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Bye-bye regular season

Oct 3, 2012, 10:00 AM EDT

Autumn Sunset

I’m glad the last day of the season is happening on Ocotber 3. My favorite final day of the season in my lifetime happened on October 3. It was 1993. I spent that day in Cleveland, at the last game ever played at old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. The Tribe — with a young Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton, Jim Thome and Carlos Baerga — were taking on the first place Chicago White Sox. The Sox won 4-0, but the packed house — over 72,000 for a baseball game, which was insane — cheered like crazy anyway.

First they cheered for the fact that Belle beat out Frank Thomas for the RBI crown (this was before we all learned that RBI didn’t really matter). Then they cheered for the fact that Cleveland native Bob Hope ended the day by standing on home plate and singing “Thanks for the Memories.” He was a bit wobbly by 1993, but no one cared. It was a treat.

Another reason why October 3, 1993 was fantastic?  As I watched the Indians and the Sox do their thing, I was scoreboard watching. And what I watched was the Braves beating the the Rockies handily, as David Neid, alas, was bested by Tom Glavine. Meanwhile, as Bob Hope sang, the Dodgers-Giants game was underway, but not yet decided. It wasn’t until I got down to my friend’s parents house in Wooster for Sunday dinner that we learned — via radio, not the Internet because the Internet was something you used at the campus computer lab in those days and, really, where were you going to get scores on that thing anyway? — that the Dodgers won, ending the last of the great division title races.  Man, what a day!

We won’t have any parks filled with 77,000 people today. And, with all of the playoff participants decided, we have no win-or-go-home games left to play.  But we do have the A’s and Rangers facing off in a win-or-play-the-wild-card-game thing. And the Orioles and Yankees could still end in a tie, forcing extra baseball tomorrow.  That’s not nothing.

Also not nothing: the fact that, for the last time until next spring, we have a slate of 15 ballgames. And no matter how great the playoffs can be, they’re … different than regular season baseball. Things become more important and more pitched and intense and that’s good. But today does mean the end of easy going, relaxing baseball for baseball’s sake that characterizes so much of the regular season. And I’ll miss that, even as things get all crazy over the next month.

Bye-bye 2012 regular season. You were pretty darn good to us.

  1. levistahl - Oct 3, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    I remember that final day clearly, too: watching the Dodgers beat the Giants, and feeling like they really were playing with all the intensity and desire to deny their rivals that a rivalry is supposed to bring.

    My own favorite final day–aside from last year’s insanely wonderful extravaganza, which seems untoppable–is 1997. At Wrigley Field with friends, watching a miserable Cubs team (the one that had gone 0-14 to start) on a stunning autumn day in a half-empty ballpark. It was Ryne Sandberg’s final game, and the crowd was well aware. After the last out, as the speakers played “Auld Lang Syne,” it was as if no one wanted to admit it was all over and winter was coming: people stood around, looking wistfully at the field. Eventually the Cubs came back out onto the field and waved at the fans, shook hands, smiled, threw caps. Ted Cox wrote beautifully about that day for the Chicago Reader soon after:

    In some ways looking back it feels like the end of an era: by spring Harry Caray was dead, Kerry Wood was up, and with their wild card win the Cubs began a relatively quick process of re-setting fan expectations. The feel of going to a game at Wrigley changed subtly, as tickets became harder to come by and the goal turned from having a good time to seeing a win. The past two years have been the first time since 1997 that I’ve felt the casual air of the older days returning. (Which, let’s be clear, while comfortable isn’t good.)

  2. El Bravo - Oct 3, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    That’s it, I’m putting the offseason on the douchenozzle list.

