The Oakland A’s and the Pittsburgh Pirates are carrying the torch for the small markets in this year’s baseball season, and they’re in the midst of a fun interleague series that gets the bright lights of ESPN brought to the banks of the Allegheny River for Wednesday night. The 7 PM ET nationally televised game is the showcase event of the daily sports agenda.
It seems like the A’s and Pirates should have more history than they do, at least against each other. Each team was dominant in the early-to-mid 1970s. Oakland won five straight AL West titles from 1971-75, and three straight World Series from 1972-74. Pittsburgh was a regular in the playoffs in those years as well, and this at a time when the playoffs only had four teams.
Yet the A’s and Pirates never met in a World Series. The Pirates won a title in 1971, but that was Oakland’s learning year, when they were swept out of the ALCS by Earl Weaver and his Baltimore Orioles. The Pirates lost an excruciating deciding game of the 1972 NLCS in Cincinnati that prevented a World Series meeting. Pittsburgh also lost the ’74 NLCS to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both the Pirates and A’s were swept in their respective 1975 LCS matchups. By the time Pittsburgh returned to the World Series for their 1979 title run, Oakland had been broken up for a few years.
There is matinee baseball going, for anyone reading this early enough in the morning to still set the DVR, or who works from or in the home. It’s Braves-Marlins or Reds-Brewers in split coverage from MLB Network.
The NFL Network has what should be an interesting two-part feature on New England Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick. At least I think it will be interesting, as Belichick is my favorite coach in any sport, at least outside of the circle of teams I would call my own. The features run back-to-back and start at 8 PM ET.
And if you’re just dying for basketball, the NBA Summer League is up and rolling and NBA-TV is televising the games live during the day, usually starting around 11 AM and ending with a 3 PM game.
Here at TheSportsNotebook, we continue our buildup to the All-Star break, with a statistical profile on each division. Earlier this week we put the AL East and AL Central in the books, and MLB coverage continues today by rounding out the American League with a look at the AL West. The National League will draw our attention starting tomorrow.