The New York Yankees trailed the Milwaukee Braves three games to one in the 1958 World Series. The Braves dominated the Yankees after beating them for the 1957 World Championship.
Manager Casey Stengel sent Bob Turley, who would win the Cy Young Award as the Major League's best pitcher for 1958, to the Yankee Stadium mound to face nemesis Lew Burdette. The former Yankee right-hander had beaten the Yankees three times in 1957 and once already in the Series.
Turley shut out the Braves, 7-0.
The next day was a travel day to Milwaukee's County Stadium. Whitey Ford started against Warren Spahn, each on two days' rest.
Ford lasted only one-and-one-third innings, but Spahn worked into the 10th inning. You see, the idea was to win the World Series.
The Yankees scored twice in the 10th inning to take a 4-2 lead, but the Braves rallied against Ryne Duren, who was in his fifth inning of work. Duren was the Yankees' short man (now called the closer) out of the bullpen.
The Braves had scored a run. The potential tying and winning runs were on base with two outs in their half of the 10th inning.
Stengel brought in Turley to face Frank Torre. Turley retired him on a dinky pop-fly to second base for the final out.
Now it was down to a single game.
The Yankees started Don Larsen and the Braves went back to Burdette on two days' rest. Wouldn't it have been fascinating to see how Joe Girardi and Bobby Cox would have managed that Series?
The Braves blasted Larsen early, forcing Stengel to yank him in the third inning with the Yankees ahead, 2-1.
Turley, who had pitched a complete fifth game, appeared in the sixth game with one day of rest. He pitched the rest of the game, working six-and-two-thirds innings.
The Yankees won, 6-2.
Turley, whose fastball had been compared favorably to that of Bob Feller, never was the same.
He had been 21-7 with a 2.97 ERA and 19 complete games in 1958, at the age of 27. In 1959, Turley was 8-11 with a 4.32 ERA and only seven complete games.
From 1959 through 1962, which was his last season with the Yankees, Turley was 23-22 with a 4.19 ERA.
Casey Stengel knew the risk that he was taking when he used Turley in the last three games of the 1958 World Series. It ruined Turley's career, but the Yankees won a World Championship.
In 2011, the New York Yankees have a chance to win the World Series, but an admitted weakness is their starting pitching.
Ubaldo Jimenez is a 27-year-old right-hander who would fit in magnificently behind C.C. Sabathia to give the Yankees one of the best one-two pitching punches in the game. The problem is that the Yankees now face a similar problem to the one Casey Stengel faced in 1958.
The Rockies have asked the Yankees for catcher Jesus Montero, RHP Ivan Nova and the team’s top-two pitching prospects—Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances.
Montero, Baneulos, Betances and even Nova may become stars, but they are prospects. And the Yankees tend to overrate their prospects.
Despite a lackluster finish in 2010 when he failed numerous times to win his 20th game, Jimenez is a top-flight pitcher who has done well in his last few starts.
The question is: "Is improving the chances of winning the 2011 World Series worth giving up three or four top prospects?"
Remember, Stengel's Yankees were already in the World Series when he rode Bob Turley's right arm to the World Championship.
The Yankees are guaranteed to get to the playoffs. Would the addition of Jimenez actually bring the Yankees their 28th World Series title? Would having Jimenez for at least the next few years produce at least one more World Championship?
When Stengel started Ford on just two days' rest and used up Turley, he was interested in winning "now."
When Braves manager Fred Haney started Spahn and Burdette on two days' rest, he too was interested in winning "now."
In 2011, teams are unwilling to mortgage the future for immediate success.
Only time will tell if the Yankees are right.