Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Baseball's changed a little.

There's a guy on YouTube who puts whole vintage baseball games up. I'm not sure how he gets past the 10-minute limit, but he does. Also, I don't want to link directly to it, lest someone do a blind web search, find the link, alert Major League Baseball and have it shut down.

I'm currently finishing up a 1984 Cardinals-Cubs game, also known as "The Sandberg Game" for what the future Hall of Famer would do in the late and extra innings. (If you want to see it yourself, search 1984 cardinals cubs on the aforementioned video sharing site. You'll find it. You're welcome.) Things have changed a bit since then. Here's what jumped out at me.
  • Players back then were mostly regular-sized dudes. Hell, Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee look like little shrimps.
  • There was less time between pitches, for sure.
  • Closers were used much differently. The Cardinals' Bruce Sutter started the top of the 8th, batted for himself in the bottom of the 8th, and pitched the 9th. And the 10th.
  • Tommy Herr had glorious hair.
  • Darrell Porter didn't wear a helmet under his old-style catcher's mask. Just a cap turned backwards.
  • Not having constant on-screen graphics telling you the count, inning, pitch speed, your horoscope, the phase of the moon... y'know, whatever. Leave it off. Follow the damn game, jerks. Don't rely on the stupid graphics.
  • Holy shit the Cardinals ran all the time. Any of the reasonably fast Cardinals get on first, they're going. No questions asked. McGee, Andy Van Slyke, Ozzie, Lonnie Smith — bingo. Gone.
  • Holy shit Ozzie made fantastic plays. Range like crazy, accurate arm, threw on the fly.
  • Bob Costas, who was doing play-by-play, opined that on-base percentage was the most underrated statistic in the game. Maybe Billy Beane taped this game, watched it later, and developed Moneyball based on it.
  • Lots of guys used one or zero batting gloves. The way it should be.
  • There were a lot of Hall of Famers in this game: by my count there was Sandberg, Sutter and Ozzie Smith; Lee Smith, perpetually on the fringe, made it in there too (and picked up the win).
  • Sandberg really did have a hell of a game: 5-for-6, 2 HR, 7 RBI. Apparently in this game he became the only person ever to hit two home runs off Sutter in the same game.
  • Nobody uses Game-Winning RBI anymore, but I remember baseball cards pushing it in the '80s; they did on this broadcast too.
  • The Cardinals' powder-blue away uniforms were truly god-awful.
  • High stirrups should definitely come back.
  • Managers and players from the dugouts really screamed at the home-plate ump to disagree with ball-and-strike calls. These days, anyone says more than a peep, they get the ol' thumb.
  • It was great to hear Costas and colour-man Tony Kubek talk glowingly of Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker, both as 1-2 hitters and as a double-play combination. They should both be in the damn Hall already.
This was actually a really, really entertaining game to watch. If you've got three hours to spare, give it a whirl.

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