Must-see TV (cont.)
Posted: Monday July 9, 2007 7:19PM; Updated: Monday July 9, 2007 7:23PM
Eventually, Jackson scooped up the bomb with his glove, trotted over to the outfield fence and dumped it over. Yes, this was New York way before Guiliani Time.
The most remarkable thing about watching the series is how unpolished and ruffled most of the players look, particularly when they are giving interviews. "I'm too dumb to get scared," Catfish Hunter tells Cosell before his start in Game 2. When ABC announces the line-ups in Game 1, they film five-second headshots of each player. On the Yankees, only Bucky Dent and Jackson have any camera awareness whatsoever (most of the Dodgers looked ready for their close-ups). The rest look like a motley crew of construction workers. Nettles and Munson look like they run moonshine.
The play on the field is brisk and hard. Everyone wears their uniforms tightly and they hustle on and off the field. The batters don't step out of the box routinely. And a lot of the guys are hotheads. Even the warm-and-fuzzy Dodgers have hard guys like Reggie Smith, Davey Lopes, and Steve Yeagar. Players freely argue with umps over balls and strikes. The players seem harder. In the first inning of Game 5 of the ALCS, George Brett slides into Nettles at third and seconds later they are both throwing punches. Both benches clear, and minutes later, the game resumes. Nobody was thrown out, nobody was fined. No harm, no foul, let's get on with it.
There are plenty of good baseball moments in this box set, of course, none more captivating than Jackson's performance in Game 6. Remember, Jackson was just 2-for-16 in the ALCS. And he struggled early in the series. Still, in Game 3, Cosell said about Jackson, "The thing about this man, at least at the plate, is he responds to crisis, he responds to challenge ..." Jackson hit his third, and by far the longest, homer of Game 6 against Charlie Hough in the eighth inning. Jackson had to return to the Yankee dugout in the ninth for a batting helmet, as he was being showered with debris in right field. During the final moments of the game, kids lined the right field wall, their legs dangling in the field of play, waiting for the last out. And when the last out was made, the field was suddenly, and violently swarmed with fans. Jackson made his way back to the Yankee dugout like a fullback, knocking several people over who happened to be in his path. It was a suitably chaotic finale for a crazy season. And it's not a movie, it really happened. You can see it all for yourself.