Doug was right. MLB nailed it for the Field of Dreams game this season. I didn’t think they could do it especially after the debacle of the All-Star Game.
Kevin Costner was there in person, a nice touch. The corn was there. The retro uniforms. Baseball did it right and the Chicago White Sox took care of the rest with their 9th inning rally and ultimate win.
I enjoyed the movie but found faults with it. C’mon, Joe Jackson was a left-handed hitter. Ray Liotta could have adapted for that. And doing “The Wave” was a waste of time.
I had a good feeling the Cincinnati Reds would be selected to be one of the teams in the Field of Dreams game for the 2022 season. It makes sense and MLB was showing some – at last.
The Reds not only have a rich history but as all of you know, were the first professional baseball team in America. I wasn’t crazy about the match up with the Chicago Cubs. I get it. The Cubs are a big draw, have a huge (and sometimes misguided) fan base and field their Triple-A team in Des Moines. Some of my best friends are Cubs fans. Others are intolerable.
But there are two things I don’t like about next year’s game.
First, the ticket prices are obscene.
Second, and I hate to quibble (no, I don’t), but there are some other match ups against the Reds I would have rather seen than against the Cubs.
Reds vs White Sox
This seems to be a natural fit, given the Joe Jackson connection to the movie. The two teams played in the controversial 1919 World Series that resulted in the first Reds World Series title. The retro uniforms would be a good fit, both teams are on the upside and look to be very competitive in 2022 and the venerable and aging Tony LaRussa should be there as the manager of the White Sox. And wouldn’t it be cool to have seen Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk reunited at this game? Ozzie Guillen and Dave Concepcion? Frank Thomas and Tony Perez?
Reds vs Angels
Lots of benefits to this. Mike Trout, the best player in baseball, would be center stage and in front of a national audience. The same for Shohei Ohtani, the latest savior of baseball. Since the Angels franchise started at the MLB level in 1961, the Reds could wear the classic vested uniforms from that year when Fred Hutchinson guided them to the National League pennant, Frank Robinson was the MVP, Vada Pinson roamed centerfield and the pitching staff was anchored by Jim O’Toole, Bob Purkey and Joey Jay. It would have been Ragamuffin Day for Reds fans. And the Reds could have officially announced they will be retiring Pinson’s #28 in 2023.
Now, back to the Cubs. They are obviously in a rebuild stage and their big names are all gone. But the Cubs are the Cubs and they are media darlings.
From an historical point of view, the Cubs and Reds have never battled head-to-head in a heated pennant race (or division race) since the modern era of baseball began in 1956.
From 1956 to 1968, the Cubs were moribund, second-division teams except for the last two seasons. When the National League split into two divisions in 1969, the Cubs and Reds were separated. Based on the last fifty years, you could make an argument that the Pirates, Dodgers, Cardinals or even the Astros were more rivals to the Reds than the Cubs.
So what sidebar events could MLB do with the Cubs and the Reds? The possibilities are limitless.
You could get Johnny Bench and Billy Williams together, who were 1-2 in the MVP voting for the 1972 season in the National League.
Pete Rose tied Ty Cobb with 4,191 hits at Wrigley Field in the 1985 season when he singled off Cubs pitcher Reggie Patterson. And in an attempt to break it against Chicago reliever Lee Smith later in the game– delayed over two hours by rain– he struck out in the twilight of Wrigley Field before they installed lights. Bring back Big Lee and The Hit King to Iowa for the game.
Pair up Jim Maloney and Ken Holtzman. Maloney no-hit the Cubs in 1965 during a Herculean effort in a 10-inning 1-0 win in which he threw 187 pitches and struck out 12 batters and walked 10. This wasn’t exactly a combined effort of five pitchers off a 13-man pitching staff. Reds shortstop Leo Cardenas hit the game winning homer for the Reds only run in the tenth inning. Holtzman no-hit the Reds in 1971 at Riverfront Stadium.
Bring in former Reds skipper Lou Piniella and Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, who the Reds skipper intentionally walked five times in an extra inning loss to the Cubs. (When I met Andre in Knoxville, Illinois, I joked about that with him and he laughed. He still remembers it.)
Tom Browning? Give him a seat above the corn in left field. You die-hard Reds fans remember his jaunt during a game at Wrigley Field.
And if you want to honor someone special . . . . introduce Dave Parker and have him come out of the cornfield to a thunderous ovation on nationwide TV.
Parker had his best years with the Pirates. But he’s from Cincinnati and played for the Reds. And there was a period of time when he was considered the best player in baseball.
How cool would that be? Give Dave Parker the spotlight.
It can be a very special night if MLB can somehow do it again.