Saturday, November 11, 2006
It's another rainy day on the east coast... How about a little trip back, down memory lane, that most treacherous and bitter avenue to thread, throttle and stroll on when one is a sports fanatic and the subject is... Sports (what else?)! Don't feel like it? Too bad - cause I do! Move on to the next blog if your sensible Sox Nation nature cannot take it - for we are going back to 1986! Yup - the year that the Red Sox fans' collective heart was crushed to smithereens by a miscued play and subsequent plays that just weren't made in the deciding game seven...
Of course, game six was crucial and was "do-or-die" in itself... The Boston Red Sox could have wrapped it all up right there and then... But it was not meant to be. Not until 2004 it wasn't! (Yes, you guessed it - that is also another story for the cast of players completely changed in-between eras, as well it should! I wouldn't want to see Rich Gedman still catching - no!)
The Red Sox coming so close to win it all in 1986 is exactly what made it all the harder to swallow when they came up just short in the end... Hence, even though this has been discussed for twenty years now, only now has "new evidence" come to light... No, not because of new technological tools unavailable before then - rather simply because some have greater aptitudes that enable them to scrutinize what they SEE - and, most important of all, they can add two plus two afterwards! Aye - some are blessed like that! Hence, when new evidence comes to LIGHT - it must be presented on the LUMINOUS blog! ;)
It's thematic! It's good for you! But I digress!
So... This bit of "new evidence" (made clear on the picture above) falls in the category of "things you don't see because they are too obvious" in my estimation. With Buckner in a key position on the field, the Red Sox were battling not only the wacko Mets of '86 but also TWO curses, all at once! It is a miracle that they came so close to wrapping it all up in six games! For, in reality, they never had a chance... Two curses... This is worse than a buying a money pit! One should always be aware of who we are associating ourselves with... And the reverse situation too, when a former associate goes on to a particular place rife with foreboding... After all, I always take note when former Boston Red Sox players wind up in the Chicago Cubs organization (and there were two notable ones in the last few years) and I say then that "these boogers thought they had it bad with the curse of the Bambino - wait til they have to deal with the curse of a Billy goat! They'll never win anything now!" - and neither of the notable ones did, indeed.
Bill Buckner, for his part, is, by his own admission, "all 86ed out". He has had to live with the infamy of being a whole town's scapegoat - not to mention that of several generations of fans - and it is quite ironic, considering all that, that he was a carrier of the Billy goat curse too! I was always wary of those former Cubs players coming to Boston - no matter how good they were... How could they help Boston lift the curse of the Bambino when they were themselves the victims of an even more insidious curse? Of course, the curse has been lifted already, in 2004, and there were probably no ties at all with the Cubs then (except that the trade of one of those notables, which involved three teams, dispatched choke-artist extraordinaire Nomar Garciaparra to the cursed Cubs... And then Nomar had to see his former team accomplish what they never would have accomplished with him in their line-up! His batting would have accounted for easy outs instead of clutch hits that were needed and the curse would have not been lifted most likely...)
Truth be told, batting was where Bill Buckner truly faltered too. His misplay on a ground ball was bad - but his many times being the last out in an inning, with runners on base, was far worse. That was the true "contribution" to both the curse AND the defeat that Billy Buckner made... The eerie fact that he wore his old Cubs batting glove (not to mention that he shares the same name as the aforementioned damnable goat too!) is just added spookyness... What truly hurt was all the times that Buckner came up to the plate and was the final out. If he had driven home only one or two of those potential runs, that would have changed the entire scenario... Nomar had the same problem... And Mo Vaughn. And Jack Clark. And so on...
The morale here is that no one is infallible. No one can bat 1.000 - heck, no one can bat .400 anymore! Not since Ted Williams... All the tantrums and histrionics that Buckner's gaffe have caused in fandom -in "the Nation"- are truly just an unproductive waste of energy... Partying like crazy after victory is quite exhilirating but about as unproductive as well - and didn't someone DIE in the streets of Boston during the "joy" of 2004...? Lifting that "curse" was more important than somebody's life? I think not...
