Today in Sports History: October 26th

10/26/1984 - Jordan plays first NBA game

Playing against the team that he would finish his career with, Michael Jordan makes his NBA debut with the Chicago Bulls, scoring 16 points in a 109-93 victory over the Washington Bullets. "Michael did not play that well," Bull coach Kevin Loughery told the Chicago Tribune. "I'm sure he was bothered a little by the first-night jitters. You're not going to shoot well every night in this league. ... But he still did the little things for us. The steals, tipped passes, clogging up the middle, passing off to this teammates. I think Michael's presence helped the whole club. Let's face it: We wouldn't have had the crowd and the media coverage if not for Michael Jordan."

10/26/2002 - Rally Monkey revives Angels in Game 6

Barry Bonds and his crew of veterans were a mere eight outs away from winning the Giants' first championship since moving from New York City. After crushing the Anaheim Angels 16-4 in Game 5, San Francisco held a 5-0 lead late in Game 6. But starting Russ Ortiz had just allowed back-to-back singles. Through six-and-a-third innings, Ortiz had allowed no runs on just four hits, yet his first critical jam of the day convinced Dusty Baker to make a switch. Ortiz's replacement on the mound was Felix Rodriguez, who had already pitched in the first five games of the series.

When Ortiz made his way back to the Giants dugout, the stadium's video operators displayed the jumping image of the "Rally Monkey." The sight of the frisky primate bolstered the Anaheim crowd into a frenzy, and reinvigorated the thunderstick clapping that had permeated throughout the series.

Perhaps fatigued from pitching in the previous five games (something only three other pitchers had ever done), Rodriguez allowed a three-run homer to Scott Spezio to make it a 5-3 game. In the bottom of the eighth, set-up man Tim Worrell was no better against the now-energized Angels roster. A solo home run, a line drive double, and a bloop single and an error allowed a run to score with two Angels on second and third base. The Giants' lead was now 5-4.

Fearing the worst, Baker brought in closer Rob Nen to shut the door on the Angels. Troy Glaus made quick work of the All-Star closer with a double in the left-center field gap, allowing both Chone Figgins and Garrett Anderson to score. Anaheim had come all the way back to lead 6-5.

In the ninth, the morose Giants were retired in order to complete one of the biggest single game collapses in playoff history. Anaheim's five-run makeup was the largest comeback ever for a team facing elimination, even more impressive since they were down to their final six outs. Baker, who would be criticized in his next job for leaving pitchers in for too long, ironically was blasted for not leaving Ortiz in long enough. In the end, most of the blame fell on the Giants' bullpen, who failed to secure a five-run lead with eight outs to go.

There was no redemption for the Giants in Game 7. A bases-clearing double by Garrett Anderson was the difference as Anaheim won their first title in franchise history. The halos' breakthrough ended a long period of ineptitude that lasted for over 40 years. The Angels were simply a team of destiny. All the stars aligned when they had to, and players like Spiezio, Adam Kennedy and Bengie Molina all had career years. Plus, having the Rally Monkey on their side didn't seem to hurt either.

The loss was a big one for Barry Bonds, who would never play in another World Series game. Barry finished with possibly the greatest seven game performance in World Series history, getting eight hits in 17 at-bats for a .471 batting average, with six RBI, 13 walks, and an all-time record .700 on-base percentage.

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