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“The Double,” a vital moment for Seattle Mariners baseball, needs a deep rewind | 1995 ALDS

“The Double,” a vital moment for Seattle Mariners baseball, needs a deep rewind | 1995 ALDS


– It’s October eighth, 1995. We’re at the Kingdome,
in Seattle Washington and the decisive game five of an ALDS between The New York
Yankees and Seattle Mariners is in extra innings. Seattle is down a run, which means this bottom of the 11th is do or die, and not just in the usual baseball way. To understand how crucial this moment is, we need to remember New York’s recent history of baseball failure and Seattle’s potential
future without baseball. And to appreciate what’s about to happen, we need to meet the characters
inhabiting this moment. We need to rewind. (mysterious music) The Yankees are up, if they get out of this inning, they will win a playoff series. At nearly any other
point in Yankees’ history that would be no big deal. But here in 1995, it would be a godsend. Just ask the man covering
first base, Don Mattingly. Since long before Mattingly’s career began the Yankee’s had been one of the most consistently excellent franchises in all of pro sports. Dating back to the 1920’s The Yankee’s had experienced a playoff
drought exactly once, a little valley between 1965 and 1975. New York’s 33 World Series appearances included four in the six seasons preceding Mattingly’s 1982 debut, but that debut came at the tail end of a losing season, and in Mattingly’s 1983 rookie season The Yankees missed the playoffs again. Mattingly became an all star and batting champion in ’84 but the Yankees missed the playoffs. The Yankees missed the playoffs narrowly even when Mattingly won MVP in 1985. Yes, that’s current Seattle manager Lou Piniella along side him. Piniella coached and managed the Yankees through some of those dark years. Mattingly remained
elite throughout the 80s but not once did New
York make the playoffs and as injuries slowed their star the Yankees got even worse. When current manager
Buck Showalter took over, gradually turned New York into a winner, and eventually led them to the top of the AL East in 1994 a strike aborted the season and the playoffs were canceled. In August of this season they looked dead falling to 53 and 58 on the heels of a shut out against Randy Johnson and these very same Mariners, but they rallied. New York dominated September with excellent pitching then
snagged the recently conceived Wild Card to
finally end the drought. And their momentum carried
into the post season. The Yankees won their home games to go up 2-0 in this best of 5 AL divisional series which is also a recent invention. And after a pretty rough individual season the veteran Mattingly
helped spark those wins. His vintage performance includes a homer during New York’s
15 inning game two win and a crucial two run double tonight. So yeah, Don mattingly is 34 years old, he’s been a Yankee, and mostly a very good one for 14 seasons. But only now in Mattingly’s twilight does New York sit three outs away from winning the first playoff
series of his career. If they don’t, this first
might also become a last. Mattingly’s contract is expiring and its widely believed the declining, somewhat disgruntled star, will leave the Yankees or just retire. But the Yankees are so close to delaying that decision. They just need strong pitching
from a relative newcomer which has been their M.O. David Cone who was
acquired in a July trade with the rivaled BlueJays got the game one win and pitched seven strong innings tonight, outlasting Seattle starter Andy Benes before a shaky eighth tied the game. (crowd roars) – [Announcer] In the dirt, we’re tied. The walk to Strange forces
in young Alex Rodriguez. – Rookie reliever Mariano Rivera, the game two winner got New
York out of that inning. In the ninth, Showalter
and Seattle’s Piniella made their versions of the same move when they faced late trouble. Instead of closers both
teams brought in their aces. Both on one days rest
after starting game three. Different kinds of aces
produce different results. Seattle’s Randy Johnson is the
presumptive Cy Young winner with the nightmarish fast ball. He led Seattle out of the ninth and struck out the side in the 10th but Johnson faltered in the 11th, surrendering an RBI
single to Randy Velarde that gave New York this lead. New York’s Jack McDowell
is yet another newcomer acquired in the off
season to be their ace, but his first year in pinstripes has been rocky. It will be most remembered for the night in July when he gave all of Yankee stadium the middle finger. McDowell took the loss in game three but got the short rest nod tonight, just like Johnson did, and survived the ninth and 10th just like Johnson did, but now just like Johnson,
