The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘World Series’

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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We turn the page

Posted by keithosaunders on November 2, 2017

Another baseball season has come and gone and even an old curmudgeon like me has to admit that this was a good one.  The Astros won their first ever championship and they did it in dramatic fashion, beating the high-profile Dodgers in a riveting seven game series.  The Dodgers dominated the regular season, as well as the first two thirds of the post season.  When it came time for the World Series, however, the middle of their lineup went into a collective slump, and their metrics-loving manager, Dave Roberts, spit the bit.

The Series was probably lost in game 2 when Roberts pulled his effective starter, Rich Hill after 4 plus innings and began using his bullpen (many of whom will almost certainly face rotator cuff surgery in their near future) with impunity.  Then in game 7, when Roberts should have taken a piss-poor Yu Darvish out of the game before facing George Springer, the hottest hitter in the universe, he left him in to deliver a cantaloupe.  The resulting three run bomb effectively put a fork in the Dodger’s season.

A word about the announcers:  Joe Buck and John Smoltz are a terrible listen.  It’s not that they don’t know baseball, but that they are dull as dishwater and humorless to boot.  Throw in the timber of Buck’s voice, which is akin to an amplified washing machine, and you can go crazy.  It’s as if someone was using a jackhammer outside of your apartment — for 5 straight hours!  I’m convinced that the best way to watch these games is at a bar with a TV and a jukebox.

Onwards.

 

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Pitching Madness in the World Series

Posted by keithosaunders on October 28, 2017

The way managers have been handling pitchers in the post season is beyond insane. It’s a mixture of by the book, automaton managing, and desperate gambles of 6 out saves from pitchers who have never done it before.

So far A.J. Hinch is thoroughly out managing Dave Roberts. Yesterday he played it old school allowing pitcher, Brad Peacock, to gut out a 3 & 2/3 inning save. Why not stay with the hot pitcher? The rest of his bullpen has been shaky at best. Go for the jugular while you can.

How much does Dave Roberts wish he had stayed with Rich Hill for a couple of extra innings on Wednesday night? True, his bullpen had been great, but even the best have bad outings as witnessed by Kenley Jansen’s last performance. You’re doing the other team a favor when you take out a pitcher that the opposing team is not hitting. The Astros should send Roberts a Christmas present.

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World Series Memories: 1986

Posted by keithosaunders on October 26, 2017

Haley’s comet reached its closest point to earth, the U.S. traded arms for hostages with Iran, and a 20 year old Mike Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in history.

1986!

Alcoa presents: Keitho’s World Series Memories!

If one team personified the cocaine-infused, go-go 80s it was the New York Mets! Led by Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, Daryl Strawberry, and Doc Gooden, they went through the regular season like Pablo Sandoval at an all you can eat buffet, polished off the Houston Mike Scott’s in 6 games, and advanced to a date with destiny with the Boston Redsox.

Game 6 found the Mets down 3 games to 2 in the Series and me ensconced at my best friend, Jeff’s house in the Bronx.

Most people think it was Ray Knight’s clutch hit and Mookie Wilson’s grounder through the legs of Bill Buckner that completed the most improbable comeback of all time, but I know what really happened.

At last it can be told.

You see, it came down to Jeff’s Yankee souvenir watch and Pez dispenser from hell. Little did poor, hapless Calvin Schiraldi realize that his implosion on the Shea mound was the result of Jeff having dangled the Yankee watch in front of the TV (alternating with the Pez dispenser) while shouting, “Callllvinnnn!”

It was the jinx, you see. The jinx.

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Billy goat begone!

Posted by keithosaunders on November 3, 2016

 

For the first time in my life — for the first time in anyone’s life – the Cubs have won the World Series.  On the way they overcame a  3-1 deficit in games, the last two being on the road, and a delicate genius, hands-on manager who did everything in his power to sabotage his team’s victory.

This was the worst managed Series deciding game I have ever seen.  Joe Maddon is one of these managers, from the Tony LaRussa school, who likes to let you know he’s in the dugout running things.  He pulled starter, Kyle Hendricks, out of the game too soon, attempted a squeeze with two strikes and one out where a fly ball would have scored a run, and had burned Aroldis Chapman needlessly in game 6 so that he had nothing left for game 7 when he really needed him.

Terry Francona, on the other hand, stuck with his starter, Corey Kluber, too long.  Kluber, who has been pitching on short rest throughout the series was running on fumes.  Francona had fresh arms on the bench – Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer — and he chose to stick with Kluber.

