Field of Dreams: James Earl Jones (Terrence Mann) to Kevin Costner (Ray Kinsella): "Ray, people will come Ray."
"They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past.
"Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it, for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces.
"People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh...people will come Ray. People will most definitely come."
While we are creeping a little closer to pitchers and catchers we're still in the midst of what's turning out to be one very ferocious winter. A lot of downtime with snow piling up everywhere, which may leave the mind to wander—contemplate a strong drink, fantasize about the neighbor's wife and, in a pinch, strong, lingering memories of epic Yankee-Red Sox battles gone by.
In this case we'll do you one better—our own little Field of Dreams—and pull together 25-man rosters of All-Time Yankees and All-Time Red Sox and tee them off in a seven-game series that will have you seeing baseball stars.
So without further ado, we begin with the masked men, a group of receivers that have etched their own little corner in Cooperstown's Hall of Fame.
"So I'm ugly, so what? I don't hit with my face"—Yogi Berra
Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra & Ellie Howard (who will back up in left field as well), versus Carlton Fisk & Jason Varitek.
You love the Yankee depth here but you can only play one catcher at a time and Boston stud Carlton Fisk, (11-time All-Star, 376 career home runs) can stand his ground with just about any receiver in the history of the game. A peak Varitek is no slouch either and a nice left-handed alternative but let's take a quick look at what they're up against from the Yankees side.
Came up in 1929 and proceeded to hit .300 or better in 10 of his first 11 seasons topping out at .362 in 1936 with 22 home runs and 107 RBI in 110 games & .332 with 27 home runs and 133 RBI in 140 games in 1937. A 12-time All-Star who threw out an astounding 44 percent of potential base-stealers over 1,700 career games, he was inducted into the Hall in 1954.
All of 5'7", 185 pounds, man of a million quotes, Yogi made 16 straight All-Star appearances from 1947-1962, won three A.L. MVPs and along the way an incredible eight World Series rings.
A .285 lifetime hitter, with 358 home runs and 1,430 RBI. One of the top two or three catchers in the history of the game.
"He seemed to be doing everything wrong, yet everything came out right. Yogi stopped everything behind the plate and hit everything in front of it"—Hall of Famer, Mel Ott.
Backup: Ellie Howard C/LF
Only the great Yogi Berra could have kept this baseball natural from taking over the majority of time behind the plate earlier in his career. A nine-time All-Star, MVP in 1963 and two-time Gold Glove award winner.
"Jimmy Foxx has muscles in his hair"—Yankee pitcher, Lefty Gomez
Both Hall of Famers get outstanding backups but don't expect to see too much of them with the legendary likes of Lou Gehrig and Jimmy Foxx trading Herculean blows for their respective sides.
Both are perfectly suited to their teams and ballparks. The left-handed slugger Gehrig in the house that Ruth built with the short porch in right and the powerful right-handed hitting Foxx taking aim at the towering left-field wall in Fenway.
He was a .340 lifetime hitter, (.447 lifetime on-base), seven times totaling 150-plus RBI, (184 in 1931 still an American League record, five seasons with 40 or more home runs, two-time MVP, (two second-place finishes), to go with six World Series rings.
His career was cut short at the age of 36 when he was diagnosed with ALS or what would be later known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. He died in 1941 at the age of 38 and he was mourned by all the baseball world.
Backup: Don Mattingly
"Donnie Baseball," if not for the back problems another of the all-time great first baseman. The games preeminent player when he was healthy, great glove, Mattingly hit .352 in 1986 with 238 hits, .307 lifetime.
He was brought up to the majors in 1925 at the ripe age of 17 for his first taste of big league pitching and went on to play all or parts of 10 seasons for the then-ultra successful Philadelphia Athletics highlighted by an incredible 1932 MVP championship season when he hit .364 with 58 home runs and 169 RBI.
In the 1935 offseason he was traded by a cash-strapped Connie Mack to the Boston Red Sox where Foxx continued to take precise aim at the A.L.'s elite hurlers.
In 1938 he hit 50 home runs and knocked in 175 runs for the Sox. In all "Double XX" was a nine-time All-Star and three-time MVP. He was truly one of the great hitters in the history of the major leagues.
Backup: Carl Yastrzemski
Yaz, predominantly a left fielder for the Sox during his peak playing days he's been relegated to a first base role here—and a left-handed hitting complement to Foxx—to make room for the combination of Rice & Ramirez in left. One of the great clutch hitters in the game, 18-time All-Star, MVP and Triple Crown winner in 1967.
