This is a special quarantine series where I watch old games and write a running commentary about it. Due to some adult language at times, reader discretion is advised.
Jacobs Field – hard to believe that teams used to have normal names for their ballparks.
Al Michaels, Jim Palmer, and Tim McCarver are our talking heads. Also hard to imagine what it was like to hear national baseball done by Joe Buck.
Michaels says that Bobby Cox is giving the Land of Cleve a break by starting Steve Avery over Greg Maddux, rightly pointing out that had Maddux started this game he could have also started short on Game Seven if needed. But then brought up that Games Five, Six and Seven would then be started by Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz. Honestly, how can you go wrong with that lineup back to back to back?
A baby Chipper appears. Michaels calls him Larry. That’s how young he was.
They just showed a close up of Steve Avery. God, he was still a baby. That look of tough defiance. This is why I always loved Avery, the guy never gave up.
Now Michaels is talking to Jim Palmer, who looks almost exactly the same.
Wow, I forgot that Bob Feller threw out the first pitch. An omen for sure that this would be a beautiful game, but maybe not for Cleveland.
Ken Hill takes the bump for Cleveland. First man at the plate, Marquis Grissom. A single on the first pitch. Next is Luis Polonia, someone that I forgot even existed. Grissom just stole second. He is playing with fire, though; nearly got picked off. Come on, bro, don’t do this.
Now Chipper to the plate. Look at that baby and his mock turtle. LOL on Michaels saying that Chipper will eventually play center field. The Chipper in the Outfield Era was not my favorite, but hindsight.
Chipper hit it directly to Kenny Lofton, but it moves Grissom over to third. Man, what a base runner. I forgot how good he normally was on the base path. It’s time for the Crime Dog, which is productive, and brings David Justice to the plate. Two on, two outs… and then directly to Omar Vizquel.
Now it’s time for my dude.
Aves has started five World Series games, and he was still about 25 years old. That shows just how young he was. Avery has allowed two hits, but this last one from Vizquel went straight to Mark Lemke for a second out. Third hit, now a base hit. Not looking good for Aves right now, and the haters are probably saying that they were right. He hadn’t pitched in ten days – he’s knocking the rust off right as we are playing the game.
McCarver brings up a great point: the Land of Cleve batters hug the plate and Aves was a low and away type of lefty. He had a swoopy motion. Oh, and would you look at that. Albert Belle is outside of the batters’ box. Bro.
Belle walks, but Bobby is asking for a redo. What garbage, it was definitely a strike, not a ball.
Now it’s Eddie Murray, who has been playing for 19 seasons at this point. Almost as long as Aves has been alive!
End of the inning, back to Ken Hill.
First man up to the plate for Atlanta is Ryan Klesko. As a girl I thought he was cute because he was a sturdy, thick dude. Y’all know, it’s either a dad bod or pre-serum Steve Rogers, that’s how I roll. Meeting him as an adult was not very good, he was not really nice to people and didn’t even say hi or smile or anything. Never meet your crushes, it never ever ever works out, and usually not even for the reasons you think.
Now up is my beloved dirtbag, my twitter handle namesake, Mark Lemke. He gets a knock but an easy out, which brings up Rafael Belliard, who basically flails and now it’s the bottom of the second.
Aves is still a bit rusty. He’s shaking off Javy Lopez a lot, and I don’t know if he’s feeling as confident as he normally would. Base hit to Espinoza, and now it’s Sandy Alomar. Off speed pitch to Belliard then Lemmers and now it’s the top of the third.
KENNY LOFTON DROPS THE BALL and Marquis Grissom is easy to first base! Should have been an error, you’re right Tim.
Ooof, Omar Vizquel scoops up a Polonia hit and we got an out – Grissom to second.
Chip up to bat, an out, Grissom moves to third. A replay of the first inning here. Crime Dog up to bat.
Jacobs Field is electric, and they just showed Bobby Cox in the dugout looking like someone has threatened to kill his dog. I remember that agony, too, as a young teenage girl.
Fred McGriff gets to first, and now it’s David Justice up. High, high pitch from Hill. Don’t think it was supposed to have been a brush back but it just got away from him. Now a much better pitch from Hill, Justice is 1-2 now. And now a hit directly to the first baseman, we are nil across the board.
LOL the Jeff Foxworthy Show. God, I forgot about that turd.
We are in the bottom of the third now, Kenny Lofton vs Steve Avery.
Punched you the FUCK out, bro. Aves was locked in.
