You might be wondering why there's a photo of a New York Mets player attached to this post. Gather round and I'll tell you why.
There were quite a number of memorable times for the Cubs in 1984. The Sandberg Game. Clinching the division in Pittsburgh. The playoff flameout -- well, enough of that.
Even after taking over first place in June, the Cubs slid out of the top spot; by July 27 they were 4½ games out of first and many of us watching the team were thinking, "Uh-oh. Same old swoon."
That's why a series against the hated rival Mets in early August at Wrigley Field was so important. When the Mets came to town August 6, the Cubs had won eight of 10 to take first place again, but their lead over New York was just half a game. They won the August 6 game to make it one and a half games, then hosted them in a doubleheader August 7 that was necessitated by a rainout back on April 15.
The first game went scoreless into the bottom of the fourth inning. With one out and runners on first and second, two singles, a sacrifice fly and a double scored five runs and brought Keith Moreland to the plate.
Mets pitcher Ed Lynch -- later to become a much-disliked general manager of the Cubs -- plunked Moreland with his first pitch to him.
Mike Conklin of the Tribune tells what Moreland did next:
He raced to the mound with umpire Fred Brocklander and New York cagtcher Junior Ortiz in hot pursuit, but missed tackling Lynch and found himself at the bottom of a bench-clearing pileup.
"I'm sure Eddie Lynch was doing what he thought proper at the time," Moreland said. "If he'd been throwing at my head that would have been a different story. He would have been messing with my life.
"I have no hard feelings toward anybody. I could see it coming and all I wanted to do was get my point across. I've been through this before and it's just part of the game. It'll happen again. We're just going to try and go out there tomorrow and beat 'em again."
The Cubs took that first game 8-6 and swept the doubleheader by winning the second game 8-4, mainly on the strength of a six-run fifth inning highlighted by home runs by Ron Cey and Moreland off Ron Darling. It was one of only two games in Darling's career where he allowed eight earned runs.
The Cubs won the next game, too, sweeping the four-game set against the Mets and ending it 4½ games ahead. They were in first place to stay. This doubleheader was the day that really convinced me that the 1984 Cubs were for real.