"I believe in the Rip Van Winkle theory—that a man from 1910 should be able to wake up after being asleep for seventy years, walk into a ballpark and understand baseball perfectly"—Former Baseball commissioner, Bowie Kuhn
Joe "Flash" Gordon and Boston's Bobby Doerr were rivals and the American League's best second basemen in their day. The same can be said of Cano and Pedroia today.
Hall of Famer, nine-time All-Star, MVP in 1942 when he hit .322 with 18 home runs and 103 RBI. Stone cold glove man, played with the great DiMaggio and copped five World Series rings despite missing two prime seasons to the war effort.
Coming into his prime as a ballplayer, makes it all look easy in the field. Great range, big arm, booming bat. Perfect left-handed hitting complement to Gordon.
Bigger bat than Gordon, averaged a bit under 20 homers and 100 RBI over a 14-season career. Great range at second, one of the best defensive second baseman of his day.
Actually a fairly similar player to Doerr. An energy player that makes the Sox go. Can hit for average and has some pop. Clutch player, the 2010 Red Sox were not the same team without him.
Edge: Tough call, but slight advantage Red Sox.
"I don't like them fellas who drive in two runs and let in three"—Casey Stengal
Boston (after much ado, and switching around)
Time will fly in the world of sport, but in true baseball years it wasn't all that long ago that Nomar very successfully helmed the Red Sox infield and while some may discount his long-term impact on the game he won't be forgotten here.
In six full seasons with the 'Sox, Garciaparra averaged about 25 home runs and 100-plus RBI. He hit 357 & .372 back to back in 1999 & 2000 and seemed destined for all-time shortstop greatness before a variety of injuries derailed his career.
Still this format is essentially based on peak performance over a fair period of time and Nomar certainly qualifies under those terms.
One of the most dominating players of his day. A peerless field leader who later became a manager of note, he was a .300 lifetime hitter with eight seasons of 100 RBI or more.
Backup: Johnny Pesky or Vern Stephens
Both could fill a slot here but we've got Pesky listed over at third where he'll split time with Boggs, and Stephens filling the role of infield alternate.
A shoe-in first-ballot Hall of Famer, an intangible ballplayer on the verge of 3,000 hits, with a .314 lifetime B.A., 1,600-plus runs scored, 300-plus stolen bases and five World Series rings already to his credit.
People love to break his game down and say he's overrated but when it's all said and done he'll be ranked among the greatest shortstops to have ever played the game.
"Scooter," is at this point more so remembered for all his years in the Yankee TV booth, (that Huckleberry!), but despite his slight build was not to be underestimated as a player either.
As slick a glove man as could be found in the game during his day, he carried a clutch little stick too winning an MVP in 1950 when he batted .324 with 200 hits and 125 runs scored.
Seven World Series rings to his credit as well.
Edge: Yankees, but very slight.
To be sure, some of A-Rod's power numbers are steroid enhanced but in the overall there are few infielders in the history of the game that can even be mentioned in the same breath as the soon to be 35-year-old.
Aside from the 613 home runs, 474 doubles, 1,757 runs scored, 1,831 RBI and 301 stolen bases, the man has an undeniable instinct for the game and in combination with Nettles, a left-handed power hitter and one of the top gloves at the hot corner the game has ever known the Yankees are sitting awful pretty at third.
Mr. Red Sox
Threw right-handed, batted left to great effect, although the renaming of the right-field pole to Pesky's Pole seems a bit of an overstatement in lieu of the contact hitter's 17 career home runs.
(The story goes that Pesky won a game for Mel Parnell in 1948 with a home run down the short (302 feet) right-field line, that slipped just inside the pole but data shows that Pesky only hit one home run in a Parnell start, that being in the first inning.)
Pesky lost three full seasons to the war effort from 43-45, but in his seven years with the club batted under .300 only once, had over 200 hits three times, scored more than 100 runs six times and was solid defensively at both short and third and will get time at both positions.
Had a longer if not slightly more glorified career with the Red Sox than the much beloved Pesky. From 1982-1988 had an incredible stretch at the plate where he hit .357 or better five times and had an average on base of about .450.
Still, Boggs was a mediocre third baseman at best during his time with 'Sox, a below-average base runner with little home run power from the hot corner.
Of course he'll get his fair share of at-bats here, and more than likely bat out of the No. 2 spot for the otherwise power-laden 'Sox.
Backup 3B/SS: Vern Stephens
He played five years for the Red Sox amongst which were three unbelievable peak years from 1948-1950 when he hit 98 home runs and knocked in nearly 450.
