THE REPLAY ZONE
By Jeff Polman
August ruminations from your trusty Strat-O-Matic replay addict. Check out all four of my season replay-inspired baseball novels on Amazon.
Replaying “the Bartman Game”
For the next installment in my ongoing series of “Redemption Replays”, let’s travel to Wrigley Field in Chicago for the October 14, 2003 NLCS Game Six between the Marlins and Cubs.
And we all know why.
Personally, I believe this infamous contest should be called the Moises Alou Game, not the Steve Bartman Game. Poor Cub fan Bartman has taken all the ridicule for trying to catch a foul ball that virtually everyone else around him was reaching for, and if you watch the video, it’s pretty clear that it wouldn’t have become such a scandalous piece of baseball history if Alou hadn’t thrown a hissy hit on the field immediately after the play—which in turn riled up the Wrigley faithful against the poor fan. Bartman also wasn’t responsible for the subsequent eight Florida runs that were scored, as the foul ball occurred with just one out.
Anyway, for my official replay of the game, I figured Steve should be the guest of honor and given his own private, glassed-in box above home plate to watch the action. He deserved it…
The “as-played” lineups:
*Miguel Cabrera’s 2003 card was only rated in LF, so I used his same fielding numbers for RF
Both teams go down 1-2-3, Florida hitting three ground outs to Grudzielanek.
Derrick Lee hits a one-out single, Randall Simon a two-out double, but neither team scores.
FLA 00 – 0 1 0
CHI 00 – 0 1 0
Leadoff single by the Marlins’ shortstop Alex Gonzalez (both teams had shortstops with the same name—weird!), and Pavano bunts him to second, but he dies there.
Bako with a leadoff double for the Cubs. Prior bunt gets him to third and Lofton doubles him home. Sosa and Alou walk to load the bases but Aramis Ramirez whiffs to end the inning.
FLA 000 – 0 2 0
CHI 001 – 1 3 0
Prior bears down, whiffs Rodriguez and Lee as they go 1-2-3. Cubs also go 1-2-3.
FLA 000 0 – 0 2 0
CHI 001 0 – 1 3 0
Lowell leads with a single and Conine walks, but the Marlins fail to score, Pierre whiffing with two outs. Cubs go 1-2-3 again.
FLA 000 00 – 0 3 0
CHI 001 00 – 1 3 0
Another great Prior inning, as he whiffs Castillo and Cabrera.
Sosa with a leadoff walk for the Cubs, and after an Alou force, Ramirez singles Alou to third. Simon singles to make it 2-0 and tire out Pavano. Looper relieves but only faces Gonzalez, who singles in another. Phelps comes on to face lefty Paul Bako and Martinez pinch hits but raps into a double play. Looking good for the Bartmen!
FLA 000 000 – 0 3 0
CHI 001 002 – 3 6 0
Jeff Conine puts a ball in the left field bleachers with two outs to put Florida on the board.
Phelps hits Grudzielanek with a pitch with two gone but escapes further trouble.
FLA 000 000 1 – 1 4 0
CHI 001 002 0 – 3 6 0
Okay Strat people, it’s the witching hour. As you may recall from my first attempt at these Redemption Games, the 1992 Braves shocked the Pirates with an astounding 9th inning comeback to more or less match what happened in real life. Would crazy history repeat itself here? Bartman was standing in his private box for the entire inning, and let’s see what happened…
Juan Encarnacion pinch-hits for Phelps and strikes out. So does Pierre. Then Luis Castillo, the man who hit the famous Bartman foul pop in this very inning, steps up and grounds a ball to Ramirez at third, and he BOOTS IT. Naturally, Ivan Rodriguez then rolls a 1-13 home run/double split on the next pitch, but the 20-sider shows mercy and gives him a run-scoring double instead. 3-2 Cubs. Miggy Cabrera has a chance to put Florida in the lead but ends the top of the 8th by rolling out to short.
Relieved the fates haven’t completely intervened again, the Cubs score three times in the bottom half off Ugueth Urbina. Ramirez singles, Gonzalez walks, and with two outs, catching substitute Damien Miller homers into the bleachers to ice the cake!
FLA 000 000 11 – 2 5 0
CHI 001 002 03 – 6 8 1
With the Cub fans howling and Mr. Bartman happily weeping, Prior plunks Lee to start the inning, then retires Lowell, Conine and gets Gonzalez on a ground out to give the Cubs the 2003 National League pennant!
Really, what would we do without Strat?
FLA 000 000 110 – 2 5 0
CHI 001 002 03x – 6 8 1
* * *
The 1934 Freaks League I operate as commissioner just crowned a World Series champion. After Lou Gehrig and the Nine Stooges went 6-23 in September and finished one game out in the Coolidge Division, the Top Deck Steinbecks tied the Tokyo Barnstormers for first place on the last day, prevailed in six exciting playoff games, then met the Hoover Division winners Robert Johnsons for the championship. The “RoJos”, with a deep, heavy on-base offense led by Al Simmons, Charlie Gehringer, Mickey Cochrane, Lefty O’Doul, and Rogers Hornsby, outlasted the Steinbecks of Carl Hubbell, Frankie Frisch, Bill DeLancey and Zeke Bonura to win the best-of-nine World Series in eight games. Congrats to Johnsons skippers Chris Witt and John Borack on a great draft and even better season!
Here’s the full play-by play of the final game my 1934 alter ego Cal Butterworth broadcasted on the YouTube moving picture network…