CLEVELAND — With live sports (mostly) on hold during the coronavirus pandemic, networks have decided to keep fans occupied by airing classic games of the past.
Cleveland's sports channels have more than stepped up, airing everything from the Cavaliers' 2016 NBA championship to various Indians playoff runs. On Sunday, SportsTime Ohio will rebroadcast a moment Tribe fans will likely never forget: Game 2 of the 2007 American League Division Series against the New York Yankees, otherwise known as "The Bug Game."
For those who don't remember, here's how the scene sets up: The Indians led the Yanks one game to none in the best of five series, but were struggling to put together any offense in the second contest. Down 1-0 in the bottom of the eighth inning, and with rookie phenom Joba Chamberlin on the mound, the situation seemed hopeless.
Suddenly, Jacobs Field came "under attack," as thousands of midges descended on the ballpark and began swarming around the players. Chamberlin was especially bothered, so much so that trainers had to come out and spray him with insect repellent.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, it wasn't enough to stem the tide, as Chamberlin rapidly lost his control and threw a wild pitch that put Grady Sizemore on second base. After Asdrubal Cabrera sacrificed him over to third before a Travis Hafner lineout, Chamberlin's pitch to Victor Martinez went way inside and away from catcher Jorge Posada, allowing Sizemore to come home and tie things up at one.
The Yankees were furious, and manager Joe Torre would later state he regretted not pulling his team off the field. However, their point was essentially debunked when, with the bugs still flying, Cleveland starter Roberto Hernandez (then going by the alias "Fausto Carmona") shut down New York in the top of the ninth. His masterful performance was capped off with a strikeout of AL MVP Alex Rodriguez.
The midges would (mostly) buzz away, but the game continued into extra innings. It wasn't until the 11th that Travis Hafner sent the raucous crowd home happy with a walk-off single that scored Kenny Lofton and put the Tribe up 2-0 in the series.
Three nights later, the Indians won Game 4 to advance to the ALCS for the first time in nine years. Although they would sadly fall to the Boston Red Sox in seven games, the triumph over the Bronx Bombers continues to shine brightly in team lore, and had a lasting impact on baseball as a whole as the future Hall of Famer Torre would end up leaving New York following a dispute with owner George Steinbrenner.
Tonight, Tribe fans can re-live the magic of that epic night at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario, with STO also providing "enhanced" coverage of the moment. Jensen Lewis (a member of that team's bullpen) will analyze things with former teammates Hafner, Lofton, and Ryan Garko as well as former manager Eric Wedge and (now current again) pitching coach Carl Willis. Second base umpire Fieldin Culberth, part of the crew that infamously decided not to stop play, will also give his thoughts.
The replay starts at 7 p.m. on STO. Starting this week, the network will also re-air games from the Indians' 2016 pennant run, complete with all their victories in both the ALDS against the Red Sox and the ALCS against the Toronto Blue Jays.