The Reason the Red Sox lost the 1986 World Series revealed! Check out Paul Lucas' story on Page 2 - quite interesting on Bill Buckner. Proving their was no Curse of the Bambino but rather a billygoat curse just rubbing off on us!
Page 2 Story.
Photo reveals double curse in '86.
By Paul Lukas
Special to Page 2
If you want to imbue a discussion with an air of gravitas, you start by identifying the main character by his full name: George Herman Ruth. Dwight David Eisenhower. Homer Jay Simpson.
So consider the case of one William Joseph Buckner, who almost two decades ago (the precise anniversary is Wednesday, Oct. 25) bent over to field a grounder hit by Mookie Wilson. We all know what happened after that -- you've seen the video a few jillion times, you've read about the scapegoating, and the subsequent reaction to the scapegoating. After 20 years of scrutiny under the electron microscope of modern media, the Buckner play has been dissected so thoroughly that you pretty well know everything about it.
Well, almost everything.
It's not often that a new chapter can be added to a story that's been told so many times, especially two decades down the road. But that's what Uni Watch has for you today -- a bona fide addition to the historical record of the most infamous error in World Series history, courtesy of a sharp-eyed photo editor and a 12-year-old kid, both of whom spotted what a generation of baseball historians had missed. And this new find goes a long way toward explaining what happened on the field that night at Shea Stadium.
The tale begins with ESPN.com photo czar Sean Hintz, who was recently cropping and sizing a photo for an article about the Buckner play's 20th anniversary. The best-known photos of the incident are probably this one and this one, but Hintz chose to use the following Associated Press photo, which ran with this story:
As you can see, it shows Billy Buck walking off the field after his historic miscue, and he has removed his first baseman's mitt from his right hand.
"I'd worked with that photo maybe half a dozen times in the past," Hintz says. "It's definitely one of my go-to shots for that play." This time, though, for whatever reason, Hintz noticed that Buckner was wearing a batting glove under his mitt. Nothing unusual about that -- lots of first basemen do it. But Hintz, perhaps influenced by having worked on too many Uni Watch columns, was curious about what was printed on the glove. So he zoomed in on it. Then he zoomed some more.
Take a look at what he found:
That's right: What Hintz spotted -- and what Uni Watch and countless other researchers had missed over the years -- was that Bill Buckner was wearing a Chicago Cubs batting glove under his first baseman's mitt. (And no, that's not a Photoshop job -- it's the real deal.)
The poor Red Sox. It's bad enough they were saddled with one curse; they didn't know they were actually fighting two of them. No wonder Buckner missed that ball. He never had a chance.
And it gets better. An examination of Buckner's at-bats from that game shows that he was wearing dark Franklin gloves while hitting. So apparently he went out of his way to wear the white Cubs-branded glove in the field.
Sharp-memoried fans will recall that Buckner had previously played for the Cubs, but he had been traded to the Red Sox in May 1984. Why would he still be wearing Cubs gear more than two years later? More importantly, why would he tempt fate by commingling baseball's two most famously star-crossed franchises? It's like being inside a house made of kerosene-soaked newspaper and then saying, "Hmmm, it's a little dark in here. Lemme just light this match …"
Whatever the explanation, it's not going to come from Buckner, who is understandably weary of discussing the play. When approached by a Uni Watch intermediary, he declined to comment, saying, "I'm all '86ed out." But wait, Bill, we don't want to rehash every gory detail -- we just want to know about the batting glove! To which one William Joseph Buckner replied: "I didn't even realize I was wearing it." End of discussion.
Buckner, by all accounts, is a class act who deserves better than the role in which history has cast him. So it pains Uni Watch to say this, but his disavowal doesn't ring true. After a bit of additional photo research, Sean Hintz turned up this photo, which shows Buckner's Cubs-clad hand in 1985 game -- more than a year prior to the Mookie Wilson grounder:
Look how beat-up the glove looks, and then compare that to the World Series shot above. Looks like the same well-worn, loved-to-death gauntlet, no? Face it, you don't hold on to a glove like that over the course of two seasons unless it means something to you -- something special. Don't buy it? Then ask yourself this: Would Buckner really have gone out of his way to find more than one Cubs glove to wear while playing for the Sox?
