Wednesday, or more accurately Wednesday night, is the ninth anniversary of the Scott Spiezio Game. Every Angels fan knows what you are talking about. Few games get labeled after one person and it is as often a reference to tragedy as to glory. Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the Bill Buckner Game. A week and a half ago was the quarter-century mark for the Donnie Moore Game. The Cardinals in the World Series this season reminds us of the Don Dekinger Game. The way Rangers fans were whining after Game 3 you might have placed a bet on this being remembered as the Ron Kulpa Series.
The Angels were down 5-0 with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning. Their win expectancy was three percent. Troy Glaus singled to RF. Brad Fullmer hit Russ Ortiz' 98th and final pitch to short right to put two on. Those were the third and fourth hits of the game surrendered by the San Francisco starter.
For his efforts, Dusty Baker handed Ortiz the game ball as he left the pitching mound. It doesn't show up in the box score and there is no way to quantify it, but it was bad mojo for the Giants. It was almost as eerie as the shot of Willie Mays pacing in the visitors' dugout holding a bottle of champagne. There are no stats for how many times a team have collapsed after forbidden behavioral mores that telegraph an unbeatable swagger are violated, but October 26, 2002 is a textbook reason as to why there is a deep lore of players self-policing their own when it comes to such displays of both casual and cocksure certainty.
Spiezio's epic at-bat with reliever Felix Rodriguez only increased the Angels win expectancy by 12%, taking the Angels from a seven percent chance of winning the game to a 19% likelihood. The always understated Garret Anderson would have a base hit in the middle of the next inning's rally that would increase the Angels chances by 27%, but with no RBI on the play GA's contributions are but an asterisk of the Scott Spiezio Game.
That is how the mojo bounces - Spiezio came in after the pitching the change, woke up the bats, hit what appeared to be a long fly ball based on the body language of Right Fielder Reggie Sanders. It carried and carried... and it is close enough to Halloween to ask if the bad mojo of that inning kept it that extra five feet high. For a franchise that had been as cursed as the Angels, it seems only fair to assume that another star-crossed team would have to bend over backwards in breaking unwritten rules for the cathartic floodgates to finally flood a parched Anaheim.