The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Baltimore Orioles’

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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Baseball’s wildcard fiasco

Posted by keithosaunders on October 8, 2015

In 2011 the fate of four teams and two playoff races were decided on the last day of baseball’s regular season.  The Cardinals defeated the Astros to win the National League wild card berth after the Braves had lost to the Phillies. In the Junior Circuit the Tampa Rays defeated  the Yankees in extra innings  after the Orioles had defeated the Red Sox on a walk-off single.  Tom Verducci, a writer for Sports Illustrated wrote, “These will go down as the most thrilling 129 minutes in baseball history.” 

He’s right.

MLB, in their infinite, corporate profit-driven interests decided that they could have this football-style do or die games every year and thus the current play-in wild card system was born.  Thanks to this unimaginative gimmick never again will we have the end of season drama that existed for over a hundred years.

Since the really good teams will have their divisions locked up, the best we can hope for is a race for the final wild card spot. In the event there are multiple great teams in one division, such as this year’s NL Central, all the teams will make the playoffs thus insuring that a superior team will suffer the ignominious fate of a one game post season.

What a shame that a team as talented as the Pittsburgh Pirates (98 wins) had to bow out of the playoffs so early.  Had the Cubs lost it would have been equally as egregious. Instead we are stuck with Dodgers and Mets teams that backed their way into the playoffs.  Full disclosure:  I’m a Mets fan, but come on, they’re not as good as the Pirates.

At any rate, let’s put this travesty of sports behind us and get ready for some real playoff baseball.  Accept no substitutions!

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Papelbon, Harper, and a sport without a soul

Posted by keithosaunders on September 28, 2015

There’s something wrong with baseball these days but it’s difficult to put one’s finger on the reason.  It’s as if the force is out of alignment. Oh wait a second, it just came to me –  the players are a bunch of jerks!

Let’s see if we can sort this out.  Manny Machado showboats after hitting a homerun.  Two innings later Jonathan Papelbon retaliates the old school way, the biblical way, by plunking Machado with a high and tight fastball.

Harper, jerk that he is, throws Pap under the bus telling the press that it was uncalled for and that the upshot would be that he (Harper) would surely be beaned in the next game.  He described Pap’s bean ball as “pretty tired.”

Flash forward a day or so and Harper does not run out a fly ball during a key at bat. Papelbon, Mr tough love, can then be seen screaming at Harper as he returns to the dugout.  Heated words are exchanged between the two ‘gladiators.’ before a fight breaks out in which Pap chokes Harper.  Stay classy, Jonathan.

Papelbon, in his bungling way has pulled off a coup once thought impossible – he’s made Harper appear sympathetic.  Yes, I agree with the old school credo that bean balls have their place, but you don’t show up your team’s future MVP on national television.  Take that shit to the locker room!  Furthermore not running out a fly ball isn’t the end of the world, particularly when the emotion that led to it came out of frustration, not ennui.

All of this is mere window dressing, however.  A kind of sorbet before the real baseball drama begins:  The playoffs!  This year featuring a certain team from Flushing known as THE NEW YORK METS!

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The Phillies, Heat, Celtics, Wall Street, and the consolidation of power.

Posted by keithosaunders on December 14, 2010

The Yankee fans won’t admit it but they are stunned and shattered by the Phillie’s drive-by signing of Cliff Lee.  They did not see this one coming.  In October, after the Texas Rangers eliminated the Yankees in the ALCS, my Facebook and Twitter feeds were rife with comments such as, “Cliff Lee will look great in pinstripes!”  It was as if the only way the fans could process the ignominy of losing to the small-market Rangers was with the comforting knowledge that they would soon usurp their best player.   They thought it was a foregone conclusion, and they thought so up until 9pm Monday night. 

Have you noticed this recent trend of super-teams?  A few years ago the Celtics somehow  finagled their way into a lineup that included Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen.   More recently we saw the Miami Heat’s twin signings of LeBron James and Chris Bosh to compliment their resident star, Dwyane Wade.   Now the Phillies will possess what is possibly the greatest pitching staff since the 1970 Baltimore Orioles and the Koufax/Drysdale Dodger teams of the mid-60s. 

In the past great players were content to have teams built around them.  Lately we see them willing to share the spotlight — to coalesce.  They eschew the individual spotlight for the greater glory that comes with championships.  Some would call it selfless. I call it greed.  They are already rich beyond their wildest fantasies — the only thing left for them is a championship ring. 

While I’m glad that Lee didn’t end up on the Yankees, I’m not enamored with him.  I have no use for the type of player who is essentially a hired gun.  That’s why I never liked David Cone or Roidger Clemens.  They would go to a team, collect their ring, and move on.  Lee could have stayed in Texas and become a real hero.  Instead he chose the easy way:  to go a team of superstars and collect his ring a la LeBron.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he went to Philly instead of the Yankees.  At least Philly has only won a couple of times

I think you can draw a line from these powerful sports franchises to the way the American economy has seen its wealth consolidated among the top 1%.   Players are merging to form super-teams, much the way banks were merged to form mega-corporations.   

Hopefully this is just a trend.  Otherwise the Mets are screwed.

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