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It Was Twenty-Five Years Ago Today: Cubs vs. Giants Preview, Thursday 9/24, 9:15 CT

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As mentioned in this FanShot, today is the 25th anniversary of the clinching of the Cubs' first title of any kind in 39 years, the 1984 NL East championship. It happened in Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium in front of a crowd announced as 5,472, but it sounded more like 50,000 -- almost all rooting for the Cubs. I know, because I was one of them. Some friends of mine and I paid an usher $10 to let us sit six rows behind the Cubs dugout, where we saw (and congratulated) Dallas Green on his way from the dugout to sit in one of the suites.

Here's the boxscore from that game, which was not only the clincher, but Rick Sutcliffe's 20th win of the season (capping his 16-1 run as a Cub, it was his final regular season start). He threw a complete game and allowed only two hits and a run, striking out nine. What many people don't remember about the two hits -- but I do -- is how close those hits came to being outs. Both hits were by Pirates outfielder Joe Orsulak. The first was a sharp grounder down the 1B line in the third inning that just eluded Leon Durham's glove. It quickly went into the RF corner and Orsulak, then a 22-year-old September callup with good speed, legged out a triple. He later scored on a groundout.

Orsulak came up in the sixth inning with two out and laid down a perfect bunt (hard to do on that old Astroturf field) and beat it out for a single. He was promptly picked off; Sutcliffe thus came within a couple of heartbeats of throwing a perfect game. Orsulak also thus wound up being the final out of the game, a called strikeout, setting off a celebration among the Cubs fans in Pittsburgh.

Wonderful memories. If only we could have repeated them this year. Also, Bruce Levine recounts his memories of being there as a reporter and has this cogent observation on Ryne Sandberg:

Veteran shortstop Larry Bowa and future Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg did what they always did before a game, taking 75 ground balls from coach John Vukovich. It was a routine that Sandberg said helped solidify his work ethic, one that he teaches today as a minor league manager in the Cubs organization.

There is no doubt in my mind that Sandberg will make an excellent major league manager.

Last night's impromptu photo caption contest drew some really good and funny entries, so I'm doing it again tonight. Write your caption in the comments; I'll go through all of them and post the winner's user name in the thread in the morning (if you missed it, last night's winner was ballhawk -- and to be fair, ballhawk, you can enter but you can't win again). Go for it.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Ryan Dempster
Ryan Dempster
Cubs
vs. Brad Penny
Brad Penny
Giants
10-8 W-L 10-9
3.72 ERA 5.35
150 SO 100
61 BB 49
20 HR 22
vs. SF -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Ryan Dempster 10-8 28 28 0 0 0 0 179.0 178 87 74 20 61 150 3.72 1.34

Note: Brad Penny's stats below are with the Giants only; see the pitcher box above for his full-season stats.

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Brad Penny 3-1 4 4 0 0 0 0 24.2 18 11 11 5 7 11 4.01 1.01

Brad Penny is 3-3, 2.64 in nine career starts vs. the Cubs; the most famous of them is probably this 2006 game at Wrigley Field, pitched by Penny not long after Greg Maddux was traded to the Dodgers. Penny let Maddux call all his pitches that day and Penny threw seven shutout innings, allowing seven singles and no walks. Penny had a rough time with the Red Sox this year; they released him and he's been better with the Giants, although he got pounded in his last start against the Dodgers. Aramis Ramirez (10-for-26, .385) and Derrek Lee (6-for-13, 3 doubles), both of whom have been hot this month, like hitting Penny.

In Ryan Dempster's last six starts, he has gone 4-1, 1.91 with 33 strikeouts and only eight walks in 42.1 innings, looking very much like the dominant pitcher of 2008. Let's hope he continues that tonight to finish this season on a positive note. He threw seven strong innings in a 4-2 Cubs win at Wrigley Field on May 4. Current Giants are hitting .235 (31-for-132) against Dempster; the only one who'll likely be in tonight's lineup who hits him well is Edgar Renteria (7-for-22, 2 HR).

Today's game is CSN-centric; Chicago and Bay Area. If you have EI and get the Giants feed, Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper are among the best local broadcast teams. For other games today see the MLB.com Mediacenter.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Giants site McCovey Chronicles. Grant, who runs the site, is one of SBN's best writers.

Overflow comment threads will post today at 10:15 and 11:15 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.