Monday, October 16, 2006

Ordonez's Rocket Puts Him In An Elite Club

Kirk Gibson, meet Magglio Ordonez. I know you already have -- you were his coach, after all, last season -- but I'm talking about something deeper here.

Vinnie Johnson, get over here and say hello to Maggs.

Stevie Y -- Mr. Yzerman -- can you take time out from your new duties as Red Wings vice president to slap Mr. Ordonez on the back and welcome him into your club?

I know Jim Northrup is still around. I'm sure the Grey Fox would be happy to extend a hand and escort Ordonez into the fold.

At 7:53 p.m. Saturday, October 14, Magglio Ordonez stepped to the plate, swung, and lofted a ball not only into the grandstand at Comerica Park, but also into a hallowed circle of Detroit sports memories. He's part of a special club now, no matter how the Tigers do in the World Series.

Ordonez's three-run blast in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the the American League pennant is now a snowball. For years from now, that snowball will take on gargantuan proportions. Doubtless the story will be repeated to those who don't know better as having occurred in the seventh game, or, GASP, in the World Series itself.

But it's big enough as it is, thank you, without such exaggeration.

The beauty of Ordonez's blast, as with Gibson's that put away the Padres in the 1984 World Series, was its majesty. It was a "no doubter", and you kind of wished it would never come down, because there's nothing quite as orgasmic as a pennant-winning homerun in flight. In fact, I don't know that Ordonez hit quite as spectacular of a homerun, in terms of its asthetic quality, as the one he hit off Huston Street to sweep away the Oakland A's. It was a moonshot, and 22 years of coming up short were obliterated somewhere near the top of its parabolic pattern.

So it is that Ordonez joins Gibson, Yzerman, Northrup, and Johnson in the Circle of Five who have authored the greatest moments in Detroit sports history.

Gibson: crushes an eighth-inning homerun off Goose Gossage to turn a 5-4 lead into an 8-4 margin in the clinching Game 5 of the '84 World Series.

Yzerman: blasts a puck from the blue line and over the shoulder of Blues goalie Jon Casey to win Game 7 of the 1996 Western Conference semifinals in the second overtime.

Northrup: drives a ball over the head of Cardinals centerfielder Curt Flood in the seventh inning, breaking a scoreless tie in Game 7 of the 1968 World Series.

Johnson: with Jerome Kersey draped all over him, swishes an 18-foot jump shot with :00.7 left to snag the Pistons' second straight championship, in 1990.

Ordonez: hits a two-out, three-run homerun in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Oakland A's and capture the Tigers' first American League flag in 22 years.

Whether the Tigers win the World Series or not, Ordonez has joined this exclusive club. Yzerman' goal, after all, proved to only delay the inevitable, as the Avalanche blasted the Red Wings out of the playoffs in the conference finals. The other three moments came in games in which our teams won the whole enchilada.

Of course, there's still another series to be played here. Who's to say that someone can't do something that trumps Maggs?

We'll see.

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