As Jonah Keri recently wrote in this Grantland piece, MLB has finally relaxed its laughably strict copyright standards and posted some full-length broadcasts of old baseball games on YouTube.
Even after only a couple of weeks, it is becoming pretty clear that MLB was actually doing baseball fans a favor by withholding the goods for so long. These classics are mesmerizing. And with the outcome long since known and catalogued away in forgotten game stories, the nuances of a dated baseball broadcast can receive its full due.
As a service to Red Sox fans unable to devote three hours* to watching games that were played decades before, Fenway Pastoral will take some of the more compelling screen shots from some of the Boston games featured on the YouTube page.
*Amalie Benjamin and The Boston Globe will be happy to note that advertisements were edited out and the 1990 ALCS video runs a tidy two hours and 45 minutes.
Game 1 of the 1990 ALCS featured a starting pitcher’s duel between Dave Stewart and Roger Clemens for most of the night before Oakland scored seven runs in the ninth inning for the blowout. What, exactly, makes it a “classic” is probably up for debate.
20:08: You know it’s playoff time when the network goes to the establishing shot from a blimp above the Charles River.
28:10: Tony Pena uses the unconventional outstretched leg with the bases empty to receive a Clemens offering. Hurts the hamstring just looking at that.
29:58: With two strikes on the light-hitting No. 9 batter, Mike Gallego, this Boston-are priest knows it’s gosh-darn time to get flipping serious. His prayers weren’t answered, though. After getting ahead 1-2, Clemens got squeezed on a couple of close calls and Gallego eked out a walk.
(Clemens keeps cool though. It’s not like he’s going to get all bent out of shape about a couple tough calls in the early innings of an LCS game and jeopardize his team’s chances to win by getting run for arguing balls and strikes.)
36:23: Tony Pena with a completely unreasonable, out of control slide through the first base bag on a groundout. Judging by his grimace, he seems to realize it wasn’t such a fantastic idea maybe. Hindsight’s 20/20. Jim Kaat explains, “He almost caught that bag with his chin!”
37:52: All three of these guys would wear the Boston uniform after their respective heydays. Willie McGee was a lifetime National Leaguer aside from two partial-season cameos on AL playoff teams – the 1990 Athletics and the 1995 Red Sox.
38:18: The obligatory explanation by Dick Stockton, for the national audience, of the Red Sox’s “haunted” past. Even worse, the producers decide the Jimmy Fund logo is a fine backdrop for “September 4, 1918.” Have some damn respect…
48:17: After Carlos Quintana grounds out to start the bottom of the fourth…DIAMOND WIPE!
48:44: Moments later, Wade Boggs homers into the second row of the Monster Seats. Known very quaintly in 1990 as “the screen.”
55:00: Why the Red Sox really, really needed to win Game 1 to have a chance. Amazingly, Dana Kieker was actually 29 years old during his rookie year in 1990.
58:12: Note the left-field wall down the foul line still measured 315 feet in 1990. A few years later, a bored Dan Shaughnessy would measure the distance and convince the team to change the fraudulent reading to a more truthful 310 feet. It was easily the most (only?) useful thing he’s done in his professional career.
1:07:46: Tony Pena almost runs out from under of his helmet, but can’t avoid grounding into a double play. (Pena led the league in GIDPs that season.) On the bright side, he didn’t slide this into first base time.
1:10:29: For what it’s worth, the guy who the Red Sox acquired for Jeff Bagwell earlier that summer was first up in the bullpen when Clemens issued his third walk of the game in the sixth. On top of that, he met the thick mustache status quo, a prerequisite for membership on the ‘90 Red Sox.
With this development, Kaat begins questioning whether Roger’s shoulder tendinitis is flaring back up. This seeded a mostly absurd debate among some fans over whether Clemens’ Game 4 ejection after cursing out Terry Cooney may have been at least partially self-induced once he realized his shoulder was too sore to pitch effectively in Oakland.
1:12:25: Bill Fischer visits the mound. Clemens convinces him to let him stay in the game and ultimately works to a full count against Jose Canseco before walking his fourth batter. Thankfully, Harold Baines lines out to Jody Reed just hard enough that he is able to double off McGee at second base. Six scoreless for a reeling Clemens.
1:33:34: Jim Gray reporting from tarp alley, at least the third different spot in Fenway (other stand-ups were done from the right-field roof and the grandstand above the left-field corner), that the team told him Clemens was taken out solely due to pitch count, etc. and not because of any tendonitis issue.
1:45:04: Tony Pena tags Walt Weiss as he slides into home after tagging up on a fly ball to center. Unfortunately, the throw from Ellis Burks isn’t in Pena’s mitt at the time – it’s bouncing off Weiss’s shoulder blade. Tie game.
1:54:09: During this Canseco AB in the eighth, Dick Stockton relates Jose’s recent explanation for why he doesn’t speak to the media: “because everyone’s already formed their opinion of him…” Shortly thereafter, Jose must have decided to spend as much time as possible reinforcing all those negative sentiments. Anyway, he would wind up stealing third base and coming around for the deciding run on a Carney Lansford single.
2:09:15: Oh, look: The Budweiser roof deck, way back in the day when it was located in left field as a standing room-only section.
2:14:45: This girl is unimpressed with Mike Marshall’s pinch-hit single to left in the last of the eighth. Rightly so – the Sox strand him and go into the ninth down a run.
2:18:59: Ricky gets on base to start the ninth inning. Jeff Gray actually catches Ricky leaning after he measured out a very healthy lead, but Ricky still managed to dive back. Willie McGee also tries his best to give the Red Sox an out by bunting straight back at the mound, but Gray mishandles it. Oakland winds up scoring seven runs in the inning.
2:41:13: This is part of the reason listening to Eck fill in for Jerry Remy is hard to digest. He did some good things for the Sox earlier in his career. But Eckersley the Athletic is the lasting image from his career.
And the final score. Boston would wind up getting swept 4-0.