The World According to Keitho

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Archive for February, 2019

In praise of the 1979 World Series

Posted by keithosaunders on February 25, 2019

You can watch countless old baseball games on youtube.  Last year, during the off-season I watched some of the 1974 World Series between the Dodgers and the As.  This year I’ve been watching one of my all time favorites, the Pittsburgh Pirates versus the Baltimore Orioles.

Played in 1979, This was a rematch of the 1971 Series.  Like its counterpart, the ’79 Series went a full seven games –  both were won by the Pirates.  1979 was particularly dramatic, however, as the Pirates fell behind 3-1 in games and had to win three elimination games. To top it off the final two games were played on the road in Baltimore.

Here are some random observations:

In those days ABC and NBC would alternate years broadcasting the Series.  1979 was an ABC year and I was reminded why they were the inferior broadcasting network.  ABC had a bizarre fixation with showing the ball players wives, which quickly grew tiresome.  Their camerawork also seemed sub par – replays rarely yielded a satisfying shot.  And then there was Howard Cosell.

Cosell was as insufferable as I remembered him being.  He was smart, could be glib, and yes, I would take him any over Joe Buck (I would take a trained seal over Joe Buck) but he couldn’t help but make the game about himself.  Cosell did, however, provide one laugh-out-loud moment.  After catcher, Manny Sanguillen, won game two with a pinch hit ABC went down to the field to interview him.   As  the camera fixed on a closeup of the scraggly, bearded veteran, Cosell waxed,  “LOOK at that time-worn face!”

Keith Jackson was the play by play man for the games in Baltimore.  Although he was a consummate professional and had a good set of pipes, he was more of a college football guy.  That weekend he was absent from the Series as he was sent to work the Oklahoma-Texas Tech game.  Jackson’s sub was a young Al Michaels, whose voice was a half an octave higher than it is today.  Michaels was a marked upgrade from Jackson and it was good to hear him during his formative years.  The booth was rounded out by Don Drysdale, or Twin D, as Cosell referred to him.

The uniforms were garish, but delightful.  I always did love the banana-yellow Pirates uniforms.  The Bumblebee Bucs!  Even Baltimore got into the act in game 2, donning flaming orange tops.

It is a delight to watch pitchers pitch with tempo.  Jim Palmer versus Burt Blyleven was a sight for sore eyes.  Most of the pitchers I saw pitched with a tidy rhythm, with the exceptions being Jim Bibby and Dennis Martinez.  Kent Tekulve, one of my favorites at the time, did not disappoint.  He also has a good quote in which he said that he takes one look at the scouting reports, throws them away, and then pitches his game.  Take that, metrics freaks.

In game three there was an hour rain delay after three innings.  Both starting pitchers, John Candeleria, and Scott McGregor, remained in the game.  McGregor, who had allowed 3 runs in the first two innings, settled down and pitched a complete game.  Somehow pitchers in those days could get through the lineup 4 times.  Go figure.

Relief pitchers were allowed to stay in the game for more than one inning and closers were sometimes called upon to get outs in non save situations.  In game 4 The Birds had come from 6-3 down to take a 7-6 lead.  Earl Weaver was pulling all the right strings employing a successful string of pinch hitters.  With two on and one out Weaver allowed relief pitcher, Tim Stoddard, to hit.  Stoddard, being an American League pitcher,  had not had one at bat the entire season.  Of course he singled to center, driving in a run.

[John Sterling voice] That’s baseball!

Image result for 1979 pirates

 

 

 

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