Getaway Day – YouTube Classics (Vol. 1)

And now for something I think you’ll really like.

If there’s one thing Mr. Getaway’s obsessed with, it’s old sporting events on YouTube. A treasure trove of ephemera from days long gone, YouTube is the ultimate “yo, remember this?” Of course, that inherent feeling of nostalgia on the site stretches into sports. Growing up, Mr. Getaway could remember recording games on VHS. Sometimes, it was so my father could watch them when he got home (since he was at work). Other times, it was so I could watch or rewatch later (because it was a school night and I had to go to bed early). Game 7 of the 1991 World Series is etched in Mr. Getaway’s mind due to constant re-viewings on VHS.

With the love for old games many of us share, why not bring that love here?

It’s not going to be a weekly thing, a bi-weekly thing or even a monthly thing. However, every now and then, Mr. Getaway will post some old games for you to watch. He’ll break down why these games (or clips) are significant in the history of baseball and hopes that maybe you’ll learn something.

So without further ado…

July 2, 2002 – Montreal Expos vs. Atlanta Braves

Significance: Bartolo Colon’s first start as an member of the Expos

On June 27, 2002, the Cleveland Indians found themselves regressing to their pre-Jacobs Field selves. On the verge of recording their first losing season in eight years, the team looked to the future. Colon and slugger Jim Thome were going to be free agents at the end of the season and Cleveland looked to capitalize on a deadline deal that could boost their farm system.

Cleveland decided to trade Colon, his 2.55 ERA and minor league pitcher Tim Drew to Montreal for Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips and Grady Sizemore. Phillips went on to win four Gold Gloves and make multiple All-Star appearances, Lee became one of the best starting pitchers in baseball and Sizemore became one of best outfielders in baseball for a short period of time. (Injuries would cut Sizemore’s career short.)

As for the actual game, Colon would throw seven innings of one-run ball and strikeout six. The Expos would beat the Braves 5-2.

October 9, 1989 – Game 5 of the NLCS 

Significance: A pitcher meeting the end of his career.

The San Francisco Giants, led by Will Clark, Matt Williams and 1989 NLCS MVP Kevin Mitchell, quickly disposed of the Chicago Cubs in five games. After Steve Bedrosian got Ryne Sandberg to ground out in the ninth, the traditional pileup on the pitcher’s mound commenced. That’s where the story gets interesting.

Pitcher Dave Dravecky was among the Giants in the celebratory pileup. He hadn’t pitched a single game in the postseason, wouldn’t pitch a single game in the World Series and would never pitch again. So why was he there?

The southpaw hit the ground running when he first made it to the majors pitching to a 2.57 ERA and a 1.133 WHIP. His second season in the majors saw him named to the NL All-Star team as a member of the San Diego Padres. Dravecky made several relief appearances for the Padres during the 1984 postseason and started two games for the Giants in the 1987 postseason, pitching well every time.

But 1988 marked a turning point for Dravecky.

After winning his Opening Day start, Dravecky was put on the disabled list due to stiffness in the left shoulder. They also found a lump in his pitching arm, but team doctors told him it was harmless. Dravecky’s intuition thought otherwise. He went back home to Ohio, underwent more tests and the lump turned out to be a malignant desmoid tumor. Dravecky had cancer. Doctors removed the tumor in order to save Dravecky’s arm, career and life. He was told his baseball career was over.

Dravecky didn’t see it that way.

The pitcher promptly began rehabilitation efforts trying to make it back to the majors. On Aug. 10, 1989, Dravecky bore the fruits of his labor as he made his first start since being diagnosed. He pitched eight innings and the Giants beat the Reds 4-3.

His next start, however, wouldn’t be as celebratory. It would be tragic.

During the sixth inning of a game against the Montreal Expos at Olympic Stadium, Dravecky threw a pitch to Tim Raines and this is what transpired. Dravecky would stay around the team as inspiration. San Francisco made it all the way to the World Series before being swept by the Oakland Athletics. Of course, that series had its own share of drama and tragedy.

So what makes the celebration after Game 5 so important? Dravecky would break his arm again during the pile up. He would later find out that the cancer had returned and he’d have to have his pitching arm amputated effectively ending his major league career.

October 4, 2003 – Game 4 of the NLDS

Significance: The second to last significant play at the plate.

In 2003, the Florida Marlins were on a magic carpet ride. Following a switch to Jack McKeon as manager, the Marlins won the National League Wild Card. Led by veterans like Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, “Mr. Marlin” Jeff Conine and young upstarts like Miguel Cabrera, Josh Beckett and Derrek Lee, the Marlins looked to be the team of the future. However, the San Francisco Giants seemed to be the team of the present.

Led by slugger Barry Bonds, the Giants came to within a game of winning the World Series the previous season. Losing to the Anaheim Angels, the Giants kept most of their roster and wanted one more shot at a title. The Marlins went into their matchup with the Giants a significant underdog and prognosticators assumed San Francisco would make quick work of them. Nope.

While Jason Schmidt pitched a complete game shutout and led the the Giants to a 2-0 victory, the Marlins stole Game 2 on the road and won 9-5. Back at Pro Player Stadium, the Marlins beat the Giants in a dramatic Game 3 after Rodriguez singled in Alex Gonzalez and Juan Pierre in the 11th inning.

Game 4 would prove to be just as dramatic.

The Giants had runners on first and second in the top of the 9th. Down 7-6, Jeffrey Hammonds stepped to the plate against closer Ugueth Urbina. Hammonds blooped a single to left, Conine fired the ball to home, Rodriguez caught it with Rich Aurilia barreling down on him from several feet away. Aurilia tried to jar the ball loose with a collision, but Pudge held on and the Marlins completed the upset. They’d eventually go on the win the World Series.

It wouldn’t be the last time time the Giants were screwed over by a home plate collision. Eight years later, an injury to one of their best players would lead to Major League Baseball instituting a rule banning home plate collisions. While we’re now denied moments like what happened in 2003, it’s probably for the best that home plate collisions are no more.

Notes:

  • When people complain about the amount of strikeouts in modern day baseball, they acquired one hell of an example earlier this week. The Colorado Rockies combined as team to strikeout 24 times against the Boston Red Sox. Chris Sale alone struck out 17 Rockies batters. The Rockies won the game 5-4. *facepalm*
  • It’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s world and we’re just living in it.
  • I never understood tanking in baseball. The sport’s a crapshoot and the margins for error very small. You’re not guaranteed to turn amateur talent into professional greatness. One example is Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Josh Bell. A few months ago, Sports Illustrated quoted an anonymous scout trashing Bell calling him a “big lump” who can’t play. Bell’s currently hitting .333/.404/.693 with 12 home runs and hit a ball 472 feet a few days ago. Great scouting there, my guy.
  • New York Yankees infielder Miguel Andujar planned to undergo season-ending labrum repair surgery on his right shoulder. The Yankees are currently a group of no-names and Cameron Maybin because of injuries to players like Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. However, the Bronx Bombers still found themselves a half game behind the first place Tampa Bay Rays as of Thursday afternoon. Of course, they are.
  • The Washington Nationals not bringing Dusty Baker back as manager was one of the dumbest things an organization has done recently. Languishing near the bottom of the NL East, Dave Martinez is on the hot seat in his second season as manager. Between the firing of Matt Williams, the discarding of Dusty Baker and this, the constant overturn doesn’t bode well for a team with a lot of talent.
  • What the hell was that, Trevor Cahill?

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