Let's Go to the Videotape: 1989 TWIB NL East Preview + Rookie Stars

This edition of Let's Go to the Videotape revisits the 1989 season, much as I did in this previous post. That piece drew clips from an NBC Sports spring training preview, while today's clips come from a preview produced by the folks at This Week in Baseball and narrated by the immortal Mel Allen. (Figuratively immortal, sadly.)

This first clip is a look at the NL East, including (but not limited to) the Mets. Darryl Strawberry's issues with his teammates are merely alluded to and not given the full coverage they were in the NBC special. The surging Pirates are given a good deal of screen time. Manager Jim Leyland seems particularly enamored of Andy Van Slyke, and some kind words are spared for Bobby Bonilla (yes, that Bobby Bonilla). All of the NL East's teams are given relatively equal time except for the Cubs, who are bypassed completely. Chicago wound up winning the division that year. Oops.

Stay tuned to the end to see a feature on NL rookie stars, one of which is Mets then-phenom Gregg Jefferies. Allen praises his poise and play during the 1988 playoffs, though Jefferies was less than a year away from alienating virtually everyone on the team. Oh, and another rookie star is profiled here as well: Expos lefty Randy Johnson. The man who would one day be known as The Big Unit doesn't say much of substance here, but he does prove that even as a fresh-faced young'un, he still looked like a grizzled old prospector.

As a study in contrasts, here's an AL East preview from the same special. It starts out with a reluctant chronicle of the Wade Boggs sex scandal. Or rather, press coverage of said scandal. The assembled scribes insist they don't enjoy reporting on such things; Dan Shaugnessy seems particularly annoyed at having to cover depositions instead of games.

Then it's on to the teams themselves. Boston is not only dealing with Boggs' zipper issues, but the loss of Bruce Hurst. The Brewers were just three runs away from a division title (or so says manager Tom Treblehorn). The Blue Jays underachieved, though Fred McGriff was touted as a potential 50-homer guy. The Indians were working on their fourth decade of futility, but manager Doc Edwards was very happy about the haul he got for trading away Julio Franco. (If you can name any of these players before he does, you have a better memory than me.) The Tigers were a perpetual threat, according to the Tigers.

The Yankees? As per usual, they were spending lots of money to little effect. Their segment begins with George Steinbrenner giving manager Dallas Green the stink-eye during a spring training game, and it doesn't get much better from there.

Their biggest offseason acquisition was Steve Sax--not a bad pickup, but not one that led to much of anything, either. As The Boss signs autographs, some mook yells at Steinbrenner, "WE NEED PITCHING!!!" Steinbrenner's response was acquiring Andy Hawkins and Dave LaPoint, neither of whom acquitted themselves well in pinstripes. The staff was rounded out by 45-year-old Tommy John, who would only appear in 10 games in 1989, the last of his career. That, plus losing Dave Winfield for the season to back woes, led to a fifth-place finish. Ah, the good old days...

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