We’re halfway through the second week of our MLB watch parties that we are hosting every single day on our Discord, and we sure have had some interesting games so far already! Last night we watched a broadcast from the 1981 season, as Cleveland’s Len Barker tossed a perfect game against a Toronto Blue Jays lineup that featured Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge (they weren’t a very good offense), which also included some hilarious early 80s commercials. We also saw the postseason debut of Roy Halladay, which of course was a no-hitter, no big deal, and the dramatic, storybook ending that was game 7 of the 2001 World Series. Here’s what we have on tap for the next seven days.
4/2 – Florida Marlins @ Chicago Cubs, 2003 NLCS Game 6: Obviously this game is infamous for the Steve Bartman incident, and in presenter Mark McElroy’s words, “It was such a big deal and such an amazing example of how sports use a scapegoat to assign blame and look for excuses. I haven’t watched the whole game since it aired in 2003. It is also a little easier to deal with after the Cubs’ championship in 2016.”
4/3 – Texas Rangers @ Toronto Blue Jays, 2015 ALDS Game 5: From one unforgettable postseason moment to another, we’re bringing you all the postseason hype. This is perhaps the most intense, electric, maniacal game in the history of baseball. I was actually working at a large hotel that was in the middle of hosting a conference for a Canadian business, and let me tell you, the bar was JUMPING during the game. Daniel MacDonald says of the game, “As a Canadian, and even though I’m not a Blue Jays fan, this game holds a special place in my heart, if only because it seemed to reignite the collective Canadian passion for baseball. Blue Jays/Rangers Game 5 was, and remains, the most-watched baseball game in Canada, period. 11.5 million Canadians tuned in to the broadcast at some point. For a nation of 35.7 million, that means 32.2% of Canadians watched the game at some point. For an American equivalent, that would mean that roughly 103.5 million people would’ve had to tune in to reach a similar percentile mark. I remember the social engagement during that game as being absolutely OFF. THE. CHARTS. Networks, politicians, Canadian celebrities, musicians, social figures – the only thing people were talking about was the game. Hockey team accounts were talking about it. Our Prime Minister and House of Commons referenced it the following day in their sitting.”
4/4 – Los Angeles Dodgers @ Pittsburgh Pirates, Rich Hill’s Almost No-Hitter: What a heartbreaker. Right after we acquired Hill at the deadline in 2016, he was 7 innings into a perfect game, but with his well-known blister issues and the Dodgers in the middle of a pennant race, they decided to take him out of the game as they needed him more in October than they did in September. This was the second time that season that manager Dave Roberts had pulled a pitcher in the middle of a no-hit bid, as he took Ross Stripling out of the game during his MLB debut when he had a no-hitter intact against the Giants after 7.1 IP. The Dodgers never took their focus off the bigger picture, but on August 23rd, 2017, they gave Hill the chance to get his no-hitter. And this one might be more painful than the one he was pulled out of in 2016.
4/5 – St. Louis Cardinals @ Cincinnati Reds, Daniel Ponce de Leon’s MLB Debut: I feel like one day we’re going to get a movie about Ponce de Leon’s story, probably starring Kevin Costner as his coach or dad or some other leadership figure. In May of 2017, Ponce de Leon was in AAA making a routine start against the Iowa Cubs, when a line drive came right back at him and struck him in the head. He was hospitalized for three weeks, and did not return to the Cardinals until spring training in 2018. He did well enough during the 2018 season to get the call to the big league club in June, and made his MLB debut just a little over one year after his horrific accident.
4/6 – Oakland Athletics @ Detroit Tigers, 2006 ALCS Game 4: Our dynasty manager Andy Patton is unfortunately a Tigers fan, so he doesn’t really have much in the way of good memories of the club. However, the 2006 season was pretty close to as good as it gets for them, as they were on their way to their first WS berth since 1984. Andy directly said that this was “one of his best moments in team history.”
4/7 – Seattle Mariners @ Cleveland Indians, Indians Rally From Down 14-2: This was during the 2001 season, and the Mariners were on their way to an MLB record 116 wins in a single season. They showed the Indians why they were so good, jumping out to a 12-0 lead after three innings, spearheaded by eventual MVP Ichiro Suzuki. However, the Indians couldn’t counted out, as Daniel Port remembers the game as “easily the most epic comeback I’ve ever seen. To this day it’s literally the first game that pops into my brain when you say do you remember when the Indians…?”
4/8 – Pittsburgh Pirates @ Washington Nationals, Stephen Strasburg’s MLB Debut: I’ll be the first one to tell you that I don’t follow amateur and minor-league baseball as well as I should. I really don’t know where most players went to college, but one player I can tell you without even having to think about it is that Stephen Strasburg went to San Diego St. He was so hyped in college that his 17-strikeout no-hitter against Air Force made headlines everywhere. He was obviously drafted first overall by the Nationals in the 2009 draft, and it was almost one year later to the day that he made his MLB debut against the Pirates. His meteoric rise through the minors mostly had to do with the fact that he was just as dominant against every level of minor league competition as he was against the college hitters he had been facing the year before. For the last place Nationals, this was going to be the game of the year.
|4/2||9:00||Florida Marlins @ Chicago Cubs||2003 NLCS Game 6||Mark McElroy|
|4/3||6:00||Texas Rangers @ Toronto Blue Jays||2015 ALDS Game 5||Daniel MacDonald|
|4/4||6:00||Los Angeles Dodgers @ Pittsburgh Pirates||Rich Hill’s Almost No-No||Mike Bourg|
|4/5||4:00||St. Louis Cardinals @ Cincinnati Reds||Daniel Ponce de Leon’s Debut||Trevor Hooth|
|4/6||9:15||Oakland Athletics @ Detroit Tigers||2006 ALCS Game 4||Andy Patton|
|4/7||8:00||Seattle Mariners @ Cleveland Indians||Indians Rally From Down 14-2||Daniel Port|
|4/8||7:30||Pittsburgh Pirates @ Washington Nationals||Stephen Strasburg’s MLB Debut||Myles Nelson|
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)