1991 World Series — Game 6

Part One -- Game Details

                                 1  2  3    4  5  6    7  8  9   10 11     R  H  E
                                 -  -  -    -  -  -    -  -  -    -  -     -  -  -
    Atlanta Braves               0  0  0    0  2  0    1  0  0    0  0     3  9  1
    Minnesota Twins              2  0  0    0  1  0    0  0  0    0  1     4  9  0

    PITCHERS: ATL - Avery, Stanton (7), Pena (9), Leibrandt (11)
              MIN - Erickson, Guthrie (7), Willis (7), Aguilera (10)

               WP - Rick Aguilera
	       LP - Charlie Leibrandt
             SAVE - none

   HOME RUNS: ATL - Pendleton
              MIN - Puckett

Part Two -- Players of the Game, WPA Style

Kirby Puckett: 59.3%
Terry Pendleton: 39.4%
Carl Willis: 33.4%
Rick Aguilera: 28.4%
Alejandro Pena: 28.4%

Game Changing Moment -- Kirby Puckett's homer, shifting the odds by 36%.

Part Three -- Did Junior Ortiz make Scott Erickson a better pitcher?

Brian Harper was so much better than Ortiz as a hitter that unless Harper threw out zero percent of base stealers and allowed five passed balls per game, there'd be no reason to take Harper out unless he needed a night off. Not to mention the fact that according to WAR, Ortiz wasn't any better at catching than Harper. But he became Erickson's catcher, even in the playoffs. Why? Let's ask Ortiz.

"Good question. Why me? It was just that he was a rookie and I was a little more experienced than Brian Harper. So I got to catch him. It's him and me."   (October, 1991)

Well that clears it up!  Now let's ask Tom Kelly.

"Junior and Scott, they're on their own programs. Brian Harper was gonna catch five of six or six of seven for us.  So I put Ortiz with Erickson and it worked. This way, Ortiz knows when he's gonna catch, Harper knows when he's gonna get the day off." (October, 1991)

So that means Harper was going to catch four of five. Well, you got close Tom!

So, let's take a look at the splits.

Junior Ortiz: 28 games, 1.34 SO/BB, .686 OPS
Lenny Webster: 4 games, 6.67 SO/BB, .591 OPS
Brian Harper: 1 game, 0.50 SO/BB, .805 OPS

Hey, Webster looks like an amazing catcher! But what about 1990, the other year Ortiz caught Erickson?

Ortiz: 15 games, 1.45 SO/BB, .716 OPS
Webster: 1 game, 0.00 SO/BB, .309 OPS
Harper: 3 games, 0.35 SO/BB, .842 OPS

Okay, so more small sample sizes for Harper, but Ortiz looks better again. Webster still looks amazing. In five games, Erickson was a Cy Young pitcher.

Harper did wind up catching Erickson for the remainder of his time in Minnesota. Let's stack Harper and Ortiz together, career with Erickson.

Ortiz: 43 games, 1.38 SO/BB, .697 OPS
Harper: 40 games, 1.25 SO/BB, .753 OPS

One more stat. Throughout Erickson's career, he had four catchers who caught him at least 39 times where he performed better than his career average. Those four catchers? Chris Hoiles, Lenny Webster, Brian Harper, and Junior Ortiz.

So, did Ortiz make Erickson a better pitcher? Maybe. Enough to make up for Ortiz's bat? No. Though Ortiz had an OPS+ of 112 in 1990, so perhaps the Twins were hoping they'd catch lightning twice.

Regardless, Erickson was never the same after 1992, with only one more good year the rest of his career.

Part Four -- Did Jack Buck want the Braves to win?

Someone round these parts mentioned he did not like Buck's call of Kirby's homer and felt he was a huge NL homer. So while listening to all seven games, I paid really close attention to see if I could pick up on such homerism.

Games 1 and 2: None detected. He seemed genuinely excited for the homers of Gagne, Leius, and Davis. In fact, he almost seemed to be rooting for the Twins.

Game 3: He immediately referred to Gladden's lead-off triple as "tainted" and called it as such multiple times throughout the game. It was kind of insulting, especially since it wasn't the easiest of balls to play. More damning, though, is that when Davis hit his dramatic pinch-hit game-tying homer late in the game, he seemed really annoyed.

Game 4: Again he seemed more excited about Lonnie Smith's homer than Pagliarulo's. And he went completely bananas when Lemke scored the winning run.

Game 5: Not much in the way of dramatics here. One thing I noticed, though, is that when the Braves had more or less sealed up the game, he mentioned at least twice how hard the Twins would be to beat at home and reminding everyone not to count them out.

Game 6: I thought Buck seemed more excited for the Twins this game. When Harper threw out Keith Mitchell trying to steal in the top of the 11th, he sounded very satisfied that Harper finally threw somebody out. I'm not a huge fan of the call for Puckett's homer, but I'm not a huge fan of most of Buck's calls of home runs. In fact, none of the ones in this series really stood out. It wasn't "go crazy folks!" or "I don't believe what I just saw!" but I didn't detect any annoyance that Puckett hit one out. He was just terse, as usual.

