Monthly Archives: January 2011

Season Finale

LOCAL LADY LEAVES LIT LEGACY
By Maggie Finch
Squallpocket Honker Lifestyles Editor

Sheila S. Grossinger was never one to go quietly. The 86-year-old former psychologist and Maine native, bedridden with acute dementia for nearly twenty years at the Squallpocket Acres Nursing Home, passed away Wednesday but left behind a most rare gift for her family.

“It’s a literary find, is what it is,” says Carlton “Buzz” Grossinger, one of her two surviving sons.

While cleaning Ms. Grossinger’s Squallpocket room after she departed, a young orderly named Fred Washington found an ornate, leather-bound book wedged under the mattress and fished it out. Inside were over 300 handwritten pages, documenting a fictitious cross-country “time travel journey” in which Ms. Grossinger and a host of others followed the 1977 baseball season. Needless to say, Washington quickly drove it over to a grateful Carlton at the local trailer park where the local stereo salesman lives with his wife and son.

“Sheila was a model resident,” says Seamus M. Headley, Director of Operations for the nursing home, “Chirpy, polite, participated in the group activities the best she could. Who would have thought she had so much imagination inside her?”

Ms. Grossinger, who spent most of her teenage years in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, was not only a noted “dream psychologist” in her time, but a diehard Pittsburgh Pirates fan. According to Headley, her dementia was diagnosed in 1992, following an especially traumatic Pirate playoff loss to Atlanta, and from then on required special care.

Ms. Grossinger’s love of baseball apparently ran in the family. Her natural father, Vincenzo Spanelli, was an avid Phillies fan, and even served as the club’s batboy for part of 1924. When Spanelli lost his life at Salerno during World War II’s Italian campaign, his daughter took up the sport in a big way.

“You could tell she was into it,” says Amy Gulliver, Squallpocket’s chief nurse, “She wouldn’t say much when games were on in the common room, but she would just stare at that screen like it was the King James Bible.”

“I bet with her on games all the time,” says Sherman Wayman, another elderly resident, “and I always lost. Hope to hell she didn’t put that in her journal thing.”

Carlton Grossinger says he has no immediate plans to try and have the journal published, but wouldn’t rule it out. Ms. Grossinger’s other surviving son, Lester Grossinger of Davenport, IA, was in Las Vegas attending the John Lennon and the Fab Experience concert, and could not be reached for comment.

“We’ll certainly miss her around here,” Headley continues, “but more than anything, we’re glad she was able to finish out her ‘season’ before she left us, and has left her two boys something to cherish.” Carlton, who admits to having only a passing interest in the sport, says he might even take up a dice simulation game to replay 1977 for himself sometime soon.

“It’s hard to explain why,” he tells me, “but I feel like I need to keep this going.”

* * *

AFTERWORDS

I truly hope you’ve enjoyed my 11-month journey through the kooky, never-dull baseball year of 1977. It’s never easy making up a story as you go along, but the daily game-playing kept my mind anchored, and the team’s rising and sinking fortunes helped propel the various plot turns.

Next? Hmm…I did have a new season lined up to document, but that one has been shelved for a year for reasons beyond my control. I have an idea for a shorter, more historical blog that might happen over the summer, but I’m going to be using a lot of my recovered free time to work on a new book project, so we shall see.

I plan to attend a couple of fun events this year: Strat-O-Matic’s 50th Anniversary party in New York in February, and the SABR convention this July in Long Beach, just a sweet half hour drive from my house.

I’ll continue to quip and link on Twitter with my Funkyball77 handle, though that will morph into something else when I start a new site.  Anyway, that’s the place you can regularly find me.

Once again, I’d like to thank all 16 of my wordwise absentee managers for their contributions, pennant concerns and occasional shout-outs. It’s been a blast having you all aboard the Funky Zipline.

