Sunday, November 29, 2009


This decade is going to be over in a few weeks, and still nobody can tell me what to call the last 10 years.

Is it the Two Thousands? Is it the Twenty O’s?
And no, it is NOT the Oughts.

But one thing you CAN call it was a great decade for Post Season Baseball.

Usually baseball is guilty of saying “The present stinks and the past was great.” And then in 20 years people will say “the present stinks and the past was great”… except the past they are praising was the present they said stunk.

Well let’s end that charade. The present has been great! This has been an amazing decade with wonderful games and images that will be iconic in baseball history.

Don’t believe me?

Well when the decade began, we had yet to experience…

- Jeter’s flip to get Jeremy Giambi out at home.
- The Yankees 9th inning comebacks in back to back games in 2001.
- The Diamondbacks rally off of Mariano Rivera.
- Grady Little leaving Pedro Martinez in too long.
- Aaron Boone’s home run
- Steve Bartman interfering with the foul pop.
- Dave Roberts stolen base.
- The bloody sock.
- A-Rod slapping the ball out of Arroyo’s glove.
- Pujols’ homer off of Lidge

There were absurd images…

- Clemens throwing the bat at Mike Piazza
- J. T. Snow picking up Dusty Baker’s 3 year old son as he ran into the field of play during Game 5 of the World Series.
- Don Zimmer and Pedro Martinez’s interesting confrontation.
- A. J. Pierzynski’s running to first base on the third strike and starting a game winning rally.
- Two Dodgers being thrown out at home plate on the same play.
- Joba Chamberlain covered in midges.
- Game 5 of the 2008 World Series being suspended in midgame.
- Matt Holliday dropping the final out of the game, setting up a game winning rally.

There were four series that ended with walk off homers… with Aaron Boone, David Ortiz, Chris Burke and Magglio Ordonez .

And one series ended with a bunt.

So before we start a new decade, let's pay homage to what was a terrific (if unclearly named) decade.

Not to quote Carly Simon, but these are the Good Old Days for post season baseball. Let's not wait 20 years to acknowledge that.

In true Sully Baseball fashion, we're going to list the best games. The staff at Sully Baseball has picked the best Games of each round of the playoff series.

The best Game 1 of the AL Division Series... the best Game 2... etc. Right up through the best Game 7 of the World Series.

There are two "Best Games" for each game in the Division Series because each league plays two Divison Series.

So let's take a look at


For the Decade's BEST ONE GAME TIE BREAKERS click here

For the Decade's BEST GAMES OF

For the Decade's BEST GAMES OF

For the Decade's BEST GAMES OF

For the Decade's BEST GAMES OF

For the Decade's BEST GAMES OF

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sully Baseball Honors... BOB SHEPPARD

Bob Sheppard, the voice of Yankee Stadium, is retiring.

He's 99 years old... the fact that they have to announce that he is retiring and explain why he won't be able to even do one game next year says a lot about him.

Most people when they reach 99 years old have been dead for about 20 years.

But Sheppard is alive and does a job that seems to be essential... he gives class and dignity to announcing the Yankee line up.

The man first announced the lineups for the 1951 World Champion Yankees that featured Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, Billy Martin, Allie Reynolds and was managed by Casey Stengel.

The last team he called was the 2007 Wild Card team that featured Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, Robinson Cano, Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Joba Chamberlain, Mike Mussina and was managed by Joe Torre.

That's stretching over some serious time.

He was featured in Seinfeld, Anger Management and was the final voice over in Billy Crystal's surprisingly good 61*.

And yes, while I am a Red Sox fan, I admit I got chills when I heard his voice.

My first memories was hearing names like "Chris Chambliss" "Reggie Jackson" and "Willie Randolph."

And let me tell you, when I was at NYU in the early 1990s and the Yankees were awful, he made some of those names sound good.

"Hensley Meullens."
"Don Slaught."
"Alvaro Espinoza."
"Mel Hall."

Any chump can say Mickey Mantle or Thurman Munson... but to make Oscar Azocar sound like a great Yankee took some talent.

So give yourself a break... and I hope Bob Sheppard reaches well beyond 100 years.

Reggie Jackson called Sheppard "The Voice of God."

God should take that as a compliment!

Monday, November 23, 2009

How Zack and Tim can help Bert

Bert Blyleven must be positively giddy about how the Cy Young Awards panned out this year. Let me explain.

