There is something magical for me about the major league baseball postseason playoffs. The players are playing for more than the money. (Yes, I realize they get huge bonuses for making it further into the playoffs.) There is a pressure to perform at your peak, and every game counts! If you hit a slump in the playoffs your season is over. A player who can hit his stride and play above his potential in the playoffs can attain baseball immortality.
Its 1988 and I am sitting on my couch in Southern California watching the Dodgers play the Oakland A's in the world series. I was elated that the Dodgers were back in the World Series after a drought of more than 5 years. The A's are leading in game 1 and the closer Dennis Eckersley is in for the A's. The injured Kirk Gibson asks to pinch hit and Tommy Lasorda lets him. I'll admit I thought Lasorda was a little crazy, but hey we're behind and Eckersley is pitching and its the bottom of the ninth. What do we have to lose by letting a guy with injured knees come in and get a bat in the world series. Kirk Gibson had played well for the Dodgers all season. His injuries were an unfortunate development. So Gibson literally hobbles to the plate. Eckersley, and his side arm style delivery overpower Gibson. Kirk Gibson swings and falls down in the batters box. It was a little sad. The guy did not know when to give up. Then the magic happened. Eckersley delivers a pitch and Gibson turns and smashes it out to right field.
I was jumping up and down on my parents couch, screaming at the top of my lungs. It was unbelievable! Tommy Lasorda is a genius for letting Gibson bat.(Despite what I thought 3 minutes before.) Gibson is now in the halls of the Dodgers immortals. Many people consider it one of the greatest sports moments of all time.
The sad thing is that this magical moment marks the last time the Dodgers have been in the World Series. They start their playoff quest this afternoon against the St. Louis Cardinals. I will be watching anxiously for another one of those magic moments. Will you?