And per usual, a hearty thanks and love to my wife Carmen for enduring my mania. Though I’m afraid to tell her there’s only a few more months to go of “Winter Jeff.”
—J.P., Culver City, CA

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All Good Things Must…

PITTSBURGH—Seamus reporting, because Lester is off drinking pints of Dunkelweizen at Max’s Allegheny Tavern with both of the other Royals fans who showed up at Three Rivers, while I’m here by Doc Sheila’s bed watching the poor girl vanish into the sheets.

It was a pretty anti-climactic seventh game, as far as seventh games go, but because it WAS a seventh game in the first place, I think I’ll just shut up and let Red Barber call every inch of the action. Got this right off his broadcast on the Twitter Radio Network today and wrote it down as fast as I could. If there’s one thing I learned in my years with the CIA it’s shorthand…

KC LINEUP: Otis CF, Cowens RF, Brett 3B, McRae LF, Porter C, Wathan 1B, Patek SS, White 2B, Leonard P

PIT LINEUP: Stennett 2B, Oliver CF, Parker RF, STargell 1B, Robinson LF, Ott C, Garner 3B, Taveras SS, Candelaria P

Howdy folks, this is Red Barber, speaking to you from a packed-as-punch Three Rivers Stadium, for Game 7 of the Funkyball World Series…One more time it’ll be Leonard for the Kansas Citians, and Candelaria for the Pittsburghers. Will the third time be the charm for Candy Man?

A big change in the Royals lineup finds John Wathan for some extra batting average against the lefty Candelaria…John Mayberry’s a paltry 4-for-23 so far, and can always go in for defense later on…Every reliever is available to go…

Pretty amazing that after 157 games for each team, it can all come down to this one big simmering pot roast…

Anyway, we’ll be back with the opening pitch after this word from Prell!

Back in Pittsburgh, and Amos Otis stepping into the box…Candelaria winds and gets him on strikes! That was sure quick…Cowens now,…flies out to Parker in right, two gone…George Brett up there, only at .259 but with some big hits…And he SINGLES! And here’s Hal McRae, 7-for-21 with all kinds of production…Candy Man had no answer for him in Game 1…and there’s a HIGH FLY BALL—deep to left…Robinson back and it is GONE for a HOME RUN! Hoo-boy, right out of the starting gate and it’s 2-0 Royals! Porter flies out to right to end the top of the 1st but this black and yellow nest is a-buzzing…

Leonard against Stennett to lead off the Pirate half of the 1st and there’s strike three!…Oliver sails one out to McRae, looking a bit wobbly again…but this time he makes the catch for the second out. Herzog knows he’s taking a risk with McRae out there, but oh that offense of his…Parker now, a ferocious 12-for-25 in the Series…grounds to Patek and that’s the first inning, with the score KC 2-2-0, PIT 0-0-0

Here’s John Wathan, the second game he’s started…the other at catcher…and he grounds to short, one away…Patek fouls to Mr. Ott…White is gone on strikes and we go to the bottom of the 2nd.

Willie Stargell…had a fine Game 6 with a sac fly and double, but he is out on swinging strike three!…Roninson with a hard liner—but right to Brett at third…Ott SINGLES sharply up the middle for the first Pirate hit…Here’s Garner, also with a fine Game 6…triple and homer…hits one out to Otis here, who puts it away. After two innings, folks, it’s KC 2-2-0, PIT 0-1-0

Leonard starts the 3rd…with an easy little pop to Taveras…Otis grounds it back to Candy, out number two…Cowens grounds to short for a 1-2-3.

