Wednesday, October 15, 2003 Updated: October 16, 10:51 AM ET
The end of an error
Page 2 staff
He played for both the Cubs and Red Sox, so who better to provide Page 2 with an inside take on the 2003 baseball playoffs than Bill Buckner.
Here's an excerpt of Billy Buck's Playoff Diary from Tuesday night.
NLCS, Game 6: Marlins at Cubs Top of the eighth: With the Marlins trailing 3-0, Florida's Mike Mordecai leads off the inning with a flyout to Moises Alou in left. The Cubs are five outs away from their first World Series in 58 years, and ace Mark Prior has given up only three hits. These great fans at Wrigley really deserve a night like this. I've always admired how they support their team win or lose. They're not like fans in a lot of other cities where they obsess over one bad play for 17 years or don't appreciate a guy who hit over .300 seven times.
These days Bill Buckner sticks to fielding questions.
Prior whizzes a 2-0 fastball past Marlins center fielder Juan Pierre. This Prior kid is the real deal. He reminds me so much of Rick Sutcliffe in 1984.
Pierre doubles to left. If there's one thing my playing career taught me it's that sometimes even the smallest thing can start a rally. But then again, this is Mark Prior on the mound, not some puss-baller like Bob Stanley or a guy with no stones like Calvin Schiraldi.
Luis Castillo lofts a 3-2 pitch down the left-field line where Alou gives chase in foul territory. As Alou lunges into the stands and appears poised to catch the ball, a Cubs fan reaches out and knocks the ball away from Alou's glove. An extremely angry Alou immediately begins pointing at the fan and arguing for fan interference. Moises is really hot right now, and I completely understand that. It really looked like he was going to catch that ball ... but then again, being in position doesn't always translate into an out. What Moises has got to realize, however, is that someday he and that fan likely will settle their differences and spend some quaility time together ... perhaps at sports memorabilia conventions.
Castillo eventually walks, and Pierre advances to third on a wild pitch, making it first and third for Ivan Rodriguez. On an 0-2 pitch, Rodriguez reaches out and lofts a soft single to left, scoring Pierre and making it 3-1. The Cubs just need to calm down and get an out here. Prior appears a little distracted by that fan interference down the left-field line, but he needs to realize this: Either he's going to be the guy who pitches the Cubs to the World Series or he's going to make a lot of money off of documentary film-makers.
With runners on first and second, Miguel Cabrera grounds to Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez in the hole. Gonzalez has the ball glance off his glove and all the runners are safe, loading the bases. Leon Durham and I were discussing this same thing just the other day. It seems that today's players just don't practice the fundamentals of fielding like we did back in our day. These kids today just seem to focus on the "glove-to-the-ground" principle. There's a lot more to fielding than that. And that ball was a weak little dribbler compared to the one Mookie smoked.
Shots of nervous Cubs fans in the stands appear on the screen as Derrek Lee comes to the plate for Florida. These people are starting to lose all perspective. It's a damn goat, folks. It's not like the Cubs traded away the best player in baseball history. Now that's a curse that no human could possibly overcome, and they should never be ridiculed for trying.
Cheer up Alex Gonzalez, at least you got a glove on the ball.
Lee climbs into the box, looking for his first hit in five trips to the plate. I like this Lee kid. He's a big, strapping guy who reminds me of someone I played with. I just can't put my finger on who.
Lee doubles to left, scoring Castillo and Rodriguez to tie the score at 3-3. Oh, now I remember. It's Dave Henderson, our center fielder in Boston.
Dusty Baker goes to the mound and takes the ball from Prior, who's replaced by Kyle Farnsworth. Gee, I wonder if Prior has a blister on his finger or something. You'd hate to see a guy throwing this good have to leave like Clemens did over a pansy-ass little thing like that ... Freakin' relief pitchers. I've never liked 'em. They play one inning of the game and screw the whole thing up ... and yet people will still blame some poor guy in the field for blowing the damn game. I can only imagine how that Gonzalez kid feels right now.
After an intentional walk loads the bases, Jeff Conine drives home Cabrera with a sacrifice fly to right, giving Florida a 4-3 edge. OK, even I've go to admit that things are getting a little spooky now. Maybe Elia was right when he said all these people on the North side of Chicago are losers and always will be.
Mike Mordecai doubles to left, clearing the bases and giving the Marlins a commanding 7-3 lead. I better get to bed and turn out the lights soon. I just know some smart-ass reporter is going to try to track me down for a comment after this one. Good thing I moved to Idaho
The Marlins tack on another run and then retire the Cubs in order in the eighth and ninth to wrap up an 8-3 win. No need to overreact here. Sure, this was a tough loss, but the Cubs still have a Game 7 tomorrow. That's what people forget about my Red Sox team in '86, we still had Game 7. And the Angels, too. When they blew that Game 5 with Donnie Moore on the mound, they still had Games 6 and 7 in Boston.
The Cubs might be down, but they're not out. After all, they've got Kerry Wood on the mound for Game 7, and I really like that kid. He reminds me a lot of Bruce Hurst.