Friday, February 17, 2012

GAME 7 - Expos 4, Phillies 3

GAME 7 - Stade Olympique'
Wayne Twitchell vs Steve Rogers
Expos 4, Phillies 3

Phillie manager Brandon Hayes described the game in one sentence, "I left Twitchell in 1 batter too long and that was the game right there".  Up 1-0 and heading into the bottom of the 4th Wayne Twitchell was having his way with the Expos.  Slumping shortstop, Tim Foli, led off the frame by flying weakly to right.  Ellis Valentine worked out a walk and moved to second on Perez' opposite field single.  Larry Parrish struck out on 3 pitches.  Warren Cromartie lined a single between third and short to score Valentine and move Perez over to third.  "Kid" Carter worked the count full then walked to load the bases.  At this point Hayes contemplated going to the pen, but decided to leave Twitchell in to face an unproved rookie named Andre Dawson.  "Twitch" lost command of the strike zone and needed desperately to throw a strike with the count 2-0 on Dawson.  The third pitch came right down Rue St. Catherines and young Dawson turned on it and cranked a two out bases clearing double off the wall in left center to make it 4-1.  The score would remain the same until the top of the 8th when Rogers began to tire and the Phillies touched him up for 2 runs on a Jay Johnstone homer to make it a 1 run game.  Rookie Dan Schatzeder started the 9th and got pinch hitter Tommy Hutton to ground to third for what looked like a sure out until Larry Parrish booted it.  Joe Kerrigan was brought in from the pen and he was brilliant getting Maddox to fly out to right and Bowa and Schmidt to ground out to end the game.  After 4 tries the Expos were finally able to take one from the Phillies in their 5th shot.  Montreal is now 2-5 and Rogers (2-1, 3.24) has both of their victories.

Real Life Results of this Game:  Expos 2,  Phillies 1
Expos Record:  ARAIG (2-5) vs Real Life (4-3)

GAME 6 - Phillies 7,Expos 6

GAME 6 - Stade Olympique'
Larry Christenson vs Gerry Hannahs
Phillies 7, Expos 6

Neither starter did much more than toss BP.  The Phightin's had a 6-3 lead heading into the bottom of the 7th.  Pinch hitter Barry Foote doubled off the left center wall with 1 out.  Dave Cash grounded weakly to second for out number 2.  Pinch hitter Del Unser doubled down the right field line to make it a 2 run ballgame.  Young Ellis Valentine, who had 3 hits yesterday, got his third hit of the day today by hitting one 342 feet into the bullpen to tie it at 6-6.  Expo fans went wild !  After losing 3 of 3 to the Phils so far in this young season momentum finally turned their way.  That momentum would swing would last just 1 inning when reliever Tug McGraw, who singled with 1 out, scored on a sac fly by Garry Maddox to give Philadelphia a 1 run lead.  McGraw held the Expos scoreless in the 8th and gave way to Gene Garber in the 9th who served up a leadoff triple to Dave Cash.  The Phils drew their infield in and Garber was able to get pinch hitter Wayne Garrett to bounce back to the box for the first out.  Valentine hit a one hopper to first for the second out and the usually clutch Tony Perez grounded to short to end the game.  Garber did a fine job walking the tight rope and not allowing the tying run to score.

Real Life Results of this Game:  Expos 4,  Phillies 3
Expos Record:  ARAIG (1-5) vs Real Life (3-3)

GAME 5 - Phillies 4,Expos 1

GAME 5 - Stade Olympique'
Steve Carlton vs Don Stanhouse
Phillies 4, Expos 1

With all the pomp an circumstances that surround a home opener this one was had even more excitement.  Montreal's famed Stadie Olympique' opened it's doors to host it's first ever game.  Last season the Expos played their 8th and final season in Parc Jarry.  This season marked a new beginning in a stadium that would seat close to 60,000 fans.  While Parc Jarry was hosting a 107 loss team Stade Olympique was the centerpiece of the world hosting the Summer Olympiad.  Highlighted by Bruce Jenner's gold medal decathlon performance and Nadia Comenici's pefect 10 in gymnastics, the '76 Summer Olympics were a ratings success.  Unfortunately for the province of Quebec the Olympics was not a huge financial success.  With the retractable domed stadium still unpaid for the Expos will surely need to draw a lot of fans and win a lot of games to help pay the bills.  This home opener drew a lot of fans, and certainly helped toward paying some bills, but it did not add to the Expos win column.  Steve Carlton gave up just 1 run in 7 1/3 innings and Ron Reed pitched a perfect 1 2/3 innings to close it out and send the Quebecois home disappointed.  Second year man Ellis Valentine had a 3 hit day, but no one was able to score him.  Valentine had 2 doubles, but wound up being stranded each time.  Greg Luzinski continued his domination of Expo pitching by going 2 for 3 with 2 walks.  Lead off man Jay Johnston went 4 for 5 as the Phillies won 4-1.

