CBS' opening for Game Seven of the 1991 NLCS has somehow found its way on to YouTube. And not a moment too soon.
I had this entire game on VHS cassette as a teenager and I must've watched it multiple times, as every aspect of this opening is crystal clear in my memory. From the frumpy old bag blowing the train whistle (was this a "thing" amongst Pirate fans) to Alejandro Pena enthusiastically slapping his glove, everything about this segment is fantastic. I blame the music. And Jack Buck's narration. CBS definitely got it right in terms of nuance and intrigue and while clips like these might come off as a tad heavy handed, they do a really nice job on conveying the suspense and drama of a Game Seven.
The early Nineties rivalry between the Braves and Pirates was underrated. A lot of it centred around Barry Bonds and his inability to hit in the post-season. But there was plenty of other subtext:
- A sneak peek at Atlanta's bullpen woes that would plague them for much of the Nineties, though in fairness, Pena was pretty spot on during much of the 1991 post season
- Sid Bream switching teams during the 1991/1992 offseason and memorably chugging around the bases to put the Braves in the 1992 World Series. BTW how was this guy even a starting first baseman in MLB for so long and for play-off teams?!? He had limited power, a pained swing, terrible footspeed and only breathed through his mouth, I believe. I suppose his 1992 platoon with Brian Hunter wasn't terrible all told (combined 0.252 with 24 homeruns and 102 RBIs, though keep in mind Hunter spent some time in the OF). But still, Bream was basically a part-time talent in spite of his full-time mustache. Yeah.
- Pirate fans countering the Tomahawk Chop with something called the Power Hop, which is essentially a large scale group "hop" in efforts to quake Three River Stadium (Note: I may be off on the name but you can see an example of the Hop at 0:51 of the video)