The obvious conclusion: This was Bill Buckner's lucky glove. Not.
Whatever the glove's double-whammy properties, the most amazing thing about it is that it went unnoticed for 20 years. Uni Watch has approached a slew of researchers and historians over the past week, none of whom was aware of Buckner's double-cursed right hand. Uni Watch then queried the membership of the Society for American Baseball Research -- again, a big whiff. The enormity of the scoop was confirmed when Uni Watch consulted uniform designer Todd Radom, a passionate BoSox fan whose knowledge of historical logo-related arcana dwarfs Uni Watch's own. "I remember where I was when this happened (of course) but have never noted the Cubs detail," he responded. "Partners in misery indeed!"
Even Rusty Kennedy, the Associated Press photographer who took the photo, was unaware of what he had documented. "It's funny, the photo has been published so often, but I never noticed the batting glove," says Kennedy, who still works for the AP. "If it were shot today, it would be digital and you could blow it up and study it all different ways, but in those days it was pretty superficial, because you just looked at the print. I'll bet I would have noticed it given another 20 years, though."
As it turns out, the only other person who did notice the glove -- or at least the only one whose observation is part of the public record -- was 12-year-old Kevin Mahon, the son of Philadelphia Daily News sports reporter Tom Mahon. The evidence, turned up via a LexisNexis search, is in a very small item that the elder Mahon wrote in October 2003, the key passage of which reads as follows:
"While leafing through the book Greatest Moments in Sports History, published by Sports Illustrated, Kevin Mahon (son of yours truly) noticed a picture showing Buckner -- a former Cub -- walking off the field after that fateful error during the 1986 World Series. On his right hand he is wearing a batting glove. And while the photo is not crystal clear, there appears to be a red-white-and-blue logo on the glove with four letters: C-U-B-S."
But Mahon's story was tiny and understated (a charge that will never be leveled at Uni Watch's treatment of the topic), had no accompanying photo, and was buried at the bottom of a hurriedly assembled column, so it was the journalistic equivalent of a tree falling in the forest with nobody around to hear it. "We got no response from it -- none," says Tom Mahon. "Anyway, Kevin's the one who put two and two together in terms of the double curse. I wouldn't even have thought of that."
Kevin Mahon, now 15, hadn't even been born when Mookie Wilson stepped into the batter's box back in 1986. But he was familiar with the Buckner play and understood its place in baseball history. "I remember seeing a TV show about it," he says. "And I thought, 'Wow, how could he miss that?'"
He answered his own question when he found that Greatest Moments in Sports History book at a flea market in October of 2003. The Boston and Chicago curses were both fresh in his mind, because Aaron Boone and Steve Bartman had just become household names. So when he saw the Cubs logo on Buckner's glove, everything clicked into place. He showed it to his dad, and that's how it ran, however sotto voce, in the Philly Daily News.
And just how did a 12-year-old manage to spot what everyone else had overlooked? "I don't know," says Kevin. "I get interested in things sometimes."
Spoken like a true uni watcher. Kevin Patrick Mahon -- welcome to the club.
HERE IS MORE FROM THAT THREAD THEN - COURTESY OF ME - LUCIANO A. PIMENTEL! ;)
Edited by: brandon722 at: 10/18/06 3:20:53 pm
(10/18/06 7:50:16 pm)
The Reason the Red Sox lost the 1986 World Series revealed! the mets were a better team?
(10/18/06 11:49:03 pm)
Re: The Reason the Red Sox lost the 1986 World Series reveal Cute story.
I had always thought that Buckner was unfairly blamed for that loss. I kept reminding people that the game was tied already when he made the error, so it's not like they were assured that they were going to win even if he made that play.
There were lots of other people just as deserving of being the goats. McNamara, Schiraldi, Stanley, Gedman etc...
Then someone pointed out that the Sox were something like 0-14 with RISP. So I did some digging to see who was most responsible for having the game have to go into extra innings in the first place, and not putting it away earlier.
And guess what I found? The one player with the most opportunities to ensure the game didn't even have to go into extra innings, who did the least to help Boston win was none other than.... Billy Buckner! Ironically, nothing to do with his glove. Twice he came up with bases loaded and 2 outs, and both times ended the inning. In total he came to the plate 6 times, every time with at least a runner on base, and the most damage he did was getting hit by a pitch.