The Cy Young used to be kind of simple to figure out… a bunch of old writers would look at which pitchers won the most games and handed him the award.

Never mind that Bob Welch wasn’t even the #1 starter on his own team in 1990 (any sane person on the Planet Earth knew that Dave Stewart was the ace of the A’s). Never mind that Roger Clemens’ stats dwarfed Bob Welch’s without his lineup nor bullpen. Welch won more games… and that is that.

Never mind that in 1987 Nolan Ryan led the league in strikeouts and ERA. He had the best strikeout to walk ratio and gave up the fewest hits per 9 innings and was among the league leaders in WHIP and innings pitched that year. He finished 5th in the Cy Young voting because he had a losing record… all the while pitching for an Astros team that had a horrifically bad offense.

Wins were king.

Now I am not of the belief that wins are meaningless. If you pitch well enough to let your team win the game, then in essence you’ve done your job.

But a win could go to an undeserving pitcher. When Curt Schilling dominated the Braves in the 1993 NLCS he didn’t record a win. Instead Mitch Williams blew the lead in Games 1 and 5… and when the Phillies took the lead afterwards, it was Williams who got the win.

Anyone casually looking over the stats would see Mitch Williams went 2-0 and Curt Schilling went 0-0.

Now who had a better series?

The guy with the 1.69 ERA and 19 strikeouts over 16 innings?

Or the guy who blew two saves and let up 6 hits and 2 walks over 5 1/3 innings pitched?

And losses aren’t always the best barometer of a bad outing. Remember Harvey Haddix threw 12 perfect innings before letting up a pair of hits and a run during his masterpiece in 1959. He got the loss.

But finally writers are looking beyond just the win total to see who had the best year. Wins are important to be sure… but so is determining how a pitcher actually pitched! Did he let up few runs? Did batters have trouble getting on base against him? Did he strikeout more than he walked?

It requires looking at more than one column but it also means that a pitcher’s whole performance will be taken into account… not just the games where the team’s lineup scored him enough runs or the bullpen closed out enough games.

There is absolutely no way Zack Greinke nor Tim Linecum would have won the Cy Young 5 or 10 years ago.

Their win total would have been considered to be too low and probably CC Sabathia or Felix Hernandez would have some hardware in the AL and Adam Wainwright would be the Cy Young winner in the NL.

So what the hell does this have to do with Bert Blyleven?

Well Bert is once again up for the Hall of Fame… and hopefully the support for his candidacy is growing.

And the only thing keeping this no brainer Hall of Famer out of Cooperstown is the fact that he has 287 wins instead of 300.

5th in Strikeouts all time… 9th in shutouts all time… Cy Young Candidate over a 16 year span… clinched a pennant for the Pirates in 1979 with a complete game and saved the World Series with a gutsy 4 inning relief appearance… then helped pitch the Twins to the 1987 World Series title…

But 13 wins short of 300, and sits on the outside of Cooperstown looking in.

As I wrote in my Bert Blyeven post last winter, he had scores of games where he was a hard luck loser for some subpar teams over 22 seasons that maybe those 13 games could be forgiven.

Well Hall of Fame voters can be swayed.

I believe Jim Rice made the Hall of Fame because of the steroid issue. His home run total looked more impressive since his body never changed shape dramatically from 1975 to 1989.

Suddenly the same people who kept harping on about his walks and not reaching 400 homers realized that being an MVP candidate for more than a decade should amount to something.

And for Jim Ed Rice it amounted to a plaque in Cooperstown.

Now the same writers need to look at Blyleven’s career the way that Cy Young voters looked at Greinke and Lincecum.

All that is at stake is a little immortality.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Red Sox... show some willpower this off season

I know what I am about to write is not going to be embraced by all Red Sox fans… especially in the wake of a Yankees World Series celebration and a ticket price increase at Fenway.

I realize all Red Sox fans who are 14 years old and under have no real memory of a Red Sox team that didn’t fancy itself a pennant contender.

Even the most recent Sox team to fail to make the playoffs, the 2006 edition, was in first place at the All Star Break.

And I also know that the Red Sox have gained a reputation of being Yankee-esque in terms of free agent gluttony and raiding low budget clubs for top players in exchange for subpar prospects.

But please hear me out… especially young Red Sox fans and recent bandwagon jumpers.

I do not think the Red Sox should be aggressive this off season.

The Red Sox have too many long term holes on their team and I don’t think a free agent spending spree is the answer.

Nor is trading away a ton of young talent... even for an Adrian Gonzalez.

This year will be the end of David Ortiz’s career in Fenway. And you can say the same for Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek. The season should be a farewell tour to those three great Red Sox and maybe have a chance to say good bye properly instead of awkwardly.

(For examples of beloved Red Sox who were given awkward goodbyes, please refer to Tiant, Fisk, Evans, Boggs, Clemens, Vaughn, Garciaparra, Martinez, Damon, Foulke, Ramirez.)

But there are long term question marks at shortstop. (Is Jed Lowrie really the answer?)
There are long term question marks at catcher. (Victor Martinez can do the job now, but he should be a first baseman.)
There are long term question marks in the corner outfield positions. (Unless you think we are truly entering the Jeremy Hermedia era.)

And I do NOT want to see the Red Sox turn into a team that has a revolving door of veterans breaking down to fill those holes.

Look at the post Cal Ripken Orioles and the recent Mets to see teams like that.

And oh yeah, the Orioles and Mets were considered to be powerhouses with great fan bases and perennial contenders… like the Red Sox.

It can ugly in an awful hurry.

I’d rather take a step back for a year and fix the problems and be a contender in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 rather than plug holes each year with the moronic refrain “Red Sox fans won’t accept anything less than a World Series contender every year.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Less Than Magnificent Seven

Another decade of baseball has ended, and despite cries that the Yankees buy the World Series every year and the Red Sox are no better, there has been a lot of distributed wealth in terms of post season success this decade.

8 different National League teams went to the World Series.

And while the Yankees and Red Sox did indeed represent 6 times this decade, teams like the Angels, White Sox, Tigers and Rays also pulled off unlikely pennants.

13 of the 16 teams in the National League made the playoffs this decade with 11 of those teams getting to the NLCS.

10 of the 14 AL teams made the post season and all of them played in at least one ALCS.

Small market clubs like the Marlins, Twins, A’s and Rays all made the playoffs with the Marlins winning it all in 2003.

The Big Market Red Sox missed the post season in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2006.
The Yankees missed the playoffs despite a $200 million payroll in 2008.
The Mets proved that spending money doesn’t always equal success.

As decades go, this was pretty good in terms of parity despite the popular refrain of “the same teams win every year.” (That declaration is actually more accurate when looking at the NFL and the NBA, but I digress.)

So the new decade starts for baseball in about 5 months and the staff at Sully Baseball is putting seven franchises on notice.

Seven franchises missed the playoffs each and every year of the 2000s… and they had better get their act together for the 2010s.

Two franchises missed the playoffs every year of the 1990s and 2000s:

The Washington Nationals, whose only foray into October ball was during the split 1981 season when they were the Montreal Expos.

The Kansas City Royals, who haven’t played playoff ball since winning the 1985 World Series.

And five other teams have sat out the post season since the 20th century.

The Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t even fielded a .500 team since the 1992 NLCS. Damn you Francisco Cabrera.

The Toronto Blue Jays haven’t returned to the post season since Joe Carter’s home run ended the 1993 World Series.

The Cincinnati Reds last played into October in 1995 when they lost to the Braves in the NLCS.

The Baltimore Orioles, once the model franchise in the American League, have been an embarrassment since their 1997 AL East title.

And the Texas Rangers remain the only franchise in baseball history to have never won a playoff series of any kind. They last won a Division Title in 1999.

There are no excuses for these teams to miss an entire decade. None.

Don’t give me payroll.

The A’s, Twins, Rockies, Diamondbacks and Marlins all made the post season and advanced to the League Championship Series with payrolls that ranked near the bottom of MLB.

Don’t complain about the Yankees and Red Sox spending money. Only the Blue Jays and Orioles play in the same division as those two teams… and both have bigger fan bases and access to more television money than the Rays, who leap frogged both teams to the 2008 AL Pennant.

Don’t complain about stadiums. The Pirates, Reds and Nationals all have brand new state of the art facilities open in the 2000s. They are sitting empty.

Take cues from the Rays and A’s and build teams intelligently through the draft.

Take cues from the Marlins and make sure that if you trade a veteran, get some value in return.

Take cues from the Twins and stress solid defense and throwing strikes, therefore cutting down on mistakes on the field and forcing the other teams to play fundamental baseball.

And also take a note from the Brewers and take a risk and go for it. I think trading Matt LaPorta for CC Sabathia was a brilliant move that helped the franchise in the long term. Sure the Brewers were eliminated in the Division Series and Sabathia ran off to cash the Yankees paychecks… but Brewers fans had something to cheer about for the first time since 1982.

I believe that each team should make at least one legit pennant run a decade, if for no other reason that to energize a fan base and give fans memories to build upon.

Keeping in mind my belief that you don’t really follow the ins and outs of a team until you are 7 years old, there are 33 year old Brewer fans whose only memories of a playoff team came from Sabathia’s pennant drive.

I’m sorry but that is worth Matt LaPorta.

So let’s get on it, you seven.

Draft better players. Make smarter trades. Hire better scouts. Play better defense. Throw more strikes. Push your chips into the center of the table.

You don’t want to let multiple decades pass without giving your fan base any reason to cheer.

And no, Nationals front office, the President Race doesn’t count as a reason to cheer.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Got Your East Coast Bias Right Here!

The first decade of the 21st century is over in the world of baseball. (And no, I am not one of those lunatics who considers 2010 part of this decade nor 2000 part of the 1990s.)

Next year we enter a new decade and a very new territory in terms of three teams with lots of tradition, history, passionate fans and only 300 miles between them.

The last three World Series winners have been the Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees.

That's right, the three most obnoxious fan bases in the baseball world all have reasons to crow over the last three seasons.

This is unprecedented. These three teams have never been champions around the same time. There was always a team deep in a World Series drought.

The Red Sox and Yankees each won in the 1910s and 1920 when the World Series was in its infancy.

The Phillies never won until 1980. Now the Yankees were the champs of 1978... but the Red Sox were in the middle of their drought.

The Yankees were the champs in 2000 and the Red Sox won in 2004, but the Phillies were still in a post Joe Carter funk.

Well guess what?
There is no 1918 anymore. (Nor a 2000 for that matter.)
And Philadelphia is no longer a city wishing for a champ over a quarter century of seeing the Phillies, 76ers, Flyers and Eagles flop in the big game.

Each are recent winners with many players still on the roster from their World Series title.

Each have home grown stars who won for their hungry fans.
The Red Sox have Papelbon, Youkilis, Lester, Pedroia and Ellsbury for the long haul... all with rings and all contributed big to their title.

The Phillies have Howard, Rollins, Utley and Victorino all as post season heroes. (Cole Hamels will join this group once his detention is over.)

And the Yankees have the old guard of Jeter, Posada, Pettitte and Rivera and new home grown stars like Cano, Cabrera, Hughes and if he ever gets his head turned around, Joba.

And all three teams look like they will be solid contenders for the next few years.

Seriously, it is something that baseball has never seen: The Northeast emboldened with recent championships and flush with fan favorites who don't have the "he never won a ring" stigma.

All three fan bases have ammo.

For the rest of the country, I'm sorry. There is going to be some SERIOUS East Coast Bias going on in big league baseball in the next decade.

You may not like it, but baseball just IS bigger in the Northeast.

But do you know who I really feel bad for?

Met fans.

If they won in 2006, they'd be in this conversation.

Instead, Beltran looked at called strike three.

I don't envy you Met fans. These next few years are going to SUCK!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Do you know what was awesome about Game 7 of the 1979 World Series? EVERYTHING!!!!

The other day, the MLB Network was showing Game 7 of the 1979 World Series, which is to date the last time the road team won Game 7 of a World Series.

As I wrote in the Pirates Home Grown vs Acquired entry that the 1979 Series was the first one I have any real memory of.

When my brother and I were kids, often we would stay at the home of our neighbors Peggy and Rico Bianchi until my mom and dad got home from work.

And in that great October of 1979, I remember being a 7 year old sitting in their upstairs bedroom with a black and white TV on watching the games and becoming transfixed.

I remember "We Are Family" being played as the Pirates rallied. I remember Willie Stargell getting key hits after key hit and the Orioles having what seemed like 100,000 awesome pitchers.

But watching the game the other day brought back a flood of memories and opened my eyes to things I didn't remember...

And keep in mind I originally watched it without color, and little did I realize just how colorful a World Series this was.

Let's list the cool things, shall we?


I remember his 2 run come from behind homer off of Scott McGregor and not being surprised by it. That's just what Pops was supposed to do!

Only the most die hard Orioles fan could watch Stargell's 1979 World Series and not have a huge grin on their face.


The last World Series of the 1970s made quite a fashion statement.

The bright yellow unis of Pittsburgh with the flatop caps...
The bright orange duds of the Orioles complete with the smiling bird cap that will always rock.

Both with the pullover double knit tops.

They looked great on color TV. Imagine how they'd look in HD.

We need a bright uniform renaissance.


Captain Willie Stargell would hand out stars for great plays and clearly didn't mind giving himself a few either.

Each of the Pirates put the stars on their caps and often there was no uniformity in how they arranged the stars.

Here Kent Tekulve had a few on top of his cap as well as surrounding the crown.

Today this would probably be banned by MLB for not being uniform.

In 1979, it made the team a closer family.


Has there ever been a more awkward looking closer than Kent Tekulve?

Tom Henke was a GQ model compared to Tekulve.

He clearly wasn't cut from the same intimidating cloth as say Rollie Fingers, Sparky Lyle or Goose Gossage.

The tall skinny frame.

The huge glasses.

The high school science teacher face.

Even how he threw was strange and not exactly pretty.

He had that rubber band arm submarine motion where I am sure the batter just couldn't see the release point at all.

He wasn't glamorous that is for sure, but he could get the job done on the mound.

Now as awkward as he may have looked on the mound, just imagine how out of place he felt at the plate.

Yup, a closer batted.

Here's what I want to know:

How the hell did Tekulve get a run batted in in 1979???


Eddie Murray, who could launch the ball from either side and managed 3,000 hits and election to the Hall of Fame, always was The Man at the plate.

But late 70s Eddie was the coolest Eddie.

The big fro spraying out from his helmet. The sideburns. The stache. The smiling bird cap that contrasted his scowl.

And we can all admit the orange wrist bands were a nice touch.


I intentionally made this picture bigger.

It's worth a close look.

Heck, it's worth making it the wall paper on your computer.

Remember, he CHOSE this look.

It's wonderful that he has the hair that matches the color of his uniform... and his afro dwarfs Eddie Murray's.

I guess at that point he said "Oh screw it... I'll grow an insane mustache that covers my mouth too."

What I am saying is, it takes some effort to make the smiling bird on the hat the SECOND goofiest face in this picture.


We forget now how great a player Dave Parker was in the 1970s. He was the MVP in 1978 and in the discussion for best all around hitter in the game then.

And like Eddie Murray he had a "don't f--- with me" aura that made him even more intimidating.

He didn't have Eddie's scowl... instead he had an expression that read "do you REALLY think you are getting me out? I won back to back batting titles and STILL can crush 20-30 homers!"

Back then 20-30 homers meant something and he was about as physically intimidating a figure at the plate you could imagine in a pre steroids slugger.

Parker wasn't on the juice.

He did manage to smoke a pack or so in the dugout during the game.


Didn't there seem to be more than two Roenickes?

It seemed like whenever I opened a pack of cards there was a Roenicke (along with a Toby Harrah, Dick Tidrow and Mike Hargrove.)

I could never get Gary nor Ron straight.

Now there is a NEW Roenicke in the bigs. Gary's son Josh pitched for the Reds and Blue Jays this year.

I wonder if he gets the Roenickes confused.


Trying to keep the Pirates from blowing the game open, Earl Weaver made about a thousand trips to the mound and made so many pitching changes that I think that if he could have activated McNallay and Cuellar, he would have.

In all 5 pitchers pitched the 9th including eventual Cy Young winner Mike Flanagan and both Dennis and Tippy Martinez.

I had to double check to see if I pitched.


When did the bullpen cart become extinct?

Seriously... one minute every pitcher was carted out, the next they are ambling in from the pen.

Did they get a proper send off?
Is there any chance they can come back?


The Pirates in the locker room, including borderline Hall of Famer Bill Madlock, are watching the late innings.

Today they would be in the spacious clubhouse watching on flatscreen TVs.

In 1979, it is a crummy TV (probably a Zenith) sitting on top of a washing machine.

Hey, it did the trick.


Fly ball to Omar Moreno and Kent Tekulve hugs catcher Steve Nicosia and the Pirates are the champs of the baseball world...

Something they haven't been able to say since.

As was the norm of the celebrations in the 1970s, the objective for the winning team was NOT to celebrate on the field.

There was no big elaborate pile and choreographed celebration on the mound.

After Tekulve hugged Nicosia, it became the objective of the Pirates to GET THE HELL OFF OF THE FIELD AS FAST AS POSSIBLE!

In the picture above, Rennie Stennett, Willie Stargell and John Candelaria are sprinting past the mob of people to get into the safety of the clubhouse...

No doubt the mob would want to steal that television on top of the washing machine.


The camera doesn't focus on it.

I know of no accounts of this happening.

But I saw it with my own two eyes in the re broadcast.

Some fan tried to grab Pirates catcher Steve Nicosia. Nicosia gets him to the ground... and throws a punch... or two...

And I am not talking a half hearted punch either.

He gives him a few haymakers and turns around and runs back into the dugout.

The person he punched MUST be out there still.

If you are, e mail

I would love to interview you.

Can you IMAGINE that happening today? Carlos Ruiz or Jorge Posada clocking a fan on the field?

They'd be forced to go on a public relations tour, apologizing left and right.

Not Nicosia! He gets to beat up a guy and then celebrate with champagne.

I kind of like it the 1979 way better.

I'm sure Pirate fans do too.

I hope reading this post made you hum a little Sister Sledge.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Anyone who reads Sully Baseball knows that I have a strange fascination with the pitcher who closes out the World Series.

I always wanted to be the pitcher getting the last out and being on the bottom of the pile... but alas that's a role that won't be played by little Paul Sullivan.

Usually the last pitch is thrown by an ace pitcher throwing a complete game... or a star closer... and in a few instances by a Hall of Famer.

But every once in a while the biggest pitch of the year is thrown by someone more obscure.

Either it is a spot starter pitching the game of his life...
Or a middle reliever thrown into the fire...
Or a starter coming out of the pen...
Or in a few instances the World Series was clinched by a pitcher who started the season in the minor leagues.

So let's salute the pitchers who got to have the highlight of a lifetime... and were almost as unlikely to have that moment as me!

DICK "BALDY" RUDOLPH, Boston Braves - 1914 World Series

The Miracle Braves were in last place on July 4, 1914... and somehow won the NL Pennant and swept the defending World Champion A's.

Rudolph was a .500 pitcher going into the 1914 season. He won 26 games in 1914 and threw complete game victories in games 1 and the clinching game 4.

The next year he led the NL in losses and by the 1920s he was no longer a factor. But he will always be the first Braves pitcher to clinch a World Series.

SAD SAM JONES, New York Yankees - 1923 World Series

The Yankees just won their 27th title in the first year of their new park.

The first year in the Bronx, they won their first ever title. And which legend clinched title #1?

Jones, a 21 game winner who came out of the bullpen to throw the final two innings of Game 6 against the Giants. In a few years he led the league in losses and never pitched like an elite pitcher again.

There will be many more Yankee titles, but Jones clinched the first one.

RED OLDHAM, Pittsburgh Pirates - 1925 World Series

Without a doubt the single most obscure pitcher to ever clinch a World Series. He was in the minor leagues at the beginning of 1925. He didn't pitch at all in the World Series until the 9th inning of the 7th game. All he had to do was face Hall of Famers Sam Rice, Bucky Harris and Goose Goslin with just a 2 run lead. He got them in order and he saved Game 7 of the World Series.

The next year he was back in the minors. After 1926 he never pitched in the bigs again.

He struggled through obscure teams for years, sitting next to minor leaguers who would never make it. I wonder if he ever brought up clinching the World Series during those minor league games.

DOLF LUQUE, New York Giants - 1933 World Series

Luque had a couple of terrific years for the Reds in the early 20s. But by 1933, he was a 42 year old reliever in an era where starters tended to go 9.

But he came into a tied Game 5 of the 1933 World Series and threw 4 1/3 shutout innings and struck out Joe Kuhel in the 10th to clinch the series.

TINY BONHAM, New York Yankees, 1941 World Series

Usually relief ace "Fordham" Johnny Murphy would get the honors to close out a series for the Yankees in the late 30s and early 40s. Or perhaps a Hall of Famer like Lefty Gomez or Red Ruffing.

But in 1941, Tiny Bonham had the honor. He threw a complete game victory in Game 5 against the Dodgers to seal the title.

Bonham was a terrific rookie in 1940 and had a solid 1941 and became an All Star by 1942. But he struggled in the post war years. Then in 1949 as a member of the Pirates, he died during an appendectomy.

JOHNNY BEAZLEY, St. Louis Cardinals - 1942 World Series

Beazley had a dream rookie year in 1942. He won 21 games and helped pitch the Cardinals to the World Series title with complete game victories in Game 1 and the clinching Game 5.

Then he went off to war and missed the 1942, 1944 and 1945 seasons. When he returned, he was part of the 1946 Champs, but was not the same pitcher and a few years later was out of baseball.

He became a beer distributor, and one with the coolest story to tell at the bar. "Did YOU ever clinch a World Series?"

TED WILKS, St. Louis Cardinals - 1944 World Series

The war years gave a lot of unlikely players a chance to shine. Wilks was a 28 year old rookie in 1944 when he joined a Cardinals team depleted during the war.

He pitched very well and in the All St. Louis World Series, Wilks pitched 3 1/3 perfect innings out of the bullpen to save the clinching Game 6.

Wilks pitched 10 seasons and twice led the league in saves before retiring as a member of the Indians in 1953.

HARRY BRECHEEN, St. Louis Cardinals - 1946 World Series

Both Beazley and Wilks were on the 1946 Cardinals team. They were also quite rested during Game 7 of the World Series when the Cardinals were protecting a 2 run 8th inning lead.

Brecheen had thrown a complete game victory just 2 days prior. But it was Brecheen who got the ball in the 8th. The Red Sox would rally to tie the game, but the Cardinals took the lead on Slaughter's mad dash.

When he shut down the Red Sox in the 9th, Brecheen became the first pitcher to win Game 6 and 7 of the same World Series.

GENE BEARDEN, Cleveland Indians - 1948 World Series

The photo on the left is of Gene Bearden clinching the AL Pennant against the Red Sox. He would have another highlight. The rookie left hander won 21 games that year and led the league in ERA.

He would never win more than 8 games again and 6 years later, was out of baseball.

But he threw a complete game shutout in Game 3 of the World Series and came out of the bullpen to shut down the Braves in Game 6 to get the World Series clinching save.

As of this writing, it is the last World Series the Indians ever won. (I am looking at YOU Jose Mesa!)

BOB KUZAVA, New York Yankees - 1951 World Series and 1952 World Series

I already covered Kuzava's heroics in the 1951 and 1952 World Series in my "Clinched backed to back years" entry.

What I find amazing is that Casey Stengel would not use Kuzava until the World Series was on the verge of being clinched.

It's as if he sat in the dug out and said "Are we about to win this baby? Well then let's bring in the left hander we just got from Washington... the one with the nondescript career."

He played 3+ seasons in New York, picked up 3 World Series rings and closed out two of those series on his own... then went back to being a nondescript pitcher.

JOHNNY ANTONELLI, New York Giants - 1954 World Series

Antonelli was a solid pitcher on the last Giants team to win the World Series. And he won Game 2 against the Indians, giving the Giants a 2-0 lead.

In the clinching game 4, Leo Durocher had future Hall of Famer reliever Hoyt Wilhelm on the mound and relief ace Marv Grissom in the pen.

Instead he elected to bring in Antonelli to pitch the last innings of game 4.

He got the save and the Giants got the win... so I guess it is tough to argue with Durocher's decision.

On a side note, Antonelli was acquired by the Giants in exchange for another October hero: Bobby Thomson.

JOHNNY KUCKS, New York Yankees - 1956 World Series

Don Larsen was the hero of the 1956 World Series, but it was the responsibilty of 22 year old Kucks to close the series out.

He had made some World Series relief appearances, but Game 7 in Brooklyn was his first ever World Series start. He responded with a complete game shutout, ending the last World Series game ever played in Brooklyn.

The New Jersey native (and friend of my uncle's) won 18 games that year, but never again won more than 8 and five years later was out of baseball.

LARRY SHERRY, Los Angeles Dodgers - 1959 World Series

The Los Angeles native helped deliver the first ever World Series title to the west coast (much to the chagrin of Brooklyn fans.)

He saved 2 games against the White Sox and won two others in the World Series to become the first reliever to win World Series MVP honors.

He relieved Johnny Podres in game 6 and threw 5 2/3 shutout inning to slam the door on Chicago and win the World Series.

He would have some more solid seasons as a relief ace with the Dodgers and the Tigers, but none living up to the promise of a rookie World Series MVP.

BUD DALEY, New York Yankees - 1961 World Series

The Yankees of the 1950s and 1960s had their superstars and Hall of Famers. But they also had a steady stream of roll players who came up big in October.

Joining the Johnny Kucks and Bob Kuzava's of the world is Bud Daley, whom the Yankees acquired from the A's midway through the 1961 season.

He was unimpressive in the regular season but came up big in October.

When Ralph Terry couldn't make it out of the third inning, Daley came in to relieve. He threw 6 1/3 innings with no earned runs. He got Vada Pinson to fly out to Hector Lopez to clinch the World Series.

Three years later he was out of baseball.

STEVE BLASS, Pittsburgh Pirates - 1971 World Series

I suppose Blass isn't such an unlikely clinching pitcher. He was putting together a terrific career in Pittsburgh. As one of the Pirates most reliable pitchers, he threw a complete game victory in Game 3 of the 1971 World Series against the defending champion Orioles.

Then in a tense Game 7, he withstood an Orioles 8th inning rally and hung on to get Merv Rettenmund to ground out for the World Seris title.

The next year he was the runner up for the Cy Young. A year later his control was gone and his ERA was over 9.00. By 1975 his career was over.

He became a popular announcer, but his startling loss of his ability to pitch led to the term "Steve Blass Disease" for players who careers suddenly sputter.

DAROLD KNOWLES, Oakland A's - 1973 World Series

A's manager Dick Williams didn't use Knowles in the 1973 ALCS. Let's just say he made up for it in the World Series.

For whatever reason Knowles, a good pitcher who made the 1969 All Star team with the Senators, became Williams' go to guy. He appeared in the first 6 games of the Series against the Mets, saving Game 1.

It looked like Rollie Fingers would have the honor of closing out the World Series in Game 7, but Gene Tenace made a 2 out error in the 9th that put the tying run at the plate. Knowles came in and got Wayne Garrett to pop up to clinch the series.

To date, Knowles is the only pitcher to appear in all 7 games of a 7 game series.

MIKE TORREZ, New York Yankees - 1977 World Series

Yes... THAT Mike Torrez. Most people associate Torrez with the Yankees 1978 title... mainly because as a member of the Red Sox he served up Bucky Dent's homer. (Some people in Boston felt he was a double agent.)

He had a more direct impact on the 1977 title by throwing two complete game wins in the World Series for the Yankees.

The Dodgers touched him for some runs at the beginning of the clinching 6th game, but he received all the run support he needed from Reggie Jackson's three homers.

Jackson and Torrez are linked in another way: When Reggie was traded from the A's to Baltimore, Oakland got a package of players in return including Torrez.

MIKE TIMLIN, Toronto Blue Jays - 1992 World Series

I wrote about my personal fascination with Mike Timlin's World Series clinching save in the Blue Jays Home Grown vs. Acquired post.

But it really is amazing when you take a few steps back and see the total tonnage of All Star caliber pitchers who threw in that Game 6 of the 1992 World Series.

David Cone, Todd Stottlemyre, David Wells, Duane Ward, Tom Henke and Jimmy Key all pitched.

NATURALLY the World Series would fall on Mike Timlin's shoulders!

One thing that kind of upset me about the World Series celebration in 1992 was that the pile seemed to center around Joe Carter (who caught the last out) and not Mike Timlin.

Ah well... I'm sure Timlin didn't mind.

BOBBY JENKS, Chicago White Sox - 2005 World SeriesIn 2004, Jenks looked like a dopey fat minor league pitcher in the Angels system who was blowing his big chance. Repeatedly drunk, hung over or bringing beer on the team bus, and was cut from their AA team at the end of the season.

That's a terrible way to end a season.
Do you know what a better way to end a season is? Recording the last out of the World Series in a thrilling 1-0 game, ending an 88 year drought for a proud franchise.

Picked up by the White Sox and sent to AA, he made his big league debut in July. When closer Dustin Hermanson hurt his back, Jenks became the closer.

He closed out the Astros in Game 4 and gave Chicago a World Championship for the first time since 1917.

Folks, that is what I call a turn around.

ADAM WAINWRIGHT, St. Louis Cardinals - 2006 World Series

When the Cardinals limped into the 2006 post season with 83 wins, they started the playoffs without a closer. Jason Isringhausen had hip surgery and Adam Wainwright, who was in the minor leagues in 2005, was pressed into closing duty.

He closed out the Division Series against the Padres and then threw a franchise crushing called third strike against the Mets Carlos Beltran in the NLCS.

He then closed out the World Series against the Tigers.

I am sure when the season began his goals basically were "stay on the team."

I wonder if "Clinch the World Series and be forever etched into Cardinals lore" crossed his mind.