    1. Randy Miller – South Jersey Courier-Post (abuses BBWAA privileges, HOF vote by submitting blank ballots; also invented superhero Saberboy, which is cool)
    2. Luke Scott – perennial all-star douchenozzle. Luke says, “you don’t have to worry about me unless you’re a criminal or communist.”
    3. Ryan Braun – for cheating and also for not cheating, either way we will likely never know the truth, and that is annoying.
    4. Jon Heyman – CBS (for having a documented history of talking up and selling Scott Boras clients to ball clubs)
    5. Nick Swisher – seriously, do I need a reason?
    6. C.J. Wilson – Tweeted Napoli’s cell number as “prank” b/c Napoli said he was looking forward to hitting HRs off of him this season.
    7. Matt Bush – DUI and for ruining his career
    8. Joba Chamberlain – for thinking he is capable of using a trampoline with his fat toady ass
    [Joba’s addition was rescinded given how unlucky the poor bastard was and he was just trying to be a good dad.]
    8. Bobby Jenks – DUI (influence mainly muscle relaxers…), amazing quote “When Deputy Sutphin asked Jenks if he had taken anything else other than the muscle relaxers, he told the officer that he “was going to be honest with you, I was just leaving Babes because I hit a car. I just had to get out of there.”
    9. Delmon Young – Assault; anti-Semitism; generally just a D-to-the-nozz all around.
    10. Pedro Gomez – BBWAA voter with no sense.
    11. Cole Hamels – for beaning Harper for being 19 and talented.
    12. Rob Dibble – Because he shoulda never left this list as the inaugural douchenozzle.
    13. Bud Selig – repeatedly suggests, nay insists, that no one wants more instant replay in baseball.
    14. Hawk Harrelson – homerism reaches new bounds by repeatedly calling out umps for hurting the “good guys” with bad calls.
    15. Bobby Valentine – per Alex K, “Bobby V. isn’t on the list yet? He said a coach taking time off to tend to his sick kid was ‘on vacation.’ Total nozzle statement, bro.”
    16. Yunel Escobar – Wore “TU ERE MARICON” eye-black like a douchenozzle would do.
    17. Roger Goodell – The totalitarian regime of which is the NFL, headed by the iron fist of Goodell, is so powerful that the douchiness of their league temporarily penetrated the MLB blogosphere, hence the NFL-related DN addition.
    18. Jamie McCourt – For trying to add on to her $131 million settlement with Frank b/c the Dodgers sold for more than she thought they would ($2 billion). Mainly though, for simply being in the news again this year, qualifying Ms. McCourt for this DN list.
    19. The Offseason – no baseball. Seriously, the offseason is such a dick.

    • number42is1 - Oct 3, 2012 at 10:37 AM

      poor poor swisher…

    • Utley's Hair - Oct 3, 2012 at 12:52 PM

      No Frank McCourt? You misogynistic pie-baby…

  3. takemytalentstosoutheuclid - Oct 3, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    I remember that game as well, Craig. I was there with my dad, and my grandfather. I was in my early 20’s, and had been to many, many games in that old stadium over the years, and saw a lot of bad baseball. Things were just starting to get interesting for the Tribe. If I recall correctly, both Bo Jackson and Ozzie Guillen were playing for the Sox that day. Sandy Alomar was there, but didn’t play. I don’t think they had called up Manny Ramirez yet, nor had they traded for Vizquel..
    That was also the year of the tragic boating accident in spring training.

  4. kiwicricket - Oct 3, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    I have never followed a MLB season which didn’t have Omar Vizquel or Chipper Jones playing in it. Both will be gone next year.

  5. willclarkgameface - Oct 3, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    1993 was dicks.

    The Giants blew a massive August lead to go home with 103 wins. I think if they had made the NLCS that year they would have beaten Philly and made it to the Series. Not sure if they would have beaten the Jays, but damn, that would have been fun.

    My favorite last day of the season is 2011. It’s probably going to be a popular answer, but I had like 4 games going at once on my TV and it was a fun evening to watch everything come together.

    It won’t be very good today with the A’s/Rangers playing early and the Red Sox mailing it in big time with Dice K “pitching”.

    • danandcasey - Oct 3, 2012 at 11:30 AM

      As a Giants fan, I refer to the 1993 season as “the season-that-must-not-be-named.” Still, I am hard-pressed to say the Giants “blew” an August lead. They were up by 9.5 games as late as August 7th. Still, they went 29-22 in the last 51 games (.569 pct). The Braves went 39-11 over the same time span – a .780 pct. I see it more that the Braves played insane baseball rather than the Giants blowing the lead.

  6. proudlycanadian - Oct 3, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    October 1993 was a very good time for a former Cleveland Indian named Carter.

    • cur68 - Oct 3, 2012 at 12:34 PM

      Yes. Yes it was. I loved 1993. A very good year for me in every respect.

    • Utley's Hair - Oct 3, 2012 at 12:53 PM

      You mean Josephine Carter?

