I have been slightly worried about Joe Posnanski lately. He set off last summer to write what was supposed to be a feel-good book about a feel-good guy — Joe Paterno — and then everything exploded on him while he was doing interviews and research in State College, Pennsylvania.
Sometimes I get images of him trapped in some central Pennsylvania motel room, slowly going crazy. Or totally off the grid into some sheer harrowing existence like Christopher Walken in “The Deer Hunter.” At the other end of all of that is either going to be a Pulitzer Prize winning book or Posnanski in a straight jacket. Can’t see much in between.
But today we have a sign that things are OK for Joe: a 4000+ word Hall of Fame column, done in a way that only he can do. Once again he brings order and sanity to the Jeff Bagwell thing. To the Alan Trammell/Barry Larkin thing. He explains just how rare and special it is for players to be truly well-rounded. Bonus: he trots out that quote from the headline above to remind us just how damn good Tim Raines really was.
It’s all great stuff. And on a day when, once again, absolutely nothing seems to be happening in baseball at all, it’s not like you got anything better to do.
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: