brewers baseball and things

tale of two pitchers and oh how it Raines!

18 Comments

Vin Scully hooked me before the game ever started. He recited both team’s lineup cards and said, “There you have the characters. Now sit back and watch as the story unfolds.”

It was the Montreal Expos visiting the New York Mets in the merry month of May, 1987; May 2 to be exact, a regular season game brimming with story lines.

goodenThe Mets were the defending World Series Champions. Dwight Gooden was making his much-anticipated return from the “controlled substance” disabled list. Doctor K wasn’t pitching this day, but all eyes and cameras were on him. Word around the clubhouse was that he had shut out teammates, fans, and media.

Last year’s batting champion-switch hitter, stolen base king Tim Raines was also making a comeback of sorts. He had sat out all of spring training and the first 21 games of the season because of contract squabbles. The only preparation Raines made were some aerobics and one Class A game in which he led off every inning. Nonetheless, there he was batting third in the Expos lineup.

Any game at Shea stadium in Queens New York was unmistakably Shea. The stadium was located very close, some say way too close to Laguardia International Airport. Remember this is New York City. I counted 2 planes on average for each at bat. The noise was Shea’s signature like a singer or guitar player no one can duplicate, dissonant as it may have been. shea

David Cone was on the mound for the Mets. It was his second career major league start. His previous outing was one of the worst debuts of any pitcher in recent memory. He threw 5 innings and gave up 7 hits, 5 walks, 7 earned runs. The Mets lost to the Astros 11-1, but there he was 4 games later and as he took the mound, the camera flashed to Dwight Gooden in the dugout as if to say, the only reason you stand on this Shea Stadium mound Mr. Cone is because the great one- Dr. K himself is having trouble handling success.

Gooden never regained the complete dominance of his first few years. He was young, vulnerable and living in New York. The temptations got to him, but whatever! He still pitched for 16 years, won 194 games, threw 2800 innings, allowed 2564 hits and struck out 2293 batters.

David Cone was a kid from Kansas City, had been drafted by the Kansas City Royals and pitched out of the bullpen for them the previous season in 1986. The Royals traded him to New York and he worked as a reliever in April and he wasn’t that good, but Dwight Gooden’s dark side happened and the Mets had no choice but to make him a starter.

Davey Johnson watched as Cone began this game in similar fashion to the previous disaster. He was horribly wild, pitching behind hitters and getting shelled by an Expos team that no longer had Andre Dawson or Gary Carter. The Expos recorded 6 solid hits and 3 runs off Cone in the first 3 innings, but Johnson kept Cone in the game, part out of necessity and part out of “let the kid figure it out.”

Cone went on to pitch real well the rest of the year. It was the beginning of a 17-year career in which he won 196 games, pitched 2898.2 innings and allowed 2504 hits. He also struck out 2668 batters. Cone and Gooden shared identical career WHIP’s (hits and walks allowed divided by innings pitched) at 1.256.

raines battingThe game itself was a see saw affair with the Expos jumping out to an early 3-0 lead. Daryl Strawberry  hit a long high towering home run towards the big apple sign in right field to put the Mets ahead. The score stayed 4-3 in favor of New York into the 6th inning  Then it was as if a second game began. Both starting pitchers were gone and the Raines really started to fall.

Remember, this was the first game of the season for Tim Raines. The batting champion finished the day with four hits including a go ahead grand slam off Mets reliever Jesse Orosco in the top of the 10th inning. So much for spring training!

The Mets trailed 11-7 in the bottom of the tenth, but loaded the bases on three consecutive singles. Andy McGafigan of the Expos was summoned from the bullpen. That’s all I can say….

The recording of the game ends in the top of the ninth with the score tied 6-6, but a second video shows the Raines grand slam in the top of the tenth. The bottom of that inning is no where to be found on you tube, but the Mets did load the bases. It appears Atlantis has entered the picture. This game never ends.


 

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Author: Steve Myers

I grew up in Milwaukee and have been a Milwaukee Brewers baseball fan for as long as I can remember.

18 thoughts on “tale of two pitchers and oh how it Raines!

  1. In the early summer of ’87, Doc Gooden made a rehab start for Tidewater against the Maine Guides up in Old Orchard Beach, Maine (Triple-A). The Guides no longer exist, and I’m guessing the old ballpark has long since been abandoned. My best friend and I went to see the game (I had just moved to Maine less than a year earlier from CT.)
    We managed to get seats right behind home plate. Gooden was absolutely brilliant. His curveball was unhittable, and his fastball had the old zing to it. The Guides couldn’t touch him. I believe Gooden went six innings, gave up one hit, and struck out ten batters. I remember the weather was hot and humid (yes, Maine can get hot and humid in the summer.) I think he won the game 1-0. It was one of the best pitching performances I’d ever seen live, and I was convinced he’d rediscovered his magic and would shortly resume what would certainly be a HOF career.
    Tim Raines belongs in the Hall of Fame.
    Interesting that Gooden and Cone finished their careers with the exact same WHIP. The mid-to-late ’80’s was a great time to be a Mets fan.
    Nice post,
    Bill

    • Hey Bill. Seeing Gooden right behind home plate when he was on like you describe him. That musta been something out of this world. Of course he didn’t maintain the super dominating level as you say, but he was still something when all was said and done. Not bad to have Sid Fernandez as a 2 man. Yes, those Mets years of the late 1980’s…Amazing team. What I especially liked is that after winning the World Series, they went out and traded for Kevin McReyonolds. The party then lingered into the early 1990’s but 1986…hard to top that one.

      Ben Sheets 2004 season with 264 k’s and only 32 walks is still one of the most incredible displays of power and control I’ve ever seen.

      I had to a double and triple take to see if Cone and Gooden did in fact finish with identical WHIPS. Kind of weird considering they stood so close together on that day in May of 1987 when Cone was launching and Gooden sort of coming back to earth.

      Well, I guess time is running out on Raines. I forget how many ballots a player can appear on before curtains or could he be elected by a veteran’s committee? It looks like the election committee’s focus on batting average and reaching 3,000 hits is hurting Raines. Returning to our conversation yesterday, maybe the Hall could have a separate wing of players that should be in the Hall of Fame. They could provide interactive explanations of how players are elected. It could be a way to open kids minds to the arbitrary nature of voting in general and add a few more thousand exhibits.

      Take care Bill

    • Well, the Maine Guides became the Maine Phillies the next year. I didn’t move to Maine until about November or December of 1987. If I recall correctly, the Guides were the Indians’ triple A farm club; they played at the stadium known as The Stadium, which is a real good name for a stadium. Yup, it was in Old Orchard Beach, but in ’87 they became the Maine Phillies, triple A for Philadelphia.

      I went to one game. That was in 1988. Hadlock Field on Park Avenue in Portland behind the Expo in Portland was for everybody to play on, including myself; Old Orchard Beach you paid to get in to see the minor leagues. It was an ugly, kind of sterile and generic stadium, with astroturf, too, but what do you expect from a stadium called The Stadium.

      We (two other guys and me) saw the Maine Phillies versus the Tidewater Tides, Triple-A for the Mets. David West started for the Mets, and I thought that he was a guy who would do great in the majors, but it wasn’t to be. He was really impressive. As I recall, Ricky Jordan hit a home run for the Maine Phillies and was brought up to the parent club soon after and got off to a great start for the Phillies. I seem to recall Jordan cussed after he struck out, or something in the game at Old Orchard Beach.

      My father and I had talked to Jordan a couple of years before that at Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Massachusetts; I lived nearby in Monterey, Massachusetts. Jordan was playing for the Reading Phillies in Double A (Eastern League.) The home team was the Pittsfield Cubs. We talked to Jordan after the game, in the parking lot. Nice guy. He was the guy who, during the game, I had picked to be the next superstar. My father said, no, it was going to be a guy named Mark Grace, who played for the Cubs. This was 1987, I think.

      Anyway, Jordan, after a fast start with Philadelphia, never really did well, and my father was right— Grace was a star player for the Chicago Cubs.

      Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Massachusetts was a great old park. Steve, you’ll love to know that George Scott used to play there in the minors in the Red Sox organization, and the Boomer was a real local favorite. After the Red Sox, Wahconah Park was home for the Senators minor league team and later the Texas Rangers minor league team; I forget which class it was in. It was a great place to watch a ball game. Unfortunately, they only play independent league ball there nowadays.

      Glen

      • Thanks Glen for bringing to life places I’ve never been to. The only minor league game I ever went to was in Ottawa. Small crowd. We chased down two foul balls.

        The minor league tales read like an old train ride through the smaller parts of America with players dreaming and their entire lives in front of them.

        I guess at that point in time, the Ricky Jordan’s and David West’s of the world had no limit, but then they struggle with curve balls or can’t throw strikes consistently or any number of other obstacles get in the way.

        It makes the rarity of making it to the majors even more special.

        Ah, the Booomer-the other George Scott, the one not in the War of the Worlds. As much as I’m a fan of his-may he rest in peace-he also was traded along with Bernie Carbo from Milwaukee to Boston in exchange for another favorite-Cecil Cooper. Cheers Glenn!

  2. “He threw 5 innings and gave up 7 hits, 5 walks, 7 earned runs” – you’re going to have to explain these terms to me.

    “The batting champion finished the day with four hits including a go ahead grand slam off Mets reliever Jesse Orosco in the top of the 10th inning.” – and again.

    “The temptations got to him” – for a moment I thought you were going motown on me.

    • I’ll do my best Marie and try to be brief, but that sometimes fails

      Ok, there’s an old expression that says, “walks will kill you.” Well, in David Cone’s first ever start as a pitcher, this may have been true. I’m basing it solely on the statisitics since I didn’t see that game.

      Cone pitched five innings or recorded 15 outs, but he also allowed 5 walks. (4 balls results in a walk) as well as 7 hits. That’s a lot of base runners and subsequently, the chances of runs scoring increased. In Cone’s case, he was charged with 5 earned runs, but I think the Astros scored 10 runs against him. This is an important distinction. In general, an earned run is one not aided by defensive errors and therefore considered the responsibility of the pitcher because he either walked batters or gave up base hits.

      Incidentally, from a hitter’s perspective, the old expression changes to “a walk is as good as a hit.” Again, the thinking here is that anyway to get on base is good including taking a 99 mph pitch in the shoulder. Batters are awarded 1st base if a pitched ball touches them anywhere on their body or uniform including their shoelaces. This is assuming the umpire sees the ball plunk or graze the batter.

      In the case of players from the Dominican Republic, the old expression alters again to “you can’t walk off the island” or in other words, if you want scouts to see you and invest in your talent, you better hit the ball. Walking won’t impress them enough.

      The batting champion is the player with the highest batting average (hits divided by at bats). In this case, it was Tim Raines, but I should have said “reigning” batting champion because it was from the previous year.

      A grand slam is a home run hit with the bases loaded (runner on 1st base, 2nd, and third). In this game, Raines hit the grand slam with the score tied in the 10th inning. This made it a go ahead grand slam because it put the Expos ahead 11-7. The game had been tied after regulation (nine innings).

      Just to give you an idea how rare a grand slam is .The most ever hit by one player during their entire career is 24 by Alex Rodriguez who is still playing but serving a suspension for performance enhancing drugs.

      I’m always a fan of Motown. Hope that clears some things up. Thanks Marie.

      • I’d like to add that the entire concept of the walk makes for a lively debate over virtues. A player prone to being selective and letting pitched balls out of the strike zone whiz on by without swinging is said to be disciplined, with swing control.

        Someone who swings at almost anything, on the other hand, may be identified as someone who is aggressive- a go-getter. Ultimately, someone who is both wins the praise of just about everyone because he gets on base with such amazing frequency. Ted Williams is often considered the greatest hitter ever because he knew how to take (not swing) at pitches out of the strike zone and he also knew when to swing when pitches were in “his” wheel house (the strike zone.)

        I quote “his” because each batter has a different wheel house and it’s not always aligned with the umpire’s judgment. Some hitters are better low ball hitters and some like Yogi Berra made better contact on high pitches way out of the strike zone.

        There is no machine calling balls and strikes. The umpire is arbitrary and brings his/her own bias into decisions.

        So, a batter has a lot to consider as a ball speeds towards them in excess of 100 mph. They need to know the pitcher and umpire nuance as well as their own strengths and weaknesses.

      • I’m taking it that a ‘ball’ is a pitch that is somehow not legitimate, e.g. it is too low, too wide, etc.?

      • A ball is often times a good pitch to throw because it’s not in the strike zone and as a result almost impossible to hit, but batters swing and miss anyway….those over eager batters….those fooled batters.

      • I see, so the fact that a batter swings at it and misses ‘legitimizes’ it.

        It’s almost diametrically opposite a ‘no ball’ in cricket. When a bowler oversteps the bowling crease, or bowls with a throwing motion (to give the two most obvious examples) that is automatically a ‘no ball’, no matter what happens to it down the other end. The batsman could swing at it and miss, and watch it demolish his stumps, could clip it and watch it go straight into a fielder’s hands – no effect, he can’t be out off a ‘no ball’, except for such infringements as handling the ball, hitting it twice, etc..

        The bowling of a ‘no ball’ automatically adds a run to the score of the batting side (though not to the batsman’s credit, rather it is counted as an ‘extra’).

        The batsman may score runs to his own credit off a ‘no ball’. Thus a ‘no ball’ is not a dead ball. A batsman may hit it and attempt to score, and sometimes a batsman will try an adventurous stroke, knowing that he can’t be bowled out or caught.

        I type this stuff when you’re asleep, you know.

      • Maybe your typing seeps into my dreams. I would think cricket is ideal for dreaming since there are no fair and foul lines.

        This ‘no ball” situation is confusing. You initially said “(though not to the batsman’s credit, rather it is counted as an ‘extra’), but then you say ” The batsman may score runs to his own credit off a ‘no ball’. Thus a ‘no ball’ is not a dead ball.”

        So is credit given to a batsman on a “no ball” situation if he swings with nothing to lose and strikes gold? How do these “extras” play into determining a winner?

