Game Ranked Fourth in Series Countdown of the Best Games of the Last 50 Seasons
Secaucus, NJ, April 21, 2011 – MLB Network’s MLB’s 20 Greatest Games series continues on Sunday, April 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET when Andy Van Slyke, Sid Bream and Mark Lemke join series hosts Bob Costas and Tom Verducci to discuss Game Seven of the 1992 NLCS between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves, which is ranked as the fourth best game of the series. In a rematch of the 1991 NLCS that lasted seven games, Van Slyke, Bream and Lemke discuss the pitching matchup featuring John Smoltz against Doug Drabek, the failed opportunities by the Pirates to extend their lead, Barry Bonds’ positioning in the outfield during Francisco Cabrera’s crucial at-bat in the ninth inning, and the future of both franchises following the series. A clip from the episode in which Van Slyke details asking Bonds to move in prior to Cabrera’s at-bat in the bottom of the ninth inning can be viewed here.
New episodes of MLB’s 20 Greatest Games, which counts down the best games of the last 50 seasons, will continue to air weekly through May 22. A list of the rankings to-date is available here.
Highlights from the episode include:
ANDY VAN SLYKE ON BARRY BONDS IN THE 1992 POSTSEASON:
“Barry psychologically was not the same player in the playoffs that he was during the regular season. Barry had this cockiness, this willingness to even brag about how he was going to beat up a pitcher or beat up a guy coming out of the bullpen. I can remember being on deck and Barry would predict almost sometimes what he was going to do to the pitcher coming into the ball game. Now we got to the Postseason and something happened. I can remember Barry making a statement that really shocked me from the type of superstar he was, not only physically, but mentally. He asked his teammates to get him to the World Series and he would start performing at a level which we were accustomed to watching. I went to him and turned around and said, ‘Well, why don’t you start now so we can get there?’ He was guilty of not performing at a level which we were accustomed to, but I was just as guilty. Between Barry Bonds, Andy Van Slyke and Bobby Bonilla, I don’t think we hit .200 as a trio in ’90 and ’91.
VAN SLYKE ON HIS INTERACTION WITH BONDS IN THE OUTFIELD DURING THE NINTH INNING:
“In that situation, I have a very aggressive philosophy. If I’m going to lose the ballgame, you’re going to have to hit the ball over my head. … I looked over at Barry, I was telling him to move in, move in, move in because in the pitch count [Francisco] Cabrera had actually taken a 2-0 pitch and lined one foul. He hit it really, really hard. At that point I said, ‘Well, [it] looks to me that he’s a dead fastball hitter, he’s a pull hitter. Hopefully [Stan] Belinda can throw a breaking ball to maybe get him out.’ Having said that, he’s going to hit the ball either to me or he’s going to hit it to Barry if he hits the ball in the outfield. He’s certainly not going to hit the ball to right field. So I want Barry to have the best opportunity also, so when I motioned him in, he turned and looked at me and gave me [the] international peace sign. So I said, ‘Fine, you play where you want.’”
SID BREAM ON SCORING THE WINNING RUN TO END THE SERIES:
“It was the best scenario for me. Two outs, Stan Belinda wasn’t going to try to pick me off of second base. I extended myself as much as I could so I had the best opportunity, best scenario for me to be able to come in and beat it by four inches.”
BREAM ON THE CELEBRATION AT HOME PLATE AFTER SCORING THE WINNING RUN:
“At that point in time, the adrenaline was running so much. There was so much good feeling, I mean if I wanted to I could have thrown them all off at that point in time. I didn’t feel any of the pressure of anybody getting on [me]. I’ve been in fights where I’ve been in the bottom of the pile, I know what that feels like getting suffocated. I didn’t feel like I wasn’t getting suffocated at all right there.”
VAN SLYKE ON THE EMOTIONS IN THE PITTSBURGH CLUBHOUSE FOLLOWING THE GAME:
“I really realized that it was over. I mean, it was really going to be over. Talking with [Pirates manager] Jim Leyland and talking with people in Pittsburgh, you realized that the financial commitment to try to keep up with the bigger franchises was going to be a tough thing. You didn’t have revenue sharing, they weren’t signing guys back, and when that foot crossed that plate, it was the nail in the coffin.”
“It was the quietest, least amount of words spoken that I’ve ever experienced anywhere. I’ve been to funerals that people had more conversations and interactions. There was absolutely nothing you could say to comfort and console your teammates. Guys were crying, I was crying. … This was the door that slammed the Pirates shut. I didn’t realize it was going to be as long as it was going to be. Our opportunity as a franchise and as a city and as a fan base to get into the World Series and have the potential to win was shut that night.”
BREAM ON THE IMPACT OF SCORING THE WINNING RUN:
“The whole fact of being around Pittsburgh right now, it still lives on. I can’t go out into the community without somebody still bringing up that play. They have described it as the Bream curse now for 18 years.”