Stuffy sorts were upset Friday when wives and girlfriends of the Pittsburgh Pirates players began dancing on the dugout roof at Three Rivers Stadium to the disco beat of "We Are Family," which is the team's adopted motto.
Purists noted that it was only the seventh inning and the game is not over until it is over and anything can happen, even if the Reds were behind, 6-1, and down two games to none in a best-of-five series for the National League championship, which they eventually lost.
"We were elated," said Patty Blyleven, wife of the Pirates' winning pitcher, Bert Blyleven. "And we knew we would win." By the time the women went dancing, everyone knew the Pirates were better than the Reds, but a week earlier experts said Cincinnati had the superior defense, more consistent pitching and at least as much hitting.
As strange as it seems, the 98-game winners from Pittsburgh have gained respect only by the three-game sweep of a team that in this decade won six division championships, four league pennants and two World Series.
Suddenly, it is obvious that Pittsburgh has a roster full of money players who do all the right things at the right times. If the Reds' big bats declared an armistice, promising to do no damage to any baseball until next spring, the Pirates' Dave Parker and Willie Stargell declared war.
With two home runs and a double, Stargell drove in six runs, which is one more than the former Big Red Machine scored in the three games. Between them, Parker and Stargell were 9-for-23, a .391 average, with eight runs batted in.
Though the Reds' only error was a dropped flyball in the ninth inning of Game 3, Cincinnati helped the Pirates with the kind of defensive lapses Pittsburgh did not make.
Two examples from Game 3 suffice. When shortstop Dave Concepcion threw too high to third base, a Pirate was allowed to advance safely, then to score on a fly ball. But Pirate kept a ball in the infield by diving after it, an extraordinary effort that prevented a man scoring from second. One out later, Pittsburgh escaped unscathed.
Improving by 10 games over their 88-53 season of 1978, the Pirates clearly were a better offensive club with the addition of Bill Madlock in a mid-summer trade and Tim Foli i- a spring deal. Both right-handed swingers, they hit .298 and .288 respectively, helping the Pirates in their traditional battle against the left-handed pitchers everyone likes to use on them.
Parker and Stargell are lefty hitters whose statistics suggest that right-handed pitchers ought to stay in bed. The Pirates were 28-27 against lefthanders in 1978. With Madlock and Foli in the lineup, and with the improvement of Garner from .261 to .293, the record this season was 34-23.
No team wins with bats alone. As much as Foli and Madlock meant offensively they meant more defensively at shortstop and third base.
"People don't realize what a complete player Bill Madlock is," said Foli, a 12-year veteran. "He can make all the plays."
The Pirates were shameful in the field in 1978, committing so many errors (167) that they gave up more unearned runs than any other team in the league (89). They cut the errors to 134 this time, reducing the unearned runs by a dozen.
"When you've got guys like Madlock, Foli and Garner behind you, you've got a good infield and it makes you a better pitcher," Blyeven said.
"You've got a first baseman, too," shouted Stargell, the first baseman, who made three errors this year instead of the six of 1978.
Don't forget the pitching, either.
Remember, for instance, the Pirates swept the Reds without using Mr. Clutch, Bruce Kison, who has a 4-0 record in playoff and World Series performances.
Pirate Manager Chuck Tanner may have irritated a few people -- Bert Blyleven, for one -- with his habit of running relief pitchers into games quickly, but victory in 98 games is proof the system works.
Kent Tekulve worked in 94 games, new man Enrique Romo (acquired from Seattle for two minor leaguers and a .218 hitting part-timer) appeared 84 times and Grant Jackson was in 72 games. That triumverate won 28 games and had 50 saves.
"It hurts me that I've had 20 no-decisions this year," said Blyleven, who had a 12-5 record in 37 starts."It's probably the first year I've had. But now I realize how good a club this is. You can't argue with that."
In Game 3, Blyleven pitched a complete game eight-hitter to win 7-1. He struck out nine men, twice fanning George Foster.
"Bert was practically unhittable today," said Pirate catcher Ed Ott.
Someone asked Tanner if he thought the Reds were flat in Game 3. Cincinnati's hitters, who hadn't produced much for the previous three weeks, scored only five runs in the series on a .215 battling average.
"When you've got Dave Concepcion, George Foster, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan, they never look flat to me," Tanner said. "It's very simple.Our pitching was so outstanding."
That pitching included seven-inning performances from starters John Candelaria and Jim Bibby, plus sensational relief work by Don Robinson and Tekulve.
Tanner opened the Cincinnati series with Candelaria, who hadn't pitched more than an inning in two weeks because of a sore rib muscle. The manager isn't saying yet who will open the World Series on Tuesday.
"We'll wait until probably Monday to announce it," he said.
The last time the Pirates played in the World Series was 1971, the Roberto Clemente series. With a hit in each of the seven games, Clemente led the Pirates to victory over Baltimore. This year's team may be better, Stargell said.
"Our clubhouse is loose, must like it was then, but we probably didn't have the uniqueness of talent in '71 that we have not," Stargell said.
"We all have the atmosphere that is quite unique, that with a man on second base, every man wants to be up to bat. On defense, every man wants the ball hit to him. Every pitcher wants the ball.
"The series will be like this. We'll be out there playing good, country, baseball. Nothing fancy."
Maybe not fancy, but certainly no surprise any longer.