As the time to watch the sport of baseball has been cut short, and with the 2020 MLB regular season being pushed off as the spread of COVID-19 runs rampant throughout the entire globe, people everywhere are being forced to change their daily habits, some of which incorporated sports into them.
With all sports being pushed off of the table at this point, including March Madness and Spring Training, people are in scramble mode to try and figure out how they are going to fill their time, waiting out everything that is going on outside and remaining inside the confines of their comfy home bases. The sport of baseball is comfort food to a lot of its fan base, and without it, people, just like me, feel very empty without being able to look at the calendar and count down the days until Opening Day is upon us.
But have no fear, the archives of MLB historical annals are here. And we are continuing baseball from 2011 up until 2015.
Baseball has made a lot of changes in how it is run, how it is played, and how it is broadcasted to its fan base, but the overall goal and message of the sport has remained the same. With that in mind, take a look at some throwback games that could interest you in this time of self-quarantine and in-home days spent lounging around and potentially recovering.
As it was played out, the upstart Milwaukee Brewers were pushed to victory by two unlikely heroes at the time, Nyjer Morgan and Carlos Gomez.
T-Plush, as he was affectionately known for, helped send the Brewers onto the NL Championship Series by driving in Gomez, who was out at second base, in the bottom of the 10th inning. Facing off against storied closer J.J. Putz, Morgan slapped a 2-2 pitch back up the middle, just missing the outstretched leg of Putz, and into center field, giving Gomez more than enough time to speed around to home plate and slide into the backside of home plate as the throw from center field sailed way high over the catcher.
As one of the most storied games in Brewers history, the roles that both Morgan and Gomez played on this 2011 squad were important ones, even if they were easily overshadowed by the likes of Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and Corey Hart. Current 2020 manager Craig Counsell was also on this team, if you are looking for a history lesson.
Both Morgan and Gomez were the quintessential glue guys for the small-market Brewers, being loud enough to draw a following but showing enough on the field at the same time to keep fans coming back for more. Their loud styles of play spoke more words than their postgame interviews did, but not by much.
April 21, 2012
Chicago White Sox vs. Seattle Mariners
Before the 21st day of April in 2012, not many people outside of the Chicago White Sox organization were familiar with the type of pitcher that Phillip Humber could be.
Safe to say many more people knew about him after that game.
Going into Safeco Field against the Seattle Mariners, Humber pitched the 20th perfect game in the history of the MLB regular season, in his second start of the year. Eight strikeouts with no hits, walks, or base runners allowed, Humber had a higher rate of flyouts than groundouts in the game, keeping fans on edge the entirety of the nine-inning affair.
Humber’s perfect game was finished in a bit of a controversial way, as pinch hitter Brendan Ryan, who failed to check his swing on a full-count pitch that got away from catcher A.J. Pierzynski, struck out and momentarily held up from running to third on the dropped third strike as he was too busy arguing with the home plate umpire. Obviously, that outcome went in the favor of Humber, but thinking back to a hypothetical ‘what-if’ is a very interesting time filler, if you so choose to do that.
Paul Konerko, Pierzynski, and Alex Rios were the bigger names on that team in ‘12, along with John Danks, Gordon Beckham, and Adam Dunn, who filled the role of designated hitter on the squad.
2012 was the second-to-last year that Humber was in the MLB, having played for the Houston Astros the year after and putting up a ghastly 0-8 record that saw him leave the sport of baseball as he turned 30 years old.
In their first game in the postseason since 1992, the Pittsburgh Pirates were going to make damn sure that they were not going to go out quietly in the postseason.
Just ask Johnny Cueto.
By hosting the NL Wild Card game, the Buccos were able to keep the visiting Cincinnati Reds on their heels the entirety of the game, eventually earning a 6-2 win and moving on to the NL Divisional Series. And in the process, they made sure that Cueto and the rest of the Reds team was very aware who they were, what they were about, and how loud they could get.
In a chant that drew out Cueto’s name over a few more syllables, the chorus of ‘Cueto’ drawls ran rampant through the stadium, even getting Cueto off of his rocker at least once while he was on the mound, resulting in him dropping the ball in a pre-pitch sequence. Later in that same at-bat, catcher Russell Martin turned the tides on Cueto and sent a pitch deep into left-center field, clearing the wall and giving the Pirates a 2-0 lead that they would never look back from.
Andrew McCutchen and Francisco Liriano (7 IP of 1-run baseball) helped lead the team to victory in the night game, which saw the fan base finally get what they had been yearning for over 21 years.
Even as the Pirates failed to make much more noise the rest of that postseason, it was still a very cool moment to watch, even if you had no vested interest in either of the competing teams. Watching two divisional rivals face off in a winner-takes-all game that produces an NLCS-bound franchise is always a treat, but when it involves two teams starving for any sort of postseason success, it is even sweeter.
September 30, 2014
Oakland Athletics vs. Kansas City Royals
MLB American League Wild Card Game
Small-market teams are perfect cinderella stories across all professional sports, and this matchup featured two of them in the same game.
But for the Kansas City Royals, their quest to making a ton of noise and back-to-back World Series appearances began right here.
Spearheaded by a comeback from being down 7-3 late in the game, then once again being down 8-7 in the 12th inning, the Royals would just not give up, would just not quit. Eight consecutive victories happened, including this game, that pushed them into the first of their two consecutive World Series appearances, resulting in their first title in 30 seasons in 2015 over the New York Mets.
This game was up and down throughout, and it did not see a finite end until franchise cornerstone catcher Salvador Perez drove in Christian Colon on a walk-off single in the bottom of the 12th inning. Players like Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, and Wade Davis finally were able to experience some sort of postseason success with this team, and even though 2014 did not end up being their championship year, the course was set for what was going to be a wild two-year ride.
October 14, 2015
Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays
American League Divisional Series, Game 5
A 53-minute long inning. Fans tossing garbage onto the field to protest a call. A run scoring on the throwback from the catcher, giving the Rangers a brief 3-2 lead. Three miscues by Elvis Andrus. And then the bat flip heard all around the world.
What a seventh inning it was.
While the 6-3 final outcome, in favor of the Toronto Blue Jays, is most likely remembered by all Blue Jays fans everywhere, how they added those final three runs produces more fan interest and remembrance.
All because of Joey Bats.
Jose Bautista, the slugger that all teams came to be familiar with in some way, shape or form, decided to save his biggest moment of the season for this game, launching a three-run bomb to left field off of Texas Rangers’ reliever Sam Dyson in the bottom of the seventh inning that proved to be the nail in the coffin for the Rangers’ postseason hopes.
Becoming only the third team in MLB history to win a best-of-five series after losing the first two games, the Blue Jays ignited the Rogers Centre that night with the blast by Bautista, in one of the greatest ends to a postseason contest this side of 2010.