Joaquin "You Never Know" Andujar is the main player in the most bizarre meltdown that I have ever seen in postseason baseball.
During Game 7 of the 1985 World Series, Andujar lost it over a ball call by home plate umpire Don Denkinger, charging the ump and getting tossed one pitch after manager Whitey Herzog got thrown out of the game.
The meltdown wasn't as disastrous as I remember. The Royals were winning 11-0 at that point and basically had the Series clinched. I think the reason I thought it was so costly all these years is just because I had never seen a team go so loopy during a game of such magnitude. I remember thinking when watching the game, "Holy smokes. This is Game 7! What are they doing?"
The Cardinals obviously let the famous botched call by Denkinger at first base the night before -- the safe call on Jorge Orta in the ninth inning of Game 6 -- get under their skin. They even famously complained about Denkinger working home plate the following night in Game 7. I always thought that was childish, and that professionals should know better than to think an umpire was conspiring against them in a game like that. But then some of the stuff that Herzog did when he was managing I could never understand (Atlee Hammaker. Paging Atlee Hammaker).
It's important to note that the Royals didn't win Game 6 or the Series when Orta singled. Orta was merely the lead-off batter. The Cardinals botched a foul pop-up by Steve Balboni and allowed a passed ball to further the inning before allowing Dane Iorg's winning hit. So it wasn't all Denkinger's fault. Jack Clark flubbed the pop-up. Darrell Porter allowed the passed ball. Todd Worrell allowed the single to Iorg. And Herzog -- the onfield leader of the Cardinals -- got all inflammatory before Game 7, setting up St. Louis' collapse in the final game.
That's why the Steve Bartman crap annoys me. The Cubs did a bunch of things wrong in the same inning that Bartman reached out for that ball in 2003. But because Moises Alou flipped out, fans blamed Bartman for what happened to the Cubs against the Marlins. Instead of blaming Alex Gonzalez, or poor pitching, or 100 years of ineptness, or something.
And then you have Matt Holliday. Yup, he missed a ball he should have caught at a really bad time. As a Dodger fan, you won't find me complaining about that. But Ryan Franklin looked absolutely off that inning. And there was passed ball, too. My feeling is that professionals should be able to overcome a Denkinger or a Bartman or a Holliday. Sure, players are human, but seriously, short of a walk-off hit, error, wild pitch, or walk, no single play wins or loses a game. But we sure like our goats don't we?
The Dodgers hold a 2-0 lead after a really demoralizing loss for the Cardinals. After the Cardinals' Game 7 meltdown in 1985, starting pitcher John Tudor punched an electrical fan and Andujar destroyed a toilet with a bat.
Do I hope some property destruction occurs in Busch Stadium this weekend? Yeah, as long it's not the Dodgers doing the destroying.
Did I post the Andujar night card to jinx a certain team? Hmmmm.