Game 7: I felt Buck was pretty neutral here, really enjoying all the crazy back and forth, just happy to be a part of such a great series. And I love his call of Larkin's single. He called it the moment it left the bat, and his pitch was perfect. Much better than Al Michaels' final call in 1987.

Conclusion: If Buck wanted the Braves to win, I think he hid it well. What I think he wanted was a competitive series, which is why he sounded like such a homer in games three and four.

Part Five -- Is there any logical reason Cox brought in Charlie Leibrandt to face Puckett?

Puckett versus lefties: 406/436/658

No. Or as Chili Davis said, "Bunt, my ass. Hit it out and let’s go home."

24 thoughts on “1991 World Series — Game 6”

  1. I don't recall thinking that Buck's call of Puckett's homer was homerism. I just thought, and still think, that it's a really lame call.

    I'm sure there are people who've taken over a World Series game more than Kirby took over game six, but other than some sort of completely dominating pitching performance, I can't think of one.

    1. I'm not an expert on WPA. Does Puckett get partial credit for stealing Gants double off the glass or does that all go to Erickson?

    2. I think Beau's remembering my annoyance at Buck's call being the default call for Kriby's home run. Say what you will about him as he got older, but John Gordon's call of that home run was the call worthy of baseball legend. (I'm not terribly impressed with the elder Buck's work in general, but hey, not everybody can be Herb Carneal. In this specific case, I'm not sure Herb could have done much better at capturing the moment than Gordo, and that's not taking anything away from Herb. Gordo flat nailed the call of his career.)

      The other thing I think I hear in Buck's tone is 1987.

            1. Perhaps some lingering sting. Remember, the '87 Twins were the "worst" team to ever win the World Series. Then they get back to the World Series a year after finishing last, with many of the key players from the World Championship club on both teams. Meanwhile, a potential Cardinals dynasty had one one Series ('82) and lost twice in the 1980s – in '87, and to the Royals in '85.

              Mostly, though, I just think Jack Buck was an NL homer. Distinctions between the leagues still existed at that point and would have mattered to a guy who had spent as much time in the game as Buck. Professional though Buck was, I think those things color the way one calls the game.

              1. Naturally. McCarver and Kaat and Palmer were all huge fans of NL rules because they grew up playing with them and it colored all of their broadcasts. Kaat probably the least; that guy was as professional as they came.

                1. From what I understand, McCarver was a decent broadcaster at one point in his career. What I'm not sure of is if that still was the case in 1991.

                  1. Listening to both the 87 and 91 broadcasts, I will say that McCarver was very professional in both series. Sometimes he even had great analysis to offer and sometimes would eerily predict what was going to happen next, thanks to some great instincts. His worst sin back then was all of the awful puns he liked to bring up, as if his second job was a headline writer. He also would repeat himself a lot. But he didn't grate on my nerves.

                    I recently listened to game 7 of the 2001 World Series, and I found him to be even more impossible with Joe Buck beside him.

        1. When comparing calls, we need to remember that the announcers are calling for different audiences. Gordo was calling for Twins fans who couldn't watch it on TV (at least he had to assume they couldn't see it and weren't listening to radio with the TV on) and Buck was calling it for a national audience watching on TV. Gordo had to describe the action that was going on to people thrilled with what was happening. Buck was describing to fans of all kinds that were watching on TV. On TV, it is often better for the announcer to step aside and let the drama speak for itself.

      1. Sorry, CH, but we'll have to agree to disagree on both those calls. Gordo's was certainly nothing extraordinary, especially given the circumstances, and Buck's was not that bad. Perhaps, as Ru_Rhu alludes to, the noise in the dome may have affected both announcer's calls.

        1. Yeah, I just listened to Gordo's, and I thought it was just okay. It doesn't give me chills like Dick Bremer's call of Span's triple against the White Sox or Kubel's grand-slam to hit for the cycle.

        2. The noise in the Dome heightens Gordo's call for me. The guy is simultaneously losing his mind, trying to maintain his professional bearing by describing what's happening, and fighting a losing battle with the crowd noise. Russ Hodges' call of The Shot Heard 'Round the World is practically the gold standard for dramatic radio calls, and that's basically Hodges shouting "The Giants win the pennant!" into the mike five times, drowning out the roar of the crowd. Gordo struck a better balance while displaying his excitement.

          Buck's call is more sedate, and him letting the crowd tell the story is something Herb would have done, too. But like I said, I think Gordo rose to Herb's level as a broadcaster for that call while maintaining his own style. And (as Beau will get to tomorrow, Herb's call of Larkin's hit in Game 7 was longer-winded than one might have anticipated from him before he happily handed it over to the crowd.)

  2. I think you are cutting Erickson's career a bit short. He was good in 1997 and 1998 (+4 WAR each year) and average in '99 but the injury bug hit again and still managed to squeeze 6 more years.

      1. Looks like thats the case, but "not on the WS roster but still played in '91" players Paul Abbott and Denny Naegle had surprisingly long careers.

Comments are closed.