Had a big arm, but mediocre glove and what's funny is when they were together it was the more versatile Pesky who moved over to third to accommodate the big-hitting Stephens at short.
They switched after those three big years though and Stephens ended up playing a couple of hundred games at third before he called it a day.
Perfect alternate for the left side of the infield.
Edge: Slightly Yankees
"I'll promise to go easier on drinking and to get to bed earlier. But not for you, fifty thousand dollars, or two hundred thousand dollars will I give up women. They're too much fun"—Babe Ruth
Before we begin with the Williams-Ruth comparison, why is Ted Williams in right field instead of left?
The Red Sox have had four dominant offensive corner outfielders who played all or the majority of their prime years in Boston. Williams, Yaz, Manny & Jim Rice. They were all left fielders.
Yaz played some first as well so we moved him there to back up Foxx. The thinking at that point was of the three who remained, Williams was the most capable defender and the most practical choice for a move to right.
Is it ideal? No, but neither is removing Manny's bat from a lineup that was already less lethal than the Yanks. Ted Williams was a gamer, the ultimate teammate by repute, a man that volunteered for two war efforts and risked his life as a superb fighter pilot when he could have been glad handing pats on the back. The notion that he couldn't take one for the team and play right for a seven-game stretch is a little far-fetched from our way of thinking.
Aiding Williams up the right center field gap is Tris Speaker, one of the fleetest center fielders ever to play the game. Backing Williams up and playing the role of defensive replacement in right, Dwight "Dewey" Evans, one of the best defensive right fielders to ever play the game.
You want to say Evans or maybe somebody like Harry Hooper should start in right with Williams in left, bench Manny, okay, you're entitled to that opinion, it's just not ours.
Does that mean we're definitively correct in our thinking? No it does not, but at least we've put the rationale to the forefront so people can stop reminding us that Ted Williams was a left fielder during his playing days.
Okay, that's it for that. Try to keep an open mind, visualize this as real men playing the game of baseball in an All-Star type format, not just a bunch of computer stats, and we hope you can enjoy the ride from here. DR
Truthfully it's Babe and Ted Williams all day every day but you can't beat Maris and Evans as more than capable late-inning defensive replacements who still bring some real power to the lineup should they end up making their way to the plate.
Just a quick comparison between Ruth and Williams who at a glance seem like very different ball players, (certainly in terms of girth), but at least statistically—if not stylistically—were actually quite similar.
Ruth as everyone knows was pretty much a dead pull hitter albeit with center field power who smacked 714 home runs.
Williams as everyone knows was very much a dead pull hitter albeit with center field power who smacked 521 home runs though one must take into account he missed five full seasons to the mid-20th century war efforts—a time when he could have easily added 35 homers a year which would have brought his HR total up to 696, just a smidge behind Ruth.
Williams batted .344 lifetime, Ruth .342. Both had more than 2,000 walks and Williams would have matched or surpassed Ruth's runs scored and RBI totals if not for the five-year lapse.
Neither was a particularly great base-runner—Babe was caught stealing as often as he was successful and Williams rarely gave it a go—although both had fair instincts generally speaking.
Ruth was an excellent defensive outfielder early on in his career with a great arm from right, (though his range obviously diminished over time.)
Williams most definitely was not a great outfielder early on making 32 errors over his two season in the bigs although he improved a great deal with time. We're switching him over to right field here to accommodate Manny Ramirez and Jim Rice in left as those two were even worse defensive outfielders than Williams and neither would be able to cover much ground on the opposite side.
Fortunately for this Red Sox team they have Tris Speaker and Vince DiMaggio in center and both were capable of covering a ton of lawn up both gaps.
Edge: As far as the matchup in right? Dead even.
There have been few other ballplayers as storied in their own time as the great Dimaggio, Joltin' Joe, the Yankee Clipper of the renowned 56-game hitting streak, 13 All-Star appearances in 13 major league seasons, (the only player in the history of the game to participate in each of his active seasons), three MVP awards, two second-place finishes and a third.
Despite having missed three full seasons to the World War II effort his team won 10 pennants and nine World Series. They wrote songs about him, he was briefly married to the most glamorous woman in the world, in 1969 he was voted the greatest living ball player ever.
Backup: Mickey Rivers
He won't get much if any field time but is someone who can steal a base or pinch run if need be.
How can the 'Sox compete? With a legend of their own, a man with wings on his feet and gap power in his bat, the Grey Eagle, Tris Speaker.
