THE SPORTING SCENE
Wait Till Next Year?
The honeymoon is over. The World Series was guaranteed to be dull and lustreless, coming on the heels of the most exciting pennant race in the 75 years of major league baseball. Indeed, the only exciting moment in the series came when the Glants fell back on the week-old script. But somehow they couldn't do it over in just the same way.
They set the stage just right, entering the ninth inning behind, 4 to 1, getting one run across, standing Alvin Dark on third (in place of Don Mueller, who injured himself reaching that position the last time) and Whitey Lockman on second. Bobby Thomson was supposed to let one strike go by and hit the next pitch into the left field seats. But Bob Kuzava failed to take the role of Ralph Branca seriously. His first pitch was a ball, and Bob Thomson couldn't find his place. With appalling inability to ad lib, Thomson lifted a fly to left and Dark scored, but it wasn't the same thing.
Third string catcher Sal Yvars, the only Giant who had not yet appeared in the series (not counting Mueller), walked nervously in from the bullpen. He dumped the first pitch into the unpatrolled sector behind second base.
The Key to the City
Now we come to the biggest difference between the New York teams. Mueller, whose ability to splash singles into holes had earned him the nickname of "Mandrake the Magician," was replaced by a third-baseman, a pitcher-outfielder-failure, and two pinch-hitters. These substitutes made two hits in twenty tries and three errors in ten tries.
Mickey Mantle of the Yankees was injured too, early in the second series game. His replacement, Hank Bauer, a better hitter and far better fielder than Mantle, drove in the winning three runs yesterday with a two-out three-and-two pitch triple. Now, one out away from victory, Bauer raced in for Yvars' Texas Leaguer and caught it on the slide for what many consider the best fielding play of the series.
This is the key. The Yankees have recently sold (not even traded) Dick Kryhoski, 1b, Bill Johnson, 3b, and Cliff Mapes, rf-cf. They still have such spares as Jensen and Bauer, lf-cf, Coleman, 2b, Mize, 1b, and Martin 2b-ss. And the only time they have a man out of the position he was born to is when the sensational Gil McDougald plays third.
The Giants, on the other hand, regularly use five outfielders and a second-base combination they got in trade for two more outfielders. And now when they need a spare outfielder, they use a third-baseman.
From Leo's Book
Of course the Yankees had a little luck--such as the day of rain that enabled Casey Stengel to use only his top three starters. But this is one out of Durocher's book.
Several years ago, Leo salvaged a game against a second-division club by relieving with his ace on the eve of a traditionally "crucial" Dodger-Cardinal series. To bemused sports writers he explained: "I play today's game today. Who knows? It could rain tomorrow!"
Durocher has done a wonderful job, converting a moribund sluggers' society into the fastest club in the majors, bringing a second division team to a pennant in two and a half years, and winning that pennant in a grueling stretch without one even passable substitute.
Nor is he new to the game of switching players around. It was his transfer of Jack Robinson to first base that gave Burt Shotton his pennant in Leo's exile year of 1947.
Luck doesn't explain the fact that the Giants failed to get the "big hit" while the Yankees didn't fail. The Giants' incredible pennant drive was achieved with one timely hit after another, but yesterday they left twelve men on base to the Yanks' five.
Stengel has the stuff, to be sure--an unlimited supply of pinch-hitters, pinch-runners, defensive replacements, and relief pitchers. He certainly knows how to use them