Wednesday, October 10, 2012

WHEN IT WAS A GAME IN 1974

REGGIE EMBODIED THE SWINGIN' A'S.
MISSING CATFISH'S EXPLOITS.
Was stumbling around MLB.com the other day when coming across a link to iTunes and its Baseball's Best page, a listing of archived games for $1.99.

Even though the 2012 playoffs have started and I've been watching for the first time in more than 10 years, I couldn't resist the urge to step back in time. I bought Game 1 of the '74 World Series between the two-time defending champion A's and the Dodgers.

The quality was excellent; there were no commercials -- remember the "Martini & Rossi on the rocks ... say yes!'' jingle? and the play swift and tight. Vin Scully joined Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek calling the game. 

Flared trouser paradise for two-plus hours.

''(Steve) Garvey has arms of the village blacksmith'' and "(Rollie Fingerslooks like a man in search of the barber shop quartet'' were two pearls from Vincredible.

Casey Stengel and Yogi Berra and Carey Grant were in the stands, and Kubek was pimping a garish yellow blazer. The catchers backed up first base on grounders. Batters choked up, fake bunted a lot and pretty much stayed in the box. Managers counted more on their pitchers to nut up instead of the times they threw the ball.

And a smirking Derek Jeter was nowhere to be seen.

There was a great play at the plate in the eighth, when right-fielder Joe Ferguson cut in front of center fielder Jim Wynn to catch a fly and throw out captain Sal Bando from medium center.

Reggie went deep to the opposite field -- on a high fastball.

Almost all the players wore Puma spikes. Not a stupid Nike swish was seen anywhere. And their caps were the same worn in the regular season, sans ridiculous playoff logos on the sides.

The A's had four sacrifice bunts and a bunt single by Joe Rudi, who had one of the coolest stances in the game.

Moves were made to win, not to be justified with stats to the media.  The A's, in fact, trotted out Game 3 starter Catfish Hunter in the ninth to relieve Fingers. Hunter got the final out, striking out Ferguson. How un-by-the-book was that?

Yes, the playoffs are on and I'm watching, but taking a peek back made me a little wistful. 

Martini & Rossi on the rocks, anyone?

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