Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The World Series, TV, and Me.

The World Series starts tonight, Game 1, the Detroit Tigers at the San Francisco Giants.

For me it will be my 44th consecutive year watching baseball's grandest stage, the Fall Classic.

I got off to a terrific start watching the World Series on TV, as in 1968, my Detroit Tigers, led by Denny McLain, Mickey Lolich, Al Kaline, Jim Northrup, Bill Freehan, and Willie Horton, beat the St. Louis Cardinals, in 7 games.

The Tigers came back from a 3-1 deficit, winning the final 2 games at old Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

The final out?

The Cards catcher, Tim McCarver, poped out to my hero, Tigers catcher, Bill Freehan, who caught the foul pop, turned around, and jumped into the waiting arms of World Series MVP Mickey Lolich.

Yes, that Tim McCarver is the same Tim McCarver that will be in the booth tonight for FOX Sports.

As a baseball fan I've always made it a priority to watch the World Series, no matter the teams, no matter the circumstances.

In my 4 years in the US Navy, 1985-89, I still managed to watch every series.

The most memorable?

While cruising off the East Coast of Jacksonville, a bunch of us sat in the Mess Decks, watching Game 6 of the 1986 Series, as the Mets Gary Carter, down to his, and the New York Mets last strike vs. the Boston Red Sox, singled to left field  in the bottom of the 9th, starting an unbelievable comeback the led the Mets to an eventual win.

The next night the Mets, down 3-0 to Boston, came back, again, to win the team's 2nd WS.

I've been to one WS game, in 1992, between the Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins, in Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium.

I was rooting for the Braves, of course, because, after all, I still hadn't forgiven the Twins for beating the Tigers in the 1987 ALCS.

To this day, I still don't like the Twins.

When the Tigers aren't involved, I tend to root for American League teams, but not always.

I couldn't root for the 1972-74 Oaklnad A's.

They beat the Tigers in the American League Championship Series that year, 3 games to 2, so I had to root for the Cincinnati Reds, of course.

I liked the Reds, in part, because my Grandmother Sharp also liked the Reds, especially Johnny Bench.

Just 2 year earlier, in 1970, the Reds played the Baltimore Orioles.

I wanted the Reds to win, that is, until a beautiful young nurse, my nurse, said I should root for the Orioles, the American League team, because, she said, the Tigers played n the A.L.

Brooks Robinson gained one more fan that year, as from my hospital bed, I watched every single game of the 1970 WS, rooting for the Birds, because I was a 10 year old boy with a crush on a nurse.

The A's beat the Reds, and then beat the Mets in '73, and the Dodgers in '74.

In 1975, I saw, in my opinion, the best WS played in my lifetime.

The Reds defeated the Red Sox, in 7 games.

The series was back and forth, full of amazing plays, weather delays, and game winning heroics.

Game 6, played in Boston's famed Fenway Park, was the class of the series.

Carlton Fisk, the BoSox catcher, hit a game winning HR off the left field foul pole, sending the series to Game 7.

Pete Rose, the Reds 3rd Baseman, has always said it's the single greatest game he's ever played in.

The Reds won Game 7, repeated as champs in '76, and cemented themselves as the National League Team of the `70s, the "Big Red Machine."

The World Series began in 1903, two years after the American League started playing baseball opposite of the National League, which began playing in 1876.

That 1st World Series was the start of something huge, as the young Junior Circuit defeated the established NL, with the then Boston Pilgrims (later the Red Sox), beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, behind a guy named Cy Young.

For me, watching the World Series is part of being a baseball fan, something you just have to watch.

Great teams, great players, playing in front of a national TV audience, in a best of 7, to the winner goes the trophy, is as good as it gets in sports.

The best that baseball has to offer, the Fall Classic, has always been special to me.

From Bill Freehan blocking home plate against Lou Brock in '68, the Miracle Mets in '69, the Amazing A's, the Big Red Machine, the "We Are Family" Pirtaes, and the Lasorda Dodgers, baseball has given me great memories as a fan.

From the days of the great Curt Gowdey, Joe Garagiola, and Tony Kubek, to the present day of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, watching the World Series on TV has been a yearly must see for me.

Tonight's game will come on TV at 8 pm, Eastern Time, and end sometime around midnight, a far cry from the day games that we watched as kids, until 1971, when the first World Series night game, between the Pirates and Baltimore Orioles, was played.

To me, the money of TV, and the late night games that sometimes last past midnight, has caused baseball problems it may never overcome.

Young fans simply cannot, or aren't allowed, to stay up and watch TV past 9 or 10 pm at night.

I think baseball should, in it's next TV deal, require any network to include 2 day World Series games, so children who are baseball fans, or those who may become fans, could watch the games.

That's the problem for baseball.

It's about the kids, boys and girls, who might like playing baseball, but may have just a few chances to watch baseball games, and, because of late night post season games, never get to see World Series games.

So, it's time for another big league baseball World Series, baseball's finest hour.

I hope you enjoy the series...unless your a Giants fan.

Play Ball!!

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