he faces a threat. We’ll explore this threat, Joey Cora and Ken Griffey Jr. on the corners, Edgar Martinez at bat. But first we must understand how important this is and how unlikely it all seemed not that long ago. We are in the Kingdome. This stadium opened in 1976 and soon thereafter, welcomed the NFL expansion Seahawks, and the MLB expansion Mariners. Two decades later the
building is in peril. In 1994, after years of
repairing roof leaks, massive ceiling tiles fell onto the field right before fans were
about to enter for a game. The building was closed and the Mariners had to play almost a month straight
of that shortened season on the road. Repairs on the roof cost hundreds of millions of dollars and tragically took the lives
of two construction workers who fell in a crane accident. Its evident by now that the Mariners are going to need a new home and unless the team can
justify its presence here, that home might not be Seattle. We’ve already mentioned the Yankees breaking a
rare playoff drought. Well, this is the Mariners’ first post season appearance since 1977 which is to say, ever. They have sucked, since inception, and consistently ranked near the bottom of the American League in attendance. This season didn’t look like it would be any different. Super star Ken Griffey
Jr. smashed up his wrist making an incredible catch in late May. The best the team could do in the months without him was stay afloat. Edgar Martinez put up
career best batting numbers, Johnson pitched like
his life depended on it and the Mariners treaded water. Meanwhile, their future
in Seattle was sinking. Knowing the Kingdome was doomed the team and county proposed a new baseball only stadium funded mostly by the public. In September, taxpayers shot it down. Out of options, team
owners set a deadline. If they didn’t see a stadium plan by October 30th they’d
put the team up for sale. Seattle might very well
lose its baseball team, but on the field, something happened. When Griffey returned in August Seattle stood well behind the division leading California Angels, but in September they reeled off a couple of rousing win streaks and by month’s end commanded first place in the AL West. Seattle fans had a new rallying cry, “Refuse To Lose” and they showed up even selling out the decrepit Kingdome. When season ending records necessitated a single game tie breaker with the Angels the Mariners indeed refused to lose. They kicked the shit out of
a team they’d once trailed in the standings by 13 games. Luis Sojo’s bases clearing double broke the game open in the seventh inning and Johnson punctuated a brilliant complete game with a strikeout to send Seattle to the post season for the first time ever. Even getting to this point
has generated momentum. Playing Autumn baseball in
front of a packed stadium. This is proof that the Mariners deserve an investment, a source of hope that they can secure a long term home in Seattle before the 30th of the month. Actually winning this thing would dial that hope
up to a near guarantee. So yeah, no pressure guys, you just might be playing for the future of baseball in this city. So, who exactly are we talking about here? Lets meet the Mariners participating in this moment. Standing at third is Joey Cora. The little 30 year old switch hitter had an excellent first
season with the Mariners and kept it rolling here in the ALDS. Cora played a quietly crucial role in Seattle’s scoring outburst to come back and win game four, bunting for a single to
start the 3rd inning rally then dodging Mattingly’s
tag to do it again to help kick off a similarly
huge eighth inning, and Cora opened the scoring tonight with an uncharacteristic
homer to right field. So when Cora led off to to open the bottom of this 11th inning The Yankees defense didn’t know whether or not to expect another tricky bunt. He wasn’t instructed to bunt and took three straight pitches without showing any intention to do so leading Mattingly to
back up a bit at first. That was when Cora decided on his own to go for it and just like in game four he veered to avoid the tag but not far
enough outside his base path to get called out. Another bunt single for Joey Cora. And now Cora’s on third. On first is a man we all know
and love, Ken Griffey Jr. He’s a big deal, he’s the
guy in the video game. He’s the guy who at 25 years old is already a six time
All-Star and perhaps, the most exciting outfielder on Earth. Although, of course that last thing nearly derailed this whole season. Griffey’s been typically
