With pretty much the entire sports world hoping for a Dodgers-Red Sox World Series this year to see Manny Ramirez compete against his old team (not to mention Nomar, Derek Lowe, and Joe Torre), it made me think of a dream fantasy matchup for the World Series.
What would be the greatest matchup to watch?
Instantly, the Red Sox and Yankees came to my mind, for these two teams have endured many historic moments in their long-lasting rivalry together. Now, obviously if these two teams were to play, it would have to be in the American League Championship Series.
And with that in mind, I've created an ultimate fantasy matchup if these teams were to compete.
Each team would be using its all-time roster, giving the Yankees long-time greats like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, and Joe DiMaggio, as well as current players like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, who would make the team. The Red Sox would be led by Ted Williams, with Tris Speaker and Carl Yastrzemski occupying the other outfield spots, and Manny as the DH.
To make it easier, rules state a minimum of five years with the team. Players like Babe Ruth and Roger Clemens, who played for both teams, would join the team they played for the longest. In this case, that would put the Babe in pinstripes, while Clemens would join the Sox.
Managing the clubs would be Joe McCarthy and his seven rings for the Yankees against two-time champ Terry Francona for the Sox.
With a Murderer’s Row of Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, and the Babe, many would sportswriters claimed that the Yanks looked unbeatable. But the Sox had a talented and deep pitching staff of Roger Clemens, Pedro, and the ever-durable Cy Young, who far bested the rotation of the Yanks.
In Game One in Boston, the Sox sent seven-time Cy Young award winner Roger Clemens to the mound to face Ruth and Co. Clemens ran into trouble in the first inning, as three singles loaded the bases, but The Rocket retired Mickey Mantle on a pop-up and whiffed Gehrig and Berra to end the threat.
Clemens continued to rack up the K’s, getting two in the second, three in the third, one in the fourth, and three in both the fifth and the sixth innings, including Ruth with the bases loaded. Meanwhile, for the Yankees, Ruth pitched a gem, allowing just five hits, two walks, and no runs before he was lifted in the eighth.
A solo home run by Lou Gehrig in the top of the ninth gave the Yanks a 1-0 lead that stood until the bottom of the ninth, when the Sox came up with their last licks.
Facing a fresh Mariano Rivera out of the bullpen, it was as good as over.
Speaker singled, stole second, and moved to third on Wade Boggs’s groundout to second. Teddy Ballgame walked, bringing up the always dangerous Big Papi. But Ortiz managed just a weak foul pop to the catcher and Yaz struck out on the famous Rivera cutter to end the game.
Game Two was all offense, as both clubs scored five times in the first inning, sending starting pitchers Whitey Ford and Pedro Martinez to the showers early. The Yankees added three more runs in the fourth, six in the fifth, and two more in the eighth, for a convincing 16-4 blowout, to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the Series.
Ruth and Gehrig each had four hits and two home runs, and DiMaggio and Mantle added three hits and three RBI apiece. It was revealed after the game that Pedro has suffered a slight tear in his ACL, and was done for the series.
With the Sox desperate for a victory in Game Three, they handed the ball to the winningest pitcher in the history of the major leagues, Cy Young. Young silenced the Yanks for eight innings, giving up just two hits and no runs, before giving up back-to-back homers to Ruth and Gehrig to start off the ninth.
Down 2-0 in the top of the ninth, the Sox were running out of time against Waite Hoyt and the Yankees. Dwight Evans struck out, but Bobby Doerr singled and Carlton Fisk drew a walk on eight pitches. Speaker singled to left, loading the bases for Boggs, who forced in a run on a 10-pitch walk.
Up came Teddy Ballgame, and he unleashed a mammoth 450-foot home run to center field to hand the Sox a 4-2 lead. Closer Jonathan Papelbon retired the side in the bottom of the inning for Boston's first win of the series.
In Game Four, Clemens threw a three-hit shutout, as Boston won 7-0. The Yanks bounced back in Game Five to win 19-8, pounding Smokey Joe Wood for nine runs in the first inning. The Babe hit three home runs and drove in six, while Gehrig added two shots of his own.
Down three games to two, the Sox took a major gamble and started Luis Tiant, the junkballer of the 1970s, in Game Six. The plan backfired when Tiant surrendered four home runs in the first inning and the Yanks jumped to an 8-0 first inning lead.
However, the Sox slowly chipped away at the lead.
Ted Williams hit two solo home runs, Manny Ramirez hit a two-run shot in the fifth, Carl Yaztrzemski added a dinger in the seventh, and Bobby Doerr hit an inside-the-park homer in the eighth to narrow the score to 8-6.
In the ninth, Boggs hit a screaming line drive up the middle off Rivera’s leg for a base hit. Rivera was pulled from the game and replaced by Sparky Lyle. He promptly gave up a double to Teddy Ballgame and walked Ortiz to load the bases. Manny’s line drive down the left field line took a wicked bounce into center field and cleared the bases, forcing Game Seven.
It was all set.