Taveras rips a SINGLE to right to open the last of the 2nd…Pirate fans try to get it going…clapping in rhythm to some soul music number…Candelaria bats, a very decent hitter and a lefty to boot…But he grounds one to Patek, who flips to White and on to first for a double play…That sure hurt…And Stennett flies out to end the inning. After three now, it’s KC 2-2-0, PIT 0-2-0

Brett leads off the 4th, singled his first time…Grounds one to Taveras for out number one…And here’s that little big man McRae! Starting to boo him more now…sign of respect…but McRae answers back with a LINE SHOT to deep right-center, bounding around out there—and McRae into third with a sizzle of a TRIPLE! I’ll tell ya, he is putting on a Clemente-esque performance in this Series. 9-for-23 now…And Porter strokes a SINGLE into right, 3-0 Kansas City as McRae SCORES!…Bullpen’s up for the Pirates early…Wathan grounds one through into left for another SINGLE, Porter hustling and gets to third…Pitching coach Larry Sherry is out…Patek due at the plate…Candy throws to Freddie and Patek BOMBS it deep to left, off the wall for a double as Porter SCORES! 4-0 Royals!

Four straight hits and that is going to be it for Candelaria. Tanner not messing around and is bringing in Goose Gossage…Big man hasn’t pitched since Game 3 and with Leonard out there, the Bucs certainly can’t afford to slide down the laundry chute any further…Infield comes up for White, who grounds to short and the runners hold at second and third…Leonard at the plate…but there’s a WILD PITCH—right past Ott and here comes Wathan with run number five! Leonard bounces to third but this was one upside down disaster cake! 5-0 Kansas City as we go to the last of the 4th…

Oliver to lead off for Pittsburgh here, after getting hit with a pretty large mallet…Al’s at .440 for the series but I’m sure he doesn’t care a crumb….Grounds out to first and there’s one gone…Parker lines a SINGLE into center…Stargell again, whiffed against Leonard his last five times…And he does it again, strike three! Boy o boychick…Robinson SINGLES, though, Parker over to third base…Here’s Ed Ott…grounds one to Patek, who KICKS IT AWAY! Parker SCORES and the Buccos are on the board the cheap way! Error number 5 on Patek for the Series…Garner stands in…Crowd’s getting all hot and loud again…but Phil grounds to Patek who steps on the bag to end the inning…After four innings now, it’s KC 5-6-1, PIT 1-4-0

Gossage blows away Otis on strikes to begin the 5th…Cowens is gone in the same fashion…Brett SINGLES though with two away, and guess who’s up…Harold Abraham McRae of Avon, Florida…32 years young…personally owned Candelaria in this Series but now he faces the Goose…and it doesn’t matter as he WHACKS one down the left field line, pulls into second with a DOUBLE, as Brett SCORES all the way from first…and McRae is one measly single away from the cycle, folks! More important, it’s 6-1 Royals now…Porter pops to Stennett, for the inning.

Taveras grounds to White…Pinch-hitter for Gossage here, gotta get something going…and it’s Ken Macha, utility fella…and he lines to third…Stennett bounces to first, Leonard covers, and after five innings, it’s now KC 6-8-1, PIT 1-4-0

Tekulve the new hurler for Pittsburgh…Which means Mayberry will bat for Wathan, and will surely go afield…flies to Parker for the first out of the 6th…Patek nearly homered last time…grounds to short this time…White with a broken bat SINGLE into left…Leonard fans and that’s that.

Oliver takes a leadoff WALK in the last of the 6th…Pirates down by a big five…Parker at the plate, and there’s a WILD PITCH by Leonard…Oliver up to second…and here’s ANOTHER WILD PITCH, Oliver to third! Dennis just shaking his curly top out there…Parker LINES A SHOT—deep in the right field gap for a clean DOUBLE and it’s 6-2! Boy that Cobra can sting. 14-for-28 now, an even .500…Look out, here’s Stargell…and would you believe he’s out on strikes again?? Seven straight times to Mr. Leonard! Robinson grounds to short…Ott flies to right. After six it’s KC 6-9-1, PIT 2-5-0, but it probably should be closer.

