Tag Archives: MLB Wild Card

Dodgers…Giants…1993, 103 Wins and Not a Wild Scene In The Bay

1993.  Not exactly a memorable season for the Blue.  The 1993 Dodgers would finish at .500 , 81-81, an 18 game improvement from 1992’s 63-99 showing, their worst in L.A. franchise history and the first ( and LAST ) time the Dodgers would finish in last place since 1905.  The 1993 season would mark Barry Bond’s first season with the hated ones after 7 seasons in Pittsburgh, with his final moment in a Bucs uniform coming in Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS as he was unable to throw out the speedster Sid Bream .  As the Braves would continue their yearly post-season run that would last until 2005 ( In the process dulling their fan base ) , the Pirates would go into a 20 year tailspin .  

In the meantime, the 1993 season would be the last season for baseball’s 2 division format.  That meant that even if you we’re baseball’s 2nd best team, if you we’re 2nd best in your division as well, that meant no October baseball.  Imagine a team winning 103 games and missing out on post-season play ?  Under today’s 2 team wild card format, that would be all but impossible today.

However, in 1993, one team that would win 103 games was on the outside looking in.  Yup, it was the San Francisco Giants.  Heading into the seasons final four games at Dodger Stadium, the NL West would come down between the Giants and the Atlanta Braves before divisional re-alignment took place . ( The baseball lords finally got their geography right.  When division play started in 1969, the Cubs and Cardinals we’re placed in the NL East, while the Reds and Braves we’re placed in the NL West ) .  The Giants, led by first year manager and former Dodger Dusty Baker, started the season hot behind the huge off-season acquisition of Barry Bonds.  The Giants had lead the NL West by as many as 9 games ( Sound familiar Dodger fans ? ) as late as July.  The Braves, coming off back to back NL pennants, we’re to good to fold and would eventually take over 1st place in the NL West.  The Giants would right themselves and after taking the first 3 games of the seasons final four at Chavez Ravine, the Braves and Giants would find themselves tied for the NL West lead heading into their final games of the season.  Some have called the 1993 NL West race the The Last Real Race .  In the context of today’s wild-card format, a true argument can be made of that.

So now, let Drei here take you back to that final game of the 1993 season .  October 3, 1993.  Earlier in the day, the Braves had defeated the first year expansion Colorado Rockies to ensure they would be playing at least one more game.  The Braves win would force the Giants into a win or go home situation, 103 wins and all.  Win, and the Braves and Giants play a one-game playoff the next evening at Candlestick Park to determine the NL West winner.  Lose, and the Giants, 103 wins and all, like the other 24 teams, start an early winter .  

As for Drei here, I was long aware of the fact this game meant nothing in the standings.  But for Drei and the many blue clad fans in the southland that day, this game WAS our World Series.  For the old-schoolers, this was to ease the pain of ’51 and ’62.  For us baby boomers of the early 90s, this was to ease the pain of  Joe Morgan’s home run in 1982 and Will Clark’s boastfulness in 1991 .  Would there be any dramatic finishes to this 1993 finale between The Blue and the Hated Ones ?  Hardly…

On this day, it would be the Dodgers who would do more than play the role of spoilers.  Backed by 2 home runs by Mike Piazza, who would win the 1993 NL Rookie of the Year honors, it would be the Dodgers driving a stake into the hearts of San Francisco, breaking many hearts in The City By The Bay.  Division re-alignment and the addition of the Central Division in both leagues would occur the following season in 1994, as well as the Wild Card format.  But on this day in 1993, the 103 win Giants squad would  spend the post-season like the other 24 teams, watching the post-season, much to the delight of this then 19 year old fan.  Many a Giants fans heart would be left broken… In San Francisco….  ( Is it too obvious a Dodgers fan is writing this ?) Of course our stadium organist Nancy Bea Hefley would be proud to remind the folks of Northern California as she would serenade everyone with Tony Bennet’s classic tune after the game’s final out…

San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers Piazza being greeted at home by Tim Wallach after crushing his second home run of the game that would knock the 103 win Giants team out of the playoffs

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MATT

wpid-img_3421357097977.jpeg A BIG HAPPY 30TH to The Bison !!!  Was it 2 months ago that many of you out there had a Love/Hate Relationship with Matt ?  Nothing like a great 2nd half run to quiet all doubters huh ?  As we head toward the post-season, I’ll say it once more.  This is STILL your team Matt !!!  Time for The Bison to take charge !  HAPPY 30TH Matt !!!

