WS G1: FOX, Gibbons, Harvey, Hosmer, Smoltz

By Bob Elliott

KANSAS CITY _ OK, fess up.

Who plugged their phone adapter into the power cord inside the FOX truck and blew a fuse?

Maybe it wasn’t that simple.

Could there have been something in the air floating around Kauffman Stadium during a whacky Game 1 as the New York Mets and the Kansas City Royals began the 111th World Series on Tuesday night.

Game 1 included a first-pitch, inside-the-park homer off the bat of Royals’ Alcides (First Pitch) Escobar, two-time gold glove winner Eric Hosmer clanking a grounder in Billy Buckner fashion to allow the Mets to score the go-ahead run as they had in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series on Mookie Wilson’s grounder against the Boston Red Sox and a FOX power outage. 

FOX, TBS and ESPN gave baseball a combined $12.4 billion after the 2012 season on a nine-year deal. 

Announcer Joe Buck was reading a promo for a new show, The Grinder, when the transmission was lost in the bottom of the fourth.

The TV missed Royals DH Kendrys Morales fanning to lead off the fourth. Will FOX ask for a rebate since it missed a batter?

There was a five-minute delay as Joe Torre of the commissioner’s office explained to Mets manager Terry Collins and Royals skipper Ned Yost that without power the respective clubhouses could not challenge replays.

Both Collins and Yost agreed to play the game entrusting Gary Cederstrom, head of the six-man umpiring crew, with handling with the game with its own set of eyes.

After a five-minute delay with Matt Harvey cooling his heels on the mound play resumed.

FOX switched to its international feed.

For goofy goings on in K.C. it brought to mind Game 6 of the 1985 World Series when first base ump Don Denkinger called lead-off man Jorge Orta safe, when replays showed Todd Worrell had caught the toss from Jack Clark. Four batters later Dane Iorg hit a two-run single and the Royals had won with the St. Louis Cardinals two outs from winning the Series.

After the game when every writer in the stadium picked up a phone to file their stories and the phones conked out.

No doubt everyone is Kansas City, Mo., Kansas City, Kan. Overland Park and Lee’s Summit picked up their home phone and said to a neighbour “DID YOU SEE THAT?”

Unless you were in the park, you didn’t see Morales whiff.

The phones in 1985 ... like the FOX telecast 30 years later was soon up and running.

Alex Gordon homered with one out into the ninth and the band played on into extras.

Unlike Buckner, Hosmer was given a another chance -- and was walked intentionally -- with runners on second an third -- and another chance when he came to the plate in the bottom of the 14th and the bases loaded.

Hosmer hit a fly ball to right to give the Royals a 5-4 win in a crisp five hours and nine minutes as the two teams combined to go 3-for-23 (.130) batting with men in scoring position. 

Mets left fielder Michael Conforto thought he heard centre fielder Yoenis Cespedes call for the ball on Escobar’s homer to lead off the game.

Sound like Blue Jays Ryan Goins going out into shallow right when he heard voices in Game 2 of the AL Championship Series?

 

BRAVE NEW ROTATION: So, what about all these comparisons?

You know how the New York Mets starters are better than the Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame trio of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz?

“There’s no comparison,” said Smoltz, a FOX broadcaster, “I said this summer that the Mets were way better.

“They have three guys throwing 96 mph and above, they’ve got more talent than we ever had.”

Matt Harvey, 26, was to start Game 1 of the 111th World Series on a wet Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.

Then, Jacob deGrom, 27, was up next in Game 2 on Wednesday.

“When we were compared to the Braves, that was an awesome comparison,” deGrom told reporters. “Those guys were great for a number of years. And for our group to be mentioned with a group like that is pretty special.”

Noah Syndergaard, 22 and Steven Matz, 24, will start Games 3 and 4 for the Mets when the Series returns to Citi Field.

“What they are doing is unprecedented, they’re doing it in an era with a different philosophy (pitch counts),” said Smoltz, “there was no such thing as a pitch count in our day.”

Smoltz regularly threw 120 pitches for manager Bobby Cox’ Braves and threw 135 in a 1-0 loss to the New York Yankees in Game 5 of the 1996 World Series.

The Braves trio had success, dominance and longevity on its side.

Smoltz was in Atlanta for 20 seasons (1988-2008) winning 210 times in 466 starts and saving 154 during his three plus seasons as a closer.

Glavine was with Atlanta for 17 seasons (1987-2002, 2008) winning 244 games in 518 starts.

Maddux was a Brave for 11 seasons (1993-2003) winning 194 games in 363 starts.

Fast-tracking minor leaguers has the young Mets learning at the major-league level, free agency, injuries, the inability of team’s to make financial commitments to keep all its players makes it a longshot that the Mets arms can come close to duplicating the Atlanta aces.  

How long can they stay healthy?

How long can the Mets afford to keep them all at Citi Field?

The Mets foursome has combined to start 147 games led by Harvey with 65, followed by deGroom (52), Syndergaard (24) and Matz (six).

“Before this group game together maybe you looked at Cleveland (Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco), Washington (Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister ... ‘before they added Max Scherzer,’) as the staff or Philadelphia (Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee).”

Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz won 40 games and saved four games.

 

THAT’S MATT: Harvey was in the midst of a controversy one week into September when he had logged 166 1/3 innings. His agent Scott Boras dropped a bomb that his client had a hard cap of 180 innings.

Even Mets ace Dwight Gooden, the former Cy Young award winner, took to Twitter to scold his good friend. 