Seventh inning now, and they’re getting as nervous as squirrels in autumn around here. Four runs off Leonard in three innings won’t be the easiest thing to pull off, y’know…Amos Otis with a LINE SHOT into left center, skipping it’s merry way to the wall! He’s around second, into third with another Royal TRIPLE! Infield’s all the way up for Cowens, who’s been quiet lately…Tekulve delivers, and it’s strike three called!…One away to George Brett, 2-for-3…and Brett BLASTS ONE, last seen heading for the upper deck in three seconds for a long HOME RUN and 8-2 Kansas City lead! Good gracious golly…won’t see Brett hit a ball that hard until he faces Goose Gossage three years from now…McRae up there, needing just a single for a cycle…he grounds to second and the crowd boos him. Well, that figures…Porter with a fly to center to end the top of the 7th.

Tell ya what, that moon-skipper by Brett just about took the starch out of this crowd…Garner with an easy grounder to third, one away…Taveras gets HIT BY A PITCH…Wouldn’t be surprised if he just stuck his rib cage out there…Fregosi now to hit for Tekulve…But Jim grounds to second, Taveras advancing…Stennett lines to third and that’s the 7th, folks. KC 8-11-1, PIT 2-5-0

Mayberry starts the 8th, and fouls out to third…Patek with a SINGLE, hit no. 12 for the Royals…and Freddie ROBS second base without a throw! Oooh boy, stealing a base up by six? Not advised…White pops to short…and here’s Leonard, getting a big hand by the enemy fans…Ain’t that nice? He grounds out to short, and gets an even bigger hand. 8-2 Royals to the last of the 8th.

Six outs left for the Pirates to come alive. Mark Littell waiting in the wings if needed…Oliver’s first, 0-for-2 officially…and he dribbles one out in front of Porter, who fires to first…Dave Parker now, 2-for-3, and he looks at called strike three! And here’s Willie! Leonard has punched his clock seven times in a row between this contest and the fourth one…AND DOES IT AGAIN on a windmill swing! Two yellow and black sombreros for Mr. Stargell in this Series…After eight innings, folks, it’s looking grim in Steeltown, KC 8-12-1, PIT 2-5-0

Top of nine…the witching hour around here…and Otis with a line SINGLE off new pitcher Grant Jackson…Cowens whiffs again, his third…And here’s Brett with another SMASH down the right field line! Cowens around third, Brett into second with a DOUBLE and it’s 9-2!

Brett 4-for-5 in his climactic game…Jackson won’t mess with McRae at all, as he throws four wide ones to put him on…He’ll face Porter instead…But Porter SINGLES up the middle! Brett scores and they’re in double digits, folks!…Mayberry with a little foul pop for the second out…Patek WALKS, taking all four pitches under his little chin, and they’re loaded up…Bruce Kison will come on to face Frank White…Kison got bumped from yesterday’s start for Reuss, and I guess that was a good thing…and he gets White on a pop to center. Here we go to the last of the 9th!

Dennis Leonard going for a complete game here, and why the heck not? Got himself an 8-run lead…He’ll face Robinson, Ott, and Garner….Here’s Robinson…the crowd standing, for the lack of anything better to do at this point…and Robinson SINGLES, a bullet into left!…Well, that gets the home folks jumping a bit…These Pirates came from behind to win 36 times, second in the league to Philly’s 44…Got a long hike up a rocky ravine here, though…Ed Ott, 1-for-3 on the day…and Leonard strikes him out! That’s no. 7 for Dennis, 4 of them Pops…Garner to the plate now…zero-for-3 after that big Game 6…and he skies one out to left, where Hal McRae, left out there for his heroics, no doubt…makes the catch for out number two. And the Funky baseball season is one out away from crowning a champ…Batter will be Frank Taveras…

Leonard shakes off sign or two…glances over at Robinson on first…Third base coach Alex Monchak claps his hands at Taveras…hoping to get some more business down there..and here’s Leonard’s pitch…

Hit on a line out to left…McRae races back five yards, snags the ball and the KANSAS CITY ROYALS ARE YOUR ’77 FUNKY WORLD CHAMPIONS!!

