NOTE: Apologies to you and Angry Ward for today’s tardiness. Our MTM Edit Staff was bedridden all of yesterday, again, and just made it to MTM HQ today.
NEW YORK, NY – As has been well-documented here over the years, I’m pretty f**king old. I was born too late to enjoy the “free love” of the ’60s, was still far too young to take part in the Disco debauchery of the ’70s, and came of age just in time for all of those swingin’ bills to come due with the ’80s AIDS crisis. Life’s all about timing. I’m not complaining. 1970s New York was a cesspool of crime and filth but, compared to today, it all seemed fairly manageable. Of course the Bronx was burning... that’s what it did! Pretty much everyone got mugged but, by 2022 standards, that’s getting off light. There were mass murderers back then too. But most of those guys were legit deranged methodical loonies who talked to dogs, wrote to newspapers, and took their time, as opposed to some teenaged rando who wakes up one morning, loads up his assault rifle, and decides to wipe out a whole lot of people all at once.
To be clear, I never expected to view the 1970s as the “good old days,” but here we are. Sports, for the most part, was also better back then. Here’s what I mean.
NFL. Football in the 1970s was violent as hell, if you go in for that sort of thing. Personally, I think the rule changes to protect players are a good thing. Like today, the game had some megawatt stars but, on any given Sunday, every single one of them could have their teeth kicked in and the league could care less. On the plus side, there were still only three divisions in each conference and the beloved Central Division still existed. The uniforms were way better too. There’s no arguing this. And there were so many more cold, snowy, outdoor games, which are the best. Coaches included legendary names like Noll, Landry, Madden, Shula, Bud, and Bum. Some Super Bowls weren’t as competitive as you might like, but the game and league were solid.
NHL. I was a Minnesota North Stars fan, so wanting to go in the way-back machine for NHL hockey is a no-brainer for me. Give me Gilles Meloche between the pipes and names like Steve Payne and Al MacAdam and, later, guys like Broten, Ciccarelli, and Hartsburg. Also, there were no teams in Florida or Arizona, as God intended. That being said, I doubt Rangers fans would want to swap out what’s happening with their team this year for the Broadway Sassons of 1979. Good lord.
MLB. This one’s not even close with me. Baseball was wayyy better back in the ’70s. No stupid interleague play back then, which made the All Star game a must-see every single year. You want interleague play? It was called the World Series. Baseball had great characters and the best names. Thurman Munson sounded like you local German butcher, Sixto Lezcano could have easily been Tony Manero’s top dancing rival in Saturday Night Fever. Even promotional disasters like 10 Cent Beer Night in Cleveland and Disco Demolition Night in Comiskey were entertaining. I’d trade you 100 Gerrit Coles for just 1 Luis Tiant (click for two), a thousand Brandon Nimmos for a Mickey Rivers. Dave Parker, who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, is light years cooler than anyone in the game today. It’s as if Major League Baseball got lobotomized sometime in the late 1980s, and no one noticed.
I’m not going to bother with the NBA, tennis, etc. But, let me just throw a few names at you: Artis Gilmore, Moses Malone, Dr. J, Borg, McEnroe, Martina, Chrissie, Ali, Frazier, and Norton. Okay, some of those careers bleed into the early ’80s, but you get my point. If we only knew then that the Miracle on Ice was the coda for what now seems clear was the golden age of sports.
OK, I’m done. Now get off my lawn! Come back tomorrow for Diaz… Buddy Diaz.