Still, it was one of the great Series games, packed with drama and tension and I was glad to have seen it. In fact, I stumbled into a windfall.  When I arrived at my solo gig I found that the game was on their TV.  The owner asked me if I would mind waiting for it to end before beginning to play.  Suppressing a grin I said, “Well…I suppose,” while thinking, ‘Oh baby!’ By the time the game ended my gig was over.  I ended up playing three and a half tunes during the game’s rain delay.

Years ago I had missed the greatest World Series ending of all time while at one of my gigs – the Joe Carter walkoff home run in 2003.  I was prepared to miss another classic, telling myself I could take it and that nothing could be as bad as 1993.  But the truth is I would have been upset to miss this game.  It was a great game despite the momentum-killing booth reviews, the incessant droning of Joe Buck, and the perpetual pitcher-changes.

Now  on to football!

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The Indians v the Cubs: Battle of the disgruntled senior citizens

Posted by keithosaunders on October 26, 2016

This World Series is sexy time for senior citizens.  Which disgruntled alte kaker fans will finally get to see their team win a championship?  Will it be old Grammy Ginny from Skokie, or Grandpa Mortie from Cuyahoga Heights?  Mortie was knee-high to a grasshopper the last time the Indians won a Series, the poor bastard.  Ginny wasn’t even a twinkle in Great Grammy Gertrude’s eyes back in aught-eight.

One thing is for certain, in addition to de rigueur shots of fans praying, it will be all seniors all the time at Fox.  This is the feel good series of the century.  Forget your corporate N.Y. Crankees, or the staid, tired Redsox Nation, this is the stuff that dreams are made of.

Myself, I’m on the Indians bandwagon bigtime.  I feel there has to be one team in sports that never wins, and that team should be the Cubs.   Right now the Cubs fans are still [somewhat] sympathetic.  I don’t want them to morph into the arrogant, insufferable mess that comprises the Boston Redsox and San Francisco Giants fan base.  Let there still be one bastion of humility.

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The quick strike stealth insult

Posted by keithosaunders on May 30, 2016

Yesterday I went for a hike with my ex-wife and a friend of ours that we hadn’t seen in a while.  Shortly after we began the hike I received a text and when I went to check it the friend turned to me, “Oh, are you one of those people that can’t be without their cell phone?  My husband is like that.

Before I had a chance to respond she had already moved on to the next subject – quick as a flash!  If I had wanted to rebut her, i.e. state my case, or at least tell her what a douche she was, I would have had to circle back to the subject of texting which would have made me look like a defensive paranoiac.

So I sat there stewing not saying anything.  I have to admit, however, her hand was well played.  There is no defense against the stealth insult – it’s passive aggressiveness at its finest.  Think about it:  You don’t expect your friend to insult you, so the insult actually takes a few moments to land.  It’s like laying dynamite with a fuse.

In my Walter Mittyesque fantasies I possess a shock ray that automatically emanates from me upon insult, paralyzing its victim’s vocal chords.  I then proceed to list every single World Series going back to 1940, how many games it went, along with a running commentary on the highlights.

Now that’s a pleasant hike.

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The day that Dock Ellis beaned everybody

Posted by keithosaunders on April 15, 2016

Dock Ellis, who spent the better part of his career pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates, is mostly famous for having claimed to have pitched a no hitter while on acid.  He managed, however,  to compile some impressive stats in his 12 year major league career.  His lifetime ERA is 3.46, he has a record of 138-119 including 71 complete games and 14 shut outs.

A couple of days ago I read an article in Deadspin about Ellis that knocked me out.  I’ll summarize, but you really should check this out, if for no other reason than to see how differently the game was played 35-40 years ago.

According to Ellis the only team that intimidated the Pirates was the Cincinnati Reds.  The Reds and Pirates had been alternating appearing in the World Series — the Pirates in 1969 and ’71, and the Reds in 1970, and ’72 – and the two had been meeting in the playoffs almost every year.

By 1974 Ellis had had enough and he decided that the next time he faced the Reds he was going to bean every batter.  Every batter!   On May 1st Ellis faced the Reds for the first time that season and he proceeded to make good on his threat.

He considered not hitting Pete Rose because he knew Roses would shake it off like it was nothing and charge towards first base like a bull. ( Rose was also a personnel friend) He thought better of it and hit him anyway.  He proceeded to hit Joe Morgan in the kidneys.  Then he beaned Dan Driessen.  He tried to hit Tony Perez but Perez was already backing up.  So he threw behind him, but Perez stepped forward, eventually walking.  He tried to hit Johnny Bench but once the count got to 2-0 manager, Danny Murtaugh, came out of the dugout and pulled him.  Ellis said that “[Murtaugh] looked at me hard.”  All I could think of was Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm when he stares down an adversary to detect if he is lying.