They’re all out on the field now, mobbing Leonard…Couple of young Royal fans are out of the stands, pounding Brett on the back, shaking Porter’s hand…As Walt Whitman may have said, they came to play this sunny day and made some hay! And Leonard beats the Candy Man all three times they meet…Not only that, but cleanup Pirate Wilver Stargell goes a combined 1-12 against Leonard with nine big whiffs…

But how about that Hal McRae? 10-for-25, with 1 double, 3 triples, 4 homers, 10 RBIs, and a 1.679 OPS, whatever in tarnation that thing is…Looks like he and Leonard will be the co-MVPs….

Final totals…For the Champion Royals, 10 runs, 15 hits, 1 error…for the Pirates, 2 runs, 6 hits, 0 errors. Quite the decisive tilt…

Thanks for following the World Series, folks. This is Red Barber, saying goodnight, and have a nice, short rest of your winter!

Game 7
ROYALS 200 310 202 – 10 15 1
PIRATES 000 101 000 – 2  6  0

W-Leonard L-Candelaria HRS: McRae, Brett GWRBI-McRae (third of the series)

Want a little Series stat action?  Here’s some hitters and all the pitchers. As a team, KC hit .248 while Pittsburgh batted .246, but the Royals outhomered the Bucs 9-4.

Serious congratulations go out to Kansas City “absentee manager” Rany Jazayerli. His beyond-thorough analysis and passion for his Royals certainly paid off, and his team showed incredible balance in very department. And kudos as well to Pat Lackey and his Pirates. May the ’77 Bucs’ gallant efforts inspire him to carry on through the entire 2011 season.

TOMORROW: The Epilogue, in which I attempt to tie a bow around this wacked-out narration.

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Reuss-o-Rooter!

DR. GROSSINGER’S PRE-GAME

They had the sixth game on in the hotel today, and I sat in the William Penn lobby with the other guests to watch. Needless to say, I was transported. Mr. Headley wants me back at Three Rivers with him tomorrow, and says there will be no discussing the matter. I’m weakening slowly, but suppose I can handle another few hours of fresh air. Mr. Headley really has turned out to be a gentleman of his word…

KANSAS CITY–Jerry Reuss? Are you kidding me? I guess any mediocre pitcher’s capable of a great game; even Ray Burris won three times this year. It was a shrewd move by Chuck Tanner to dump Bruce Kison for him, but a smart one. Three Rivers helps the lefty power and Kison gives up practically nothing to lefties but power. Still, though…

Patek boots the first ball the Pirates hit in the bottom of the 1st for another error, his fourth of the Series, it turns into a Stargell sac fly and it’s all downhill from there.

Even though the Royals had runners falling out of the trees. A leadoff triple by McRae in the 2nd and they don’t score. Singles by Cowens and Brett to open the 4th and they don’t score. Two Taveras errors in the 8th and they do nothing with them, before a hit batter and walk in the 9th are left out to dry.

Meanwhile, Colborn gets raked in the 3rd for two singles, a double and Garner triple when McRae mistakes the rising liner for a badminton birdie and it shoots over his head in left to score two runs. Garner, who by the way is a crappy 2-for-22 when the game begins, crushes an Andy Hassler pitch for a solo jack in the 6th to pretty much entomb all Kansas City hope.

Reuss goes the distance until he hits Mayberry to start the 9th, gets a monstrous ovation from the over 50,000 here, but Tekulve gives the  Gossage his third straight day off after the Goose’s five-inning stint in Game 3. Kent whiffs Patek, gets Poquette on a foul out, and after walking Joe Lahoud, retires Otis on a lazy fly to tie this sucker up at three games apiece.

Game 6
ROYALS 000 000 000 – 0 5 1
PIRATES 103 001 00x – 5 10 3

W-Reuss L-Colborn HR: Garner GWRBI-Stargell

So what can I say? Except this:

GAME SEVEN DEATHMATCH TONIGHT

—10: 30 p.m. eastern, 7:30 pacific—

LEONARD VS. CANDELARIA.

