Tim Benz: A look at some great Pittsburgh-Philadelphia sports moments
With the Philadelphia Phillies coming into town for a weekend series, the nostalgia gears in my brain got going.
I started flashing back to my favorite Pittsburgh-Philadelphia sports memories of years gone by. I figured I’d choose one from each of the three major professional sports to outline on “Breakfast With Benz” today.
Note, I said three major pro sports. Because unless I missed some pretty big news, Pittsburgh still doesn’t have an NBA team.
Also, fret not, Pitt fans. I said pro sports teams. So, the video of Scottie “You-Know-Who” from “Villa-You-Know-Where” will not be embedded anywhere in this story.
We’ll start with baseball because the Phillies are in town this weekend. For Phillies fans, their best memory might be the Jim Rooker “I’ll walk back to Pittsburgh” game in 1989, when the Pirates blew a 10-0 first-inning lead.
Similarly, for Pirates fans, it could’ve been the day the Bucs stormed back from 8-0 down in 1979 to beat the Phils 14-11, thanks in part to a grand slam from Ed Ott.
Or it could’ve been the famous John Milner grand slam a week earlier when he pinch-hit for a 4-for-4 Steve Nicosia.
That one is probably the right answer. But for me, it was watching Doug Drabek clinch the 1991 National League East by closing out the Phillies at Three Rivers Stadium with this 2-1 complete game.
That 98-win team won the East by 14 games. And, after losing to the Reds the previous season, it looked like this would be the year the Pirates would get to the World Series.
Up next, they played the Braves in the National League Championship Series and
…. well, let’s talk hockey.
When it comes to a favorite Penguins-Flyers memory, lots of fans point to the moment Philadelphia goalie Ron Hextall lost his mind and went after Rob Brown in the 1989 playoffs.
Hilarious? Yes. But the Penguins lost that series.
Others point to that time Tony Granato and Peter Laviolette started screaming at each other across the benches at the end of the 2012 regular season.
Again, wildly entertaining. But I really don’t want to remember what happened in the ensuing playoff series.
I’ll dwell on Game 5 of the 2008 Eastern Conference Final.
C’mon! Pounding the hated Flyers 6-0 to get to the team’s first Stanley Cup Final since 1992? Pittsburgh kid Ryan Malone scores twice? Does it get any better than that?
Not for me. I’ll never forget that.
Or this one from 2009.
This one from that series wasn’t bad either.
But seeing the Eastern Conference playoffs end in that fashion was precious. Then the Pens went onto Detroit in the Cup final and
…. well, let’s talk football.
The AFC-NFC gap is wider than the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
So, there isn’t as much history between the Eagles and Steelers.
And I’m trying really hard to forget the last game. When I close my eyes, I still see Fletcher Cox doing inhumane things to the Steelers offensive line as Philly rolled 34-3.
But my fondest Steelers win over the Eagles occurred back in 2004. It was a key moment in the arrival of the Ben Roethlisberger era. The 7-0 Eagles came rolling into Heinz Field and the Steelers dusted them 27-3 to improve to 7-1.
The cherry on the sundae was Hines Ward scoring his second touchdown of the game, and mocking Terrell Owens’ Eagle-flap touchdown celebration.
That was the week after the Steelers had waxed previously unbeaten New England 34-20. After those two victories, Roethlisberger improved to 6-0 as a starter. The Steelers were the toast of the football world until they played the Patriots again in the AFC title game and
… well, let’s talk …
Uh, oh. I’m out of other sports. And I already promised Pitt fans I wouldn’t mention Scottie …
Eh, promises were made to be broken.