From The Cheap Seats 10/15/98
FROM THE CHEAP SEATS
Well, the Padres finally closed out the Braves and Bochy's rolling the dice worked, so he has Brown to go in Game One against the Yankees. As of this moment the Yankee pitching rotation still seems to be up in the air, although ESPN.com says that Orlando Hernandez will start game two. Starting your second-best pitcher in the second game is hardly an earth-shattering concept, but it will take a certain amount of guts to bypass his veteran 20 game winner (David Cone) and his veteran lefty, Andy Pettite, who only seems to pitch decently at home.
Now the traditional way to analyze a Series is to go position by position and choose who has the edge, then total things up, like this is in someway scientific, and pick the winner. My feeling is that most people who do that already know who the winner is and usually cheat the results to make things come out right. I'll pass on trying to decide the relative merits of Chuck Knoblauch and Quilvio Veras.
The Yankees are the better team. Flat out, no question. Deeper pitching, better hitting, more speed, better defense. If they were playing seventy games, I'd bet whatever I could gather together on the Yanks. But this is only a seven game series, not seventy, and strange things can happen. As it happens, everything that was said about the Yankees would have been said about the Astros and except for defense, the Braves. Yet the Padres are here, the others are home, and all the elements that got the Padres here are still solid.
Brown is hot, Hitchcock is hot, even Ashby isn't pitching badly. The bullpen is shabby, but may not be as horrible as people are making it out to be. These guys were pretty effective at various points in the playoffs, and at the end of the journey lies Trevor Hoffman. These guys may stay in all these games. The other super teams, the 1906 Cubs with 116 wins and the 1954 Indians, whose AL record the Yankees broke, lost the World Series. A break here, a break there, and the Padres will be in position to pull off the upset.
My pick: The Padres in 7.
Last time, I wondered aloud whether the Indians were the first team to start five different pitchers in the first five games of a playoff series. My crack research staff (that's me deciding to open a book) has found not one, but two instances. Back in the 1950's, the Yankees and Dodgers played a number of World Series. These were close, hard-fought battles, and since they were in the same city, they had no off days, which probably encouraged the string of new starters. At any rate, Casey Stengel used five starters in the first five games in 1953, before wrapping it up in game six with Whitey Ford, making his second start after getting knocked out in the second inning two days before. The Dodgers started Carl Erskine three times in that series. In 1955, Walter Alston took a new tack, started different pitchers in the first six games, before bringing back game three winner, Johnny Podres, in game seven, resulting in a shutout and the Dodgers first World Series win.
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