Miss baseball? The rest of this week is jam-packed with great stories and classic games from the last half-century on MLB Network, from the Yankees of the 1970s through the Braves of the '90s. Some of the greatest players and managers in MLB history, as well as some of the most incredible individual games and seasons are in store. Here's a breakdown of MLB Network's program schedule through Sunday.
WEDNESDAY: "MLB's 20 Greatest Games" -- Cubs vs. Phillies in 1979 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. ET, the game itself at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET, and "Baseball's Seasons: 1979" at 6 p.m. ET
Imagine being tied, 22-22 (no, that's not a typo) after nine innings. That's exactly what happened on May 17, 1979, when the Phillies and Cubs hooked up for a matinee at Wrigley Field.
Needless to say, there were some incredible individual performances in this game -- the Phillies' Larry Bowa had five hits, including a pair of doubles; Bob Boone went 3-for-4 with a double, home run and five RBIs; Garry Maddox was 4-for-4 with a double, homer and four RBIs; the Cubs' Bill Buckner was 4-for-7 with a grand slam as part of a seven-RBI day; and Dave Kingman launched three homers and drove in six.
But in the end, it came down to one swing by Mike Schmidt, who belted his second homer of the game with two outs in the top of the 10th to give Philadelphia a 23-22 lead.
Check out the entire story behind the game, the game itself, and a recap of the entire 1979 season, which culminated with the "We Are Family" Pirates winning it all.
THURSDAY: Remembering Mark Fidrych -- "The Bird" at 12 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET; Fidrych's complete game vs. Yankees at 1 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET; and "MLB Network Countdown: 25 greatest personalities" at 3:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET.
His career was brief but unforgettable. Fidrych, nicknamed "The Bird" because his coach in the Appalachian League thought he looked like Big Bird from Sesame Street, burst onto the Major League scene with a tremendous 1976 rookie season. Beginning with a spot start for the Tigers on May 15, he stunned the baseball world en route to an MLB-best 2.34 ERA and an AL-best 24 complete games, winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award and finishing runner-up to Jim Palmer in AL Cy Young Award voting.
Fidrych's most famous start came on June 28 against the Yankees at Tiger Stadium, when he tossed a complete-game seven hitter to help Detroit win, 5-1. Afterward, the fans demanded, and got, a curtain call from the eccentric right-hander, who was famous for talking to the baseball and other antics while on the mound. Fidrych even started the All-Star Game for the AL the following month.
Fidrych's fire on the mound flamed out by 1979, when a dead arm cut his season short. He only made nine more MLB starts after that, and after toiling in the Minors for several years, retired at the age of 28 in 1983. Still, he will forever be remembered for that incredible run from 1976-77, when he had a 2.47 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. Learn all about one of the greatest characters the game has ever seen in "The Bird," followed by his famous '78 game against the Yankees and then a countdown of MLB's 25 greatest personalities.
FRIDAY: "MLB Presents: The 1995 Mariners, Saving Baseball in Seattle" at 10 a.m, 12:30 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. ET; 1995 ALDS Game 5 at 2:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. ET; "MLB's 20 Greatest Games" at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET; "Baseball's Seasons: 1995" at 1:30 p.m. ET
The Mariners were on the brink of relocation in 1995. But then came one of the most magical seasons in baseball history. The M's featured some the most exciting players in baseball, including Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez and Randy Johnson. But they needed something special, and that's what they got. With just over a month remaining in the regular season, Seattle found itself 10 1/2 games behind the Angels in the AL West. The Mariners then reeled off victories in 21 of their final 31 games to force a tiebreaker for the division title with California at the Kingdome. Johnson was masterful, striking out 12 in a complete game to help lift Seattle to its first division crown.
Next came the AL Division Series against the Yankees, which didn't start out well, as the Mariners fell into a 2-0 hole in the best-of-five series. Seattle returned home and won two straight at the Kingdome to force a decisive Game 5. With the game tied at 4 heading to the top of the 11th, Randy Velarde delivered a go-ahead single for New York. Facing elimination, the Mariners staged one of the most iconic finishes in memory -- Joey Cora and Griffey opened the bottom of the 11th with back-to-back singles, bringing up Martinez, who lined a double down the left-field line that scored both to send Seattle into the AL Championship Series. The miracle season propelled the movement to keep baseball in the city, with a new stadium opening four years later.
Twenty-five years later, watch the retelling of that team's amazing story, followed by the classic game itself, as well as "MLB's 20 Greatest Games" on Game 5. And for a taste of what's to come Sunday, check out "Baseball's Seasons: 1995," which of course includes the Mariners' great run, but also the "Team of the '90s" finally winning a World Series title.
SATURDAY: Remembering the "Bucky Dent game" -- Yankees at Red Sox 1978 division tiebreaker at 3:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET; "MLB's 20 Greatest Games" -- 1978 AL East tiebreaker at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. ET; and "Baseball's Seasons: 1978" at 2:30 p.m. ET
At the All-Star break in 1978, the Red Sox led their AL East rivals, the Yankees, by 11 1/2 games in the division. For a franchise that was in year No. 60 since its last world championship, a period over which New York had won 21, things were looking great. Until they weren't. The Yanks went 54-25 in the second half to catch Boston, forcing a tiebreaker for the division crown on Oct. 2.
The Red Sox were clinging to a 2-0 lead in the top of the seventh at Fenway Park, when Bucky Dent launched a two-out, three-run homer over the Green Monster in left field to vault the Yankees out in front. Dent was the ninth batter in the lineup, and entering that plate appearance, had four home runs all season. Boston suffered heartache yet again in a 5-4 loss, and the Yankees went on to defeat the Dodgers in the World Series, in which Dent hit .417 and was named MVP.
Watch one of the greatest games in baseball history, followed by "MLB's 20 Greatest Games" on the contest and "Baseball's Seasons: 1978" to recap that great season.
SUNDAY: USA defeats Puerto Rico to win the 2017 World Baseball Classic -- USA vs. Dominican Republic in Round 1 at 11 a.m. ET; USA vs. Dominican Republic in Round 2 at 2 p.m. ET; USA vs. Japan in WBC semifinal at 5 p.m. ET; USA vs. Puerto Rico in WBC championship game at 8 p.m. ET
In the third World Baseball Classic, which takes place every four years and involves countries from across the globe, the United States had yet to win the tournament. With powerhouses like the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico standing between the USA and a WBC title, winning it all was certainly going to be a tall order.
But the USA team was up to the task.
Sunday marks the three-year anniversary of USA defeating Puerto Rico to win the 2017 WBC behind a tremendous pitching performance from Marcus Stroman in an 8-0 victory. Stroman yielded just one hit over six innings, and Ian Kinsler launched a two-run homer in the third, which proved to be the only offense the team would need to claim the title at Dodger Stadium.
So MLB Network is airing four straight Team USA games. Watch the U.S. clash twice against the Dominican Republic -- a loss early in the tournament followed by a dramatic victory to clinch a spot in the semifinal round. It was in that game that perhaps the enduring image of the USA run was burnished in our minds, when Adam Jones leaped to make an incredible catch at the center-field wall to rob then-Orioles teammate Manny Machado of a home run, with fans holding mini-USA flags erupting behind him. Then watch Team USA's narrow one-run win over Japan in the WBC semfinal. And finally, the championship game, when the U.S. won its elusive World Baseball Classic title.