Games Peoples Play

CHICAGO and MINNEAPOLIS—I was afraid this might happen. It’s Lester again, and because I’m a lifelong fan of the Cubs and Cards and Royals and White Sox and Twins and maybe the Astros soon, and because it was my turn to toss the 4-D dice, we were zapped back and forth between two incredible games on the same day, played 350 miles apart. Normally I’d enjoy a thing like that, but the games were long and strange and my glasses fogged up and I started to forget who was playing in which game. Thank the Lord I had two facing blank scoresheets in my pad…


I’m starting to lose faith in my Cubbies, purely for pitching reasons. Rick Reuschel and Steve Renko are a combined 7-2, but Bonham, Burris and Krukow are 0-14, and it’s Krukow’s turn to not shine today. He gets Hutton and Hebner to begin the game, then Luzinski walks, Johnstone doubles, Schmidt homers, Boone singles, Maddox singles, Bowa singles, Bowa steals, Jim Kaat singles, Hutton singles and Hebner singles and it’s 7-0 Phillies before half the bleacher bums are even drunk.

But the wind is blowing toward the Lake, Kaat is in the twilight of his career, and Chicago scores single runs in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd to give me hope…


Rick Wise and Paul Thormodsgard on a warm night? No pitching duel here seems possible, either. Boston gets a a run in the 1st on a Rice sac fly, and then the crowd starts buzzing two batters before Carew even walks up. Wynegar singles with one out, and then Rodney flicks one into the left gap to get Butch to third, push his magical hit streak up to 35 games and stop everyone from thinking about it the rest of the night. A Hisle double and Adams single and it’s 3-1 Twins out of the gate.

A DP grounder off Tommy Helms’ bat with the sacks full makes it 3-2 in the 2nd, and when Hisle muffs Carbo’s fly, it’s tied up. And then Rice is at it again, flatlining a pitch into the bleachers to put Boston up 4-3 as Wise has settled in…


Kaat and Krukow kontinue to have nothing but krap. 9-3 Phils in the 4th, then 9-4. Then 10-4. Then 10-6 after five. Then after reliever Willie Hernandez singles to start the Cub 6th, Tug McGraw is summoned, and all he does is hit Morales, walk Gross and serve up a Murcer Meatball for a grand slam and a 10-10 tie! There’s no doubt about it, we’re headed for a carbon copy of this famous game I researched and read about once which will take place here about two years from now but I’m not supposed to talk about…


Come on, Twins, darn it all! They just don’t get the luck at home that they do on the road for some reason. Carbo leaps at the fence to rob Hisle of a homer in the 4th. Bostock singles to lead the 5th and Wynegar bunts him over but he gets stranded there. Finally Adams gets his third straight single to begin our 6th, Ford gets plunked, and Cubbage pounds the gap between Lynn and Carbo, who kicks the ball away for a double and error and puts us ahead! Smalley greets Jim Willoughby with another single, and it’s 6-4 Twins. Somehow I don’t think this will be the final score…


Between McGraw and Garber for Philly and Hernandez for the Cubs, it’s three innings of torture. Gross and Murcer single to start our 8th, get bunted over, but Buckner and Trillo ground out. DeJesus triples with two gone in the 9th, Clines walks but Gross flies out and we’re heading for a darkness curfew…


After a Helms triple starts the Boston 7th, Butler comes on to get Scott, Fisk and Yaz. But Evans tags him for a mammoth blast with one out in the 8th, and Lynn walks. Tom Johnson is on, and Hobson doubles to tie the game. Top of the 9th the Boomer walks, Fisk doubles and a sac fly by Rice (RBI no. 3) puts Boston up 8-7. With K.C. losing again on the scoreboard, this could be a huge win.

But Soup Campbell is rancid once more. Wynegar doubles, Carew doubles to tie, and after one out, Adams rips his fourth single for the ball game! We’re up to 5-13 at home!


