TBS’ Dennis Eckersley talks about this wild, error-happy postseason

SHARE TBS’ Dennis Eckersley talks about this wild, error-happy postseason
SHARE TBS’ Dennis Eckersley talks about this wild, error-happy postseason

In Dennis Eckersley’s long and

illustrious Hall of Fame career, there were plenty of highlights. But, there’s

one moment of failure that he’ll never be able to

escape.

Surrendering a game-winning home run

to a gimpy Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, when the fire-balling

right-hander was closing games for the Oakland A’s.

In a postseason that’s been filled

with misplayed fly balls, blown saves and shoddy baserunning, there’s no

shortage of players feeling the same emotions experienced by Eckersley in the

wake of their October gaffes.

The in-studio analyst for TBS

discussed the sudden rash of less-than-spectacular plays and the effects on

those who make them Monday night.

“It stays with you until you get

back out there again,” Eckersley said. You have to live with it until the next

time. What if there’s not a next time? Who’s to say [there will be],

right?”

Perhaps the most glaring error in

this young postseason came from St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday,

who dropped the would-be final out in Game 2 of an NLDS against the Los Angeles

Dodgers — an error that allowed the Dodgers an improbable comeback

victory.

“I guess the best thing that came

out of it was that it wasn’t the end,” Eckersley said. “If it was the last game,

that would have been worse, or even if it was a walk-off. At the same time, it

doesn’t take away from the fact that it was

devastating.”

The Cardinals were eventually swept

in three games, leaving Holliday with an entire winter to think about what could

have been if he’d been able to corral that final out. Eckersley points out that

being the goat is just as big a part of the game as being the

hero.

“He has to take that with him to

wherever he goes because he’s a free agent,” Eckersley said. “It’s a

character-builder. It truly is. Nobody needs that kind of humbling, but you

know, that’s how this game can grab you at any given

time.”

Holliday is hardly the only player

who must deal with a sour taste in their mouth during the offeason. The

Minnesota Twins turned in several head-scratching baserunning decisions that

helped the Yankees sweep them away and Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon

blew a save in the decisive Game 3 against the Los Angeles Angeles.

“Papelbon, to me, is devastating

because he has not had a ton of failure,” Eckersley said. “I said it on the air,

and I didn’t mean it to be mean, that he has lived the charmed life. He hasn’t

had any big blows .. He’s

been absolutely lights-out, so let’s see how he handles

it.”

Looking forward, Ecksersley notes

that there’s a silver lining to every failure.

Each one is a chance at

redemption.

For him, the sour taste of 1988 was

quickly washed out when he was able to lead his A’s to the 1989 World Series

title.

And much like the Cardinals fans

greeted Holliday with a standing ovation upon his return to Busch Stadium, A’s

supporters backed Eckersley when he first took the mound in 1989 — a gesture

that helped him get back to business on the mound.

“I got one when I got back to

Oakland,”

Eckersley said of the ovation. “It took a little of the sting out and showed the

appreciation that the fans had. It hurt everyone, but it couldn’t hurt anyone

more than me. I want to win as much as anyone and I was lucky because we won the

next year.”

In reality, however, there’s no

guarantee that the chance at redemption will come as quickly for this year’s

crop goats. They won’t all follow Eckersely’s path back to the top — something

the former reliever realizes.

“I was so lucky,” he said. “Think

about it. The following year we win the whole thing and I get the ball in my

hands for the last out. I’m so grateful that

happened.”

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