The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Kent Tekulve’

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!

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The revolving door of pitching

Posted by keithosaunders on September 9, 2016

With the rosters having expanded for September, baseball games are becoming nearly unwatchable.  Push-button managers such as the Giant’s Bruce Bochy take advantage of 13 man bullpens by using as many as four pitchers in an inning.  Nine inning games are becoming four hour affairs.  Baseball, now wedded to computer print outs and saber-metrics, has become a push button sport. Seemingly no right handed pitcher is capable of retiring a lefty and vice versa.

In the old days pitchers such as Rollie Fingers, Kent Tekulve, and Bruce Sutter were able to pitch as many as three innings at a stretch.  Dick Tidrow once pitched eight innings in relief during a long extra inning game.  Funny how those old time pitchers were able to retire both lefties and righties.

I have to commend the Washington Nationals on their deft handling of Stephen Strasburg. They have babied him in his formative years so as not to overtax his delicate arm, going as far as shutting him down for the season in September of 2012 when they were a playoff team.  Better to have him fresh for subsequent years since they would surely be a World Series team.  What’s this…they haven’t made the Series yet?  And Strasburg has broken down like clockwork every season?  Oh well – you can never be too careful!

 

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The Bumblebee Bucs

Posted by keithosaunders on June 18, 2010

Between the years of 1977 and 1983 the Pittsburgh Pirates wore what was arguably the most garish uniforms in the history of baseball.  Their color scheme, like their Pittsburgh brethren Penguins and Steelers, was banana yellow and black.  The combination of colors changed every day.  One day they might wear a black jersey with yellow pants — the next it could be the opposite.  Or they could go straight black jersey and pants.  They also had white jerseys and pants which gave them nine different combinations.  I always looked forward to seeing the Pirates on their bi-annual trips to Dodger Stadium –for me the holy grail was all yellow.

Nowadays it’s common for a team to wear an alternate black jersey to go along with their regular pants.  Back then, however, it was a radical idea to have more than two possible uniform combinations, the norm being home whites and travelling greys. 

  The Pirates were dominant in that era and featured players every bit as colorful as their uniforms.  Kent Tekulve was a reed-thin submariner relief pitcher with a rubber arm.  He regularly would throw more than 100 innings a year.  In those days closers weren’t only used in the 9th inning, but when they were needed the most, which often as not was the 7th. 

Bill Madlock was a batting champ — a pure line drive hitter who regularly batted over .300 .  Willie Stargell, Pops, was my favorite.  Even though by the late 70s he was nearing the end of a great career, he was still a feared home run hitter.  To this day he is one of three players to hit a ball out of Dodger Stadium.  (Mark McGwire and Mike Piazza are the other two)  He did it twice.    He also owns the record for the longest home run ever hit in Dodger Stadium — 506 feet.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention two-time batting champ Dave Parker, the Cobra.  He was a tall, burly right fielder with a howitzer for an arm.  In the late 70s we thought he was on track to become one of the all time greats but injuries and cocaine use hampered the latter part of his career, largely spent with the Cincinnati Reds.

So let’s have a drink to the Pirates of the ’70s, a team that along with the Dodgers and Reds, dominated the post season.  The decade was framed by their twin championships of 1971 and 1979, but they also appeared in the NLCS in 1970, ’72, 74, and ’75.  As of now the Pirates have not appeared in a post season since 1991 which is a dubious record:  No other sports franchise has suffered through this long of a drought.  Perhaps they should bring back the Bumblebee Bucs unis.   

For those of you interested in sports uniforms here is a link to a great blog called uniwatch.

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