I can't remember the exact results, but using win probability added (what's that), I think out of the total of 100% of a loss, Buckner was responsible for over 50%. In a typical game, pitching counts for 50 and hitting 50, so each hitter on average 'loses' about 5% of the game for each loss, and wins 5% for each win. So one player losing 50% of the game all on his own is astronomically bad.
I'm not blaming the guy - everyone is entitled to have a bad game. Many other great hitters have had 0-5 days at the plate. I have defended him in the past, and pointed out that the trade to get him in '84 is what enabled us to go from a sub-500 team to a playoff contender. It's just ironic that everyone blames him for that one play, which is completely misguided, although he is mainly to blame for the loss.
(10/20/06 9:07:46 am)
Reply The Reason the Red Sox lost the 1986 World Series revealed! Well, Gedman, Barrett and Easler had a lot to do with the jump into contention in 1984.
.406 Club Member
(10/20/06 10:50:18 am)
Re: The Reason the Red Sox lost the 1986 World Series reveal No matter what is put out in the news Buckner will always be remembered for his misplay.
(10/20/06 11:30:53 pm)
Re: The Reason the Red Sox lost the 1986 World Series reveal
Quote:Gedman, Barrett and Easler had a lot to do with the jump into contention in 1984.
Maybe - I haven't take a good look at their numbers and how they differed from the previous season to see how much of an impact they had.
I do know that in 1983, Boston had its first losing season since prior to the Impossible Dream season of 1967. And they started the 1984 season very slowly. On May 25th, Boston was 19-25 (a sub 70 win pace for the year), 17.5 games behind the 1st place Tigers (who lost that day to drop their record to an amazing 35-6), and only 1/2 game separated them from being tied with the Indians for last (7th) place. After that game, they acquired Bill Buckner. They finished the season at 86-76, 18 games behind the to be World Series champion Tigers. In other words, from that day to the end of the season they had virtually the same record as the team that started off 35-5! They went 67-51 with Buckner (a 92 win pace).
Maybe coincidentally everybody else starting playing better at the same time Buckner was acquired, but it looks to me like he was a huge if not the biggest reason for the turnaround.
(10/21/06 12:09:20 am)
Reply The Reason the Red Sox lost the 1986 World Series revealed! Well, Remy was bad in '83 and Barret was good. Gedman hit 24 HR and was one of if not the best offensive catcher in the league. And Easler took the DH role from being ok to being a top production role.
I forgot about Dwight Evans, who had a terrible year in 1983 and Tony Armas, who had a terrible year in 1983 - Evans was one of the best players in baseball in 1984.
Buckner didn't all of a sudden inspire Evans and Armas to recover form. He didn't teach Gedman how to hit.
Buckner was a help to the Sox that year - Stapleton was terrible.
A few weeks before Buckner came on board, they benched Remy and put Barret at 2nd, and 11 games before they brought Buckner on board, they moved Boggs to the leadoff spot. Also around that time, the Sox gave SS to Jackie Gutierrez - Jackie was nothing great, but Hoffman had been horrible.
Bucker replaced Stapleton and Nichols in the order, and they were both terrible. He helped the team.
To me, the loss will always be the fault of the manager's stubbornness in wanting to "win the way we've won all year" - and not pulling out all the stops to get that clinching game. He should have been more creative - and remembered the adage that "the post-season is a whole new season", which calls therefore for whole new methods and strategies!
Namely, he had the rocket, Roger Clemens, available to pitch in RELIEF... He should have given him the ball instead of giving it to Al Nipper - the series would have been won.
Years later, to finally oust the Indians, wasn't it Grady Little who showed exactly such creative guts by using Pedro in the final few innings against them? It turned the trick - alas, it was not the World Series and it made Pedro unavailable for the start of the next series... John McNamara had no such excuse - there was no tomorrow in his situation. He HAD to pull out all the stops.
HERE'S HOW IT FURTHER TRANSPIRED ON THEM WRETCHED MESSAGE BOARDS...