      • cur68 - Oct 3, 2012 at 1:14 PM

        You saying your Phillies got beat by someone named “Josephine”? Not surprised really. That’s a really great name. And lets face it, it WAS the Phillies in ’93. I totally believed that this “Josephine” got the best of them somehow. What’d she do? Punk them with “WS Champs, 1993” T-shirts that, once they were washed (providing the likes of Dykstra DID wash) read “William’s Slider into the Cheap Seats”? I could see them falling for that.

      • proudlycanadian - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:09 PM

        J. C. Superstar.

  7. indaburg - Oct 3, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    In hindsight, 1993 was a bittersweet year. Unbeknownst to me, it was the last year I would pay attention to baseball for about a decade. The 1994 strike ruined baseball for me for a long, long time. I’m glad we made up.

    El Bravo is right. The off-season is a dick.

    • flpunx - Oct 3, 2012 at 11:25 AM

      The strike hurt baseball for a long time. I think baseball is just now (within the past 5 years) getting back to where it was before then. I still loved baseball in 94 and 95, but in 96 got my first summer job and there went my baseball attention. I remember that is those days, baseball was truly the American pastime, and arguably more popular than the NFL. Now, 2 hockey lockouts, an NFL lockout, and an NBA lockout (which didn’t matter, because really, who gives a crap about the NBA?) and baseball still hasn’t returned to where it was in the 90’s. I’m with you, I’m glad we made up, and also like you, I’m glad the Rays give me a reason to watch all 162 games every year, even if it doesn’t end up the way we all want it to on opening day. February is only 4 months away. . . .

      • sportsdrenched - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:37 PM

        I remember the end of the 1993 season too. I belive George Brett & Nolan Ryan both played their final games that day. Like others have echoed, it was like it was the last day baseball was innocent for me. Fall of 93 was my freshman year of High School. After 1993 I got lost in playing my own sports, chasing girls, and other things that HS Boys do. The Strike certainly didn’t help matters, and when I emerged on the other side of college it was the final days of the Riod Era and the game was about to meet all the fall out from that…and I was an adult. Which is not as fun as being a kid.

        So yes, 10/3/93 was probably a normal day, but it’s importance grows with each passing year.

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:23 AM

      yep, the strike hurt and that’s why old Bud went around passing out “stuff” to help the players bring the game back…

      you say he didn’t? OK, I’ll buy that but KNOWING and LOOKING the other way while it was going on , while in his position is tantamount to him giving it to the players…

  8. Jeremy T - Oct 3, 2012 at 11:27 AM

    You know what else happened in 1993? Jurickson Profar was born.

  9. ptfu - Oct 3, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    Today is also the day that the National League bids adieu to the Houston Astros. Thank you Astros for over half a century of memories. Good times. Bad times. Big trades. The Killer B’s. Rise and fall of the Dome. Ten-run Field. I’m sure stex and other Astros fans have many more specific memories.

    Yes, the Astros will still visit NL parks with all the interleague play, but it won’t be the same. Best of luck in the designatedhitterball league. Make your farewells to the resignation of watching your pitcher stride unhappily to the plate, and the burst of joy when he oh-so-rarely gets a hit.

    So long, Astros.

  10. APBA Guy - Oct 3, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    Yeah, the offseason isn’t as good. I’ll be compelled to watch my girlfriend’s favorite sport, EPL football (none dare call it soccer), and her band of blue spoiled babies, the Chelsea Russian Mafia, in compensation for her scowling through 162 glorious games of the “Dead to Me” A’s, as she calls them.

    Meanwhile, my one compensation will be preparing for our APBA draft in January, and getting all excited for that, the one day all 12 of us team owners live in hope.

  11. Utley's Hair - Oct 3, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    While 1993 was a good year that could have been so much better, 2008 was much sweeter. The longest baseball game ever ended with a Hawaiian flyin’ onto the top of a heap of red pinstripes.

    The best single day of baseball has to have been last season’s final day.

  12. hojo20 - Oct 3, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Good post….the last real division race, in the NL West. Any 70,000 in Cleveland? I wonder if they last drew that size crowd at the ’81 All Star Game.

  13. Jeremy T - Oct 3, 2012 at 6:34 PM

    I’m gonna go ahead and say that the best October 3 was 1951. Tough to beat the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”

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