At the same time that Fox is carrying live the Yankees-Phillies World Series Game 1 tonight, the MLB Network is showing the first game of the 1968 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals.
The differences very much outweigh the similiarities.
The game 41 years ago is during the day, in St. Louis, a “hot and muggy day” as Curt Gowdy continues to remind the audience. The game tonight at the new Yankee Stadium is rainy, cold, with players blowing fog from their breaths.
But almost at the same time — at least, on the current clock — umpire controversy ensued.
Having the ability to flip back and forth between the two games, mostly because of commercial windows, I saw, in the 1968 game, a situation: St. Louis’ Dal Maxville at the plate, bottom of the sixth, Cardinals up 3-0 behind Bob Gibson. Julian Javier is the runner at first. NBC uses a split screen on their black-and-white broadcast — and stays split at Javier goes to steal second.
“There he goes . . .” says Harry Caray, Gowdy’s partner. “Out, they got him! … Javier doesn’t believe it.”
End of inning. But NBC stays.
“Let’s see if we can watch that play again …”
Says Gowdy while watching the replay: “Javier got a good jump … but (Tigers catcher Bill) Freehan gets rid of the ball quickly … (shortstop) Mickey Stanley handles (the throw).”
But there’s also a second replay, a clean shot of Javier running from first to second from the center-field shot.
Caray: “Let’s see, let’s all umpire this play.”
Javier goes into the slide, and it clearly looks as if his foot hits the bag while Stanley still has the ball in his glove — above his shoulder. Caray snorts a chuckle at the blown call, and then must be hearing a voice in his earpiece.
“I guess … that’s a long enough look … no runs, no hits, no errors, no one left…”
After the commercial break, Caray says:
“You know if NBC could have supplied the umpires with a (TV) set and given them time to look at that in slow motion, they might have given a different decision … but I tell ya, I’ll betcha those umpires are right a thousand times out of a thousand-and-one. From the last of the slow motions, they may have missed that one…”
Gowdy says nothing. Play continues …
Back to the live 2009 WS Game 1:
None out, bottom of the fifth, Hidecki Matsui at first for the Yankees as Robinson Cano hits a blooper toward short. The Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins appears to catch it on the fly, although it looked as if he was trying to shorthop it, steps on second and throws to first to complete a double play. Afterwhich, he yells at first baseman Ryan Howard to tag Matsui, who had given up on the play and was standing a few feet off first base.
When the dust settled, the umpires ruled there was one out, not two, and Cano was standing on first.
“Which makes no sense,” says Fox play-by-play man Joe Buck, since both runners were either forced or tagged out one way or another.
The six umpires huddle for a good minute-plus to discuss things. As it keeps raining.
Meanwhile a few more Fox replays show the right call — catch made, throw to first, eventually tagging out runner off first. Strange double play. Or, if you take it that Rollins caught the ball on a hop, he stepped on second and threw to first in time to finish that version of a double play.
Why it took so long to have it settled by the umpires is baffling but eventually they “got it right,” says Tim McCarver.
The irony of the two scenes: McCarver, calling this game tonight for Fox, was the Cardinals catcher in that game 41 years ago played out on the MLB Net.
One other aside:
==After Caray said what he did at the start of the seventh inning, Detroit’s Willie Horton came to the plate. Gowdy, still abstaining from discussing the previous call, notes of Horton: “Look at his neck and shoulders .. that’s where his power is.”
Caray: “You know who he reminds me of … looking down from the booth … Roy Campanella.”
Spinning off that mention of the former Dodgers catcher, Gowdy says: “They’re a lot alike … used to be a catcher in high school, this boy …”
Different time, different era, different political correctness apparently…