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1997 alcs


Fiver

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Thought it would be fun, on the eve of the O's playing their first ALCS game since 1997, to revisit that 1997 series. Yes, it of course ended in heartbreak for the O's, but it was a tense and exciting series to watch.

I attended game 1, so naturally my biggest memory (positive memory at least) comes from that game - from the first inning of game 1 in fact.

Scott Erickson got the start for the Birds, and he got two quick outs. A fairly young Manny Ramirez then came to the plate, and he smashed one to centerfield, in what looked like a sure HR. But Brady Anderson went back, leaped at the wall, and made the catch over the fence, robbing Manny of a HR.

Brady then jogged into the dugout, geared up, and promptly led off the bottom of the first with a bomb onto the flag porch in RF. Single handedly, Brady had turned a seeming 1-0 deficit, into a 1-0 lead.

Alomar would hit a 2 run shot later in the game, Erickson would pitch 8 innings of shut out ball, the O's won 3-0. And the rest, unfortunately, was history, as they say.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BAL/BAL199710080.shtml

What positive stuff do you guys remember?

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I think it was Game 2 but I recall Cal hitting a homer off of Nagy. I don't really remember much. I was only ten. The lasting image I have is of Robbie Alomar striking out on a pitch way inside and Tony Fernandez' homer to give the Indians the lead and the pennant.

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I think it was Game 2 but I recall Cal hitting a homer off of Nagy. I don't really remember much. I was only ten. The lasting image I have is of Robbie Alomar striking out on a pitch way inside and Tony Fernandez' homer to give the Indians the lead and the pennant.

Good memory. A 2-run shot that tied the game at the time (Indians had scored two in the first).

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BAL/BAL199710090.shtml

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I remember the weird stuff. The contested foul tip/steal of home to end game 3. The ball that Lofton lost in the lights and dropped in for a hit.

So many things went wrong, either self inflicted or otherwise that it's hard to remember any positives. If I had to pick one thing, it was Mussina's performance in game 6. With the season on the brink, Moose was absolutely dealing for 8 innings.

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The weird thing is how little I remember the 1997 postseason.

I remember 1996 fairly well. I remember the ALDS against the Indians, and how nerve wracking the final game in Cleveland was, until Robbie Alomar hit the go ahead homer. I remember feeling happy about it because Alomar was under a cloud regarding the whole spitting incident and I was glad to see he came through under all the pressure.

And then I remember the 1996 ALCS, and how the air almost completely went out of the team after the Jeffrey Maier incident. Yeah, we won Game 2, but the games in Baltimore the team just felt like the team knew it was going to lose. I remember finding it all quite depressing.

But 1997? I don't remember a whole lot, honestly. I remember watching some of the ALDS against the Mariners. I think I saw the clinching game. I'm sure I watched at least some of the ALCS as well, but I just draw a blank on the details. The thing was, it was my first year in college and my first year out of Maryland, so I wasn't in the thick of the frenzy. And that was before social media and the internet being as big as it was now, so there was no real virtual community of fans that I could interact with from afar. I had a high maintenance girlfriend at that time and that was causing lots of drama that probably kept my mind off the Orioles.

So this should feel like the first ALCS that I'm emotionally invested in my entire lifetime. I was too young to remember 1983.

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I remember the weird stuff. The contested foul tip/steal of home to end game 3. The ball that Lofton lost in the lights and dropped in for a hit.

So many things went wrong, either self inflicted or otherwise that it's hard to remember any positives. If I had to pick one thing, it was Mussina's performance in game 6. With the season on the brink, Moose was absolutely dealing for 8 innings.

Yeah, the Moose in game six for me too. But even that is enveloped in a cloud of negativity. I watched every excruciating inning of that game by myself in a Ramada Inn bar in Concord, CA. Nobody there cared about my pain.

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If it's OK, I would like to share a memory that I liked from the previous season's A.L.C.S., vs. the Yankees.

In the bottom of the 9th inning of Game Two, Rafael Palmeiro caught a foul ball out in front of the stands of the 1st baseline of Yankee Stadium.