We are seeing the Steven Thomas Avery that I have long considered one of the most tragic cases of “what if” in the history of baseball. The swoopy, sexy curveball is out, and pretty good right now.
Aves is allowing hits but these are definitely catchable ones, very Maddux like in that regard, pitching to get outs, not necessarily to strike out.
Now we are top of the fourth. Klesko is back out there, easy out, and now Lopez. Javy gets a knock with a double. It’s Lem Time… and nothing. Leaving Javy at third, the RISP in this game is outrageous, I hate it.
Tied up at nothing, and now Albert Belle to the plate.
CALLED STRIKE THREE. Aves is finding his stride now. Off speed pitches and then nasty.
Spoke too soon; Murray draws the walk. Now it’s a baby Manny Ramirez, who hit a fly out to center.
BOB FELLER INTERVIEW!!!!!! Oh my heart. I love when they talk to the old guys. Love it.
Jim Palmer says “Chipper Jones and Manny Ramirez are the same age, but it looks like Jones has been playing for years.” Chipper was the most pure baseball player I’ve ever seen, even as a dang child he had vet vibes.
It’s amazing how similar these innings have been. I could control-C almost everything I’ve written thus far and it would still be accurate.
We had a biffed pick-off move from Lemke, which never happens, and led to Espinoza on first. NOW WE HAVE SOME ACTION! The throw from Javy to Lem to McGriff, the RUN DOWN!
We have our first Leo Sighting! Pope Leo! The Holy One!
Now back to Avery, who allows another soft hit that floated right over to David Justice. Steve’s looking pretty good, even when he’s got contact. It’s all fieldable hits, nothing too egregious. We’re now entering the top of the sixth, no runs.
FINALLY! We have OFFENSE. A solo bomb from Ryan Klesko, and it had serious wings.
WE ARE ON THE BOARD, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.
Lemke at bat, but right to Lofton.
Unf, they have the teaser for the next game and it’s nothing but a photo of Greg Maddux in the windup. ABC, this is a family network, why are you showing porn.
Aves has a blunder, giving up a hit to Vizquel. We are at 88 pitches for the young lefty. He’s trying to pick the Cleveland shortstop off. Vizquel is in his head – or… is he trying to get the batter off their game? Nope. A hard hit ball but it went foul; this was a lucky break for Steve.
DOUBLE PLAY ON YOUR ASS. Chipper to Lem to Crime Dog. BYE.
Albert Belle has been useless against Avery tonight. The walk he got was a gimme, otherwise it’s been some straight gas strikeouts. Aves’ best stuff has been against Belle… except for this. A solo homer and we are tied.
Hill and Aves both are starting to show fatigue. However, this is just bad pitch selection on Aves’ part, and Belle having a heavy bat.
Murray up now, looking to capitalize on this new situation.
Umpires gotta umpire. The third base ump just effed it up (sorry Braves). It was called foul and it shouldn’t have been. This is insane, the two umps are both garbage time here.
100 pitches for Avery. One reason why Aves is an all time “what if” in baseball is because he pitched until his arm fell off year after year. And then he pulled that muscle under his armpit and nothing was ever the same after that. But the ‘pen is needing some rest tonight, and ultimately it’s Pope Leo and Bobby putting trust in Aves.
And a balk. And an intentional walk. Aves is getting rattled, even though I don’t believe he actually had a balk here. And neither does Aves, and I’m pretty sure I saw him drop an f-bomb. My child is growing up.
107 pitches for Aves so far, and he punches out Perry to end the inning. Way to get out of a jam, kiddo. They show him in the dugout and he looks impossibly young – because he was. What’s funny is that even when I was a kid I thought that Aves looked more like a boy from my school than a man on a major league team, even though he’s about nine years older than I am. Aves was extremely youthful looking. What’s funny is that when Maddux and Glavine were inducted into the Hall of Fame, Avery was interviewed about his memories of being teammates with them. They had a picture of him in the interview and he still looked extremely young. The guy is never going to age. Glav and Maddux are getting older; Smoltz has always looked old except for 1991, but Steve Avery is Dorian Gray.
MARQUIS!!! Now the Braves are up 2-1! Ken Hill leaves the game and no matter what he’ll get either the loss or a no decision because of it.
Assenmacher vs Chip. They are walking him to match up with the Crime Dog.
