I recently watched the Ozzie Smith game. This was the 5th game of the National League Championship game in 1985 in which Ozzie hit a homerun batting left-handed in the bottom of the 9th to give the victory. This was amazing as Ozzie had never hit a homerun left-handed in his whole career to that point. It was also amazing was this fact was mentioned just a moment before with a graphic while Ozzie was batting. This victory moved the Cardinals ahead 3 games to 2 in the series, which they won in game 6.
One thing that surprised me was the Dodger lineup. The Dodgers won 95 games that year with a lineup that wasn’t that great. Some of the players had fine years that year, but none had a hall of fame career. The team was young and many of these players had high potential at the time, but they didn’t really have great careers. Here is the lineup with comments:
Mariano Duncan SS Not in my top 100 second basemen. He ended up playing more at second than shortstop. He wasn’t a great fielder at either position and never developed his hitting.
Ken Landreaux CF Not in my top 100 center fielders. He started as a pitcher, so came up late. He had a good career considering the unusual start.
Pedro Guerrero LF I rated him 40th at first base. He played a lot of places including third base. His position should have been bat. The year 1985 was probably his best season. He faded fast in his 30s.
Bill Madlock 3B I rated him 34th at third base. While watching the game I thought to myself I didn’t remember how nice his swing was. He came in a trade towards the end of the year. Before that Enos Cabell and Dave Anderson played third. Also, Guerrero played some games there. Madlock was a good addition to the Dodgers. He hit a two-run homer in the game accounting for all the Dodger runs.
Mike Marshall RF He did not make my top 100 in right field. He was a solid player in 1985 and had a career year, but never reached his expected potential.
Mike Scioscia C I have him 43rd at catcher. I didn’t think much about Scioscia when he played. That was a mistake. He was a good solid catcher.
Greg Brock 1B He didn’t make my top 100 at first base. He was a good prospect but I remember hearing more about Marshall. He did hit left-handed pitching which was an advantage.
Steve Sax 2B He is my 51st second baseman. He was probably overrated because he was a Dodger. He peaked the next year, 1986, at the age of 26, then went back to normal.
These were the regulars for the year except for third base. Let us look at the two third basemen:
Enos Cabell. He had the better career of the two but didn’t get in my top 100 at third base. Bill James wrote about how he was told that Cabell was told Cabell was great in the club house, but he wasn’t great in the field. He would have been a great bench player but teams played him a lot. He was towards the end of his career in 1985.
Dave Anderson. Baseball Reference has him as the starting 3rd baseman for the Dodgers in 1985, which means he played the most of a lot of people who covered the position. He was 24 at the time. He wasn’t bad player and had a career as a backup or platoon player.
Another player who was young, also 24, and played a lot was Candy Maldonado. He didn’t play in game 5 but played in 4 of the other 5 games in the series. Maldonado was not in my top 100 right fielders.
So, my thinking was either that Tommy Lasorda was a great manager to take this lineup to the division title or he was not good as some of these players didn’t meet their potential.
Fernando Valenzuela, my 91st greatest pitcher, struggled, but pitched 8 innings giving up only 2 first inning runs. He had trouble with control that day, especially his screwball. He gave up 8 walks but kept throwing the screwball to get out of trouble, sometimes with some really great pitches.
During the game some Cardinal fans squirted Steve Sax with water. Sax wanted to go into the stands, but Lasorda and a security man stopped him. Lasorda chewed him out telling him don’t be stupid we need you or something like that. Cardinal security took out two guys and kicked them out of the game. So, they did their jobs.
The announcers were Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola. I didn’t remember Garagiola being a good color man, but he made a couple of good observations during the game. The one I remember was one of the Dodgers hit a fly ball to left. Scully said he looked like he got all of it but it was just a fairly deep drive to left field. Garagiola immediately said the batters timing was off when he hit the ball and the instant replay showed it. This was excellent announcing, which I really appreciated.