Do you love the 90s? Who doesn’t! That huckster Don Draper was on to something when he reminds you that nostalgia is nothing but the pain from an old wound. Believe it or not I am actually a proponent of “nothing is as good as you remember it” but from Legends of the Hidden Temple to Super Nintendo to a never ending cavalcade of retro t-shirt companies, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t look fondly upon this golden age. For many, the subset of culture that floods back the most memories is 1990s sports. Favre! Griffey! Will Perdue! (My favorite Will Perdue story will forever be how Michael Jordan called him Will Vanderbilt because he said he was not worthy of a Big Ten name. Even Patrick Ewing didn’t get dunked on that hard by Jordan)
When today’s world gets you down, sometimes it’s just fun to look back at a time when sports stars were sports stars and a spoonful of creatine kept the jukebox playing all night long.
It’s this that inspired me to create a space to have some fun and dissect some of the moments you might both remember and have forgotten.For example, you might be wondering why in the world this site is named after Tony Pena and why is he holding up his arms with shoddy Microsoft Paint sunglasses? Well kiddos let’s hop in the DeLorean to 1995 when the Cleveland Indians were the toast of northeast Ohio and had just won their first pennant in 41 years. I was nine years old and the Indians might as well have been the Gas-House Gorillas with the way they hit all summer long.
Fast forward to the playoffs and the Tribe were set to face off against the Red Sox in the inaugural Division Series. Game 1 at Jacobs Field was a back and forth affair which even featured an Albert Belle flex after Red Sox coaches requested his bat be checked after an 11th inning home run to keep the Indians alive. And this was a tame moment in the Albert Belle years. Basically, Albert would have made the Internet’s collective head explode if he had been playing 20 years later
Anyways, the game slogs into the 13th inning. Fun fact, I was actually fortunate enough to attend this game with my dad and two of my brothers (for photographic evidence, feel free to sift through the tens of thousands of old family photos at Chateau Gates to find it, stop by anytime). Like I mentioned, the Indians hadn’t been to the playoffs in 40+ years and my dad would be damned if he was going to miss this one.
Unfortunately, prime time playoff baseball, 2+ hour travel, multiple rain delays and three kids in elementary school don’t really mix. A look back on the game confirms it ended at 2:08 am. Maybe someday Star Trek technology will come to the Marion-Cleveland expressway, but until then we have Route 71. I don’t remember when we left but the game was long enough that my dad had enough time to get to our grandparent’s house 1.5 hours away to watch the last bit of the game while the rest of us slept in the van.
This brings us to our clip.
NBC used to call the games, which seems like it might as well have been 80 years ago. Noted nerd Bob Costas was on the call, with Bob Uecker doing color. I can remember everyone in Cleveland expecting Uecker to be a homer for the Indians because of Major League, and being bitterly disappointed when he wasn’t. Guess you just never could just trust those tricksters from Hollyweird. But I digress yet again. We’re in the 13th inning and Indians catcher Tony Pena comes to the dish.Now, Tony wasn’t exactly known for his bat at this point in his career and it shows where the clip picks up. Costas and Uecker are bantering about whatever it is there’s left to talk about in the 13th inning and all of a sudden they’re interrupted by Pena cranking one to deep left, with Costas as shocked as anybody in the stadium.
“Oh man! Oh man! Tony Pena on 3 and 0…..sends everybody home! Tony Pena spells good night! Against his old teammates, sitting on a 3-0 pitch.”
In the grand scheme of things, really just a standard exciting baseball playoff home run. It’s not my earliest sports memory, but FOR ME (and that’s what this REALLY is all about isn’t it?) it’s one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of 90’s sports. Mullets everywhere, oversized jackets, network television and the dominance of the Cleveland Indians. With this, I christen this space Tony Pena Spells Good Night, which hey, at least it’s shorter than Tony Pena Spells Good Night Against His Old Teammates Sitting on a 3-0 Pitch.
I’ll look back at some of the more memorable, not so memorable and occasionally Ohio-centric (because it’s my space, dammit) moments and break down the film, with a shoutout to the ghosts of Cheap Seats Christmas past. As long as the YouTubes or your other preferred Internet video service are cranking I figure there’s enough CONTENT (precious, precious content) to digest to get an interesting variety of breakdowns. If we all must get lost in the YouTube vortex we might as well get lost TOGETHER. How often will I post? Who knows! Will anyone read this? Likely not! Is anybody listening to me? I’m just going to have some fun anyways and if for some reason you do happen to stumble upon this site and have a particular 90’s sports moment in mind, let me know and I’m open to guests coming by to do a spot on the Johnny Carson couch. My first post will be coming soon so stay tuned and we’ll have a real good time.