Posts Tagged ‘George Brett’

The prevailing logic holds that the Yankees, even should they win tonight to force a game 7, will almost certainly have no chance against Cliff Lee in a Game 7 – especially one played at the Ballpark in Arlington.

Logic is wonderful thing. Without it, many of the things we take for granted would never have been created. But, as any Yankee fan knows, you just can’t predict baseball. Besides, there is a historical precedent that is eerily similar to the Yankees – Rangers series.

In 1985, the Toronto Blue Jays won game 4 of that year’s ALCS. It was the first year of the 7 game format in the LCS and under the old rules, would have meant Toronto would have won their first pennant. Instead, they grabbed what still seemed a commanding 3 games to 1 lead in the series. Even if they failed to win game 5 in Kansas City (yes, Kansas City once had really good teams), they would have games 6 & 7 at home. Lined up for a game 7 start was Toronto’s ace, Dave Steib. How good had Steib been up to that point? In his first two starts of that postseason, he had allowed 1 run on five hits – in 14 2/3 innings. KC was looking at what seemed to be an impossible hole to crawl out of.

But then KC won game 5. Toronto was forced to ship their gear – and the champagne they ordered – back to Toronto. Toronto was still confident and playing with the looseness of a team that expected they still had the series in control.

Then KC won game 6. Doubt began to trickle into the city of Toronto. After all, most of the prognosticators prior to the series had picked the Royals. They had the postseason experience. They had the best player in the game, in George Brett – even if he was starting to age some. But, Toronto had that equalizer in Steib.

Game 7 commenced much the way Royals fans expected. Steib showed a few signs of the stress of the situation, allowing two runs. But the game was tied going into the 6th. That’s when IT happened.

Steib got the first batter of the inning to hit a weak flyball to center; 1 out. Then he walked Brett and followed that up by hitting  the next batter. A ground out and walk to Steve “Bye-Bye” Balboni loaded the bases with two outs. Despite struggling with his normally impeccable command, Steib was only 1 pitch from getting out of the jam. Unfortunately for him, Jim Sundberg ripped that next pitch into the right field gap for a bases clearing triple. Steib left the game and Toronto never recovered, ultimately losing the game 6-2. And the series, 4-3. As for the champagne, KC purchased it for $1 per bottle – $1 Canadian, that is.

Like Toronto that year, Texas is in their first ever ALCS. Like Toronto that year, Texas has a seemingly unhittable pitcher lined up for game 7. Like Toronto that year, Texas lost game 5 on the road and has to rely on their fourth best pitcher for game 6.

In the end, the better team (the one with the best player of his generation) won that 1985 series (and went on to win the World Series). I suspect the same thing will happen again.

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On July 24th, 1983, the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals went head-to-head at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees were leading 4–3 with two outs in the top of the ninth, when George Brett stepped up to the plate and hit a 2-run home run off of Goose Gossage to give the Royals a 5-4 lead.

Billy Martin ran out of the dugout and asked the umpires to examine Brett’s bat. The umpires concluded that the pine tar on the bat handle exceed the amount allowed by Major League Baseball. Home plate umpire, Tim McClelland, called Brett out and mayhem ensued. George Brett came storming out of the dugout and had to be restrained by players and the other umpires from hitting McClelland.

The rule book stated: (Rule 1.10 b) “a bat may not be covered by such a substance more than 18 inches from the tip of the handle.” The game was protested by the Royals, and Tim McClelland had his decision overruled by AL President Lee MacPhail. George Brett’s home run was restored, and the game resumed on August 18th. Final Score: Royals 5, Yankees 4.

The game has gone down in history with the name: “The Pine Tar Game.”

The bat has been on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY since 1987.

File:George brett pine tar bat rotated.JPG


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