NO PRISONERS TAKEN.

http://twitter.com/funkyball77

Game 7 Recap will be tomorrow on the blog, with my narrative conclusion and hearty farewells on Thursday.

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A Dreamy Fall

DR. GROSSINGER’S PRE-GAME

After yesterday’s devastating loss, I have taken to my hotel bed again. Mr. Headley has no choice but to wait on me, for all I can do is lie here and dream of past Pirate heroics. My long departed mother has filled my head with all of the ones I was too young to remember. See, when my father died in World War II, and she re-married and changed her name from Spanelli to Grossinger, that was when she started putting those scrapbooks together…

KANSAS CITY–Lester here, and this is it, friends. Can’t expect to win every game we play back at Three Rivers right? Splittorff was just fine in his first start, but today he’s in trouble right away, thanks to a Patek error in the 1st, a Parker single and sac fly by Robinson. Followed by an Oliver single, Taveras double and Duffy Dyer single in the 2nd to put us down 2-0.

Little Freddie makes quick and serious amends, though, lining one into the left field bleachers with two aboard in the last of the 2nd and hey! We’re on top 3-2!

Little did I think that’s the last we’d be heard from, while the Pirates just tear Splittorff, Gura, and Pattin apart for a total of 16 hits. Rooker’s the one with all the stuff, scattering just three hits through seven and a third after Patek’s blast. The true low comes in the 4th, when Mayberry leads with a single and takes second on a Garner boot. With one gone, White hits one out to center but John forgets there’s only one out, strays off second base and gets himself tagged out.

I know Dr. Sheila’s almost comatose again, but after this depressing, no-drama fifth game I could slip into that bed right beside her. Well, you know what I mean.

So it’s back to Pittsburgh on the Funky Zipline, to put an end to this season once and for all. Can’t say I’m all that worried, but the Pirates are no strangers to coming back from 3-1 deficits. Try 1971. Or two years from now.

Game 5
PIRATES 112 001 101 – 7 16 1
ROYALS 030 000 000 – 3 9 2

W-Rooker L-Splittorff SV-Tekulve HR: Patek GWRBI-Dyer

Tonight’s live Tweetcast of Game 6, and a possible Game 7 tomorrow, will be at 10:30 p.m. eastern, 7:30 pacific, with game reports appearing here on the blog the next morning.

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Awed, then Shocked

DR. GROSSINGER’S PRE-GAME

I had a morning free of headaches, so Mr. Headley got me out of bed and dressed and out into the sweet October air. It was good to be going back to a baseball park, and it made me think Pittsburgh winning that thrilling Game 3 boosted my health along with my spirits…

KANSAS CITY–John Candelaria simply has to pitch better today; he could not have performed worse than he did in the Series opener. And here’s Oliver with a slicing one-out double to get my men off the map in the 1st. Parker singles him home and just like that my club is ahead. How could I have entombed myself in those hotel beds, wallowing in self-pity when we won 89 games this season against grueling opposition? Sometimes I believe I have no business being a psychiatrist.

Otis singles to start the first Royals inning, but Candelaria takes over from there, setting down the next eleven batters. In the 4th, a Parker walk, Robinson single and scoring force in front of the plate by Fregosi makes it 2-0, and the sun shining on my grandstanded face feels all the warmer.

Then a cloud passes overhead, and Hal McRae strikes a homer up on the grassy embankment that resembles a golf ball leaving a 3-iron. But my Pirates answer back in the 5th, when Taveras gets hit on the shoulder, steals second, advances on Wathan’s throwing error and scores on a sacrifice fly by Stennett.

Once again, Candelaria is the lord and master, giving up just two walks in the 7th and nothing else until the 9th. Those that believe in omens, however, truly find their calling card in the 8th. Oliver and Parker open with singles to put Pirates at the corners. But Leonard strikes out Willie Stargell for the fourth straight time. Clearly, Mr Stargell is suffering from acute overswinging, and I will text him later to suggest a long pre-game batting cage treatment tomorrow—assuming he knows what a text is. Regardless, Robinson also fans, Fregosi weakly grounds out and a chance to increase the advantage has been self-jettisoned.