Hebner has been knocked out for five games, while the Cubs have lost Morales, Ontiveros and Swisher. The grass is bloody, and after scoring the first six innings, the Cubs attack has evaporated. Not the Phils’, though. Into his sixth inning of relief with Sutter unavailable, Hernandez is finally touched, or I should say manhandled. Johnstone singles, Schmidt bombs his second homer and only his fifth on the year, four more singles bring in two more, and the latest Cubbie debacle is complete. They are 5-16 in the month of May. And I could use two comfy beds to collapse in.

PHL 700 210 000 04 – 14 20 1
CHI 111 124 000 00 – 10 14 1

W-Garber L-Hernandez HRS: Schmidt-2, Morales, Murcer GWRBI-Schmidt

BOS 121 000 021 – 7 10 1
MIN 300 003 002 – 8 17 1

W-T. Johnson L-Campbell HRS: Rice, Evans GWRBI-Adams

Other Dramas today:

at CARDS 9-13-0, EXPOS 6-12-1
Would you believe seven wins in a row for St. Loo? How about two straight wins for Rasmussen and Garry Templeton’s 11th triple? Montreal closes to 6-4 in the 8th but Hernandez ices it with a 3-run missle off Atkinson.

W-Rasmussen L-Stanhouse (0-5!) HRS: Carter-2, Hernandez GWRBI-Mumphrey

at ASTROS 8-12-0, PIRATES 4-8-1
After blowing a game they should have won, Houston gets back on trajectory with a multi-cannon bombardment of Bruce Kison. Andujar puts people on base but gets out of most every jam before the Forsch and Sambito tag team swoops in for the kill.

W-Andujar L-Kison SV-Sambito HRS: Howe, Cruz GWRBI-Ferguson

REDS 6-12-0, at DODGERS 3-7-0
Billingham gives L.A. five hits and three runs in the 4th, but virtually nothing the rest of the game. Bench doesn’t homer for a change, but Cincy breaks out of their slump.

W-Billingham L-John HR: Griffey GWRBI-Griffey

YANKEES 5-7-0, at ROYALS 0-5-2
Make it six out of seven for New York, and a sterling performance by Figueroa. You know the Yank mojo is back when Roy White breaks a scoreless game in the 4th by dunking a single in on a 1-dice roll (5%), Mickey Rivers does the unthinkable by hitting a home run, and they do this off the recently unhittable Dennis Leonard.

W-Figueroa L-Leonard HRS: Nettles, Rivers GWRBI-White

at RANGERS 4-6-0, ORIOLES 3-10-0
With almost no one left to play for the Birds, they still outhit Texas and get three in the 9th off Dock Ellis on a 3-run smash by Andres Mora. One of the toughest outfits I’ve ever seen.

W-Ellis L-Martinez HRS: Mora, D. May, Harrah GWRBI-Hargrove

INDIANS 8-18-3, at WHITE SOX 6-10-0
Cleveland’s just a game and a half behind Chicago after this. The wretched Steve Stone drops to 0-6 with a 7.60 ERA and 74 hits allowed in 45 innings. After falling down 5-0 in the 1st, the Sox catch the Tribe with two in the 8th, only to let the Indians surge back ahead with three in the 9th.

W-Waits L-Stone SV-Kern GWRBI-Grubb

American League through Wednesday, May 21

Kansas City 23 13 .639
Baltimore 22 15 .600 1.5
Boston 22 15 .600 1.5
Texas 18 19 .486 5.5
New York 16 19 .457 6.5
Chicago 15 20 .429 7.5
Minnesota 14 21 .400 8.5
Cleveland 15 23 .395 9

National League through Wednesday, May 21

Pittsburgh 23 15 .605
Los Angeles 20 15 .571 1.5
St. Louis 21 16 .568 1.5
Philadelphia 18 17 .514 3.5
Houston 18 20 .474 5
Cincinnati 16 18 .471 5
Montreal 15 20 .429 6.5
Chicago 13 23 .361 9

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