“Can’t believe what I’m hearing. I couldn’t imagine me or Ron Darling’s agent would even think about taking the ball from us come crunch time.

“Would expect Matt being the ace to come out and say he’s pitching if they make the playoffs and moving forward he wants the ball every five days here on out as long as he’s feeling good.

“Let’s remember stressful innings are more important than innings counts. Am not even going to mention my innings at age 18, 19, 20.”

At age 18, Gooden was 19-4 pitching 191 innings at class-A Lynchburg. The next year, he earned NL Rookie of the Year honors going 17-9 and throwing 218 innings. At 20, Gooden was the Cy Young award winner, going 24-4 in 1985 and throwing 276 2/3 innings.

 

SAN ANTONIO ROSE: And back home deep in the heart of Texas sits Blue Jays manager John Gibbons.

Was he rooting for the Royals where he served as a bench coach from 2009-11 and manager Ned Yost who he worked for the final year and a half?

Or does he cheer for the team which drafted him in the first round in 1980 and manager Terry Collins, who managed him with the triple-A Albuquerque Dukes in 1988?
Gibbons wasn’t really saying.

“I liked Ned a lot,” said Gibbons, hired by K.C. manager Trey Hillman for the 2009 season, after being fired by Blue Jays president Paul Godfrey and general manager J.P. Ricciardi in 2008. When Hillman was fired 35 games into the 2009 season Yost took over.

“Ned didn’t have to keep me around,” said Gibbons. I enjoyed my time with the Royals.”

Yost, a former coach on Bobby Cox’s staff hired Chino Cadahia, former Atlanta bench coach for 2012. Gibbons returned home to manage the double-A San Antonio Missions in the San Diego Padres system.

“There wasn’t a lot of give and take between Ned and I, but we had a good relationship,” Gibbons said, “it’s probably typical of the relationship DeMarlo Hale and I have (with the Jays).”

Gibbons was dealt from the Mets in 1988 to the Los Angeles Dodgers for infielder Craig Shipley.

Under Collins, the Dodgers top affiliate, went 88-56 to with the Pacific Coast League South division losing in the first round to the Las Vegas Stars.

“Bruce Bochy was playing with Las Vegas,” said Gibbons of the Las Vegas team which also had major leaguers like Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar, Sandy Alomar, Bip Roberts, Mike Brumley, Jerald Clark, Stan Jefferson, Shawn Abner, Shane Mack, Thomas Howard, Greg Harris and Ed Vosberg.

Albuquerque travelled north of the border to play the Vancouver Canadians, Calgary Cannons and Edmonton Trappers on its swing

“I’d never crossed the border by bus before, so we get to customs, Terry stands and says ‘Now, don’t say anything stupid to the customs guy, keep your mouth shut and we’ll get through easy, open your mouth, we’ll be here all night,’” Gibbons recalled. 
“So, the customs guy gets on, making the rounds, asks three or four questions and one of our guys says something really dumb.

“That was it. They hauled all of us off the bus. We had to unload our bags and suit cases from underneath the bus. Customs went through each bag 1-by-1.”

Gibbons hit .270 with three homers and 27 RBIs along with a .788 OPS in 76 games splitting time with catcher Gil Reyes, a September call up by the Dodgers.

“That was the year Mike Scioscia hit the two-run homer off Dwight Gooden in the ninth to tie Game 4 and Kirk Gibson won it in the 11th with a homer off Roger McDowell (in the National League Championship Series),” said Gibbons. “Then, Gibson homered off Dennis Eckersley to win Game 1 of the World Series.” 

The Dukes had George Hinshaw, one-time Jay Mike Sharperson, Tracy Woodson, Juan Bell, Mariano Duncan, Mike Ramsey, Mike Devereaux, Jose Gonzalez, Bill Krueger, Ken Howell, Shawn Hillegas and Chris Gwynn, brother of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn.

Did a lot of people ask Gwynn for hitting pointers? “For sure,” said Gibbons, “but ... apparently not enough.”

Gibbons said Collins reminded him of a lot of guys that work in the Dodgers organization. “They’re so proud,” Gibbons said. “He was very aggressive and hard-nosed. He had more energy than anyone I’d ever been around. He was a pistol, a tireless worker.”

Gibbons’s always upbeat voice changed tone as he thought more about his Dukes teammates.

“We lost two guys from that team,” he said.

Right-hander Tim Crews signed as a free agent the Cleveland Indians and in the spring of 1993 was killed in a boating accident on Little Lake Nellie in Clermont, Fla. along with teammate Steve Olin. 

Sharperson played second for the 1987 Jays, but after being dealt to the Dodgers for Juan Guzman, was at triple-A Las Vegas when he received news he had been promoted to the San Diego Padres.

Driving to San Diego he died in a one-car crash in San Bernardino County, Calif.  

 

FAMOUS FOUNTAIN: K.C. is known as the city of fountains and all spew blue water during the post season with the Royals in the hunt.

At the back of the press box is a drinking fountain where someone in the know told me in the ninth inning of Game 6 last year that president Paul Beeston was on his way out as the Royals beat the San Francisco Giants in a boat race 10-0.

Beeston was not terminated, as hard as Rogers Communications tried (hello Kenny Williams, hello Dan Duquette) but he was not re-hired until Jan. 31.

Now, the status of general manager Alex Anthopoulos is in a state if flux.

Am heading to the back for a soda.