He played his first seven full seasons in the majors, (1909-1915), for the Red Sox before moving over to the Cleveland Indians in a money dispute where he went on to become a player/manager. During a time when most major-leaguers hit in the mid .200's, Speaker batted .345 lifetime with five seasons at .380 or better.
His 792 doubles are still a major league record. He had double-figure triples in 13 of his first 15 seasons, 400-plus lifetime stolen bases and it would be hard to find any other player who would better serve the dual purpose leadoff hitter and vacuum cleaner in center for our dream team of Boston Red Sox.
Backup: Dom DiMaggio
A more than capable right-handed bat, .298 lifetime, .328 with 131 runs scored for the 1950 juggernaut attack, and one of the best defensive center fielders ever to play the game.
Edge: very slight, but it goes to the Yankees.
"The pitcher has only got a ball. I've got a bat. So the percentage in weapons is in my favor and I let the fellow with the ball do the fretting"—Henry Aaron
I guess for some conspicuous by his absence will be Reggie Jackson, Mr. October, who himself might become slightly undone over the notion of having lost the last outfield spot to Dave Winfield, Mr. April—or was it Mr. May?
But these teams are built for practicality sake. Realistically Ruth, DiMaggio & Mantle will not be giving up any at-bats. Winfield and Maris were far better corner outfield defenders than Jackson and it's not like either of those two are incapable of supplying some late-inning punch in a pinch hitting role. (No DH in this series.)
The 'Sox roll out Manny Ramirez and Jim Rice, two of the game's dominant right-handed hitters, though neither was much to speak of defensively.
Against a lot of other corner outfielders this hard-hitting tandem would measure up favorably, but not against the awe-inspiring Mantle at his peak. A man with blazing speed and destructive power from either side of the plate.
"If they said, 'Come on, here's a steak dinner,' and I had a chance to go out and play a game of ball, I'd go out and play the game and let the steak sit there. I really would"—Lefty Grove
For each of the pitchers on both sides we'll supply a brief scouting report and the hurler's best season ever in a Red Sox or Yankees uniform.
The Red Sox Starters
No. 1 LHP Robert Moses "Lefty" Grove
The dominant pitcher of the hit ball era he came to the 'Sox on the relative downside of a great career which included a record nine E.R.A. titles, 300-plus wins, having twice accomplished the unique feat of striking out the side on nine pitches twice, duplicated only in all the years since by Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan.
Fastball, curveball pitcher, some say the originator of the curve in the aftermath of the Major League ban on the spitter in the late '20s.
Best season for the Red Sox? 1935 when he was 20-12 with a 2.70 E.R.A. Best season ever? 1931 when he was 31-4 with a 2.04 E.R.A. for the world champion Philadelphia Athletics.
No. 2 RHP Pedro Martinez
Something of a question mark in this forum because for all his greatness he had little success against the modern day Yankees in late or postseason affairs and obviously in this case he's going up against a far stronger contingent.
Still, a dominating multi-pitch hurler, one of the best in the game for an approximate 13-year period from 1993 to 2005. His best season for the 'Sox came in 1999 when he went 23-4 with a 2.04 E.R.A. He'll benefit from this version of the Red Sox bullpen.
No. 3 RHP Luis Tiant
El Tiante, perhaps the perfect type of pitcher to shut down this slugging bunch of Bombers, Tiant was a man of many moves, famous for his back-to-the-batter delivery, variety of pitches and, after a career-changing arm injury in 1966, an uncanny ability to hit spots and change speeds, generally keeping even the best of major league hitters off balance.
At his best he was near unhittable. Top season with the Red Sox? 1974 when he was 22-13 with a 2.79 E.R.A. Best season ever. 1968 when he was 21-9 with a 1.60 E.R.A.
No. 4 RHP Curt Schilling
One of the top money pitchers of his day he had a career 11-2 postseason mark. Hard-thrower with pinpoint control, great split finger, decent slider and change.
Best season for the 'Sox? 2004 when at the age of 37 he went 21-6 with a 3.26 E.R.A. Best season ever? 2001, 22-6 with a 2.98 E.R.A. for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
No. 5 LHP Mel Parnell
Ten-year career, 1947-1956, all with the 'Sox. Southpaw with good movement was capable of dominant stretches. Best season 1949, 25-7 with a 2.71 E.R.A and 27 complete games. Fifth starter will probably get more work out of the 'pen than anything else in this format.
