Saturday, December 4

Remembering Joe Kelly and Scott Van Slyke’s epic pregame showdown at NLCS 2013

He wasn’t sure exactly what was going on before the first pitch of Game 6 of the 2013 National League Championship Series between the Dodgers and Cardinals. But even in the moment, I knew I loved it.

Joe Kelly was standing outside the Cardinals dugout, at the edge of the infield turf. On the third base side, Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke was standing a few steps off his bench. Why? He didn’t know for sure. But the anthem was long over and the Cardinals were on the field, warming up for the imminent start of the ball game.

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And yet there was Kelly and there was Van Slyke, undaunted, in his hooded sweatshirts. They were both still holding their caps over their hearts.

That was on October 18, 2013.

“We’re close to 12 minutes and counting until the Dodger’s Scott Van Slyke vs. Cardinals Joe Kelly showdown, they both remain in their positions from the national anthem, having a great showdown to see who will break up first.” TBS reporter Craig Sager said as the national broadcast returned from the commercial.

“It was a tense game,” Van Slyke told Sporting News in a telephone interview last weekend. “That was some lightness before the game.”

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If you were looking, you remember. Here’s the backstory, told by Kelly, now a tight reliever who is a big part of the Los Angeles bullpen, of course. to SportsNetLA in 2019:

“That was one of the things I did throughout the season; (Cardinals manager) Mike Matheny was a big believer in having everyone on the line. I wasn’t making fun of the anthem, but I was playing with Mike Matheny, making sure he saw me. So I did one thing that we’d take a chance on and when the anthem ended, I’d be the last man standing for the entire season, just so Mike could see me. I would go to the bench, I would celebrate, I would say to my teammates: ‘Look! We already beat them. I was the last one standing, we already won this game. They didn’t even want to stand out there. ‘ Just cheering on the guys, yelling at them. Then it turned into something, and I think Scottie saw it in one of the playoff games and he came out and stood his ground and challenged me. I thought that no one would pay attention to me for standing there longer than others, and obviously someone saw it. That was one of the weirdest moments in all of baseball, that’s for sure. Especially in the playoffs, where the game has a lot of meaning. It was one of those things that was kind of spontaneous. “

Van Slyke said that he had read a story about Kelly’s habit before the game a day or two before and decided that he would accept the challenge. When the Dodgers’ line unraveled and returned to the dugout, Van Slyke stayed put.

“At first, a couple of the very rich guys on the team said they would cover the fines,” he laughed. “So I was fine staying as long as it takes to win.”

As Cardinals starter Michael Wacha was finishing his warm-up pitches, Dodgers reliever Peter Moylan stepped out of the dugout and put a batting helmet on Van Slyke’s head.

“I’m saying I wasn’t nervous about getting in trouble, but at the time I probably was. He was probably frozen in fear, ”Van Slyke said. “(The helmet) was somewhat more reassuring, knowing that I had people behind me. Towards the end you could hear people cackling. “

Finally, when the game was supposed to start and both boys were still there, the plate umpire, Greg Gibson, stepped forward and waved them off the field. Kelly, who was further down the field, took a couple of steps toward the dugout and Van Slyke raised his left arm in victory as his Dodgers teammates celebrated behind him. An ESPN post-game story said Kelly claimed it was a fake to get Van Slyke to move.

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“You can’t enter a staring contest and say, ‘I half blinked to try to get you to do it.’ You blinked you know Van Slyke said, still laughing. “It’s like saying, ‘I winked at you to try to get me to blink.’ This is not how a staring contest works. “

Van Slyke won the pregame contest, but the Cardinals won the game 9-0, behind an excellent performance by Wacha, who pitched seven scoreless innings. The Cardinals lost the World Series in six games to the Red Sox.

Van Slyke, who is from St. Louis, his father, Andy, was an outfielder for the Cardinals when Scott was born, he said he didn’t know Kelly before then, other than the typical baseball player: “How are you?” I greet occasionally.

“We did a signing (in St. Louis) that offseason or the next. We were able to stay a couple of hours. He is an incredible man. He is funny. He’s dumb like everyone, “said Van Slyke.” We didn’t really talk about the moment. It happened and it was fun. I can only imagine being around him for a whole year. I was around him for two hours, and he talked about everything, and everything. what he talked about was funny. “

However, after the pre-game gaze, it probably wasn’t much of a surprise.

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