MAGIC NUMBER

wpid-img_16571948723949.jpeg After last night’s gut-wrenching 5-2 loss in 13 to the Giants , the magic number to clinch the NL West remains at 3.  Zack Greinke takes his perfect 4-0 record against the Giants to the mound for The Blue as he matches up against Madison Bumgarner in The Blue’s attempt to cut the magic number down to one.

GREINKE_92314

wpid-img_20140916_222740.jpg Time to Turn L.A. BLUE !!!

 

 

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26 Years and Counting Since 1988, Part 1, 1989 And The 90’s

Re-blogged from last season.  It is 26 years now since Chavez Ravine has hosted a World Series.  Here’s a recap of each season, part 1, from 1989 to 1999

 

On the eve of the 109th World Series will mark 25 years now since the Dodgers won their last World Series title, let alone appear in one.  While I enjoy telling stories what it was like being a fan experiencing the Dodgers triumph in 1988, explaining the feeling to the fans who have potentially graduated college in the last 4 years certainly is not making me feel any younger.  Now that I have all but let it out that i’m up there in years, lol, let’s now look back on the last 25 years, first with the 90’s, with it’s highs and lows.  And let’s hope by this time next year i’m writing a piece about The Boys in Blue in the World Series.  But first…

OK. Let’s look back upon the last 25 years of non World Series years

1989 77-83 4th Place

Despite leading the NL with a team ERA of 2.95, the last time anyone finished the season with a team ERA below 3.00, the Dodgers, one season after shocking the world, would finish in 4th place 14 games behind the Giants. So anemic was the offense that Orel Hershiser, despite winning 15 games with an ERA of 2.31, would also lose 15 as well , finishing the season with a .500 mark.

So the 80’s finished on a down note. However, the Dodgers was still a strong decade for the Boys in Blue, winning two World Championships (1981 and 1988), four National League Western Division titles (1981, 1983, 1985 and 1988) and 825 games, tying them with the St. Louis Cardinals for most victories by a National League team during the decade. The 80’s was also a strong decade in L.A. sports as well. Between the Dodgers 2 titles, the Lakers 5 titles, and the Raiders lone Super Bowl in 1983 9 This is a 49ERS fan acknowledging this), 8 championship titles we’re won for the great city of Los Angeles. Oh yeah, let’s also not forget the 1984 Olympics, with baseball debuting as an olympic sport here, played at, of course, Dodger Stadium. Those we’re some fun times as a sports fan in the 80’s. The 90’s certainly look promising, right ? kirk-gibson One last look of the 80’s

The 90’s

The United States enacts Operation Desert Storm, destroying the Iraqi army and ending the Gulf War in a few short weeks. A video is released of driver Rodney King being beaten by L.A. police officers following a traffic stop, igniting a national controversy. Bill Clinton is elected the 42nd president of the United States. Magic Johnson announces his retirement from the NBA after contracting the HIV Virus ( What’s Magic up to these days ? ). In the meantime, on the field…

1990 86-76 2nd Place

Even without Orel Hershiser for much of the season due to shoulder surgery and an injury plagued Kirk Gibson a mere cry from his 1988 season, the Dodgers would finish 5 games behind the eventual World Champion Cincinatti Reds. This would also be the last season for Fernando Valenzuela in a Dodger uniform, as he would be released prior to the 1991 season.

1991 93-79 2nd Place

Hometown product Darryl Strawberry, who put up big numbers in his eight stormy seasons with the New York Mets, would be signed in the off-season for a then whopping 5 years, $20.25 million dollars. After a slow start, Strawberry would lead the team in both home runs (27) and RBI’s (100) In spite of a strong 20-8 finish to the season, the Dodgers would finish 1 game behind the upstart Atlanta Braves for the NL West crown.

1992 63-99 6th Place

Eric Davis, the one time Cincinatti Reds outfielder, would team up with childhood buddy Darryl Strawberry in the outfield. However, both Strawberry and Davis would miss much of 1992 and the Dodgers, for the first time since 1905, would finish the season in last place

1993 81-81 3rd Place

In the final season before the current 3 division alignment, the Dodgers would improve upon their 1992 performance by 18 games. Though they would miss out on the post season , the second of 5 consecutive Rookie of the Year winners would don the Dodger Blue as Mike Piazza , with 35 home runs and 112 rbi’s, would take home the prize, Eric Karros winning the award in 1992. 1993 also marked the final season a 100 plus win team would miss out on post-season play as the Dodgers, on the final game of the season, highlighted by Rookie of the Year winner Mike Piazza’s 2 home runs, would knock out the Giants 12-1, leaving the Giants 1 game behind the Atlanta Braves for the NL West crown ( Yup, I was at that game folks ). The following season would be the year divisional re-alingment would take place as well as the wild card. From 1969-1993, only the division winners qualified for the LCS. So yeah, had the wild card been in effect in 1993, the Giants would have easily made the post season. Bummer huh ? ( In my sarcastic voice, LOL ) piazza93 Mike Piazza being greeted by future 3rd base coach Tim Wallach after belting one of two home runs to knock the Giants out of the playoffs

