by | Oct 20, 1988 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

OAKLAND, Calif. — Forget it. This World Series is over. The Dodgers will win — and, more than that, they should win. If these are the big, bad Oakland
“Bashers” we’ve been hearing about, then I feel very safe walking the streets here at night.

Hey, A’s, this is the World Series, remember? Glory, history, sneaker endorsements? You’re supposed to want to win this thing. In Game 4 Wednesday
— the game it most had to have — Oakland played as if victory meant locust, hailstorm and death of their firstborn. Bad fielding. Weak hitting. A loss on their home field to a Dodgers team that will soon be holding first-aid clinics, along with open tryouts for catcher, outfielder and starting pitcher.

“They’re so much better than us,” croaked Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, after his crippled crew beat Oakland, 4-3, to take a commanding 3-1 lead in this series, “and with all the guys we have injured, they ought to give us a two-run lead before we even start.”

Well. Hey. Tommy. They did their best. The very first inning saw a passed ball by Oakland catcher Terry Steinbach, which allowed a run, and an error by second baseman Glenn Hubbard, which led to another run. In the third, shortstop Walt Weiss let a ball sail over his head, allowing LA’s Franklin Stubbs to score from second base. So that’s three runs for the Dodgers, pretty much courtesy of the A’s.

I’ve heard of hometown courtesy.

This is a bit excessive.

Maybe Oakland just felt sorry for the Dodgers — who are lucky to be walking. Two-thirds of their staring outfield can’t play. Their starting catcher is now history. If LA wins this thing, the victory parade should be a fleet of ambulances. The post-series endorsement deals will be for major pharmaceuticals. Kirk Gibson for cortisone. John Tudor for Demerol.

How many guys are missing already? Tudor is gone for the Series, Gibson is limited to ninth-inning pinch-hit heroics, Mike Marhsall’s back is killing him

(seriously, folks), and Mike Scioscia slid into second base Wednesday and hobbled off the field with a twisted knee. By the end of the night Wednesday, the Dodgers were using a lineup that included Rick Dempsey, Tracy Woodson and Jose Gonzalez.

That’ll make you shake in your boots, huh? So much for their big reputation

Which is what makes Oakland’s performance all the more ridiculous. Not only was their fielding minor-league, but the hitting — which, remember, is supposed to be the A’s strong point — is so punchless that out-of-town reporters are beginning to wonder if that whole Oakland Bashers business was just a good story somebody made up after a long night in an Oakland bar.

Jose Canseco. Let us talk about Jose Canseco. He is supposed to be a gift from the gods, a sculpted body that is almost too good for the rest of baseball. Yeah. Right. And I’m Lyndon LaRouche. With the exception of his Game 1 grand slam — which was negated anyhow by Gibson’s ninth-inning miracle — Jose has been so ineffective, he is in danger of a name change. They’ll be calling him Can’tseco.

Wednesday night, he came up in the bottom of the ninth with the tying run on first. Perfect moment for heroics. He worked the count to 3-2.

He struck out.

And OK. Let’s be fair. He wasn’t the only one. In fact, Canseco, Mark McGwire and Dave Parker — the meat of the Oakland batting order — were a collective 0-for-11 Wednesday night. And that wasn’t even against Orel Hershiser.

He pitches tonight.

Bye-bye, A’s.

“We’re still wasting at-bats trying to swing for the fences,” said discouraged Tony La Russa, the A’s manager, after Game 5 was over. “We can’t keep doing that.”

Indeed, the A’s may be the first team in history to lose a World Series by showing off. They are like a bodybuilder in such a rush to pull his shirt off, he gets his head tangled in the fabric. Instead of patient, methodical rallies, the A’s tend to put a man on base, then knock each other over in a race to knock him in with a home run. The result, more often than not, is a pop foul, and a long walk back to the dugout.

Failure is not pretty. The tube is the Dodgers’ pipeline

And neither is this World Series. Let’s be honest. We’ve had a couple of glorious ninth-inning home runs, sandwiched by some very bad fundamental baseball. Players swinging when they should be taking. Balls bobbled. And motivation that comes from . . . television?

“I have to thank (NBC’s) Bob Costas for our motivation,” Lasorda said.
“Before the game, he said we could be the weakest- hitting lineup ever to play in a World Series. We were all watching in the clubhouse. Guys began to yell,
‘We’ll show ’em! KILL COSTAS! KILL COSTAS!”

Great. We can thank Bob for LA’s overpowering ability to take advantage of Oakland mistakes. What’s Oakland’s excuse?

They don’t have one. LA may be baseball’s answer to a M*A*S*H unit. But their woes are enviable compared to Oakland’s. The worst part of the A’s is that nothing is wrong with them.

And here is where we left La Russa Wednesday night — complaining about Lasorda’s TV inspiration: “I want to know how that information got to them to fire them up. I know they’re not in there watching TV before the game starts.”

Then again, Tony, maybe they are.

After all, they’re only playing your team.


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