Houston Astros under fine, but nary a title manager (he is one with whom, I have a good association), John “Dusty” Baker lead the Chicago White Sox, under 3 titles manager, Tony LaRussa- 2 games to none, in their best of 5 division series.

Houston has now won 8 straight “div” series openers (’04,’05, as an N.L. team and ’15,(’17-2021) in the A.L. going up 2 games to none, in their last five.

The ‘Stros (6-6) in previous “div” series/”quarters” (in ’81, a players strike caused an extra round, 14 years before whores namely Selig and Manfred, perpetrated this abominable extra round. You would think being stuck in traffic, and not sure how to get to my destination, would put the importance/lack thereof of wild card or no wild card, in perspective. I am getting there, but it hurts to see/experience and likely always will) are (10-3) in such round, opening games.

Baseball Notes

After the 2018 and yes 1916 (Babe Ruth’s brilliant PITCHING led the Red Sox victory and first off what happened to the “Curse of the Bambino?!!) and more important, why would he have “cursed” Boston, as he won 3 titles there, just one less than he won in Yankees’ glory) World Series opponents won 10/8 games (first the Red Sox (6-2) vs the Yankees and last night, the 2020 “bubble” champion Dodgers (3-1) on Chris Taylor’s game ending home run, to really hurt Cards’ “puck line” bettors, the eight bastardized/division round opponents are known, with some intriguing series ahead.

In the first tilt of the round, the Houston Astros, again relegated to afternoon play, host the Chicago White Sox in a 2005 World Series redux. Tonight the Rays, still seeking their first title, despite being an exemplary, relatively low payroll franchise, albeit one with a horrible attendance mark, host the Boston Red Sox.

The National League series begin tomorrow on “F”our game “F”riday, (games 2 in the A.L.), with Milwaukee (Brewers) hosting the Atlanta Braves and then for the first time in a SCHEDULED post-season entity, (of course they clashed in exponentially seminal best of 3, unscheduled entities, with the Giants rallying to cop both pennant prizes, only to lose the World Series vs the Yankees) the 107 wins Giants face the 106 wins, wild card, defending champion Dodgers.

Alas, there were greats, who had died in the last approximate year, one mired in a pandemic, commemorated on the uniforms of the eliminated Yankees and Cardinals and while not on the Dodgers’ uniform, I will link ’65 World Series game 7, open the scoring for Sandy, home run hitting, Lou Johnson with stellar pitching greats, Edward “Whitey” Ford (Yankees) and Bob Gibson (Cardinals).

As I recall, in an extra/pandemic caused round, last year, the Cards had been eliminated by the Padres (oh was San Diego a 10 to 1 fave to make the 2021 ‘offs but they failed and now manager Tingler has been fired) on a Friday and that night news came that the great Bob Gibson had died.

The following Friday, news came that “The Chairman of the Board,” and 10 time World Series games winning, Edward “Whitey” Ford had passed away. That night the Rays eliminated Ford’s lone team, one he helped win at least 6 titles, namely the Yankees.

Glory, less than glory, death, commemoration or not in the case of Lou Johnson (which Dodgers, there are 2, are commemorated on their “still alive” uniforms?) and some final notes as I pack into one post, rather than “write” again tomorrow.

Ford won 10 World Series games but also lost 7. Gibson won #7 for the Cards in both 1964 and 1967 but lost to Mickey Lolich and Detroit (Tigers) in 1968. (Rabbi Wise, a brilliant man, later afflicted with Alzheimers was wrong on that one, emphatically picking Gibson as he drove a group of us to public school after morning services, about a month before I made parents Ida, Norman and grandmother Jenny proud with a Torah reading Bar Mitzvah).

My man Lou, who uttered “Sandy, you’re the greatest” in the ’65 World Series celebration, (Sandy Koufax pitched a 3 hit shutout in that #7), made the last out (2 out, 2 on) when Baltimore (Orioles) completed a sweep of the Dodgers, shutting them out in the last 3 games and for 33 plus straight innings.

News of Lou’s death came on the same Friday night that Mr. Gibson had passed on.

Baseball ‘offs Notes

The four teams playing in the two 10/8 games, the next two nights (tonight it is Yankees at Red Sox, this with the winner to be one of eight teams remaining, 43 years after a classic Yankees’ (5-4) win that made them one of four, en route to a 22nd title and St. Louis Cardinals at L.A. Dodgers tomorrow) have accounted for 54 World Series titles, half (27) won by the Yankees.

