View Full Version : ESPN Page 2: 1988 Orioles Vs 2005 Royals - A game for the ages...

08-23-2005, 01:03 AM
A game for the ages (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=neel/050822&num=0)
By Eric Neel
Page 2

It has been awhile. We haven't used the Page 2 Showdown Simulator since Bush-Gore and Aguilera-Spears in the supercharged fall of 2000. But when the Royals started dropping games like spent cigarette butts these past three weeks, inspiring crusty, sweaty old men on bus stops and park benches to say, to no one in particular, "Losers? These guys aren't losers. You want to talk losers, let's talk the 1988 Baltimore Orioles. Now those guys could lose," we knew it was time to dust it off and crank it up.

Here now, the inning-by-inning results of Page 2's titanic sim clash between the Kansas City Royals of 2005 and the Baltimore Orioles of Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Eight. (Played at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., because while the baseball is ugly there, the fountain is purty.)

Pregame: The start of the game is delayed 27 minutes as Cal Ripken Jr. and George Brett wait each other out in opposing dugouts, neither man wanting to be the first to take the field for a dual ceremonial first pitch. "I suffered through the streak in '88," Ripken says. "I earned the right to be the marquee loser. George is just a figurehead. The only thing he ever lost was his mind when they caught him with the pine tar." "Total kindergarten baby move on his part," Brett claims. "I'm surprised he didn't take a lap around the field in a stroller."

Top of the First: After a Tito Landrum popout and a Billy Ripken walk, the brothers Ripken are erased by an inning-ending double play. As the two walk off the field, Cal offers Billy advice on the proper, aggressive way to slide into second base. Billy tells Cal he's a "f--- face." Cal whacks him in the head with his glove and they throw down on the infield grass. Headlocks, noogies, a vicious melvin and several "You're just mad because Mom always liked me best" taunts ensue.

Bottom of the First: Royals forfeit the half-inning when it is determined that center fielder Chip Ambres is in fact not a major-league baseball player but a character in a "Sweet Valley High" novel for preteen girls.

Score: 0-0

Top Two: Eddie Murray refuses to speak. His teammates refuse to hit. Royals starter Jose Lima helps them out, however, walking three batters and hitting two others before being pulled for sight-impaired crooner Jose Feliciano with the bases loaded, two in and nobody out. "I felt I had to send a message," Lima says later. "Let them know it's Lima time." Feliciano strikes out the next three batters, distracting them by singing "Feliz Navidad" as he pitches. "I was confused," says Orioles right fielder Keith Hughes. "It's August; what the hell is he doing wishing me a Merry Christmas? I don't even know the guy."

Bottom Two: Mike Sweeney slips a disk walking from the on-deck circle to home plate. Buddy Bell replaces him with Ken Harvey, who is, it turns out, still on the DL. "Who am I kidding?" Bell mumbles to himself. "We're dead without Sweeney."

Score: 2-0, Baltimore.

Top Three: Frank Robinson challenges home plate umpire Eric Gregg on a called third strike to Fred Lynn and is ejected. "The pitch was center-cut," Robinson says. "I just wanted to get out of here."

Bottom Three: Emil Brown homers off Mike Boddicker. The 48 people in attendance, every one of whom purchased tickets under an assumed name, go wild.

Score: 2-1, Baltimore.

Top Four: After a thrilling win for Green in the JumboTron dot race, and a spirited if not entirely coherent rendition of "Cotton-Eye Joe" by recently reunited reggae Zeppelin cover band, Dred Zeppelin, the field remains empty. It seems both teams are gathered in the Royals' clubhouse for a group therapy session. "My name is Craig Worthington, and I'm a loser," Craig Worthington says. "We love you, Craig!" the other players reply.

Bottom Four: Donnie Murphy's mom calls. He needs to be home before dark, and he needs to bring his things with him. This leaves Mark Teahen without a glove, Terrence Long without his favorite bat and both teams without the lucky pillowcase they were using for second base.

Score: 2-1, Baltimore.

Top Five: Larry Sheets, trying to get something started, lays down a bunt to begin the inning. Royals pitcher D.J. Carrasco makes no play on the ball. "That's bush," he says. "I'm not even going to dignify that with a response." Sheets keeps running, eventually scoring the first-ever inside-the-park home run caused by "indifference."

