Banks County Opinions...

May 16, 2001


Column
By Todd Simons
The Banks County News
May 16, 2001

Gibson's limp to homer history
I recently had the opportunity to watch a replay of one of the best baseball moments I have ever seen. For me it was not only the storybook ending of game one of the 1988 World Series, and the memories of being a young baseball zealot, but it was that I saw a moment in time when the game was transforming. Twelve years later I had nearly forgotten about my old passion for the game, that heroic moment when Gibson limped to the plate and how different the game had been.
Vin Scully, the greatest baseball announcer still talking when I came around, called the '88 Series.
The A's of 1988 were a great team. I hated them because they were great. Just like I hated the 86 Mets, every Yankees team, FSU and Notre Dame.
The year before Mark McGwire had hit 49 homers and no one had hit 50 since Gorman Thomas. Remember Gorman Thomas?
Thirty had become the standard of excellence. Sixty-one was unimaginable. Maris' 61 gave way to Bob Gibson and Luis Tiant and the era of the pitcher. In 1961 the American League ERA was 4.02 and the league batted .256 with 1534 home runs. In 1968 the American league ERA was 2.98 and the league batted .230 with 1104 home runs.
Steve Sax stole 42 bases in 1988. What happened to that game?
Who changed it? McGwire started it and 70 punctuated it.
I never saw the offensive-minded baseball of the fifties and early sixties, but it must have looked a lot like the '88 World Series. It might have looked a lot like baseball does now.
After Canseco was hit by a pitch in the first he hit a grand slam in his next at bat. It was a drive that was rising when it hit the outfield seats.
Scully called it," A two iron."
Canseco said,"I'm not a home run hitter, Mcgwire is."
"And the chairs aren't even warm yet," Scully announced. Prophetic.
By the time Maddux came from the heartland to Hotlanta the game was heading in a new direction. Offense was becoming the way to win. Bunts and steals were becoming of a bygone era. Finesse pitching was stepping aside to the three run homer. The stolen base was useless when weak pitching and bulging biceps make it possible to rap a double off the right field fence.
"Good pitching always beats good hitting, and visa versa," is what Yogi Berra said on the matter.
Mike Scott's split finger seemed to be the biggest advance of the time, but it couldn't outmaneuver having Tim Raines, Ozzie Smith or Vince Coleman leaning toward second. As astro turf went so did the team built around slap hits and stolen bases. The Cardinals were built that way and went to three World Series in the eighties.
Old School becomes new school and classes are taught again and again.
The cycles make sense. They are everywhere.
Back to 1988.
Before Eckersley even threw one pitch to Gibson the TV showed that Eckersley hadn't given up a homerun since August, 24. Then a fastball, foul and then two throws over to first.
Then a foul ball that was just right of the third base line. Not only had Gibson limped to the plate, he hobbled down the line on that foul ball. He fouled another pitch off, after Eck had thrown a ball. Then another ball. The count was 2 and 2 and another throw at the Dodgers' Mark Davis on first. Eckersley threw the next pitch, Davis took off, and now the count was full with first base open.
Davis was the tying run at second with two out. Sax was on deck.
Gibson called time.
He steps ten feet out of the batter's box. He steps back in, the pitch, he turns the bat and...
"High fly ball into right field... she is gone," Scully announced.
The Dodgers won. I was brought to my feet.
"In a year that has seen the improbable, the impossible has happened," Scully said.
"The only question was whether he could make it around the base pads unassisted," Scully's voice rose.
The entire crowd on its feet. The national League MVP at the plate and injured. Eck had given up only five home runs all year. A 3-2 count and Dennis Eckersley threw a slider. I don't think I have ever seen a better moment. It was a moment that announced the Homerun generation.
The ball wasn't juiced, but the game was changing right before my eyes.

Todd Simon is a reporter for the Madison County Journal.



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Column
By Ben Munro
The Banks County News
May 16, 2001

Put down the cell phones!
They're almost like an essential appendage to the body now - two arms, two legs, one cell phone.
In fact, some people would probably prefer to violently lose a limb than part with those portable communication devices.
Alexander Grahamn Bell never knew what kind of monster his talking device would evolve into when he invented the telephone that day in 1876. What started out as a way to avoid the telegraph or shouting three blocks down the street has transformed into a pop culture fad in its latest incarnation.
You can't avoid them. It's the cool thing to walk down the street talking into one of those small black gizmos - a status symbol of the times.
They're just as essential now as carrying your wallet or checkbook. By all means, don't leave home without the danged cell phone.
It may be another sign that I'm behind the times (I always thought I was born 25 years too late), but I think our lives are just too convenient these days and the cell phone perpetuates that.
People are addicted to those things like heroin, all the time gossiping on the cellular.
Nobody can wait to talk to someone in person. We have to talk now! It's about as annoying as those "dial-down-the-center" AT&T commercials.
You'll be sitting in, say, the computer lab at school trying to come up with profound prose for a paper you have to write and those things go off with those weird, "hip" specialized rings. All of a sudden some strange computerized version of "Eye of the Tiger" or "Beethoven's Fourth Symphony" will blare out, and without fail some sorority girl will tingle with anticipation to answer the cellular.
Oh, and let the really loud gossip begin. "Oh, my God Aubrey! Did I tell you what Harrison told me last night? I mean, like, God, I can't wait to spill the scoop to Bethany."
Heck, why wait, honey? You have the cell phone there. Give ol' Beth a ring. I'm sure she has a cell phone.
I know cell phones are very valuable tools in emergencies and I understand that. But their use has gone too far.
All discussions are out in the open now. I mean, people refuse to let conversations wait to the old -fashioned, face-to-face meeting. Even intense arguments are part of the public wireless world. The cell phone is the vehicle to deal with the anger.
I liken it to Dirty Harry pulling out his Magnum every five minutes and Luke Skywalker firing up his green lightsaber when he got ticked off. Now 99.999 percent of the population whips out the weapon of wireless communication as the way to vent frustration.
My favorite are those lovers' quarrels that happen right there over the phone on Sanford Drive in the middle of UGA campus. "I mean, you hung up on me last night....No, I didn't hang up on you....You hung up on me...Yes you did.." Do the world a favor and y'all both hang up now.
And there are those other scenarios: people driving down the road with those phones stuck to their ear; four people sitting a restaurant, all talking but no one talking to each other, just into those black boxes; the cell phone going off in class while a professor is working out a revolutionary breakthrough in quantum theory (don't think that doesn't irritate them); or a cell phone ringer that goes off playing "Another One Bites the Dust," during a funeral eulogy. They go off all the time.
I've been slow coming to terms with the latest technology. I didn't own a CD till 1995, didn't use e-ail till 1998 and just recently got an ATM card. But a cell phone is one thing I can't ever see myself investing in.
Given my resistance to the changes in technology, I would compare myself to "Grizzly Adams" or "Jeremiah Johnson," but I won't kid myself.
They're probably caught up in a cell phone conversation in the woods with each other right now.
Ben Munro is a reporter for the Madison County Journal.


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