In my continuing quest to find footage of the 1998 Giants team — a squad I feel has been lost to history and one I, personally, barely even remember — I’ve once again come across something that isn’t from that season but is interesting anyway.
Today just so happens to be the 29th anniversary of this random Saturday afternoon 3-0 win by the Giants over the Mets at Shea Stadium. And just like how yesterday featured two Brandons saving the day for the Giants, this game features Mike Krukow and Mike LaCoss partnering up to shutout the Mets.
Like I said above, if you start this game right now, it’ll end a bit before first pitch of today’s Rockies-Giants finale. Enough time for you to grab some lunch before refocusing on what’s important: Giants Baseball.
You can check the box score to get more info in case you just want to skip around, but the top of the 1st inning has a lot of interesting moments in it. For one thing, the pace of play is quick and crisp. Grant won an award for this article where he explored and explained just why baseball games used to be much shorter, and the first inning of this game is a great example of how the game was played in olden times.
Beyond that, Vin Scully and Tom Seaver are calling the game as part of NBC’s Game of the Week (yes, kids, NBC used to broadcast Major League Baseball games) and after Brett Butler has a longish at bat that ends with an opposite field leadoff single, Robby Thompson comes to bat, and they have the following exchange that’s pure Scully and pure Seaver:
Seaver: “You know, Butler at first base... seven stolen bases, been thrown out six times, and against left-handers, when he’s been running, he’s 0-for-4. Unsuccessful in four attempts that he’s made trying to steal off of left-handers, Vinny.”
Scully: “Well then, we’ll see whether that is in Roger’s mind -- One ball, one strike -- if they put a play on.”
Seaver: “Yeah, you would think maybe a play. Maybe a hit and run. You know, Thompson’s a much better hitter when they do something. He has a high strikeout ratio. 111 strikeouts last year, for a guy who is basically a contact hitter.”
Scully: “Two and one the count. That’s a manager’s delight. Davey Johnson keeps a computer record of all the teams against whom the Mets play, and he keeps manager’s tendencies. So, when the Giants arrived, he punched up the computer ‘Roger Craig’; and he can look back and find out just when Craig plays hit and run, when he bunts. We’ll see if does something 2 and 1. [as Bob Ojeda throws over to first base] They’re [the Mets] thinking that.”
Hearing “ratio” and a discussion about computers being used to catalogue and call up tendencies come up in a 1989 television broadcast by two older people and in such a way that they’re not pretending to be utterly confused by technology or math is jarring. It feels like this generations’ later resistance and stubbornness was an act. A choice made to bury heads in the sand because they didn’t want to learn something new.
Vin Scully didn’t make a big deal out of Davey Johnson using a computer to help him manage. That’s a far cry from Los Angeles journalists in the 21st century who lament the use of computers when it comes to running baseball teams and large scale sports organizations.
Anyway, the batter after Thompson is Will Clark, who had accumulated 1,735 plate appearances heading into the 1989 season, had been on the NL All-Star team the previous season and placed 5th in MVP votes in both ‘87 and ‘88, and in May of 1989, Seaver talks as though he had never even heard of Will Clark and Vin Scully more or less backs him up in such a way that they make it sound to the viewers like he’s new on the scene.
Could’ve been a byproduct of the era and the how slowly information traveled, or just a sign that baseball has always been really slow to market its own stars. Enjoy the game!