        In baseball, I can’t think of an equivalent. There is the balk rule. it is a very tricky infringement to identify. One way is when a pitcher touches hand to mouth while standing on the rubber unless the umpire has makes an exception due to cold weather. Then we see pitchers blowing on their hands and of course, sneaking a little saliva onto the ball.

        Another case is when the pitcher fails to come to a complete stop when pitching from the stretch. This is typically the position taken when a runner is on base. He then has to hold the runner on or keep an eye on him and so he pitches from the stretch.

        When a balk is called, the batter is awarded a ball and the runner is allowed to advance one base. But and here’s the difference with the cricket. The ball is dead and can’t be hit by the batter.

        It sounds like the situation in football-the pigskin variety in America when the defense commits a penalty during the play and the offense knows the penalty has happened. A free for all ensues. The offense can try all kinds of outlandish plays to gain the most yards and if it works, they simply deny the penalty.

      • I guess you could say the batter legitimizes a pitched ball when he swings and misses and it sails out of the strike zone. And in doing so, he avoids having to play the fool by praising the pitcher instead.

      • Answering this from you:

        <>

        Apart from runs scored by a batsman [when a legitimate delivery is made by the bowler, the batsman hits the ball and runs between the wickets, the batsman hits the ball and scores 4 or 6 if the ball reaches the boundary] the batting side may accumulate runs due basically to errors by the fielding side. These are known as ‘extras’, and include the ‘no ball’. Other extras include the ‘wide’ [when the umpire judges the delivery to be two wide for the batsman to play a clean stroke], the ‘bye’ [when the delivery passes the batsman and is not stopped by the wicket-keeper; the batsman may run; if a bye reaches the boundary then 4 extras are added to the batting side’s total], the ‘leg bye’ which is the same as a bye except that the ball has clipped part of the batsman’s body or clothing on the way past.

        In effect an ‘extra’ is a penalty for a fault by the bowling/fielding side. It does not accrue to the batsman’s individual total because he has not played an active or skillful part in it. EXCEPT, in the case of a ‘no ball’, if he plays a good, clean stroke. Any runs he makes in respect of such an effort on his part DO count to his personal score. Thus the following example may happen:
        A bowler bowls a ‘no ball’, the umpire sees it and signals it, the batsman chooses to play a stroke and despatches it along the ground to the boundary. The batting side has 5 runs added to its total, the batsman has 4 runs added to his personal score.

        I’m now going to lie down in a darkened room. 🙂

      • Ok, so a “no ball” is one example of an extra but it’s rather unique in that the scorekeeper calls it out and by doing so, seems to consider there’s “nothing to lose” for the batsman.

        Or I should say that cricket scoring rules considers this factor. Yes, runs are added to the batsman’s total because in effect, he has used his free will and chosen to put the ball in play, but in the example you provided, there is one less run added to the individual’s total than there is to the team’s total.

        Is there a ratio of runs added to the team and to the individual during a “no ball” situation when runs are scored? Or is it always one less?

        You hopefully had a good night sleep by now and the sun/lights are back on.

  3. You asked:
    “Is there a ratio of runs added to the team and to the individual during a ‘no ball’ situation when runs are scored? Or is it always one less?”

    That’s rather putting the cart before the horse, inasmuch as as soon as the bowler bowls a ‘no ball’, one run is added to the batting side’s score (only), irrespective of any action the batsman might take. If the batsman just shoulders arms and lets the ball go by, then that ‘extra’ is all that is scored. If he takes a whack at it and, say, hits it to the boundary in one bounce, then he scores four to his own credit, and the team score also advances by four. Is that clearer?

    We are probably driving your baseball-wise friends insane by now. 🙂 Let’s wathc Supercar instead.

    • I don’t know why but somewhere during the explanation, I thought you mentioned that the runs added to the batsman’s individual credit were fewer than the teams.

      So regardless of what the batsman does, he and the team will be awarded one run when the ‘no ball’ sounds from the umpire. Now, I think I’m ready to see a ‘no ball’ on tv.

      And speaking of tv, I now have a favorite musical. It’s the super car intro. I have no hesitation as I download the ‘dragon of he meng’ and wait with great anticipation to watch later this afternoon. That shaking in the clouds of the craft already prior to landing has me hooked.

      • “So regardless of what the batsman does, he and the team will be awarded one run when the ‘no ball’ sounds from the umpire.” –
        Alas, no. Only the team. The batsman himself can only score off a no ball what he makes with the bat.

        Supercar rocks, by the way, or as Mitch the monkey puts it, “ooh-ooh-ooh… EEEEEK!”

      • “I like your dragon Mike Mercury. I like it berry much.”

        Mitch the Monkey came through big in the episode you linked me to. He found the tablet with clues to follow the fish. Then he found the fish on the underground walls. Then he rerouted Mr. Fang’s explosives..turned what woulda been a blown up temple into a fireworks display. I’m gushing. I’ve been smitten.

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