THE SPORTING SCENE
Analyzing and Speculating
In the final analysis, it isn't the quality of a team's pitching that counts, nor its speed on the bases, nor its home ran power. The team that wins the pennant is the team that wins the most games. Shallowness in the pitching staffs of both the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers is easy for the merest novice to detect. Both teams have weak spots in the batting order and in the defensive lineups. But both teams have won more games than other clubs in their leagues.
Pitchers Vic Raschi, Ed Lopat, Allie Reynolds have received credit for a great many victories. Their talents may be questioned, though I shall not question them, but the fact remains. The clutch hitting of Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Jerry Coleman, and Gil McDouglad may be questioned, but every game has a winning run, and those men have batted in a great many of them.
The Indians who usually do most of their winning in Cloveland, have kept close to the top during the present road trip. The Yankees, also a "home" club, have been unable to gain on them while playing at home. If Bob Lemon terminates his month-long slump or if Al Rosen begins to hit in 1950 style, the Indians will probably win the pennant. If neither should improve, I would still pick Cloveland.
A Simple Breakdown
My estimate is based on a simple breakdown of the season's work of the two teams. In the first fifth of the year, the Indians suffered from injuries and general inability to win. They stood at 13 wins, 15 losses when the Yankees had won 22 and lost only 9. Since then, the Indians have won 46 and lost 24, while the Yankees have won 38 and lost 27. The percentages are .657 and .585. The Boston Red Sox, meanwhile, have played .618 ball, 42-26 after 16-13. The Chicago White Sox have played about .500.
In the first weeks the Yankees were using minor league shortstop Mickey Mantle in the outfield and second baseman McDougald at third. Since then, Mantle has been sent back to the minors and McDougald has learned his new position. But the team's percentage has fallen .100 points.
Cloveland has waited out injuries to Luke Easter, Bob Feller, and Larry Doby. But its percentage has risen well over .100 points. Boston has replaced Walt Dropo in the lineup with Clyde Vollner. And Dropo never turned in such an exhibition of the utmost value to the team as Vollner has in the past weeks. But Boston's pace has been steady, on the whole, with minor spurts counteracting minor slumps. Chicago, of course, has slipped out of the picture in a sudden two-week debacle.
This analysis would lead one to predict a finish of Cleveland, Boston, and New York, in that order. But there is something about the Yankees (I say this although I have disliked the team intensely since I was a small child) which precludes such counting out.
To return to the senior league, Brooklyn is effortlessly increasing its lead over the New York Giants, obviously the only club which could even have hoped to catch the Dodgers.
There are two significant difference between these two teams. The first is the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards have beaten the Dodgers twice, lost 14 times. They have an eight and seven record with New York. The second difference is the 11-game losing streak the Giants started in April. They played the Dodgers often during that streak.
A Conservative Revision
For the sake of argument, let us neutralize somewhat these differences. The Dodgers pick up five losses to St. Louis, giving them only a nine and seven record. The Giants pick up at least four wins to neutralize the losing streak--one of them over the Dodgers. Now, instead of their actual 63-33 and 56-45 records, we find 97 wins and 39 losses for the Dodgers, 60 and 41 for the Giants--putting the Giants one half game ahead, instead of nine and a half behind Brooklyn.
Then, with Maglie and Jansen matching Newcombe and Roe, and with Thomson and Mays hitting homers, perhaps the Giants would then be able to stay ahead of the Dodgers.
Of course, this is the idle speculation of a disappointed Giant fan. The 11-game losing streak cannot be erased, and Gerry Staley will go on beating New York forever.