The Yankees topped the Red Sox 3-2 last night, giving them their eighth straight victory and sole possession of first place in the American League East for the first time since July 7. That’s like an eternity in “Yankee years,” by the way.
The game really turned when Joe Girardi pulled Bartolo Colon with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth inning. Boone Logan was able to get Adrian Gonzalez to strike out on a check-swing to end the inning, setting up a decisive three-run rally by the Yankees in the top of the sixth. Logan, Cory Wade, Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera combined for 4 1/3 scoreless innings of relief in the victory.
Naturally, most of the country will see the Yankees and Red Sox later today on FOX and this will be the matchup on Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN. And we all know why. Still, it’s a little tough to get excited about this series when the eventual loser of the division is a virtual shoo-in to make the playoffs.
With the Dodgers trying to make it back to the World Series for the second year in a row — and trying to win it for the first time in 30 years — it’s worth looking back at the last time they won it. More specifically, it’s worth looking back at the signature moment from the last time they won it. Which, really, was one of baseball’s all-time signature moments.
Yep, I’m talking about Kirk Gibson’s famous game-winning home run off of Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, which happened 30 years ago tonight.
All playoff magic for anyone too young to remember Bill Mazeroski’s homer in 1960 is measured against Gibson taking Dennis Eckersley downtown to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 win. Heck, even if you were around in 1960, it’s far less likely that you saw Mazeroski’s homer than it was for you to have seen Gibson’s. Nationally broadcast in prime time to a nation of millions who had not yet fragmented into viewers of hundreds of obscure cable channels and various forms of streaming entertainments, it was a moment that sent shockwaves through the world of sports.
For my part, I was fifteen years-old, sitting in my living room in Beckley, West Virginia watching it as it happened. Like most of the rest of the country, I was convinced that the Dodgers had no chance to beat the mighty Bash Brothers and the 104-win Oakland A’s. Especially given that the Dodgers’ leader, MVP-to-be Gibson, was hobbled and not starting. Even when he was called on to pinch hit, I had no faith that he’d be able to touch Eckersley, the best relief pitcher on the planet, let alone hit the ball with any kind of authority.
But, as Vin said when he called it, the Dodgers’ year was so improbable that, in hindsight, it made perfect sense for Gibson to have done the impossible: