Work in Progress

Baseball, Seminary, Wrestling, and the Dreams and Days of one Mike Work's Angeles experience

Monday, January 24, 2005 now offers a digital download service, through which baseball fans can download recent and classic games to the tune of $3.95 per game. With a $5 credit on my card which was unused to date, I decided to try it out and download Game 4 of the 1988 NLCS.

October 9, 1988: Shea Stadium
Dodgers v. Mets
John Tudor v. Doc Gooden

And I remembered why I became a Dodger fan, and why Orel Hershiser was my favorite player in that era. The Dodgers came in down two games to one against a Mets team that took twelve of thirteen from them during the regular season. LA took an early lead, which the Mets soon erased, thanks to back to back jacks from Strawberry and McReynolds. Tudor left in the sixth, down 4-2, and Lasorda went to the bullpen, already low on men due to the suspension of closer Jay Howell. Brian Holton, Ricky Horton, and Alejandro Pena held the line through the ninth, when Mike Scioscia, he of three regular season homeruns, took Gooden deep, tying the score and sending the game into extra innings. Pena pitched into the twelfth frame, when Kirk Gibson took an 0-1 pitch from Roger McDowell over the wall in right-center field to put the boys in blue back on top.

Joint Trivia effort from Tim McCarver and Mike Work: Bo Diaz of the Reds was the only other player to take McDowell deep in 1988, in his final year as the everyday catcher for Cinci. Diaz was supplanted in 1989 by Jeff Reed and Joe Oliver, who signed a ball for us when we won tickets to the final two Reds games of that season. McDowell would later spend four years pitching for the Dodgers, and is now the pitching coach for their Triple-A affiliate, the Las Vegas 51s.

Okay, back to the game. Bottom twelve: Tim Leary, normally a starter, opens the inning for the Dodgers, and runs into trouble, putting two men on with one out. The last man in the pen, Jesse Orosco, comes in, and walks Keith Hernandez, loading the bases for Darrell Strawberry, hitting .412 at that point in the series. With Hernandez hitting, Orel Hershiser, who had started game three, began warming up in the pen, having thrown seven innings and one hundred-plus pitches in the rain the night before.

On a 2-2 pitch, Orosco got Strawberry to pop up to Steve Sax at second, and having faced the two lefties in the center of the order, exited the game. Kevin McReynolds came to the plate and Hershiser came into the game. Pretty much a 'must get this guy' situation; a loss would put the Dodgers down 3-1 to the Mets, and with Howell suspended and Tim Belcher at the hotel getting sleep before starting game five in twelve hours, Hershiser was all L.A. had left. Oh, yeah, another stat that flashed on-screen as he came to the plate: in his career with the bases loaded, McReynolds was 5 for 9 with two grand slams. He was good.

0-0: fouled off
0-1: high and outside
1-1: broken bat looper over second base, the type that plates tying runs, and John Shelby comes running in from center to catch it knee-high, game over. Dodgers win, 5-4, guaranteeing that the series will go back to L.A.!

Great ball game, and one of many clutch performances from Hershiser, who would win game seven, as well as games two and five of the World Series, capping a Cy Young year and the most remarkable September in baseball history (six starts, six complete game shutouts). That's commitment, to volunteer to throw in that situation, come in, and get the out when the team most needed it (as detailed in his autobiography, Out of the Blue, which I devoured when it made its way into our house), and I must give props. That sort of performance characterized the '88 Dodgers, who, prior to game four, were termed the weakest lineup in World Series history by Bob Costas, yet beat the McGwire/Canseco powered Athletics, four games to one. In the first game of that series, the injured Kirk Gibson, in his only at-bat in the series, came in to pinch-hit against Dennis Eckersley in the 9th, down 4-3, and takes Eck's backdoor slider into the stands. Those two series, and the individual-for-team performances that we saw against the heavily-favored Mets and A's, made me a Dodger fan, fifteen years before moving to L.A.

Sports Illustrated's article covering the World Series win


  • At 10:16 PM, Blogger Tyler said…

    Lasorda destroyed pitchers. While Hershiser caught lightning that season, is it much wonder why he never came close to repeating his successes given that Lasorda pitched the crap out of any good pitcher he had? (Ramon Martinez anyone?) A look at the great recap of the 1988 postseason you gave speaks volumes: 6 complete game shutouts and a relief appearance. That'll do crazy things to anyone's arm. Still, Hershiser was a stud.

    In all, as an A's fan, I must say, Stupid Dodgers.


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