RHP Jim Lonborg
Durable career starter who was known to come in and finish another hurler's work on occasion. Pitched his best ball for the Sox in 1967 when he went 22-9 and won the A.L. Cy Young. Will pitch in long relief here.
LHP Jon Lester
His time in the majors has been short but he has no doubt shown extended flashes of brilliance in a young career already very seriously interrupted by cancer. Impressive 61-25 career mark, 19-9 in 2010. Will be lefty long man here.
RHP Josh Beckett
When his arm is right one of the game's hardest throwers. In another life would have been a great closer. Here he'll pitch late inning relief.
RHP Smokey Joe Wood
Had a truncated career as a pitcher but while he was on the mound dominated major league hitters with a blazing, hopping fastball as few other hurlers ever have. (Of Wood, the great Walter Johnson once said to a querying reporter, "My friend, no man alive can throw harder than Smokey Joe Wood.")
Pitched all or parts of seven seasons for the 'Sox, best of which was 1912 when he went 34-5 with a 1.91 E.R.A, 35 complete games, 344 innings pitched. Later went on to play outfield with his great buddy Speaker in Cleveland where he hit .366 with 60 RBI in only 66 games in an injury shortened 1921 season. Played one more year and retired at the age of 32 after the 1922 season.
Here he'll throw in the setup role leading up to Papelbon.
Closer: Jonathon Papelbon
along with Rivera he's been the best in the game for the past five seasons although he fell off a bit last year in what turned out to be a lost season for the 'Sox. 188 career saves and a 2.22 E.R.A give him a nod of confidence here.
I admit it, at first it was complete and total brainlock that kept me from considering Roger Clemens from this format.
After, I readily considered giving him the old juicer sluff-off, which to a certain extent I still am. Eventually I came to feel it was an issue that deserved some open-minded coverage from both sides of the coin.
So here we are. (Career regular season stats can be found below.)
The Rocket burst onto the Red Sox scene in 1984, (when he won the Rookie of the Year award in a truncated season), and by 1986 he was already en route to being considered the best pitcher in baseball going 24-4 with a 2.48 E.R.A, 238 Ks winning the first of three Cy Young awards in a Red Sox uniform.
But by 1993 the Red Sox nation started to see a flameout and only three years later he was left to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays.
In 1999 at the age of 36 he joined the New York Yankees, and while he was nowhere near the effective pitcher he was in Toronto or in his earlier years with the 'Sox he did win 77 regular season games for the Bombers in the ensuing five seasons.
It was also in New York that he had his first real taste of postseason success. With the 'Sox he had been known as a regular season phenomenon, but a postseason or big-game bust. In nine postseason starts ranging from the age of 23 to the age of the 32, all with Boston, Clemens went 1-4.
With the Bombers Clemens got 17 postseason starts winning seven and losing four with the highlight coming in 2000, (eight innings of two-hit shutout ball vs. the rival crosstown Mets), amidst the Piazza bat-throwing incident when a presumably, if not momentarily deranged Rocket tossed a splintered bat that landed only few feet from Piazza's person.
Then in 2004 at the age of 41 Clemens signed with the hometown Astros and did something that would have been considered beyond belief for almost anyone else as he went 18-4 for Houston and helped pitch the club into the NLCS.
The following year Clemens won 13 games with a 1.87 E.R.A. and made it back to the big dance as Houston squared of in the 2005 World Series with the Chicago White Sox in what turned out to be a losing effort.
Finally, at the age of 44, Clemens retired after a short half-season or so with the Yanks and from there looked to be on a dead track to becoming a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Of course that won't happen now with all the allegations of steroid use, Clemens' seemingly crazy denials, even going so far as to indict his wife as the recipient of injectable materials delivered to his Texas home.
All this begs the question, when did it start and where do the accusations leave Clemens in a current sense as well in the games historic channels?
For now it seems he is simply a non-person as far as Major League Baseball is concerned. Bud Selig must wish Clemens would go away for a long while, disassociate, as the commissioner tries to work himself our from under neverending questions about performance enhancers and how they affected the game these past 15 years or so.
For the everyday fan, while he or she has been left to wonder about the miraculous turnaround seasons in Toronto, the ageless wonder's seasons he engendered at home in Houston where he was able to do and train as he pleased, (not even accompanying the club on trips when he would not be pitching), were actually less to do with heaven-sent or god-given ability than to whatever it was he or personal trainer Brian McNamara might have been injecting into his rear.
One would think his numbers in Boston were legit, because if he was juicing then why would he have had so much falloff over the last couple of seasons. Clemens attributed his rebound with the Jays to the addition of a lethal split finger, fastball, but with what we know now all of that is subject to serious debate.