(11/11/06 6:19:44 pm)
Reply The Reason the Red Sox lost the 1986 World Series revealed!! To me, the loss will always be the fault of the manager's stubbornness in wanting to "win the way we've won all year" - and not pulling out all the stops to get that clinching game. He should have been more creative - and remembered the adage that "the post-season is a whole new season", which calls therefore for whole new methods and strategies!
Namely, he had the rocket, Roger Clemens, available to pitch in RELIEF... He should have given him the ball instead of giving it to Al Nipper - the series would have been won.
Years later, to finally oust the Indians, wasn't it Grady Little who showed exactly such creative guts by using Pedro in the final few innings against them? It turned the trick - alas, it was not the World Series and it made Pedro unavailable for the start of the next series... John McNamara had no such excuse - there was no tomorrow in his situation. He HAD to pull out all the stops to finish it off when he could.
Note: yeah, I am talking about the LOSS, 3 games to 4...
Not just one game...
:rolleyes :x :( >: :barf
Edited by: luminousluciano at: 11/11/06 10:20:42 pm
(11/11/06 7:05:15 pm)
The Reason the Red Sox lost the 1986 World Series revealed! Are we talking about the same game? Clemens STARTED game 6, so he certainly was not available in relief. If you're talking about Game 7, Nipper did come in relief, but he entered the game with Boston already down. I think he gave up some more runs, but Boston didn't score anymore afterwards, so the runs he gave up were just Mets insurance runs that ended up not being needed anyways. Also Clemens would have had all of a day's rest after pitching 7 innings in Game 6. Pedro hadn't pitched since Game 1, when Grady put him in relief 5 days later
The old boss
(11/11/06 7:18:02 pm)
Reply The Reason the Red Sox lost the 1986 World Series revealed! Rice4HOF is correct. For those who need a refresher:
Game 6 boxscore
Game 7 boxscore
(11/11/06 7:45:20 pm)
Reply Re: The Reason the Red Sox lost the 1986 World Series reveal I always blamed it on Schiraldi. 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA, though he did get the save in game 1.
Edited by: ordinaryjoe at: 11/11/06 7:52:05 pm
(11/11/06 10:18:46 pm)
Reply The Reason the Red Sox lost the 1986 World Series revealed! No insurance runs scored, all the more incentive and possibility of a comeback! HOPE is not the least important of all factors...
Aye, I plead guilty whatever the charges are - I went through sheer memory there, not with a score sheet or the video playback on hand...! It has been 20 years and the curse HAS been lifted since... Good thing I even remembered Nipper's name! But, game 6 or game 7, the Sox had 2 chances to put it away. If memory serves me right, there had been a rain-out between games 6 and 7 - no? Clemens offered to pitch in relief - it was a "no tomorrow" and "do or die" situation - why not?
Don't tell me the Rocket would not have had such a loooong career had he pitched in relief there...
The old boss
(11/12/06 1:44:43 am)
Reply The Reason the Red Sox lost the 1986 World Series revealed! I think the legend about his stubborness about "wining the way we've won all year" grew out of his response for why he didn't sub for Buckner.
But I think the myth that McNamara was simply going through the motions is exagerated. If that was the case, he would not have started Hurst on three days rest for game 7 when it was Oil Can's turn to start, for example.
Clemens was available during game 7 - it was his day to throw. However, once McNamara decided to use Schiraldi in the seventh inning (again, breaking away from routine), he decided Clemens was going to be his closer in the ninth and extra innings if the game got to that point. Calling for Clemens to be used at the top of the eighth is just hindsight.
(11/12/06 4:11:01 am)
Reply The Reason the Red Sox lost the 1986 World Series revealed! Ah, but hindsight is always 20/20...! ;)
I liked Hurst a lot - he would have held that 3-0 lead on any other day...
Aye, back-and-forth pointless argumentation cannot be eschewed for everybody's a critic and a nitpicker... And probably an Al Nipper as well ; but that sure is yet again "another story"...
I can think of worse "double curses" than that myself...
Once again, I get the last word!
It is getting to be a habit too - but, verily, it is only fitting that he who knows best gets the final word on the matter...!