A missed pitch and now we have RISP! Polonia and Chipper. McGriff strikes out, and now we have David Justice coming up. Lefty on lefty violence oncoming. A BASE HIT! A tasty meatball served up, bringing home Polonia and Chipper! 4-1 Braves, and Jacobs Field is tomb silent.
Bottom of the seventh. We have our first substitutions. Devereaux in the outfield, Greg McMichael on the mound. I got McMichael’s autograph a few years ago during Alumni Weekend and he is the nicest man. Cute as a button still. He actually is the guy who puts Alumni Weekend together for Atlanta – or at least he used to be. Does a great job; it’s run like a machine. Of course your relief guy is going to deliver outside the box stuff. For the Land of Cleve, Jim Thome has been subbed. Funny to see young Jim Jam the Potato Mashin’ Man coming up to bat. I always think of him as being older and more dad-bod-ier, but then again I think the same about Chipper too.
Momma, there he goes again. Jim Jam the Potato Mashin’ Man strikes again. Not a homer but it wasn’t from lack of trying. Get it, Jim. (I know that is blasphemous but seriously. Jim Thome. You can’t root against him.)
McMichael and his weird ass delivery. It always drove me bonkers to watch him. But then again, the guy warming up in the ‘pen, Brad Clontz, had a weird one, too. But no matter; it was effective. No runs earned this time around.
Thome stays in the game, slots into third base, going into the eighth inning. Up first is Javy Lopez leading off. Now I have the benefit of knowing now, as a 40 year old woman, what the score is going to be and what I have to look forward to. But as a teenage girl this game was unbearable to watch!
Cleveland fans booing Mark Lemke. You wish you had a Lemke.
The calls from these umpires are something else. And I miss when Tim McCarver actually had some good and educational things to say. I forgot that I used to enjoy him a little bit.
Bases loaded and Chipper Jones is at bat against Allen Embree. Looking sharp right out of the bullpen. You must remember that I didn’t watch American League baseball too much back in the day, so I was not familiar with guys like Embree. I wish I was older then so that I would know the beauty I was missing. Embree shuts Chipper down and the bases loaded jam is averted.
McMichael has a fairly clean inning. It’s the ninth inning now, two outs, and Javy Lopez up to bat. Allen Embree is back on the mound.
Javy hits one into the outfield and brings home McGriff. We are 5-1 now. (I know what’s going to happen in the bottom of the ninth and I’m remembering the ulcer I nearly got from it, even twenty something years ago.)
It’s time for Mark Wohlers.
Wohlers vs Manny Ramirez, in an energized Jacobs Field. First pitch is clocked at 97 MPH. Cut to Pope Leo rocking like a fiend. Next pitch is at 98 MPH. Why didn’t we ever talk about how much of a fireman that Wohlers was? Next pitch is 99 MPH. I mean if we were playing this game today, the statcast guys would be dying.
CLOSE UP OF GREG MADDUX WEARING GLASSES SIR THIS IS NOT ALLOWED
You know what else is not allowed? A solo moonshot from ManRam. Boo. 5-2. At this point of the game teenage Prof was sick and rocking like my last name was Mazzone.
BASE HIT DOUBLE.
Now teenage me is double the sick, with Jim Thome on the way.
BYE MARK. It’s time for Pedro Borbon for relief.
Ah, the glorious days of when there was still chew in the dugout. Thanks, Cleveland.
CALLED STRIKE THREE on Thome! Jim did NOT like that. Borbon stays in to face Sandy Alomar.
AND WE’RE GOOD! Borbon hadn’t pitched in over two weeks and he just shut Cleveland down. Braves win! Braves win!
Now you’re probably wondering why this is my favorite game. No one believed in Aves, not really. Aves had a bad 95 season all the way around, but in the month leading up to the series had been surging, showing his former brilliance. For Bobby Cox to rest Maddux, who was the man, and have Steve start was roundly criticized before the game started. Only the Braves and people who believed in Aves thought it was remotely a good idea. The first inning and a half was rough to watch. However, Aves kept going. He got stronger. He worked with his strengths and showed what he could do, what he still had inside. He looked defeat in the face and said “not today”. The people who didn’t believe in him were cheering for him at the end. He gave it everything he had, and he won.
I want to win, too. Teenage me drew strength from this. Middle aged me draws strength from this. Aves wasn’t the guy he used to be, but he was still uniquely talented and special. He might not have been who he was, but he was EXACTLY what the Braves needed him to be.
I need to have this mindset. I’ve always needed it, but I need it now.
This is why Game 4 has always been my favorite game – because of bravery, promise, and hope.