amazing in this series. He homered three times in the two losses at Yankee stadium. He homered last night to break 5-5 tie and set Seattle on the path to victory. – [Announcer] Griffey’s
got it out of here! – He homered tonight to help drive David Cone off the mound. Those five home runs in a single series tied the record set by Yankee legend Reggie Jackson, who’s here watching tonight. When Griffey came up with a man in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth,
Rivera intentionally walked him, but just now Griffey slapped the single that got Cora all the way to third. So those are the runners. Before we address the man at the plate I want to point out who’s on deck. It’s Alex Rodriguez, a
20 year old short stop who spent most of this season in AAA, but just like New York’s young
short stop of the future, Rodriguez hasn’t really been
part of the post season. He came into tonight with
zero at bats in the series, but entered this game when a flummoxed, and apparently very itchy Piniella, couldn’t find anyone else to
pinch run in the eighth inning. Rodriguez would score the tying run on Cone’s final pitch of the night, a brutal bases loaded walk, but A-Rod fumbled his chance to break the tie with a walk off and become an instant legend. He grounded into an inning
ending fielder’s choice with two on in the bottom of the ninth. Down a run, Rodriguez will be in an even higher pressure situation should the man at the plate be retired without driving in a run. So, let’s talk about the man at the plate, Edgar Martinez. Everyone in this crowd would love to talk about him. They’ve been screaming his name all night. (crowd cheering) In another league or at another time Martinez might not be
able to play baseball. He entered the majors as a
hard hitting third baseman, but in a 1993 exhibition game suffered a hamstring injury severe enough to limit his
fielding ability long term. Thankfully the American League permits a designated hitter and Martinez has blossomed in that role. He was Seattle’s MVP in this mostly Griffey-less season, and frankly, if the
Mariners got a bit more attention he might be
MVP of the whole league. There’s no questioning Edgar’s
MVP status in this series. He was automatic during
the games in New York and in game four made history. Down 5-0 in the third inning of that game Martinez drove in Cora and Griffey with a three run homer. Tied 6-6 in the eighth, Martinez blasted a grand slam that had this old building shaking. Seven runs batted in is the
most ever in a playoff game, but when it came time for a
walk off tonight, Edgar whiffed. Before the kid Rodriguez left men on base to end the ninth inning, Martinez had his chance to play hero and struck out swinging against McDowell. Here is another opportunity. A single would drive in
Cora and tie the game. Yet another homer would end the series, something in between, well, Griffey is fast as hell and this turf can carry
hard hit balls pretty far, so you never know. Maybe, Edgar could walk
off the whole series with an extra base hit inside the park. If he does, it’s heart
break for The Yankees. From a 2-0 lead to defeat in their first playoff
series since the early 80’s. It’s a rough ending to a rough season for McDowell, it could be an even rougher ending to what is, despite his individual excellence, Don Mattingly’s first playoff series in 14 years as a pro. And somehow the stakes for
Seattle are even higher. They’re fighting to keep the team in this city, if not in
this decrepit stadium then somewhere else to be determined by politicians and bazillionaires who’ve gotten plenty of proof that Seattle is a viable baseball
town but might need more. An unsung hero represents
the tying run on third. A young superstar who
missed most of the season represents the winning run. A slugger who’s continued
an unbelievable year with historically clutch play has the chance to drive the men after failing in a similar opportunity two innings ago. If he fails, then an unproven youngster who also wasted a walk off chance before has to navigate a situation just loaded with pressure. Let’s see if the Mariners will refuse to lose one more time. Let’s see if Edgar Martinez can rescue a series, a season, and a whole franchise that have all threatened to slip away. Welcome, to a moment in history. (crowd cheering) – [Announcer] Line drive, we are tied. Griffey is coming around. And the corner’s burning. He’s gonna try to score. There’s the division championship. Mariners win it! Mariners win it!

3 comments

As a couple people have pointed out, the Griffey catch clip included in here is NOT the one in which he broke his wrist. Dumb mistake. We're breaking Seth's wrist as punishment.

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