Anyway, for the purpose of this format, yes Clemens should have been included on the Red Sox staff although he did enjoy far greater postseason success with the Yanks.
That having been said, I don't feel so bad about inadvertently leaving him off.
If Roger Clemens has become a non-person with all the rest of the baseball world, it doesn't seem such a crime against humanity to omit him there.
It's still 3-3 with one game to go.
That's it on this subject.
|162 Game Avg.||17||9||.658||3.12||34||34||0||6||2||0||236||201||91||82||17||76||3||224||8||1||7||972||143||1.173||7.7||0.7||2.9||8.6||2.96|
"All pitchers are liars or crybabies"—Yogi Berra
No. 1 LHP Whitey Ford
Chairman of the Board, multi-pitch, change of pace hurler and Yankee staff leader in the late fifties and early sixties.
Won 69 percent of his career decisions en route to 236 regular season wins. Won ten games with three shutout in 22 World Series starts. Hard to pick his best season but the deft lefty won a Cy Young going 25-4 for the '61 Yanks one of the top teams in the history of the game.
No. 2 LHP Ron Guidry
Louisiana Lightning, slight of frame with an electric fastball/slider combo, Guidry captivated the baseball world in 1978 when he went 25-3 with a 1.74 E.R.A. while totaling 16 complete games and seven shutouts.
That season took something out of him though and while he won 20 twice more for the Yanks, even threw 21 complete games in 1983, he was never quite the same pitcher. Will benefit mightily from a great Yankee relief crew which should enable Guidry to throw at max capacity for a somewhat truncated period of time.
No. 3 LHP Lefty Gomez
Goofy, another great Yankee southpaw Gomez put up solid if not spectacular numbers for the Yanks from 1930 - 1943 a period that spanned Yankee legends Ruth, Gehrig & DiMaggio.
Like Guidry he won exactly 65% of his career decisions and pitched in five World Series where went 6-0. Best season with the Bombers? 1934 when he went 26-5 with a 2.33 E.R.A , 25 complete games and six shutouts.
A character to be sure, he came up to bat one afternoon against Indian fireballer Bob Feller when it was slightly foggy. Gomez struck a match before stepping into the batter's box. "What's the big idea?" growled the umpire. "Do you think that match will help you see Feller's fast one?"
"No, I'm not concerned about that," Lefty said. "I just want to make sure he can see me!"
No. 4 LHP Andy Pettitte
One of the best big game pitchers in the game Pettitte's 19-10 in 42 career post season starts. Fastball, slider, big breaking curve, the Texas born southpaw has chalked up 240 wins against 139 losses. Best season? 1996 when he went 21-8 for a Yankee team that was about to get on a run of four Championship titles in five seasons.
No. 5 RHP David Cone
Another big time, big-game pitcher and while there were other choices out there including Eddie Lopat & CC Sabathia, these Yanks need to plug in a right hand starter somewhere.
A heady, injury prone pitcher with electrifying stuff he struck out 200 or more batters six times while winning 194 times against only 126 losses. His stay with the Yankee's coincided with their run of titles under manager Joe Torre and he was 8-3 in 18 post season starts.
Best season with the Yanks? 1998 when he went 20-7 with 209 punchouts and only 59 walks.
Relievers (in the Yankee's case all pure)
RHP Fireman Joe Page, 1944-1950
One of the best true relievers of his day Page won 54 games for the Yanks, finished 182 and saved 76. Hard thrower, threw a ton of innings in relief. Ideal long man for this staff. In 1947 went 14-4 with 44 finishes and 17 saves in 141 innings.
LHP Eddie Lopat, 1948-1955
We might have considered Sabathia here too but in reality you can't get onto an all time squad with only two seasons under you're belt and Eddie Lopat was just too good to pass up in the overall.
A spot, breaking ball pitcher with excellent control, Lopat won 113 games for the Yankee's against only 59 losses and would appear to an ideal complement the right handed Page in long relief. Best season for the Yanks? 1951 when he went 21-9 with a 2.91 E.R.A.
LHP Sparky Lyle, 1972-1978
Threw relief when 3 inning saves were as common as late game closeouts are today. Spectacular slider, virtually unhittable when he was on his game which was most of the time as a Yankee. Finished 59 games and went 9-3 with a 1.66 E.R.A in 1974.
