Thursday, September 26, 2013

Rust belts and concrete doughnuts...

                                          Well, it looks like the elimination Wild Card game in the National league is going to be between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds, most likely to be played in Pittsburgh.  While the Reds have had recent success, the Pirates haven't had a winning season since they last won the N.L. East back in 1992.  That was the last of their three straight N.L. East titles, the first of which was against the Reds in 1990 (which Cincinnati won, on it's way to their last World Championship to this date.)

                        Neither team made the playoffs in the '80s, even though that decade was noteworthy for having many different teams make the playoffs and World series...from '78-87, ten different teams won the World Series, and that's not including the three teams (Brewers, Padres and Redsox), who made it to the WS but didn't win it. Both Pirate and Red teams had some great players during the decade that would lead to the success of the early '90s, like Barry Larkin for the Reds and Barry Bonds for the Pirates, but the '80s were fairly fruitless for both teams.

                The '70s on the other hand featured mostly The A's, Yankees, Orioles, Reds, and  Pirates (W/ the Dodgers, Mets and Red Sox rounding out the pennant winners). Back before all these new /old ballparks were built, many teams played in multi-purpose, cookie cutter stadiums, complete with astroturf and occasionally, bullpen cars.  The Pirates with their Three rivers stadium and the Reds with their Riverfront stadium-two of the most notorious concrete doughnuts- played against each other many times in the playoffs that decade.

            The first meeting was in 1970; rookie manager Sparky Anderson led Cincinnati over Pittsburgh, but then lost to Baltimore in the World Series. Next year, led by 37 year old Roberto Clemente, the Pirates defeated the Reds in the NLCS, then beat the Orioles to win it all.  Again in '72, it was Pitt and Cin for the pennant...this time the Reds got to the series, losing in seven games to the Oakland A's.

       In '73, the Reds lost the NLCS to a 83-79 Mets team.  It was a heated series, which featured an on field fight between Cincinnati's Pete Rose and New York's Bud Harrelson...'74 saw the Pirates lose the pennant to the Dodgers, the last time manager Walter Alston would manage in the WS.  Both rust belt teams hooked up again in '75, with the Reds winning it all in probably the best series ever played, against Boston.  Cincinnati won again the next year sweeping the Yankees...

       Neither team appeared in the playoffs the following two years... '77 and '78 were Broadway v.s. Hollywood affairs...however, the final year of the decade saw Pitt and Cin back at it.  The only player left from the '71 Pirates team was 38 year old Willie Stargell, on his way to co-winning the N.L. MVP that year (w/ St. Louis' Keith Hernandez.), whereas the Reds had lost three major players from the big Red machine days: Pete Rose, Tony Perez and Don Gullet to free agency.

               The Pirates, playing to the beat of Sister Sledge's "We are family", played and defeated (once again) Earl Weaver's Baltimore Orioles...maybe the Reds needed a theme song that year to inspire them.  1979 was one of the few years a song was identified with a team.  Just for the hell of it, I'm going to post every World series winning team from the '70s with an appropriate song to go along with them:

1970 Orioles: " Groovin' is easy"- Electric Flag.
1971 Pirates: " It's your thing"- Isley Brothers.
1972-74 A's: " Signs"- Five man electrical band.
1975-76 Reds: " An open letter to my teenage son"- Victor Lundberg.
1977-78 Yankees: " Blitzkrieg Bop"-The Ramones.
1979 Pirates: "We are family"- Sister Sledge.

You can look it up....


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