On to the last of the 9th now, Candelaria still with a 2-hitter, the proper defensive alignment in place for Pittsburgh. Royals fans are silent around me, with Lester quieter than all of them.

And Otis leads with a line single. Now I have not been one to show panic, but I must confess to an odd glandular change in my underarms here. Cowens then singles Otis to third. I am suddenly numb. George Brett strolls to the plate, and all I can think about is his obvious handicap in having to fact the toughest lefty in the National League.

Except Brett then hits the ball so hard and so far to left-center that the crack of the bat makes me jump. Oliver and Moreno give chase but the ball hits the top of the fence, bounds away and seconds later Brett is on third and the game is tied! Tekulve is sent in to face Hal McRae, but I am again drowning in despair. Even after Mr. McRae lines to shortstop, because here is Darrell Porter to bat for Wathan, and there goes the first pitch out to Moreno. He backpedals a step, snags it and fires plateward, but Brett beats the ball by inches and the stands explode around me.

I need to go. Mr Headley? Seamus! Back to the hotel…NOW please…

LESTER’S POST-GAME ANALYSIS

Royals up 3-1 with a chance to win it at home tomorrow! Woo-hoo!!

Game 4
PIRATES 100 110 000 – 3 7 0
ROYALS 000 100 003 – 4 4 1

W-Leonard L-Candelaria HR: McRae GWRBI-Porter

Tonight’s live Tweetcast of Game 5, and any more that are needed, will be back at their normal time of 10:30 p.m. eastern, 7:30 pacific, with game reports appearing here on the blog the next morning.

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Goose Loose in K.C. Masterpiece

DR. GROSSINGER’S PRE-GAME

The Hotel Raphael is nice, though it looks very much like my room at the William Penn. Mr. Headley has been coming to my bedside quite often now with a thermometer and World Series updates, and I have an odd feeling that my Pirates are going to rebound. Like they did that one magical year for my mother. Hopefully I’ll be well enough to join Lester at one of the games soon…

KANSAS CITY–It’s a crisp October day here in western Missouri, and all 40+ thousand of us are ready to continue this World Series party. Bruce Kison was nothing short of dreadful in his last two starts of the year, and come to think of it, the Pirates have been outscored 36-11 in their last four games.

So that’s why I’m not worried when Parker hits a solo rope over the fence with two outs in the 1st. My team has that same thang going that helped them start out the season 16-4. Sure enough, Porter rips a double off Kison in the 2nd, Mayberry puts one airborne, and we’re up 2-1 in a flash. Make that 4-1 on a Poquette single, Cowens single, Brett double and McRae (him again) sac fly in the 3rd.

Kison gets out of two straight gnarly jams following that, but Colborn has the Pirates’ number. He puts down twelve of them in a row until Fregosi dunks a single into center in the 7th. But it just never feels like the Royals are in trouble.

But they are Sheila. They are. It starts so innocent-like, with a Garner triple and Taveras sac fly beginning the 8th. But then Patek, who’s had fielding issues since April, boots a Stennett roller to bring up Al Oliver. Oliver scoops Colborn’s first pitch deep into the bleachers and we are tied 4-4!

No one can believe it, not even the Pirates, who take no chances by bring Goose Gossage in with one gone in the 8th. After they go out in order in the top of the 9th, Taveras starts the 10th with a deep double to right center. A grounder gets him to third, and after Mingori comes on to face the three tough lefties, Oliver walks. Cobra fans, though, Stargell lines to White who makes a lunging grab, and we’re out of the 10th.

Meantime Gossage is pumping out his goose eggs. Ggives up a single and walk last of the 11th but then gets White and Poquette. And whiffs Brett and McRae to end the 12th.

Then it’s the 13th. Why is it always the 13th? Oliver leads with a walk. Stargell singles him to third with one out and Littell comes on…to walk Robinson and load the bases. Fregosi then pops a fly out to Poqiette, Oliver tags and scores and the Bucs are up 5-4!

