If you are a fan of college football and are in favor of a playoff system instead of the ridiculous BCS bullshit rankings then you have two things going in your favor, the NHL Winter Classic and MLB Network because after what used to be college footballâ€™s showcase day New Years Day is dominated with news of the Blackhawks-Red Wings game at Wrigley Field and the launch of MLB Network.
The only drawback last night for the debut of MLBN was the mug of the Nutty Professor on the screen at 6PM. The 30 second countdown, a montage of players with the numbers 30 (Nolan Ryan) to 1 (Ozzie Smith) was great with the exception of number 3 (Evan Longoria) how could it not be the Bambino? The Hot Stove Show was terrific (even with Rosalita Leiter on the dais and a cameo by Jimmy Rollins) Harold Reynolds was close to Dickie V like in his enthusiasm and Victor Rojas (Cookieâ€™s kid) looked very comfortable as a host. You can see that MLBN come spring training will be destination TV and every night during the season as the network has cameras at all 30 ball parks so post game interviews with players and a mangers will be plentiful.Â
Watching the Larsen Perfect Game was a late Christmas/New Yearâ€™s treat but it took a bit to get used to. No centerfield camera in those days and no replays were the biggies for me. One part of the telecast that should still be implemented in todayâ€™s game telecast was the lack of crowd shots. The camera was focused on the field the whole game making for a more enjoyable watch. Â Big contrast in pitching styles by Sal Maglie and Don Larsen. Maglie had that windmill windup that was popular back then but Larsen had more of a step and throw approach and no real wind up. Both teams seemed to have issues with home plate ump Babe Parrelliâ€™s strike zone.Â When 28 year old Vin Scully was on the screen the first thing I thought of was how he looked just like Conan Oâ€™Brien. No chatter between pitches by either Scully or Mel Allen. Talk about a game of inches, Sandy Amoros and Duke Snyder just missing home runs to right field could have altered history.Â Also Mickey Mantle with a running catch in left center and notice the 457 sign in that gap at Old Highlander Stadium. Also the monuments in centerfield and the scoreboard on the left field wall. Â For the most part, the batters stayed in the batterâ€™s box between pitches but I thought Larsen was like the Steve Trachsel of his day in his very deliberate way he worked.
The interviews with Yogi and Larsen by Bob Costas were good although I think Iâ€™m Yogi-ed out by now with all his Yogi-isims and the fact that Berra has slowed down a lot and maybe itâ€™s time he stopped giving interviews. Larsen seemed a little embarrassed when Costas went over the litany of Hall of Famers that were on hand that day as if to say if it werenâ€™t for this perfecto Larsen would have drifted in to obscurity. It was surprising that Larsen admitted he didnâ€™t realize he pitched a perfect game but then it was brought out that the last perfect game in baseball was over 30 years before this one.
I loved the ads and I nearly fell off the sofa when I saw that pocket size Baseball Encyclopedia that came with the Gillette razor because I have a copy of it. When my mother was moving and I was cleaning out her apartment I found it in a draw and I never knew whose it was or where it came from. After seeing the ad I have to figure it was my fatherâ€™s as he always used a Gillette razor and blades. That makes the book even more special now.
MLBN is running the Larsen Perfect Game all day today but I guess starting next week there will be more diverse programming but either way MLBN is on my favorites list.
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