On Saturday July 30th, Comcast Sports Chicago replayed NBC’s broadcast of “The Sandberg Game”. Having been 9 at the time the game was played, I decided to sit down and watch the game again. The following are some of my observations from the viewing. Special thanks to my wife, who never once made fun of me for spending 3.5 hours watching a 21 year old baseball game.
The announcers are Bob Costas and Tony Kubek. Man, I wish Costas was doing baseball again.
The first thing I noticed is that it’s the small changes that have happened over the last 20 years that make watching this game so jarring. For instance:
Everybody appears to be wearing their pants in the Kyle Farnsworth style of “so tight you can’t breath”.
Almost nobody wears a batting helmet with an earflap, which really highlights the mullets.
The brick wall behind home plate at Wrigley looks like it’s set extremely far back, and also seems a lot taller.
Cardinals catcher Terry Porter is wearing eyeglasses under his mask, and does not wear a helmet in the field.
The jerseys are all pullovers, as opposed to the button down style worn now.
Only one player, Cards 2nd baseman Tommy Herr, wears a protective shin guard while batting.
Don Zimmer actually looks slim and trim.
There are people on the rooftops, but none of the buildings in the Wrigley area has yet been converted for the specific purpose of watching the games. It makes the Wrigley seem more like a part of the neighborhood, rather than the focal point of it.
1st inning - I’m not sure how many people will get this, but Jim Frey is a dead ringer for Irv Kupcinet. Steve Trout is 3rd in the NL in ERA at this point, and Costas refers to him as the Cubs’ ace. All the players look very slim, but Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee in particular look emaciated. This is Cards’ pitcher Ralph Citarella’s first major league start. He’d make only one more. Dernier singles, steals 2nd and scores on Sandberg’s single. Man, what I wouldn’t give to have the Daily Double back.
2nd inning – Some things never change, as Costas and Kubek spend a couple of minutes talking about the pitcher’s accusations that the baseball is wound tighter this year, making it easier to hit home runs. Trout is knocked out of the game after giving up 6 runs. Ozzie Smith reminds me of what a terrific fielder he was, stealing at least 2 hits. Most of the men in the crowd are shirtless and wearing short shorts. Yuck.
4th inning – You know, I thought that Corey Patterson had it tough last year playing between Moises Alou and Sammy Sosa, but I’m surprised that Bob Dernier didn’t pass out from exhaustion, running down flyballs between Garry Matthews and Keith Moreland. Even with his bad knees, I think Sarge has Zonk beat in the range department. Does anybody else miss all the nicknames?
5th inning - With the Cubs behind 7-1, Costas and Kubek spend about half the inning making comparisons between Cards 4th year first baseman David Green and Roberto Clemente. They may want to edit that tape, as Green would last two more years in the league. Jay Johnstone pinch hits for the Cubs, and he looks a lot like Gary Gaetti.
6th inning – the Cubs make their big push, scoring 5 runs to pull within one run of St. Louis. Sandberg drives in two of these, and a closeup of him in the dugout reveals that he’s got braces on his teeth.
7th inning – The difference between relief pitching now and then? Cardinals closer Bruce Sutter enters the game with two outs in the 7th, and pitches through the 10th.
9th inning – Wrigley goes bananas as Sandberg ties the game with his first homer. Garry Matthews then singles, and steals 2nd. Actually, he was out by a mile at second, but he reaches in with his hand and knocks the ball out of Tommy Herr’s glove. You gotta love the Sarge.
10th inning – A Bartmanesqe moment in the top of the 10th inning. Ozzie Smith hits a foul ball down the left field line, and Garry Matthews races over and leaps to make the catch, but has the ball tipped away from him by a 400 lb. fan who is standing at the railing (at full speed, it looks like Matthews actually bounces off the guy). Garry even throws a small fit(not as bad as Alou’s though). Smith singles on the next pitch, steals second and scores on McGee’s double(which gives Willie the cycle). It didn’t end up making too much difference, other than Sandberg’s homer in the bottom of the 10th would have won the game instead of tying it. As the Cubs half of the 10th begins, Costas says: “unless things should change dramatically in the last of the 10th, Willie McGee will be our player of the game”. Dernier draws a two out walk, Sandberg hits his 2nd homer off Sutter, and suddenly, things have changed dramatically.
11th inning – Leon Durham singles, and steals second. His headfirst slide is ugly, but it takes out Herr’s legs, and the throw goes into center allowing The Bull to take third. Leon is one of the few players in this game who’s size would be considered normal in the current era. Herzog walks Moreland and Davis to load the bases, and Dave Owen singles through a drawn in infield to win it.
Still an incredible game to watch. Despite the early blowout, the crowd stayed into it, in part because of the large number of Cardinal fans in attendance. Sutter really only got two pitches up during his 3.1 IP, and Sandberg hit both of them into the bleachers. By the way, both homer were bombs, coming nowhere near landing in the basket. If CSN Chicago rebroadcasts it, I’d recommend watching it to any Cub fan.