Imagine being a Los Angeles Dodgers fan in summer 2008. Your team hasn't won a title in 20 years, but they consistently contend. Every stretch run is exciting, for one reason or another, but this one is particularly enthralling because Manny Ramirez just showed up out of nowhere and built his own district.
For whatever reason, the Boston Red Sox decided to defend their World Series title by cutting bait on their second-most-recognizable player midstream, installing Jason Bay in his place. This isn't your problem; you're just overjoyed to inject your somewhat-stale roster with a buzzing talent, giving Joe Torre an impressive leader headed into October.
This is not to mention that Ramirez isn't the only Hall of Fame talent you've stumbled into. The San Diego Padres felt like giving Greg Maddux and his 3.99 ERA away in mid-August, costing Los Angeles only a pair of players to be named later. Sure, he's 42 years old, but again, who cares?! His veteran experience should be an upgrade, and he can still twirl it.
And, on this beautiful Sept. 7, you walk into the ballpark on a Sunday afternoon expecting to see Maddux duel his years-long foe Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks. You have your physical ticket ripped and wander to the concession stand for a scorecard and a hot dog. You grumble at the price, then resign yourself to the cost and plunk down $4 anyway.
Only then do you check the lineup and realize both Maddux and Johnson have been bumped, and between expletives, you wonder, "Who the hell are these Kershaw and Scherzer guys anyway?"
Dodgers fans expecting Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson in 2008 matchup received Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer
No, this was not one of Maddux's seven starts in Dodger Blue, the final stop on his Hall of Fame path. Johnson, who retired the very next fall, was skipped, too, in favor of a winless right-hander who inspired the classic Vin Scully transition in the above clip, "Anyway, we were talking about Heterochromia!" This was likely the first, but almost certainly not the last, mellifluous Scully mention of Scherzer's different-colored eyes.
Scully, who adorably calls the righty "Shirt-Zer" in the clip above, provides all the nostalgia necessary to make this moment noteworthy, but the generational shift on this otherwise forgotten day makes this September showdown fascinating.
Fittingly, the "best-laid plans of Mice and Men" that Scully described that day went even further awry, as neither Scherzer nor Kershaw recorded a decision in the game. Chad Qualls blew Scherzer's save (he struck out 11 in five innings), Jon Rauch (the tallest pitcher in MLB history) recorded the loss, and Hung-Chih Kuo received the win for LA. Scherzer, despite finishing the 2008 season with a 3.05 ERA in 56 innings, would have to wait all the way until May 16 of the following season for his first career MLB win.
Someday, Scherzer and Kershaw will follow Johnson and Maddux into the Hall of Fame, and anyone who saw the two link up at any point -- from Sept. 7, 2008 through the present day -- will brag to their sons and daughters about The Great Ones (and, yes, the Heterochromia). While Scully will not be there on either man's induction day, hopefully this clip resurfaces. It's worth far more than any 2008 ticket, hot dog and scorecard.