As Palmeiro was walking back toward the infield, a Yankee fan "went after" Palmeiro, with his body language insinuating, "Let me at him. I'll kill him!" :rolleyes:

After the game, a reporter asked Palmeiro if he was concerned about a fan(s) interfering with him catching the ball, as Jeffrey Maeir had done the day before with Tony Tarasco.

Palmeiro's response ???

"I was going to catch that ball, and nobody was going to stop me ..... Period." :cool:

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That 1997 team was loaded. I was at the last game of the ALCS and had a perfect view of the Tony Fernandez go-ahead homer off Benitez. That image is as clear as if it happened yesterday. I also remember the Indians executing a perfect wheel-play when the O's had runners on base and Matt Williams (Nats manager) charged, fielded it, and made a great throw.

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Looking back at it now, I realize that team should have beat CLE. It's a weird game. In '96 they had the better record and head to head record but in '97 we did but lost. That's part of why I wasn't high on those using how we did in May as a metric for how we would do against the Tigers. What makes me hopeful going forward though is the youth of this team. As Dan said above, not a starter under 29 on that team. On this team the 29 year old Adam Jones is a veteran. I trust our setup tandem more than I did Armando Benitez too.

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That series was traumatic for me because of how good I thought we were and how painful it was to have lost our best opportunity to win the World Series....until now.

I had really put a lot of that series in the depths of my memory, but being here again has brought a lot of that back. I remember Bordick getting a huge clutch hit in Game 2 to put us up I believe 4-2, with Ripken showing a ton of emotion as he scored on the hit. I thought we were going to go up 2-0 in the series. The Grissom homer in the 8th was like getting shot....I could not believe he hit that homer, and it was after Thome walked on a really questionable ball 4 check swing. We lost Game 3 in gut wrenching fashion as Hersheiser was somehow able to match Mussina pitch for pitch. Game 4 was also rough, as we pounded Jared Weaver but they came back and Alomar Jr. (who had killed us all year in every conceivable way) hit the game winner of Benitez. Game 6 was a cold and dreary day and the ball was not carrying. Hoiles hit a bomb but it died in the weather. Berroa had a chance to come up with a huge hit and couldn't do it. Tony Fernandez was only in the game because Bip Roberts got hurt fielding BP I think, and wouldn't you know that an ex-1989 Blue Jay would end our season. Thankfully, Fernandez got his medicine when his awful error ultimately resulted in the Marlins beating the Indians in Game 7 of the World Series.

I was 22 in 1997, was not married (didn't even know my wife), no kids, etc. The Orioles were EVERYTHING to me then, and that series just crushed me. We were better than Cleveland and they gave us the revenge medicine from 1996 that we should have given to the Yankees if we had met them.

Anyway, win it this year and I can finally put that 1997 series to bed for good.

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What I remember is on paper we had the best team in baseball, home field all the way through the playoffs, up 1-0 in games in the ALCS, up 4-2 late in game two, and then Benitez hung a "hit me" slider to the Indians' number nine hitter and when the ball landed over the center field wall we were down 5-4 and all of a sudden a very winnable series was a dogfight.

Benitez also gave up the JM homer in the '96 ALCS that went a long way towards losing that series to the Yankees, so he's not exactly my favorite Oriole of the last twenty years.

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Benitez also gave up the JM homer in the '96 ALCS that went a long way towards losing that series to the Yankees, so he's not exactly my favorite Oriole of the last twenty years.

This was actually AFTER the much forgotten grand slam he surrendered to Albert Belle in Game 3 of the ALDS that turned a 4-4 tie into an 8-4 Cleveland victory. Since we won the series, it ended up a mere footnote...but it was a sneak peek into what would be become a very lengthy career giving up gut wrenching playoff homers for the Os, Mets, and Giants.

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I spent that summer in Yellowstone so from the end of May until late September I didn't see any baseball games at all. I do remember hearing how the O's had swept the Braves in Atlanta and thinking this was going to be the O's year. When Marquis Grissom hit that home run in the 9th inning I got a sick feeling in my stomach this series might not turnout the way I was hoping.

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