RHP Goose Gossage, 1978 - 1983
One of the games all time greats, like Lyle threw more than his fair share of 3 inning saves. Blazing fastball, tough to pick up. Won 41 games for the Yanks with an E.R.A. that ranged from 0.77 in 1981 to a high of 2.62 in 1979.
Best season is subjective but we'll go with 1983 when he went 13-5 with 22 saves.
RHP Mariano Rivera
What's there to say about Rivera except that he's the greatest closer in the history of the game. Has the best post season stats of any pitcher, starter or reliever, in the history of the game and if it comes down to one inning one reliever he's the man you'd most want on the mound.
He's had endless amazing season but how about 2005 when he went 7-4 with 43 saves and a 1.38 E.R.A.
Edge: So who's got the edge between these two superlative staff's? The Yanks have the better pen, but in the overall it's close enough to call it a push.
Fenway Park, Game 1 Lineups
Subsequent lineup changes will be noted in game-by-game recap. This is a best-of-seven series with no D.H.. The Yankee's will be managed by Casey Stengal, the Red Sox by current field leader, Terry Francona.
Alright, get strapped in!
Yankees Red Sox
SS Jeter CF Speaker
2B Gordon 2B Doerr
CF DiMaggio RF Williams
RF Ruth 1B Foxx
LF Mantle LF Ramirez
1B Gehrig 3B Boggs
3B Rodriguez C Fisk
C Berra SS Cronin
P Ford P Grove
Game 1: Grove sets the Bronx Bombers down in order in the first. Speaker leads off the bottom of the inning with a double off Ford, he is sacrifice to third by Doerr and brought home on a long fly to right center by Williams. Foxx goes down looking and the inning ends with the 'Sox up 1-0.
From there Grove and Ford exchange zero's thru six when the early October skies erupt and the game is put on hold for nearly 90 minutes.
Jon Lester comes on for the 'Sox and he is immediately greeted by a drive up the right center field gap by Jeter who hustles into second well ahead of a throw from Speaker.
Gordon bunts down the third base line, the ball is mishandled by Boggs and he beats the throw to first. That bring up DiMaggio with runners on the corners.
Francona mulls a change but with the left handed Ruth up next and the switch hitting Mantle in the five hole he decides to let Lester pitch to DiMaggio.
It's a mistake as Joltin' Joe takes a first pitch hanging curve and rocks it over the Green Monster in left as the Yank's go up 3-1.
Lyle and Gossage combine for a scoreless seventh & eighth. Wood, having come on for Lester after the lefty slipped a change by Ruth for a called strike three, pitches the Red Sox into the bottom of the ninth with the Fenway scoreboard still reading 3-1.
Rivera gets Yastrzemski pinch hitting for Wood, but gives up a slap down the left field line to Speaker who pulls into second with a double. Doerr lays down a bunt up the first base line that just eludes Rivera's grasp and the 'Sox have runners on the corners with one away.
Ted Williams steps in and a roar of anticipation rips through the crowd. All of Fenway rises to it's feet as Rivera runs the count to 2-1, then 2-2 as something of a breathless hush sets in as Boston fans set to praying for their man Williams.
Teddy Ballgame fouls off a pitch, and then two more. The drama builds, and then Rivera does something very uncharacteristic and leaves a patent slider over the inside part of the plate but in a hittable zone for Williams.
That's all it takes, Williams drives the ball to right, well up into the stands and all of Boston seems to erupt as the Red Sox take the opener in dramatic fashion 4-3.
Fenway Park, Game 2: Boston fans are pumped to see their team open up a 2-0 lead but any real notion of that taking place is dispelled in the third when the Bombers bust open Pedro for six runs en route to a 12-3 rout. Ruth, Mantle, Gehrig and Berra all homer for the Bombers while Nomar goes deep for the 'Sox with the game already out of reach in the eighth. Guidry goes the distance and the Series is tied at one.
Yankee Stadium, Game 3: The venue switches to the Bronx and the House That Ruth Built but it's a pitchers affair with Luis Tiant and Lefty Gomez battling 1-1 into the seventh when Foxx connects on a mammoth blast deep over the left center field wall to put the 'Sox up 2-1.
The Yanks load the bases with two away in the ninth but Papelbon whiffs Alex Rodriguez for the final out and Boston takes a 2-1 Series lead with a 2-1 win in Game 3.
Yankee Stadium, Game 4: Manny homers twice off Andy Pettitte and the 'Sox lead 5-3 in the fifth when Mantle puts one into the upper deck in right off Curt Schilling with two men on to put the Yanks on top 6-5.
