Here I was, rubbing my hands in anticipation of reviving the great World Series rivalry between the Yankees and Dodgers, which marked my youth, and was about to be revived here in 2017.
And why not?
The Dodgers had already disposed of last season’s storybook champs, the Cubs, and the Yankees had bounced back from a 2-0 deficit to win three games at home and were on the brink of capturing the AL pennant.
But something happened on the way to a grand flashback in baseball history. The Astros came back to win two more at home and reach the World Series themselves.
I believe I once declared, something that is a foregone conclusion in baseball, that in the post-season, pitching is king. It was for the Astros.
In the four games in Houston, the Astros allowed the Yanks a total of three runs. A single run in each of the first three games, and a shutout in the seventh and deciding contest.
I was all set to reach back in the memory bank to regale you, the reader, to those fabulous and numerous confrontations between the powerful Yankees of the 40’s, 50’s and part of the 60’s, and the Dodgers, first in Brooklyn, then when they moved to Los Angeles.
Those two clubs collided in 1947, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, and in 1963. That’s a pretty decent run. But that wasn’t the end of it. The two clashed again, in 1977,1978 and again in 1981.
It all started in 1941, but that, strange as it seems, was before my time.
A total of 11 times, more than any other pair of teams from the American and
National Leagues. The Yankees won eight of them.
Some of baseball’s most memorable moments occurred when the Yankees and Dodgers played each other in the World Series.
Here are some…1947… Al Gionfriddo robbing Joe DiMaggio of a game-tying home run with a brilliant catch in left field.
In that same Series, Dodgers pinch-hitter Cookie Lavagetto not only ended Bill Bevens bid for a no-hitter with two out in the ninth inning, he won the game with a two-run double.
In 1955, the Dodgers, who had never won a World Series against anybody, not to mention the Yankees, finally took the title on Johnny Podres’ pitching gem
in the seventh game to give the New York City borough of Brooklyn it’s greatest moment.
A year later, Yankees right-hander Don Larsen pitched the only perfect game in Series history, retiring all 27 Dodgers in succession for a 2-0 masterpiece.
A moment that truly stands alone in the sport’s history.
In 1963, the pitching dominance of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale gave the Los Angeles Dodgers a sweep. Let’s not forget the three home runs hit by the Yankees Reggie Jackson in the deciding sixth game of the 1977 classic.
So many thrills, so many memories.
So I suppose I couldn’t help myself by bringing up those highlights between two clubs who are NOT facing each other this week.
Instead it’s the Houston Astros taking on the Dodgers. Yes, those same Astros who were in the National League with the Dodgers for 51 years, but moved to the American League in 2013, in a realignment that evened both leagues at 15 teams apiece and opened the door for a playoff that would include two wild-card teams.
This year, the Dodgers won 104 games, the most in the major leagues. The Indians captured 102 victories, and the Astros won 101. So this World Series is the first since 1970, featuring two teams winning over 100 games.
The Cincinnati Reds, and the Baltimore Orioles did the trick back then.
The Astros, who were once known as the Colt-45’s, have played in one World Series. They were swept in four-straight by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.
The Dodgers, for all their past successes haven’t even played in a Series since 1988, when they beat the Oakland A’s in five games.
So here they are. One of the appealing aspects to baseball, is it’s unpredictability, not only going into the regular season, but in the playoffs as well.
While the Dodgers and Astros ran away with their respective division races in 2017, many observers still claimed the Cubs, Indians, and Red Sox would likely outlast the others on the way to the championship.
But every series leading up to the World Series is an adventure.
In this matchup, you will hear about the young, opportunistic Astros lineup, and the productive Dodgers hitters. You will hear about the stalwart starting pitching on both sides including Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers headliner, who has plenty of company behind him. And another veteran, Justin Verlander, a perfect 9-0 for the Astros since his acquisition from the Tigers, will start Game 2.
He’s not alone among Houston’s starting corps.
Whatever you hear, it will all come down to the pitching, as usual.
Both teams have strong bullpens, and in this day of multiple pitching changes in virtually every game, it’s a matter of who has it that night, and who doesn’t.
The bullpens will decide this World Series in my opinion.
As you read this , the Series will have already started to develop.
You want a prediction? You know how I feel about that.
So I’ll flip a coin. By the way, this is the first year homefield advantage has gone to the team with the best record.
In the playoffs, both the Astros and the Dodgers are 10-0 at home.
Forget about the coin flip.
I’ll go with the Dodgers. In seven games, of course.
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