Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Latest Sklar Channel Offering I Saw


Randy and Jason (or is it Jason and Randy) Sklar.

Do you have the Sklar Channel? Actually, there isn't really a Sklar Channel. But that's what we call ESPN Classic at our house.

We love the Sklars at our house. Actually, the males love the Sklars. My wife cannot stand them, or, more accurately, their humor. It's a chick thing, I know. And the fact they are die-hard Cardinals fans makes my son and I like them even more.

Last night, before "Cheap Seats Without Ron Parker", starring the Mighty Sklars, was a program called "Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame...". "Top 5" is a show that takes the prevailing opinion regarding an historical sports moment and tries to debunk it. In the past they have had shows like "Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame Steve Bartman For The Cubs 2003 Playoff Collapse."

Last night's episode was called "Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame Umpire Don Denkinger For The Cardinals Losing The 1985 World Series". Well, the reasons were all pretty lame, because, as we all know, you actually can blame him.

I can't believe I actually wrote the name of former AL umpire Don Denkinger. He is anathema to Cardinals fans.

It was a little hard to relive those times. But I remember sitting down that Saturday evening with my soon to be wife on my parent's couch to watch the bottom of the ninth of game six. I was relaxed and feeling on top of the world. The Cards were about to win their second WS title in 4 years. But the man known as DD forever changed the course of Cardinal history when he called KC leadoff hitter Jorge Orta safe at first base on a ground ball play to the right side. Everyone in the world who was watching the play except the one guy who counts knew Orta was out and that it really wasn't even close.

I know it wasn't intentional. But darn. If you are not a Cardinals fan, just try to imagine the sense of injustice you'd feel if this happened to your beloved team when they were on the verge of a title.

1985 was about the funnest (?) baseball year I can remember outside of 2004. Just like 2004, the Cardinals weren't picked to go anywhere but last place, while the Cubs had just won the division the previous year. Whitey Herzog was supposed to be the first manager fired. The Cardinals ended up winning the pennant and Herzog won Manager Of The Year.

The Cardinals were the best team in baseball that year. Bob Costas has called that 1985 team the most exciting team he has ever watched play. Because of the speed of that team. The Cardinals fought, scratched, stole, ran the bases, and pitched their way to a pennant. It was electrifying when the Cardinals got on base, particularly Vince Coleman, Willie McGee, and Ozzie Smith. And Jack Clark and Tommy Herr drove them in. It was like a merry-go-round on the basepaths that year.

Facts are facts. If Denkinger gets that call right, the Cardinals need only two more outs and they win that game and the World Series. No doubt about it. They had not blown a single lead all year long that they had going in to the ninth.

None of the stuff that happened after that would have happened if it weren't for the bad call.

Here are the top 5 reasons given by ESPN Classic:

5. Vince Coleman got his leg "ate" by the tarp machine making him miss the World Series-
This definitely played a factor...in the Cardinals not sweeping the series. It has nothing to do with the fact the Cardinals were shafted.

4. Tommy Lasorda pitching to Jack Clark in the NLCS game six with first base open-
Clark's HR was undoubtedly one of the most exciting moments in Cardinals history. I guess the point this "reason" is trying to make is that the Cardinals made it to the World Series because of this decision. That's just flat out wrong. Even if Lasorda walks Clark, Van Slyke or Pendleton could have driven in the tying or winning runs. And even if they didn't, there was still a game seven to play if the Cards lost. So this reason is pointless.

3. The Cardinals poor offensive showing-
Sure the Cardinals offense was suffering due to the absence of Coleman. But again, this is pointless. Because the Cardinals still had a 3-2 Series lead, and were leading 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth of game 6, despite the bad offense.

2. The Cardinals defensive meltdown the rest of the 9th inning of Game 6-
Again, none of the things that happened the rest of that inning happen if Denkinger makes that call correctly. So this is not a good argument.

1. The Cardinals Game 7 nervous breakdown-
Again, there is no Game 7 if Game 6 ends the way it should have until Denkinger's interference.

But let's say for a moment that Denkinger gets the call right, but the Royals rally and win Game 6 anyway. It would have been upsetting, yes, but that's the kind of loss you can rebound from. You could have just given credit to the Royals for an excellent comeback, and then gotten yourself ready for Game 7. Instead, everyone felt they had been denied, not on the field, but on the basis of this one call. And so it ate away at everyone, including the manager. I think they did give up. I think there was a collective, what's the use? feeling on the club, because it just wasn't going to go their way in spite of how well they played.

Having you opponents outplay you on the field is something you can live with. Having a title ripped from you by something beyond your control isn't.

And the Cardinals did not show up for Game 7.

Just remember, those of you who disagree, if this happened to your team, you'd agree with me.

And with that I am forever putting this issue to rest. It's time to get over it. I shall not speak of it again, God willing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"2. The Cardinals defensive meltdown the rest of the 9th inning of Game 6-
Again, none of the things that happened the rest of that inning happen if Denkinger makes that call correctly. So this is not a good argument."

That's not a rebuttal. You can say that they become defensively much better automatically and "none" of that happens? Nice try. Live with it.