By contrast, the six “div” winners, the Giants, Brewers, Braves, Astros, White Sox, and Rays have totaled 15 crowns, more than half (8) won by the Giants, a 107 win team this season, one more than “into a one game ‘off,” 106 win L.A. Dodgers’ team.

Even not counting the Yankees, the 27 by the other 3 teams (Cards (11), Red Sox (9) and Dodgers (7), easily exceeds, doing so in 9 to 5 ratio, the 15 won by the 6 “div” winners, rightfully afforded a bye to the “quarters.” (The Braves, one each in Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta have 3 as do the White Sox, with the first and most recent 99 years apart. The Astros have one crown while neither the Brewers or Rays have ever won a World Series.)

The Astros are a little more than 6 to 5 favorites, in the second “within a league” World Series redux in a playoff (The Chi Sox swept Houston in the ’05 World Series, making it 8 of 8 and a first crown in 88 years, a season after the Red Sox won their first title in 86 years, all 8 wins after then Senator, Barack H. Obama threw out the ceremonial first pitch before game 2 of the Chi Sox eventual 5 game triumph over the Angels in the ALCS) as they have home advantage vs the White Sox. That best of 5 series begins Thursday, likely in the late afternoon in Houston.

In the other such situation, the Cardinals won both the 1982 World Series vs the then American League Brewers and then en route to title #11, “LCS’d” Milwaukee in the 2011 NLCS. Noting the White Sox World Series win in 2005 was vs the then National League Astros.

Finally each tilt tonight will be the fourth different type/level of within league playoffs competition between the participants.

The Yankees defeated the Red Sox in the aforementioned “unscheduled” ‘off game to win the then “had to finish first A.L. East in ’78, the Red Sox won the teams’ only division clash, that en route to their fourth title in 15 seasons in 2018 while the Yankees prevailed in two of the 3 ALCS clashes (winning in ’99 en route to their 25th title and losing in ’03 to the Marlins after Michael Kay said the Marlins “did not belong on the same field as the Yankees,” not the first or last time Mr. Kay stuck his foot in his ridiculously well compensated mouth. The Red Sox won an unprecedented 4 straight games to “7” the Yankees in the ’04 ALCS, en route to their aforementioned first crown in 86 years) between the teams. Tonight, a fourth level/type, in the “10/8” game.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals, two to one underdogs tonight, have had great post-season success at the three previous levels of ‘offs play vs the Dodgers. They won 2 straight in an unscheduled best of 3 ‘off for the 1946 N.L. Pennant, deemed so important that I believe Dodgers’ legendary broadcaster Walter Lanier “Red” Barber was sent to St. Louis, something unprecedented, to broadcast the game. Minimum the game was broadcast, also as a road tilt, an unusual if not unprecedented occurrence. St. Loo subsequently handed the Red Sox their first World Series loss in what was the first of four, maximum 7 game World Series losses for Boston, during their 86 year title drought.

The Cards won NLCS from the now L.A. Dodgers in both 1985 and 2013, each followed by World Series losses to the K.C. Royals (their season win projection for 2021 was 74 and a fraction, they won 74 games) and Boston Red Sox respectively. “St. Loo” also won in 2 of the 3 “div” series between the teams, winning in 2004 and 2014 while losing in 2009.

Tonight, as is the case regarding Yankees/Red Sox, they meet at the aforementioned fourth “level/type” of within league post-season competition.

70 Years Since “The Shot Heard Round The World”

It was nearing a late Thursday night hour, I believe in 1999, and I was fortunate enough to be sitting with the man and a good one (Bobby Thomson), as was the man (Ralph Branca), who threw the fateful pitch, that hit a 3 run pennant winning home run, that lifted the New York Giants to the National League Pennant 70 years ago, on October 3, 1951.

