Saturday, October 12, 2013
Just Like Old Times In Baseball Post Season
The beginning of fall has to be the best time of year to be a sports fan.
With hockey season getting under way, College Football on Saturday, High School Football on Friday nights, the NFL on Sunday, Monday and Thursdays, the NBA starting preseason, Professional Soccer, a wide range of College and High School Sports during the week, and of course, my favorite...the Major League Baseball Postseason, what's not to like?
This year, the baseball postseason has a traditional, historical, and familiar feel to it.
Of the eight teams that made it past the wild card round and into the post season, seven of those teams have been in professional baseball for at least 112 years. The Braves have been around the longest, with their roots in Boston back in 1870.
My home region Los Angeles Dodgers were formed in Brooklyn in 1883.
The most significant thing for me in this post season about the Dodgers is not the longevity of the team or the fact that they had one of the most incredible playoff runs in the history of the Major Leagues. My favorite part of being a baseball fan living in Southern California is the fact that we could possibly be hearing the greatest baseball announcer of all time, Vin Scully, call his last post season.
When I was a kid, the Dodgers seemed to be in the post season or the World Series every year and there was Vin Scully providing the back drop and calling each game as if it were a nine chapter novel (or in the case of the Cardinal-Dodger game last night 12 chapters).
I guess I took it for granted that it would always be that way.
But all of a sudden, it has been 25 years since the Dodgers have been in a World Series and the past couple of decades even playoff appearances have been few and far between. So I really relish the opportunity to hear Vin Scully call every pitch of the postseason, as far as the Dodgers will take him, at least one more time this season. And who knows, Scully, at the age of 85 now, sounds every much as strong when I first heard him in the 1960's and with the way this Dodger team looks, he could be around calling postseasons for a bit more.
Talking about familiar. As the Dodgers and the Cardinals started their National League Championship Series last night did you realize that the two teams have played each other a total of 2,022 times since 1883? The Dodgers have won 1,012 of those games. The Cardinals have won 1,010, It is one of the closest rivalries in sports.
Meanwhile, over in Boston, the Red Sox are another worst to first team back where they belong in the post season. The Red Sox have been around since 1901 and their ballpark, Fenway Park (built in 1912), is the oldest of all the professional ballparks now.
The Red Sox this year, with their long flowing beards even resemble baseball teams of years gone by. Either that or the fact that the team was picked from the cast of Duck Dynasty, ZZ Top and the Smith Brothers. Even Mike Napoli, who I first saw with my Anaheim Angels, and was such a clean shaven young man back then has had his face overtaken by the beard. Whatever the case, the way they have played this year it may be time to "Fear the Beards".
And there it was again, the legendary Green Monster, the large 37 foot 2 inch high green wall in left field, a tantalizing 310 feet from home plate terrorizing the Tampa Bay left fielder as it has done with many an opposing left fielders over the years. Last week the Boston hitters used the Monster to their advantage hitting balls off the wall or the manual scoreboard which came back to the field in weird angles.
They've been playing professional baseball in Pittsburgh since 1887, When I was a kid the Pirates behind stellar names like Roberto Clemente, Bill Mazeroski, Willie Stargell, Manny Sanguillen and Steve Blass were routinely part of the postseason landscape.
Then all of a sudden it had been over twenty years since the Pirates had been in the playoffs. That changed last week as their young scrappy team played a great first round series against the Cardinals, taking them to a fifth and deciding game before falling.
In the Seventies the Pirates, Reds, and Cardinals played in multi-purpose, industrial-like cookie cutter stadiums with Astro Turf...not the way baseball was supposed to be played.
For the return to the Postseason this year the Pirates showcased their jewel of a ball park, PNC Park, which next to AT&T park in San Francisco is the nicest setting for a ballpark.
PNC, with it's great sidelines is very reminiscent, by design, of the old ball parks. On the banks of the Allegheny, you can see the skyline of Pittsburgh in right field, a bridge that spans the river in center field where several fans can peer into the beautifully manicured stadium to get a glimpse of the game.
And finally, Detroit who has been playing Boston since the beginning of the last century meet again in the American League Championship Series tonight.
All you have to mention is some of the last names that have played for these two storied franchises to understand the impact, historically, these two teams have had. Yastremski, Williams, Cobb, Kaline, Lolich, McClain, Cochrane, Greenberg, Gehringer, Gibson, Morris. Do I need to go on?
As for me, today I will revive a tradition that was taught to me by my Grandfather during the Dodger postseason games on television.
I will turn the sound down on the national televised broadcast on TBS and turn on and listen to the radio broadcast of Vin Scully.
Happy Postseason Everybody!