Beckett relieves Schilling and pitches a scoreless inning and two thirds. With one away in the seventh Rice pinch hits for the hard throwing right-hander and slams a one out double down the left field line off Sparky Lyle. Pedroia pinch runs and scores when Pesky singles up the middle to tie the game at six. One batter later Ted Williams homers to right and the 'Sox lead 8-6.
In the bottom of the eighth Joe Wood is on for the 'Sox and he quickly strikes out Berra and the pinch hitting Maris for two away. Jeter follows and punches a single to right. Mattingly pinch hits for Gordon and homers down the right field line and the game is tied at eight. DiMaggio follows with a double to right, Wood is pulled in favor of the left hander Parnell but to no avail as Ruth doubles into the right center field gap scoring DiMaggio and then Mantle doubles down the left field line scoring Ruth.
Parnell finally gets Gehrig on a deep drive to center but the damage is done. The Yanks big two out rally scores four runs and they go ahead 10-8. This time Rivera shuts the door in the ninth and the Series is tied once more at two games apiece.
Fenway Park, Game 5: The teams get a travel day for the bus ride back to Boston. The 'Sox will go back to ace lefty Grove while the Yanks will trot out Whitey Ford in a rematch of Game One.
This tilt however does not go according to plan as both starters are shelled early and the Red Sox lead the Bronx Bombers 8-4 in the third.
Jim Lonborg comes on for the 'Sox, pitches two scoreless innings but then he too is shelled as Gehrig and Rodriguez go deep in the sixth and the Yanks creep to within one, 8-7.
And that's how it rides into the ninth with both bullpens settling down. Papelbon comes on to close things out for the 'Sox but he is immediately greeted by a two-bagger from Graig Nettles who is pinch hitting for Goose Gossage.
Jeter bunts Nettles over to third, but Cano strikes out leaving it to DiMaggio.
Papelbon gets ahead 0-2. DiMaggio works the count back to 2-2, and the fouls off three straight pitches as the count holds. The tension in Fenway is palpable and the crowd is up and roaring for Papelbon to put DiMaggio away.
They are disappointed as Joe D. takes a 2-2 fastball and deposits it deep over the right center field bullpen wall and the Yanks take a 9-8 lead.
In the bottom of the inning Rivera gets Speaker to start the inning, but Pesky, playing short, hits one sharply back up the middle for a one out single. That brings Ted Williams back to the plate.
Again the Boston crowd sets to praying for their superstar. Rivera pitches from the stretch, Williams cracks a slider deep down the right field line ... just foul!
The count goes to 1-2. Williams fouls off a pair and then works the count to 3-2. Berra goes out to talk to Rivera while Casey anxiously watches from the bench.
Rivera comes set and deals, Williams cracks a hard line drive which looks like a sure single to right but the Flash, Joe Gordon leaps and snares the ball at his apex, quickly goes to first to double Pesky and the Yanks escape with a come from behind 9-8 victory and now lead the series three games to two.
All of New York is ready for the Yanks to take out the Red Sox in Game 6 and capture this all-time showdown between the teams. The 'Sox once again trot out ace right-hander Pedro Martinez to match up against hard-throwing Bomber nemesis, Ron Guidry.
Once again the Yankees have little trouble with Pedro and race out to a quick 4-0 lead as Mantle, Gehrig and Nettles, getting the start at third with pal Guidry on the mound, homer.
In the alternative Louisiana Lightning is throwing lights-out ball for the Bombers. Striking out 12 through six innings he looks to be in total control but in the seventh the Red Sox start to mount a rally as Williams singles to right and Foxx follows with a line double to left center with Williams holding at third.
Casey comes out and with one away and the Yanks decide to walk Ramirez. Immediately he replaces Guidry with Goose Gossage to face the right-handed Carlton Fisk and the wiry left-hander trots off the field to great applause.
Fisk quickly works Gossage to a 2-0 count. A moment later it's 3-1 and Fisk still hasn't moved the bat off his shoulder.
Gossage readies, he checks the runners and unleashes a fastball that catches way too much of the plate. This time Pudge does remove the bat from his shoulder to paralyzing effect. The ball travels down the left-field line, this time there's no danger of it running foul and the Red Sox have tied the game at four apiece.
From there they break the bank, get all over the vaunted Yankee bullpen and run away with Game 6 12-5.
And that sets up a penultimate Game 7 in Fenway Park where everyone in the baseball universe will be glued to the result.
But that's for tomorrow, for now, that will have to be it.
Signing off until Game 7 begins,