Gossage isn’t through making us all crazy, though. Working in his fifth inning (there’s no way he can pitch tomorrow, and may not pitch in Game 5), Porter leads with a single, Wilson runs and gets bunted over, and Mayberry walks. But Goose bears down, honks out Patek and pinch-hitter Lahoud and that gosh damned jolly roger is finally raised.

Tomorrow it’s a re-match of aces, Candelaria and Leonard, Pittsburgh trying no notch this spectacle at two games apiece, and standing room only seats are already on sale.

Game 3
PIRATES 100 000 030 000 1 – 5 8 0
ROYALS 022 000 000 000 0 – 4 9 1

W-Gossage L-Mingori HRS: Parker, Oliver, Mayberry GWRBI-Fregosi

LATE UPDATE: Tonight’s Tweetcast of Game 4 will be here at a special time of 7:30 p.m. eastern, 4:30 pacific, with the game report appearing per usual on the blog the next morning.

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Deja Blue All Over Again

DR. GROSSINGER’S PRE-GAME

I have a headache and chills that won’t go away. The headache is called McRae, the chills are called Otis, and I did not like my ace pitcher being batted about in his own home. I did not like it not one little bit. Mr. Rooker needs to earn us a split before we go back on the road, and Seamus needs to warm my soup from the hotel kitchen before bringing it up to me…

PITTSBURGH–Should I be gloating? My Royals beat Candelaria in his own yard, rather easily, and after this one it’s easy to believe we were facing tougher competition all year and weren’t even realizing it.

But the Pirates are the ones doing themselves in. Against Splittorff, a guy who gives out hits like kandy korns on Halloween, Pittsburgh gets singles in the 1st from Stennett, Parker and Robinson, but Fernando Gonzalez raps into a quick White-Patek-Mayberry DP, to set the tone for the afternoon.

And that little man McRae is at it again. He singles in the 2nd, then hits a sac fly to put us ahead in the 3rd after Cowens bashes a long gap double to score Otis. Rooker bails himself out of that one with only two K.C. runs in, but completely loes it in the 4th. Patek and White open with doubles, and after Rooker whiffs, Otis smacks another double! Jackson is summoned and immediately hits Cowens, McRae singles in another with two gone and it’s 5-1 us in a Pittsburgh minute.

It’s hard rooting for the Royals surrounded here by black and yellow, and my cheers basically come out like chirps. And since when did Splittorff decide to start pitching? He scatters six singles and one measly run through the first six innings, before Oliver doubles, Dyer singles him in and Taveras grounds into the expected 4-6-4 DP to kill the 7th.

Tekulve tries his luck and does pretty well in the 7th, but when Gossage takes the ball to a) get some work and b) pitch to McRae, Hal the Barbarian cranks one over the wall with his damn eyes closed. Through two games now, McRae has two homers, five RBIs, and triple slash totals of .883/1.000/2.167, for an OPS of 3.167. And the Pirates haven’t hit one fielding chart ball in his direction.

Anyway, Marty Pattin throws an inning and a third of hitless relief after the Bucs get a leadoff Stennett single in the 8th and third DP of the game, this one off Garner’s bat, before Stargell flies out with two aboard to end the game, the second day in a row the Pirates strand the tying run in the on-deck circle.

A change of venue can only help them—and a new handful of dice.

Game 2
ROYALS 100 300 010 – 6 13 0
PIRATES 000 000 100 – 2 10 0

W-Splittorff L-Rooker SV-Pattin HR: McRae GWRBI-McRae

Live Tweetcasts of each game will be here every night at 10:30 p.m. eastern, 7:30 pacific for the remainder of the series, with game reports appearing here on the blog the next morning.

Also, check out my final Funk Zone column on the Strat-O-Matic site.  It’s a brief rundown of what went right and wrong for all the ’77 teams.

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