For those of us used to observing today’s pinkies-up style of baseball, in which the catchers are no longer allowed to block the plate, and pitchers are not allowed to complete potential no-hitters for fear of exceeding the magical number of 100, this is outrageous stuff.  The fact that Ellis was not ejected after hitting the third batter, and had to be pulled by his manager, is shocking!

I’m not advocating violence.  Obviously Ellis was a free spirit and his behavior was out of line to say the least.  But for crying out loud, is there a middle ground?!  Is baseball better off in this sanitized homogenized age?  Allow me to offer a response:

NO.

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The second guessers

Posted by keithosaunders on November 2, 2015

I killed Matt Harvey back in September over the maxed-out innings controversy. I said he was gutless and that he was a pussy. Well I was wrong. He pitched his ass off in the post season leaving nothing on the table. Last night he was as dominating as a pitcher can be and showed no signs of weakening in the 8th inning.

Terry Collins showed guts in allowing Harvey to come out for the 9th. I don’t want to hear this BS about automatically going to the closer. Who are they going to? Mariano Rivera? Familia had a great season but by the time the Series came around he was used up meat and the Royals can hit him.

I can remember a delicate-genius manager, Tony La Russa, who went to his closer in the 9th inning.  This was a pitcher who would end his career with 390 saves and he probably would have had the most ever had he not been a starter the first 10 years. I bet Kirk Gibson remembers him.  If Dennis Eckersley can fail (and even the great Mariano couldn’t get it done in 2001) then it’s certainly not written in stone that Familia gets three easy 9th inning outs.

This is not a cookie cutter game.  Just because you have a closer doesn’t mean he will succeed every single time out, as evidenced by game one of this Series.  If you want to kill Collins how about this? He had two starters in his bullpen, both pitching effectively — Jon Niese & Bartolo Colon. How about sticking with them for more than an inning at a time?

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Post mortum

Posted by keithosaunders on November 2, 2015

The Mets lost the 2015 World Series and they did it in their inimitable style — in gut wrenching and embarrassing fashion.  After an improbable, some might say, miraculous season and playoffs, they came crashing back to earth in a World Series that saw them blow three late-inning leads,including two saves.

Their offense went awol, reverting back to pre-Cespedes quality, and their defense was putrid. I would go so far as to say that this was the worst World Series lineup I have ever seen.  The only one that comes close is the 1988 Dodgers, but that team won!

Yoenis Cespedes was playing hurt, his bat non-existent, but his defense was piss-poor and half the time it appeared as if his head was not in the game.  His bass-running gaffe which ended game 4 was inexcusable.  I was a huge Cespedes fan and it’s obvious that without him the Mets do not make the playoffs, but after watching his World Series error-riddled performance I question his baseball IQ.

It’s not only Cespedes.  Daniel Murphy, who carried the Mets through the NLDS and NLCS, reverted to being Daniel Murphy, slumping horribly and fielding like a little leaguer.  It will be interesting to see which team overpays for him during the offseason.

Nevertheless, I thought Terry Collins had a good Series.  I appreciate the fact that he sticks with his starters longer than most managers.  Matt Harvey, who I killed before the playoffs, pitched an absolute gem through 8 innings of game 5 and he (rightfully) lobbied to stay in the game for the 9th.  How could you take him out?  He was untouchable.  Jeurys Familia had been anything but lights out this past week and it was far from a given that he would have retired the side.  This idea that there has to be 7th, 8th, and 9th inning specialists is garbage.  GARBAGE.  I have no respect for anyone who would second guess Collins for having left Harvey in.  Zero.  If Lucas Duda makes a decent throw to the plate the Mets win the game.

And so it continues.  Even after a World Series appearance I cannot escape the embarrassment of rooting for this team. They couldn’t just lose normally — they had to do it in Keystone Cops fashion.  It’s as if they’re still paying off a deal with the devil they made in 1986. Written in small print in the contract:  Drink up, do as much coke as you want, stay out all night, get into brawls –  I’ll see that you win.  But be warned! Your team will be doomed to lose in embarrassing fashion for the next hundred years. 

A playoff upset to the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers, the Vince Coleman, Bobby Bonilla era of the early 90s, the subway Series loss to the hated Yankees, Yadier Molina’s game 7 NLCS homerun, the epic division collapses of 2007 and 2008, and the garbage years of 2009-2014.

What to do?  I’ll sleep this one off, lose myself in some football, and by the time February rolls around hope will spring eternal.  Despite the doom and gloom of this post, the future does look bright for this team.  If only they can get out of their own way.

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