PITTSBURGH - The best show on television last week was a rerun.
ROOT Sports replayed the broadcast of Game 7 of the 1971 World Series, 39 years, eight months and five days after it aired lived on NBC.
The game was augmented by Rob King's studio segments with Steve Blass, who watched himself beat the Baltimore Orioles, 2-1, in the seventh game to win the series.
King brought out the best in Blass, who is usually inclined to minimize his accomplishments with jokes.
The show was a great slice of Pirates history and a time capsule of TV sports in simpler times.
Some impressions from watching it unfold in real time:
n Styles were different. The umpires were wearing coats and ties, and very few people in the stands were wearing baseball caps. For that matter, very few fans were wearing team gear. Ubiquitous merchandising with a team store in every mall was still years away.
n Baltimore's Memorial Stadium was a dump. The turf had been chewed by NFL games, so the grounds crew went for a cosmetic fix by spraying green paint on what remained of the grass.
n The announcers noted Don Buford's superior on-base percentage. This is instructive for those who think appreciation of walks is a recent development.
n Not one player had sunglasses perched atop his cap. However, Pirates shortstop Jackie Hernandez called time, pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and blew his nose. Players carried handkerchiefs then?
n The game was called by two play-by-play men, NBC's Curt Gowdy and Chuck Thompson of the Orioles. No analyst to dissect every pitch.
n Blass pitched a complete game. Today, a left-handed specialist would have been summoned to face Boog Powell, and the ninth inning would have been turned over to a closer.
n Blass received no mound visits from manager Danny Murtaugh or pitching coach Don Osborn. When Blass and Manny Sanguillen talked, they didn't feel a need to cover their mouths to thwart lip readers.
n The announcers never mentioned a pitch count for either starter.
n In post-game coverage, Bob Prince not only thought it appropriate to interview Pennsylvania governor Milton Shapp, he referred to him as "his Excellency."
n Powell's boneheaded decision to cut off a throw to the plate doesn't get enough notoriety as a major Series blunder. The Orioles had an excellent chance to throw out Willie Stargell, who had run from first on bad knees.
n It would be OK if long sideburns never came back in fashion.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org