Game Seven at Fenway Park.
Roger Clemens on the mound for the Sox. And for the Yanks, hard-throwing lefty Ron Guidry. Both pitchers started off hot, striking out the side in the first inning. Through four, neither had given up a hit. In fact, not one batter had yet reached base.
In the sixth, Jeter’s fly ball to shallow left dropped in, and he advanced to second on DiMaggio’s fly out. Then Ruth clobbered a Clemens fastball a full 500 feet away, as the Yanks took a 2-0 lead.
Still working on a perfect game, Guidry was lifted in the seventh when he hit back-to-back Red Sox hitters. Sparky Lyle came in to pitch in relief, for his first appearance of the series. Mussina was hit hard, giving up two hits and a walk in the eighth, but he managed to escape from the bases-loaded jam without giving up a run.
Mussina began to tire in the ninth. Mantle sprinted back 30 yards and caught a towering fly ball at the warning track in the deepest part of left field. Then Joe D practically climbed the center-field wall to pull down what would have been a homer run by Jim Rice. Finally, Boggs worked a walk Teddy Ballgame singled him to third. Lyle was lifted from the game for Mariano Rivera, who got Ortiz swinging on the famous cutter.
In the ninth, the Sox were down to their last licks, against the greatest closer in the history of the game. It seemed impossible to win.
Fisk struck out looking and Speaker grounded to second. Then the Sox caught fire. Boggs lifted a little fly ball to left that dropped just out of the reach of a diving Derek Jeter. Teddy singled to center, and Ortiz singled to right, the third straight hit for the Sox, reminiscent of the '86 Mets.
With the bases loaded, up came Carl Yastrzemski. Rivera promptly plunked Yaz with the next pitch, and walked in Nomar to tie the game. He got Dwight Evans to ground out to send the game into extra innings.
The Sox brought in Cy Young for long-term relief and the Yanks went to Red Ruffing. In the 11th inning, both teams put runners on second and third with one out, but neither could push across a run. In the 12th, the Sox loaded the bases with no one out, but a 6-2-3 double play and a strikeout ended the rally.
The clock passed midnight and still the game continued.
In the 14th inning, Jeter singled, stole second and third, and scored on DiMaggio’s single to center field. However, in the Sox's half, the always-reliable Ted Williams cranked a solo home run to tie it up and keep the marathon game going.
In the 17th, Ruth and Mantle hit solo shots, but Teddy’s two-run homer in the bottom of the inning evened the score. With all the relief pitchers for each team practically used up, the Sox turned to an injured Martinez in a desperate move.
In a heroic effort, Pedro struck out the side in the 18th and 19th innings, whiffed two in the 20th, and added another strikeout in the 21st frame. With his changeup virtually unhittable and his curve as good as it had ever been, the Yanks couldn’t buy a hit off of Pedro. He pitched four perfect innings with nine strikeouts before the pain became too much and he was pulled from the game.
Finally, in the 22nd inning, it seemed to be over for sure when DiMaggio and Ruth walked to set up Mantle’s three-run blast off of Papelbon, a shot that spectators swore traveled over 550 feet. Gehrig followed with a shot of his own to give the Bronx Bombers a commanding 9-5 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Speaker doubled and Boggs singled him to third, to bring up Teddy Ballgame. He smashed a three-run homer, his third of the game, to bring the Sox within one. David Ortiz popped out and Mo Vaughn struck out, but Freddy Lynn singled to give the Sox a little hope.
Up came Manny Ramirez, who smashed a drive to deep left field that caromed off the very top of the Green Monster. Lynn, on his horse, scored from first, but Manny, having thought his hit was a game-winning homer, had been doing a premature victory celebration, and was only able to make it to first. When Johnny Pesky doubled to right, sending Manny to third, and Fisk struck out to keep the game going, it became apparent that had Manny shown a speck of hustle, the Sox would have toppled the mighty Yankees.
In the 24th inning, the Yanks loaded the bases for the Babe, who cranked a grand slam. Mickey Mantle and Lou Gehrig followed with mammoth home runs, and Berra doubled, and then scored on Mattingly’s home run.
When the dust had settled, the Yanks led 17-9, and it seemed over.
And it was. Totally over. Ted Williams added his fourth homer of the game, a solo shot, but his teammates couldn’t come up with anything, and when Nomar popped up to Jeter for the third out of the 24th inning, it really was over.
The most dramatic game in history.
Seven hours and four minutes. It lasted 24 innings, with 27 total runs scored, and 13 home runs, including a record-tying four by Ted Williams.
One of the most spectacular performances of all-time, by Guidry who took a perfect game into the seventh inning. Another heroic performance by the injured Pedro, who hurled four scoreless innings in relief, while striking out nine. And one of the biggest bloopers in the history of pro sports by Ramirez.
Afterward, when asked about his lack of hustle that had cost the Sox the game, Manny chose to pass the blame to Carlton Fisk, claiming if Fisk had just gotten a hit to drive Manny in, the Sox would have won the Series.