Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Worst Loss Ever

21 years ago today was as painful a Dodger loss as I ever experienced.
Let me set the stage.
I was living in San Diego, but I had full access to the Dodgers home telecasts because my local cable package had the LA stations on it.  In this pre-internet era, I also had a subscription to the L.A. Times delivered to the front door of my home, keeping me fully functional with the L.A. Sports scene.
Lastly, it was the first of my many 29th birthday celebrations (which, if you do the math means I hit the 1/2 century mark today).  Dodger games on my birthday were always special to me as a kid.  It would be the first thing I looked up, “who were they playing on August 21st?”

In 1990 it was Skinny "Slim Fast" Tommy at the helm of the Dodgers
I had a nice meal and sat down to watch the Dodger game, an 11-3 schalacking of the Phillies when I fell asleep in the 8th inning.  It was a Tuesday night, and I needed to get up early to do that 40 mile commute to my work site. The Dodgers were battling for the Division title, with a 63-59 record, six games behind the eventual World Champion, Cincinnati Reds.
They were playing a 4th place Philadelphia club, led by sparkplug Lenny Dykstra, first baseman John Kruk and outfielder Von Hayes.  Even Dale Murphy in his final days as a player was on that roster.

Dale Murphy was traded to the Phillies a few weeks before this game.  Murph had a key ninth inning hit in this debacle.
The Dodgers had Mike Hartley on the mound.  With Eddie Murray at first, Lenny Harris at second, Alfredo Griffin at short, Mike Sharperson at third and Mike Scioscia behind the plate.  The outfield was made up of Hubie Brooks, Kirk Gibson (in center field) and Kal Daniels.  With such an enormous lead, Lasorda put in Stan Javier in left, Jose Gonzalez in center and rookie Jose Offerman at shortsop.
Mike Hartley did his job, going six innings and surrendering one run
If you look at the baseball reference box score of the game, you’ll find the Dodgers win probability chart showed the Dodgers at 100% from the bottom of the 5th inning until the top of the 9th inning when Offerman kicked his first ground ball.  Then the graph line slowly starts to creep upward in Philadelphia’s favor.  L.A. win probability moves from 97 to 95, 90, 56, 50, 44, 18, 10, and then to 0. 

Rookie Jose Offerman performed as we always remember him

In this grainy you tube video, someone taped the lowlights of the disaster that was replayed on ESPN many years later.  Follow along if you dare.  Listening to Giant fan Chris Berman call the action is almost as painful as watching the debacle itself.

It wasn’t until the following morning when I got up and opened my morning L. A. Times that I got the news.  The Phillies scored nine runs in the top of the ninth inning to take the lead and eventually defeat the Dodgers 12-11.  I believe it was the largest ninth inning comeback win in over 80 years.  You talk about a downer to start the day.  I'm just glad I didn't go to sleep after watching the final inning of that train wreck.

Kirk Gibson, started in Centerfield.  He wasn't around for the end

So was this the beginning of the end for the Dodgers that season?  No, not really.  Following this defeat, the Dodgers spun off eight victories in their next nine games including a three-game sweep of the Phils at Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia.  Cincinnati held tough though and the Dodgers never got within 3.5 games of the Red’s lead, finishing the season in second place, 5 games back.  Of course, they were eliminated in San Francisco when the Giants swept them at home.  Wasn’t it always that way?

I almost forgot, Fernando had a pinch hit single in the 8th inning of this game.

Needless to say, after the disaster of August 21, 1990, I have never checked to see who the Dodgers would be playing on my birthday.

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