Notes From Nowhere : Burning Flags, HACKING MASS, and Cycles Upon Cycles

Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 03:35 PM EDT

Contributed by: Craig B

A Notes From Nowhere pinch-hit today, as I did some thinking about HACKING MASS and a couple other things pinging around my head.

First off, a couple of things that caught my eye from the opening series...

First, there ought to be a separate plural for "series". What I really meant above was "serieses" but of course you can't say "serieses". Either that, or we need a new synonym for series.

Second, there is nothing lamer than hearing on the news that Brad Wilkerson hit for the cycle, and hearing he was "the first player to hit for the cycle in team history". If you mean the Washington Nationals, well, since it happened in their third ever game, well duh. If mean the franchise, then you're wrong. It's like a catch-22 of media stupidity.

Incidentally, the first player to hit for the cycle in Expos history was Tim Foli. Foli's was a natural cycle... the single, double. triple and homer occurred in order. It happened in a bizarre suspended game against the Cubs on April 21 and 22, 1976. The Expos won 12-6, but after the sixth inning, with the score 11-3 in favor of the 'Spos, the game was suspended after four separate rain delays, with Foli having singled, doubled, and tripled. When the game was resumed the following day, he homered in the 8th inning to give him the cycle.

Why was the game suspended? Naturally, due to darkness! Remember that in the 1970s Wrigley Field was the only park in baseball not to have floodlights. As such, the rain delays made it such that they couldn't finish the game before the relatively early twilight of April.

Foli singled off Geoff Zahn in the 2nd, doubled off Tom Dettore in the 3rd, tripled off Paul Reuschel in the 5th, and homered off Canadian pitcher Ken Crosby the following day.

That was one of only 16 career appearances by Crosby, but he was on the mound for one of the most memorable events of 1976 in his very next appearance, against the Dodgers three days later on April 25th in Los Angeles. Steve Stone had started for the Cubs, but was removed in the second inning due to an injury. Crosby took his place, and set the Dodgers dow nicely in the third. After he induced a popout from second baseman Ted Sizemore in the fourth inning, two young men dashed onto the field, laid an American flag onto the outfield behind shortstop, and attempted to pour lighter fluid on it and set it on fire. Cubbies centerfielder Rick Monday, realizing what was happening, raced in from his centerfield position, grabbed the flag before it could be lit, and ran with it towards the infield. There, as stadium security took away the would-be protesters, he handed it to Dodger pitcher Doug Rau.

James Roark, who was working the game as a photoghrapher for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, took a memorable photo of Monday running off with the flag, that won him a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize. (A small view of the photo can be seenon this page.)

The Dodgers later presented the flag to Monday, who according to a 1998 news story owns it still.

The incident became famous (not least because it was America's Bicentennial and expressions of patriotism were much in vogue). What was less remarked upon at the time, but jumps out now, is what happened to Ken Crosby's outing, and in fact his career.

The incident completely rattled Crosby, who had been sailing along, with five outs and just one error behind him. Crosby fell apart - he got the next out when John Hale hit a stinging liner to right, but then gave up five straight hits, including a three-run homer to the light-hitting Henry Cruz, and two stolen bases. Four runs crossed in the inning, and Crosby would never have an effective appearance in the big leagues ever again. Five games later, he pitched his last game in the majors, ending the 1976 season with an ERA of 12.00.

Anyway, in honor of Crosby's futility I thought I'd share my HACKING MASS team, something we can all share. I'm glad I didn't pick Brad Wilkerson. My team name this year is "Mike Balenti's Spiritual Godchildren"...

C Mike Matheny
1B Jose Macias
2B Luis Rivas
SS Cristian Guzman
3B Alex Gonzalez
LF Scott Podsednik
CF Tike Redman
RF Raul Mondesi
P1 Shawn Estes
P2 Ramon Ortiz

Don't let me down, boys!