Real Life Results of this Game:  Phillies 7, Expos 2
Expos Record:  ARAIG (1-4) vs Real Life (2-3)

The 1977 Montreal Expos Mourn The Loss of Gary Carter

Taken Father's Day 2010 in Cooperstown
Sadly real life has forced me to take time out from our fantastic 1977 replay to honor the passing of "the kid" Gary Carter.  #8 was a man's man, who played hard day in and day out and always had a smile for the fans.  He never met a camera that didn't like him.  He was the "genuine article".  He played ball in an era where it was cool to be a "bad boy" and have a chip on your shoulder and a scowl on your face.  That wasn't Carter's way. He enjoyed playing and it showed.  He was one of those guys who "got it".  He understood what a privilege it was to be able to put on a major league uniform and receive a paycheck while doing it.  He gave back to the fans and the community.  There were days when things didn't go well for him, but he just kept on smiling.

I had the good fortune to have seen him play as both and Expo and a Met.  While in Montreal he had the burden of being the "face of the franchise".  Many of his teammates would mock him behind his back.  Some said he was a phony, while others just felt like he was showing them up.  "Kid" wasn't a phony.  I can tell you stories about him that can easily back that up.  He did show up his counterparts who were more into "self" than "team".

I had the pleasure to have met him a year and a half ago up in Cooperstown during the 201 HOF game, which was played on Father's day.  "Kid" was busy signing autographs for some VIP's when I yelled through the fence, "Hey Kid, I've got some Met fans here who want to talk to you about that walk off homer on opening day 1985".  He turned and looked at me and winked and said, "Give me 1 minute".  A minute or two later he walked over and chatted w/us about that event and he signed my friend's son's Met hat.  We all shook his hand and took some pictures of him, which I'm going to post here.  What a guy.  He could have continued to talk to the VIP's, but he took a few moments out to spread some cheer our way.  Moments like that are unforgettable.

Bob Feller, Phil Niekro, Gary Carter, Goose Gossage & Bill Madlock
If I had to think about his greatest baseball moments I would have to go with one that touched me personally.  Back in August of 1989 I took a ride down from NYC to Philly to see the Mets play the Phils in a getaway day game.  The Mets were barely hanging on in a pennant race that they would eventually lose to the Cubs by 6 games.  The team was in transition.  You could just feel that swagger from 1984-88 was now gone.  Dykstra, McDowell, Mookie and Maz were all traded mid season.  Mex's legs were shot and he spent more time watching Magadan butcher first base than playing.  Carter was fading quickly himself.  Entering the game he was hitting about a buck twenty.  He hadn't caught a game in 5 or 6 days.  He was virtually the 3rd string catcher sitting behind the forgettable Barry Lyons and Mr. Yipps himself, Mackey Sasser.  When I saw that he was pencilled into the starting lineup I kind of thought, "Let's hope he can still make contact".  "Kid" not only made contact he went 4 for 4 with 2 doubles.  One of those doubles hit off the top of the wall and could have been a homer.  It was one of those magical days when the great one's find a way to dig down deep and turn back the clock to a time when the game was so easy for them to dominate.  The Mets won that game easily with Bobby Ojeda shutting out a very pedestrian Phillies club.  The whole trip home on the Turnpike we were all talking about how this was the spark that the Mets needed and that with Carter back in form the team was definitely going to jell and win the division.  Of course that was not going to happen.  Kid finished the season hitting .183 in just 50 games.  Not the way you want to go out.  Not what we had expected or wanted.  I think we all knew deep down inside that August 9th, 1989 was his swan song, but we weren't willing to accept it.  Fans can never accept the reality of an aging hero becoming a mere mortal.

Over the past day I have seen numerous posts on Facebook and other sites talking about what Gary Carter meant to them.  My friend Torey might have put it the best, "A piece of my childhood died with Gary Carter!! Thanks for the memories Kid!!"

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

GAME 4 - Expos 7, Pirates 3

GAME 4 - Three Rivers
Steve Rogers vs Bruce Kison
Expos 7, Pirates 3
2 for 5 with a homer
It took only until game 4 for the 'Spos to finally get off the "schnied".  Steve Rogers, like he did last season, had to go the distance and hope and pray for some offensive support.  Rogers, who usually gets 1-2 runs worth of support per start was stunned to get 7 runs on 10 hits.  He was so ecstatic he even knocked in a run himself and scored another for good measure.  Buc starter Bruce Kison blew a 2-1 lead by giving up 2 runs in the top of the 4th.  A pair of Expos, Warren Cromartie and Ellis Valentine, each ripped their first homers of the season.  Cromartie was 2 for 5 with 3 RBI's.  Valentine was 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored and an RBI.  Sandwiched between these young sluggers in the lineup was veteran RBI man Tony "Doggie" Perez, who arrived in an off season deal with the Reds.  Perez, who some say was the most important cog in the Big Red Machine, went 2 for 5 and hopes to prove to the rest of the National League, that he still has some more fire in the furnace.  The Expos head home to Montreal for the home opener vs the Phills, who shellacked them in their opening series.  The home opener is also the debut of Stadie Olymique' as a major league ball park.  Expect a gala event as the festivities get going at noon sharp.