Bottom Five: Sweeney, wearing a Bobby Valentine 'stache-and-shades getup, returns to the plate as a pinch hitter for wheelchair-bound Harvey. On a stretcher. "Even lying down, he still gives us our best shot to win," Bell says. And he's right. With Long aboard (he gets on when Terry Kennedy is called for catcher's interference; "Those braids were mesmerizing ... I just had to reach out and touch one," Kennedy explains), Sweeney somehow manages to poke a ball up and over the left-field fence. "We knew it was Sweeney all the way," Boddicker says later. "But the disguise was so good we didn't think anyone would believe us, and besides, he was on a stretcher and all, so I just pitched to him. It was a good pitch, too, down and away, right where I wanted it. I guess I should have factored in that he was lying down and was in a good position to pull the low ball, but what can you do, that's the kind of stuff that happens when you're on a losing streak."

Score: 3-3.

Top Six: Commissioner Bud Selig interrupts play to suggest it would be in the best interest of all involved to end the game in a tie. "Zack Greinke's got a start against the Red Sox coming up," Selig says. "He's going to need the swivel muscles in his neck to be fresh. And Tom Niedenfuer is only just now recovering from those Jack Clark dreams. I'd hate to see him get called into a game like this and possibly regress after all the hard work he's put in." The teams insist, however, that the game must go on.

Bottom Six: With one out, Matt Stairs draws a walk but is then gunned down on a failed hit-and-run, strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play with Angel Berroa at the plate. Berroa misses the sign. Stairs, is, um, slower than the light coming on over Gomer Pyle's head. "That was my bad," Bell explains. "I shouldn't have called for the hit-and-run with Matty. I just had a feeling is all. My fault entirely."

Score: 3-3.

Top Seven: Tito Landrum shaves his head. For luck. Brady Anderson combs his sideburns. For looks. Eddie Murray seethes. For fun.

Bottom Seven: Inspired by the rain-out scene in "Bull Durham," Teahen tries to turn on the field-level sprinkler system but guesses the wrong valve and actually triggers the fire extinguishers in the press box. "First thing that's really gone right all season," Teahen laughs later. "Maybe now those bums will think twice before they make fun of us."

Score: 3-3.

Top Eight: Ambiorix Burgos comes on to pitch for the Royals and gives up back-to-back home runs to Cal Ripken Jr. and Murray. (Editor's note: The Showdown Simulator spit out the following note at this point: "Ambiorix Burgos? Ambiorix Burgos? That's not a major-league pitcher. That's a guy with an eye patch who gets offed in the first 10 minutes of a Bond film. He's facing two Hall of Famers here, for chrissakes. What did you want me to do? Make something up?!")

Bottom Eight: David DeJesus hits for Ambres and doubles to right-center. "I kind of forgot we had DeJesus," Bell says sheepishly. "Again, my bad." DeJesus is left stranded on second when Brown, inspired by Sweeney's efforts, tries batting lying down and strikes out looking. "I had no chance at the ball," he says. "But the view from there, like it was home plate cam or something, was pretty cool." Meanwhile, DeJesus refuses to leave second base. Like a Korean boxer sitting cross-legged in the corner of an Olympic ring, he holds his ground until long after the lights have gone out. "How do you score that?" asks one sprinkler-soaked writer for the local paper. "SOB," another jokes. "Sitting On Base."

Score: 5-3, Baltimore.

Top Nine: Kennedy. Worthington. Hughes. Like you don't know how that goes ...

Bottom Nine: Stairs singles to right. Berroa reaches on a Billy Ripken throwing error. Teahen walks. Ripken Jr., acting as self-appointed interim manager in Robinson's absence, calls for promising 21-year-old pitcher Curt Schilling to face scrappy pinch hitter Joe McEwing. Schilling out of the pen: Call it a prophetic moment. Boom.

Final Score: 6-5, Kansas City.

"What was the difference?" Bell says afterward, champagne burning his eyes. "I think it was a numbers game. 19 is bad, but it isn't 21, you know what I mean?"

"We just had Big Mo on our side," Long gushes. "I mean, coming off that 2-1 over Oakland the other night, and then that win Sunday, we were feeling it, we were on a roll."

Sweeney, whose stretcher is carried aloft by jubilant teammates, shouts, "Put me down. Put me down. Seriously, put me down!"

And later, in a quiet Orioles clubhouse, Robinson lights a cigar and grumbles: "Win? Who wants to win this thing? Were they trying to win this thing? That's pathetic. That's a bum groveling for a quarter, reaching down a gutter drain for a half-empty bottle of hooch. Win? We have too much pride to win this thing. We'd lose to these guys 10 times out of 10. That's who we are. We're like the Dolphins of '72 when it comes to losing, you know what I'm saying? We've turned these guys away, and we'll shut down the next pretenders, too. It's all about the legacy with us. It's all about history."

The Orioles had lost 18 straight when they made the cover of SI. They ended up at 21.

Something tells us David DeJesus won't be making this catch.

08-23-2005, 01:12 AM

08-23-2005, 01:12 AM