October 20, 2006 [LINK / comment]

Cardinals outlast the Mets

It was the only postseason series that went all the way so far this year (three of the other five series were sweeps), and it fully lived up to the drama inherent in such decisive make-or-break games. If this were one of those "storybook endings," the hero of Game 7 would have been Endy Chavez (a former National!), whose amazing "snowcone" catch at the left field wall in the sixth inning turned what would have been a two-run homer by Scott Rolen into a double play. If the Mets had gone on to win, that would have been one of those historic plays that people would talk about for years to come, like Willie Mays robbing Vic Wertz of a sure inside-the-park home run at the Polo Grounds in 1954. In the bottom of that inning, Chavez had a chance to capitalize on the momentum with the bases loaded, but failed. Instead, it was Cardinal catcher Yadier Molina who grabbed the unexpected glory in the top of the ninth inning with his home run to the same spot in left field as before but a little further. (Endy -- Yadier -- Where do those names come from?) But that was just a single moment, whereas the major credit should go to Jeff Suppan, who held the Mets to only one run in seven-plus innings. Proving they were indeed worthy contenders, the Mets came roaring back with the bases loaded in the ninth, but Adam Wainright's vicious curve balls flummoxed the next batters. I was expecting another miracle, but alas, there was no joy in Queens; the mighty Carlos Beltran was called out on strikes. See MLB.com.

Overdue teams, new ballparks

This will be a repeat of the 1968 World Series, when the team led by Denny McClain (31-6!) and Al Kaline prevailed over the team led by Bob Gibson (22-9) and Curt Flood. The Year of the Pitcher, just before the four-team expansion. It was also the year of the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, social turmoil around the world, and the first manned mission to orbit the moon. The same two teams faced each other in the 1934 World Series, when the Cardinals won by the same 4-3 margin.

Many people have remarked that neither of the teams have won the World Series in over 20 years. For me, there is another remarkable aspect to this year's World Series, that both teams' stadiums are relatively new: six and a half years for Detroit and only six months for St. Louis! Indeed, it is the first World Series that both stadiums are of the "neoclassical" or "retro" class. That leads me to announce...

Trivia contest #1

The first person who can correctly identify all previous stadiums in which the World Series was played during their first year of existence will get a "free" stadium page sponsorship of their choice for one year. (It's worth ten bucks, but will mainly be of value to folks with their own blog or online business to promote.) The information necessary to answer that question can be found on this Web site. Send your answers (ONE per customer) to: baseball+AT+andrewclem+DOT+com.

Yankee birthdays

I neglected to mention that yesterday was Mickey Mantle's birthday. He would have been 75. Thanks to Bruce Orser for reminding me. Today is his teammate Whitey Ford's birthday; he just turned 77.