1994 58-56, 1st Place *

In the first year of 3 division aligment, the Dodgers would finish in 1st place, and yes, that is an asterisk next to the feat, if one can consider being 2 games over .500 one. That is because in August, a bitter labor dispute between the players and owners would lead to the cancelation of the remainder of the 1994 season and wipe out post-season and World Series play altogether. Raul Mondesi would win the 3rd of 5 consecutive Dodger Rookie of the Year Awards. Darryl Strawberry, with his countless off the field problems during his time in L.A, would be released prior to the season.

1995 78-66, 1st Place

One year after the strike had put a black eye on Major League Baseball, in a 144 game season due to the previous season’s strike that carried over into 1995, the Dodgers would capture the NL West by one game over the Colorado Rockies 3 years into their existence. Hideo Nomo, The Tornadoe, would win the NL Rookie of the Year. In the first official League Division Series, not counting 1981’s ” intra-division playoffs “, the Dodgers would be swept in 3 straight by the NL Central Champion Cincinatti Reds.

1996 90-72 2nd Place, Wild Card

Tommy Lasorda, one of only two L.A. Dodger managers along with Walter Alston dating back to their arrival from Brooklyn in 1958, would step down from his managerial duties after suffering a mild heart attack. Bill Russell would take over the reins for Tommy. With a 2 game lead over the Padres and 3 to play against the Friars, San Diego would sweep all 3 games at Dodger Stadium to win the NL West by 1 game, pushing the Dodgers to Wild Card status. They would be swept in 3 straight in the LDS by the Atlanta Braves, ending the season on a 7 game losing streak. Todd Hollandsworth would round out the 5 consecutive Dodger Rookie of the Year Award winners dodgersROY The 5 consecutive ROY’s would surpass the 4 consecutive the Dodgers had from 1979-1982 when Rick Sutcliffe, Steve Howe, Fernando Valenzuela, and Steve Sax won the prize

1997 88-74 2nd Place

This time, a late September swoon would cost them. Leading the NL West over the Giants by 2 games on September 16, they would be swept in a crucial 2 game series in San Francisco, the beginning of a 1-6 stretch that would find themselves 2 games behind the hated one’s heading into the final weekend of the year, in which the Dodgers would eventually finish 2 games behind the Giants but miss out on the Wild Card. This would also mark the final season of ownership under the O’Malley family

1998 83-79 3rd Place

In their first season under the Fox group, Mike Piazza , after a lengthy contract dispute, would find himself traded to the Florida Marlins along with Todd Zeile for Gary Sheffield, Charles Johnson and Jim Eisenrich before landing with the Mets one week later. With a 36-38 record in June, Bill Russell would get his pink slip, as well as general manager Fred Claire. The thought of a Dodgers manager was unheard of at the time considering up until 1998 they had only 3 managers. Glenn Hoffman, brother of Padres relief phenom Trevor Hoffman, would finish out the season as the skipper. 1998 would also be the year that future Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa we’re involved in the home run record chase, with McGwire finishing with 70 home runs. piazza Though he did put up big numbers in Dodger Blue , Piazza will forever be remembered as a Met. To this day, I still don’t believe he has buried the hatchet towards the Dodgers and his fans. I wonder if he will blame me next for the Dodgers fans turning on him .

1999 76-86 3rd Place

Davey Johnson would take over as manager, and Kevin Brown, coming off 3 straight dominant season and two World Series appearances with the Marlins and Padres, would be signed to a 7-year $105 million contract just one year after Piazza had been offerred 6 years at $80 million, rasising some questions amongst the fans why the same deal could not be offered to Mike, an everyday player, as opposed to Brown, who only toes the hill every 5 games. The Dodgers would finish 24 games behind the 2nd year Arizona Diamondbacks.

So the 90’s we’re not exactly some glorious times for L.A. sports fans. The Lakers, though they would continue to make it to the post season, making the playoffs in 9 of the 10 years, also failed to bring L.A. another championship . The Raiders and Rams would leave L.A. after the 1994 season ( I really didn’t care since i’m a 49ERS fan ) , the Clippers we’re a far cry from what they are today, and the Kings would appear in the Stanley Cup in 1993 to lose to the Montreal Canadiens in 5 games. So next, the new millenium. Glory day’s are bound to return to L.A, right ?