When Comcast Sports Bay Area Net Net ran a series of classic Giants games this year, I tried to save a few on my DVR for the dark, baseball-free, winter days. I tucked them away in the deep recesses of my DVR for a baseball-withdrawl emergency, and I made it all the way to last night. Couldn't sleep, wasn't feeling well...if I went to see a doctor, he just would have told me to watch Don Robinson pitch, so I probably saved a $10 co-pay. Medicine is mostly Don Robinson-related these days.
So this was the game that was on the DVR. I remember this game well, even though I was only 10. The Giants were about to clinch their first division title since 1971, and my sister went into labor about the eighth inning. My mom wasn't sure what to do. Sure, her first grandchild was pretty exciting, but it was the Giants clinching the division. I could only hear one side of the phone conversation, and it went like this:
Long anecdote short: I was old enough to watch and understand baseball. A game from 1989 was the context in which I learned baseball. So why did the game seem so freaking alien to me when I watched it last night?
- Every middle infielder swung the bat like Barry Zito. I'm not saying the results were the same, but guys like Joey Cora and Garry Templeton were just throwing the bat out, hoping to dunk it somewhere, and skitting along like waterbugs. Juan Pierre is the anomaly today, but it seemed like every team had five Pierres on their roster in 1987. Maybe I'm just not gamer enough, but it kind of annoyed me.
- Don Robinson, who relieved for most of the '87 season, came in and pitched the final five innings, even though it was an incredibly close game. I doubt that we'll see that kind of usage pattern ever again. Heck, it's kind of unusual how David Price was used last night for the Rays.
- When the Giants clinched, a bunch of mullet jockeys jumped on the field to celebrate with the Giants. This was only 21 years ago. When did storming the field become unacceptable?
- Tony Gwynn looked like an athlete. He was still a decade away from buying Salacious Crumb at a swap meet.
- Remember how big and menacing Jeffrey Leonard used to seem? He'd fit in with Jose Castillo and Fred Lewis today.
A lot of these might be obvious differences, but it made me wonder what part of today's game will weird us out in 20 years. Everything I can think of is more of a return to the past, as in, "In the year 2028...relievers will follow the Goose Gossage usage pattern!" My best attempt at predicting the future:
- Under 6' ft.-tall players will litter the rosters. The hegemony of the tall will be no more.
- Mustaches will be so in again.
- No DH.
- The progression will continue, and the average shortstop will be 8'1", 450 lbs.
Eh, I have nothing. A big pile of nothing. But that's where you come in, gentle reader. Today's comment starter: When the Giants take the field in 2028, what will be different about the game of baseball?