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Let's Go to the Videotape: 1989 Preview

For the latest installment of Let's Go to the Videotape, I present some more clips from another spring training preview. This was done by NBC for the 1989 season, though unlike the previous year's edition, it did not feature any incongruous use of the music of The Cure. But it did feature an intro for Tom Seaver as an announcer.

The erstwhile Mets ace, like most analysts at the time, figured there was little way his former team could be beat, unless they beat themselves (astute observation, that). Seaver's assessment is followed by rundowns from the rest of the NBC baseball crew, Bob Costas, Tony Kubek, and Gayle Gardner.

Hang on until the end for a truly horrifying segment with Kirk Gibson, in which he screams at a crowd from behind a podium like a fascist dictator, then gives credit for the Dodgers' World Series win in '88 to "the great Dodger in the sky." Seriously, a grown man said that. I left out portions involving Tommy Lasorda because I didn't want to induce spontaneous vomiting in the AA readership.

Kubek intros an NL East preview of sorts. He, like Seaver, believes the Mets will definitely win the division. He goes so far as to say there is "no way" they won't. With the pitching staff they had that year, you can hardly blame him for thinking so. But that, as they say, is why they play the games. When all was said and done, the Cubs--a team nobody saw coming whatsoever--wound up going to the playoffs. 

This clip contains some brief footage of the Darryl Strawberry/Keith Hernandez photo day dust-up. Both Keith and Darryl say it's water under the bridge, although this was the second spring training in a row that Strawberry got in trouble with his teammates. It also features some coverage of the rapidly emerging Pirates and their talented young core, including Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, and the "king of the one-liner" Andy Van Slyke. (Both this special and the previous year's contain some dry asides from Van Slyke, which I may post at a future date.)

Next up, a dual segment on the lofty and seedy. This starts out with a feature on new commissioner Bart Giamatti and new NL president Bill White. Then it takes a turn into the tabloid side of sports.

During 1988 and the subsequent off-season, there were a number of incidents involving unsavory off-the-field activities--most notably, the revelation of hanky panky between Red Sox star Wade Boggs and Margo Adams. (Baseball players cheat on their wives--shocking!) So NBC devotes some time here to the growing scrutiny of players' personal lives. Interviewees of note include Keith Hernandez and Ralph Kiner, both of whom long for the good ol' days when a player's indiscretions were left unreported. No conclusion is reached, but we do get to see a shirtless Al "The Mad Hungarian" Hrabosky scream obscenities at a reporter and Cardinals pitcher Danny Cox shove a cameraman for reasons that go unstated.

I find it amusing that players considered media attention to relentless in 1989, considering ESPN barely existed and the internet was only a gleam in the Pentagon's eye. Here's a fun game to play: Pick out the player whose comments during this segment seem the most ironic in retrospect!

As a bonus, here's an ad for SportsChannel that aired during this special. According to this commercial, there are only two ways to see all the exciting Mets action in 1989: get SportsChannel and don't blink! Or, if you were like me and grew up in one of the many places in the tri-state area where it was impossible to get cable back then, you had two fewer ways.