Flag and Sprague

In light of the flag fiasco at Dodger Stadium two weeks ago, the Star’s Richard Griffin today turned back the clock 31 years to when the infamous — at least in Canada — Rick Monday saved an American flag from being burned on the field during a Dodgers contest on April 25, 1976.
Today I’d like to turn my attention to another famous flag incident — one that Canadians everywhere took great offence to — at least momentarily — back in 1992 …
Maybe the U.S. Marine Color Guard should have been given some slack. After all, the ’92 World Series was the first one to ever feature a Canadian team. Still, when one of the marines walked out onto the field prior to Game 2 with the Canadian flag upside down, more than a few Canucks believed that perhaps it was an intentional move — a deliberate insult to Canada.
061024_92ws_flag_blogThe conspiracy theory didn’t last long, however, and the Marines — in a classy move — requested the chance to redeem themselves in Game 3 on Canadian soil. And that’s all it took. As they walked onto the SkyDome turf during pregame ceremonies, it became apparent that their neighbours to the north were willing to forgive and forget.
However, before the Marines got the chance to make up for their miscue, there was the matter of playing Game 2 in Atlanta. And with millions cheering on the visiting team on television back home, the Toronto Blue Jays did not disappoint. Trailing 1-0 in the series and 4-3 in the current contest, the Blue Jays were faced with their backs against the wall — just three outs away from going down 2-0 in their first ever World Series.
To make matters worse, Jeff Reardon — the game’s all-time saves leader — was on the hill for Atlanta. But, with one out in the ninth, Derek Bell managed to draw a walk. With the pitcher’s spot due up, manager Cito Gaston opted to pinch-hit Ed Sprague. On the surface, the move raised question marks, as Gaston had the left-handed hitting Rance Mulliniks on the bench as well. Had he strictly ‘played the percentages’, Gaston would have of course tabbed Mulliniks to hit against the right-handed Reardon.
Sprague quickly put any second-guessing to rest, however, sending Reardon’s first pitch into the left-field bleachers for the go-ahead two-run homer, giving Toronto the 5-4 lead. Just like that, Sprague became the second player ever to hit a pinch-hit home run to bring his team from behind to win a World Series contest.
That may have also helped Canadians put the ‘flag incident’ behind them.

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