After Greg Maddux shut out the Yankees in the second game of the 1996 World Series, almost no one gave the Yankees any chance of winning. According to the media and the fans, the Yankees were now supposed to lose.
A Yankees loyalist expressed the prevailing view. "It's over. After all they've done, it's over."
The "experts" explained that the Atlanta Braves had too much pitching for the Yankees to come back. There was no way that they could beat Tom Glavine, Denny Neagle, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux, but it wasn't just the Braves' pitching.
Nineteen-year-old rookie Andruw Jones had a hot bat. In the opening game, he became the youngest player to hit a World Series home run. Before his blast, the youngest player to accomplish the feat was Mickey Mantle.
The Yankees' tremendous energy and the poise that helped get them to the World Series had been wiped away by John Smoltz and Greg Maddux. Against the latter, who pitched eight innings, the Yankees hit 19 ground balls
Joe Torre was stunned.
"Yeah, we have pitchers like Clemens and Appier in our league," the Yankees manager told the media, "but not on the same team."
And they still had to face Glavine.
The Yankees fans had done their best to intimidate the Braves, but they failed. Obscene chants and batteries thrown from the stands with malicious intent did the Yankees no good.
The Series opener had been rained out, which Torre thought helped the Braves regroup after a tough NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals, but Torre wasn't using that as an excuse.
After trailing the Cards, three games to one, the Braves reeled off three consecutive wins and followed that with their two wins at Yankee Stadium. Braves pitchers allowed two runs in the five games.
David Cone was going to start the third game against Denny Neagle. Torre was leaning toward starting Kenny Rogers in the fourth game despite some concerns about his shoulder. Torre explained his reasoning.
"Kenny has been one of our starters most of the year, and without Doc Gooden available to us, I feel there is a certain loyalty to a guy that has been there for me all year. Now I want to be there for him."
Rogers finished the season 12-8 with a 4.68 ERA, a 107 ERA+ and a 1.464 WHIP.
When asked if he would consider bringing Game 1 starter Andy Pettitte back on two days' rest to start the fourth game, Torre didn't mince words.
"I thought about it last night," he told reporters. "I'll still need a pitcher for Game 5. It would be Kenny Rogers in Game 5, otherwise it would be Jimmy Key on two days' rest and that's not going to happen.
Cone started the third game against Glavine, Rogers started the fourth game against Neagle and gave up five runs in two innings, Pettitte started the fifth game against Smoltz, Key started the sixth game back at Yankee Stadium.
The Braves joined the 1985 Cardinals and 1986 Red Sox.
The Yankees joined the 1985 Royals and the 1986 Mets.
Anderson, D. (1996, Oct 22). World series '96. New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. A1. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/109569775?accountid=46260
Vecsey, G. (1996, Oct 22). All that momentum is gone now. New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. B13-B13. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/109571678?accountid=46260