His name was/is Bobby Thomson and he hit the famed home run, off pitcher Ralph Branca, the same pitcher he had HR’d vs in the first game of an unscheduled playoff for the ’51 “flag,” eventually won by the Giants, 2 games to 1 over a great, but eventually under achieving Brooklyn Dodgers team/era. (Alas in a far better National League, one ahead of its American League counterpart in signing Black and Hispanic players, who in so many cases achieved excellence or better on the playing field, a bigger and broader issue regarding “playing field fairness” caused/causes a debate that rages and will rage on, the Dodgers won pennants 6 times, after signing baseball’s first Black player (the one and only Jackie Robinson) after years of a disgraceful ban by baseball of such PEOPLE) in Mr. (not Mrs, that “Mrs.” a beautiful, inside and out, lady named Rachel, is still alive at age 99. I saw her standing at the back of the cathedral at a memorial service for the great journalist, Dick Schaap, nearly 20 years ago. Now Phil Schaap, a famed “man of music” has also died, as in the situation with Dick, far too young and not yet 70–still and I will try to focus back–our # for today) Robinson’s 10 seasons. In two other seasons, 1950 and aforementioned ’51, the Dodgers suffered bitter last game defeats with 3 run homers, Thomson’s legendary blast 70 years ago today and Dick Sisler’s such the year before, being the key if not decisive blows. Most telling, in their so called under achieving, the talent laden, mostly right hand hitting “Brooks” (only Duke Snider, among their plethora of stars, batted from the left side, a distinct disadvantage, when playing at Yankee Stadium) won only one World Series in 6 tries, against the vaunted New York Yankees during that 10 year period from (1947-1956).

So what is my point and back to Thomson that night. Both he and I are (yes are, as I believe or at least fervently hope, that from a better place, Bobby is aware and against the theatrics, artificially induced and for a much lower prize (i.e. his team’s win made them one of two teams into post-season, juxtaposed with the 2 teams to enter either Tuesday’s or Wednesday’s “10 to 8” A.L. game, to be just that, one of eight post-season teams) are so opposed to the wild card presence.

I told him to get the next day’s paper and my quote of Russ Hodges’ immortal call of Thomson’s home run, would nowadays include an addendum that Brooklyn was the wild card team. Bobby liked that.

On we (must) go.

A specific post on the 1951 National League Pennant Race and its epic conclusion broadcast in epic fashion by Russ Hodges, can be read by clicking something called a link, below.

Remembering Russ Hodges’ Great Call on Bobby Thomson’s Pennant Winning Home Run on October 3, 1951

 

Left to right, Andy B. pictured with Bobby Thomson

 

Baseball Update

Though one never knows for sure, the only real drama left in “reg” “whoreball,” involves the reason it is “whoreball,” namely the bogus wild card, that, to be discussed next.

The (105-54) Giants lead defending “bubble” champion, (103-56) L.A. (their projected win total was 103 and a fraction) by 2 games with 3 left to play. In real race ’62, L.A. led by 2 with 3 to play only to end up blowing a 2 run 9th inning lead in a decisive home third game of the unscheduled ‘off, rekindling memories of 1951 when Bobby Thomson’s 3rhr capped an incredible Giants comeback to win the pennant.

In both ’51 and ’62, after glorious rallies/comebacks to win the pennant, the Yankees denied the Giants in the subsequent World Series.

Speaking of the Yankees, they have won 8 of their last 9 games and with a 2 game “qualification” lead over both Boston and still 75:1 to win the A.L. “Sea” and 3 over Toronto, are so likely to make a tournament appearance for the 23rd time in the bogus entity’s 27 years. Add 29 pennants in years of one team from each league and a (4-1) record in ALCS, in years before the tournament and this would/almost certainly will be the Yankees’ incredible 57th post-season appearance.

The 4 Yankees’ “tournament misses” were all under Joe Girardi, who did guide them to their lone crown since 2000, that in ’09. The misses were in ’08, ’13,’14 and ’16.

Last night, both the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros, opponents in 4 “bastardized/division” series within the N.L., all but one won by Atlanta from ’97-2005, clinched one eighth divisions, the Braves’ title eliminating the Joe Girardi managed Philadelphia Phillies.

The Braves as the N.L. “3” will meet a team from their former city of Milwaukee, namely the “2” seed, Brewers. Meanwhile the Astros, very likely as the A.L. “2” and thus with home advantage in the best of 5 “bastardized/division,” will face their 2005 World Series conqueror’s, the Chicago White Sox.

Tampa Bay, an incredible achieving team with a relatively low payroll and disgracefully little fan support at home, is the A.L. one seed. The SF/LA div winner will be the “1” with the runner up, the N.L. “4” and an 8-10 game date vs the Cards on October 6th. The team from St. Loo has won 18 of 19 games.