Real Life Results of this Game:  Pirates 3, Expos 01
Expos Record:  ARAIG (1-3) vs Real Life (2-2)

GAME 3 - Pirates 5, Expos 1

GAME 3 - Three Rivers
Gerry Hannahs vs Jerry Reuss
Pirates 5, Expos 1
I think it's now safe to say that these Expos are not exactly "Road Warriors".  Jerry Reuss had an easy time of it as they scored 3 runs int the home half of the 1st and never looked back.  Buc thirdbaseman, Phil Garner (3-4) had a fine day, which started off with a 401 foot 3 run blast to stake Reuss to a 3-0 lead.  Montreal would post a lone run in the 3rd, but never threaten again.  Goose Gossage would get the final 5 out in easy fashion.  Dave Parker also homered for the hometown heroes.  Gary Carter was 2-4 for the losers and boosted his season average to .400.

Real Life Results of this Game:  Pirates 2, Expos 1
Expos Record:  ARAIG (0-3) vs Real Life (2-1)

GAME 2 - Phillies 18, Expos 5

GAME 2 - The Vet
Don Stanhouse vs Larry Christenson
Eagles 18, Alouettes 5
In a game that looked like the NFL Eagles trounced the CFL Aloutetes in fact was a baseball game played between the defending ARAIG champ Phillies and the cellar dweller Expos.  Stanhouse, who did a great job the previous season gave up run early and often.  It was 15-0 before the Expos managed to scratch out some gift runs in the 6th and the 7th.  The "Bull" Greg Luzinski destroyed the Expos almost singlehandedly going 5 for 5 with 9 RBI's and 4 runs scored.  Luzinski had 3 doubles and 2 homers as the Phightin's posted 18 runs on 17 hits.  When they weren't getting on base via the hit the Phills were walking (12).  The only bright spot for the Expos was the fact that they got to the airport in time to fly Piedmont Air up to Pittsburgh thankful that they weren't stuck in Philly for a 3rd game and another beat down.

Real Life Results of this Game:  Expos 9, Phillies 8
Expos Record:  ARAIG (0-2) vs Real Life (2-0)

GAME 1 - Phillies 5, Expos 3

GAME 1 - The Vet
Steve Rogers vs Steve Carlton
Phillies 5, Expos 3
Steve Rogers has been tasked with the responsibility of carrying Montreal's staff on his shoulders this season.  The weight must have been so intense that Rogers collapsed immediately and gave up 3 runs to the Phightin's in the bottom of the 1st.  The "Bull", Greg Luzinski got Philly on the board first with an RBI single to left to score Larry Bowa.  Jay Johnstone followed that up with an RBI double off the right field wall to make it 2-0.  Tommy Hutton had a seeing eye single go under the outstretched glove of short stop Tim Foli to score Johnstone and stake Lefty Carlton to a 3-0 lead.  The "Kid", Gary Carter's 389 foot solo blast in the top of the 4th make the score 3-1.  Rookie Andre Dawson's triple of the left field wall scored Carter in the top of the 7th to make it a 1 run ball game.  Warren Cromartie's grounder to short tied the game by plating Dawson.  Montreal, who lost well over 100 games the previous year, showed a lot of moxie by battling back.  Their euphoria was not to last long as the Phightins showed why they won the ARAIG 1976 championship with 2 small ball runs in the next two innings to put the upstart Expos away.  Newcomber Richie Hebner paid immediate dividends in the 8th with an RBI double that was just inside the chalk on the first base line.  Hebner's double scored Ted Sizemore to provide a key insurance run as Carlton posted his first win of the season and Gene Garber notched his first save.  The Expos managed to get 3 runs on 3 hits, while the Phightin's posted 5 runs on 12 hits.  2 Expo errors led to 2 unearned Phillie runs.

Real Life Results of this Game:  Expos 4, Phillies 3
Expos Record:  ARAIG (0-1) vs Real Life (1-0)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

1977 Montreal Expos Preview

The 1977 Montreal Expos are destined for success !  After finishing the 1976 season with 107 losses this team has nowhere to go but up !  Heralded rookie Andre Dawson will get a chance to play a full season in our new state of the art facility (Stadie Olymique').  With new management and a host of new players we head into our April 9th season opener in Philadelphia with renewed optimism