Nice series, eh? The first major league championship held in two foreign countries, Canada and Los Angeles, had everything: religion, love, revenge, espionage, nutrition, meteorology, three languages and, occasionally, baseball. And when the last strains of The Happy Wanderer faded out, the Los Angeles Dodgers were headed for New York, their knapsacks on their backs, to meet the Yankees for the 11th time in a World Series. Val-De Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.
The Dodgers did it the hard way, after trailing Houston in the mini-playoffs two games to none and Montreal in the midi-playoffs 2-1. Then after waiting around till Monday, Rick Monday hit a home run off Expo ace Steve Rogers with two outs in the ninth inning to beat Montreal 2-1. One line of that infernal song refers to the clear blue sky. Well, it may have been sprinkling in Montreal, but for L.A., the sky-had never been Dodger bluer.
Fernando Valenzuela, who knocked in the first Dodger run, pitched 8? innings of three-hit ball to put L.A. in the Maxi-Series, and afterward the unflappable rookie allowed that he was "delirante"—delirious. The score was 1-1 in the ninth when Rogers, making his first relief appearance since 1978, replaced Ray Burns, who had held the Dodgers for eight innings. With two outs and the count 3 and 1, Monday hit an inside fastball over the fence in right centerfield.
"A lot of strange things happened to us in the playoffs," said Monday afterward, "but one of the strangest was that after I hit the ball, I didn't know where the hell it was. When I saw the outfielders turn their backs and look over the wall, I knew. Then I almost fell down between second and third."
Said Rogers, "If you wanted a script with a happy ending, I strike out Monday, and we go on to score the winning run. But that's not reality."
On Sunday, reality was all wet as a division playoff game was rained out for only the second time. The motto that evening was: Baseball Pneumonia—Catch It! National League President Chub Feeney waited until 3� hours after Rocket Richard threw out the first ball to call the game. In the meantime Dodger Outfielder Jay Johnstone stuffed towels in his uniform to make himself look like Manager Tommy Lasorda.
When the game was finally called, Expo Outfielder Terry Francona twice slid headfirst into a puddle in rightfield, the second time for photographers who had missed his first splashdown.
The playoff ended in the damp cold of Olympic Stadium, but it began in the sunshine of Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles won 5-1, no surprise considering that the Expos had lost their nine previous games and 18 of 19 in Chavez Ravine. Helping to prolong the hoodoo were Burt Hooton, who shut out Montreal in 7? innings of work, and Ron Cey, playing in his first game in five weeks. Hooton didn't have his good stuff, but the Expos helped by hitting into four double plays.
Cey, who wore a flexible cast on the left arm he broke stopping a fastball on Sept. 9, doubled in the Dodgers' first run and scored the second in the second inning. After getting his second hit of the game in the eighth, he scored again on Pedro Guerrero's two-run homer.
The outlook was very good for the Dodgers, especially with Valenzuela starting Game 2. The Expos countered with Burris and Donald Sutherland, the Canadian-born movie actor. Sutherland is an avid Expo fan, so avid that he hasn't missed a game, home or away, since Sept. 12. It was then that Montreal went on a spree that carried it to the division title. "I'm afraid to change my clothes," said Sutherland.