Friday, April 23, 2021

The Greatest World Series Ever, Game 6: Up 3-2, can the 1951 Yankees close it out?

The Greatest World Series ever heads back to the renovated Yankee Stadium for Game 6, with the 1951 Yankees holding a 3-games-to-2 edge over the 1998 Yankees. 

The 1998 Yankees were down 3-1 in their opening series in the second round (they had a bye in the first round), and down 3-2 in the third round, but rallied to win both series in 7 games. Do they have another comeback in them? We'll see.

Here are the lineups:

1951 Yankees: Phil Rizzuto, SS; Hank Bauer, RF; Gil McDougald, 3B; Yogi Berra, C; Mickey Mantle, CF; Gene Woodling, LF; Bobby Brown, DH; Jerry Coleman, 2B; Joe Collins, 1B. Starting Pitcher: Allie Reynolds.

1998 Yankees: Derek Jeter, SS; Scott Brosius, 3B; Bernie Williams, CF; Paul O'Neill, RF; Jorge Posada, C; Tino Martinez, 1B; Chuck Knoblauch, 2B; Chad Curtis, DH; Shane Spencer, LF. Starting Pitcher: Andy Pettitte.

After Robert Merrill sings the national anthem, we're ready to go. Click below to get the details.

Top of the 1st: Phil Rizzuto leads off with a walk against Andy Pettitte, and Hank Bauer promptly singles him to second. Gil McDougald pops out, and Pettitte walks Berra to load the bases with Mickey Mantle coming to the plate. Pettitte gets Mantle to fly out to center, scoring Rizzuto with the game's first run. Gene Woodling grounds out to end the inning. Score: 1951 1, 1998 0.

Bottom of the 1st: The 1998 Yankees strike right back. Derek Jeter lines a single to left and steals second. After Brosius and Bernie Williams both strike out, Paul O'Neill singles Jeter in to tie the game. Posada grounds out to end the inning. Score: Tied, 1-1.

Bottom of the 3rd: Brosius hits a two-out single, and then Bernie Williams triples him home to give the the '98 team the lead.  Score: 1998 2, 1951 1

Top of the 4th: With one out, Bobby Brown and Jerry Coleman hit back-to-back singles, with Brown going to third. Joe Collins then hits a fly to right that Paul O'Neill misjudges and drops for an error. Brown scores and Coleman moves to third, where he comes in on a sacrifice fly by Rizzuto. Bauer grounds out to end the inning. Score: 1951 3, 1998 2.

Bottom of the 4th: With one out and the bases empty, Tino Martinez pulls a 2-1 pitch into the seats in right. Score: Tied, 3-3. 

Top of the 5th: Mantle and Woodling both single to start the inning to put runners on the corners. Bobby Brown hits a fly to left deep enough to score Mantle. Coleman singles to put runners at first and third. Torre heads to the mound, but keeps Pettitte in to pitch to Joe Collins. That backfires as Collins hits a flyball to right just far enough to make it into the stands. The 3-run HR is it for Pettitte, as Graeme Lloyd comes in to get out of the inning. Score: 1951 7, 1998 3. 

Top of the 7th: Brown leads off with a single and is bunted to second by Coleman. Collins grounds out to first, moving Brown to third, and a single by Phil Rizzuto brings in a run and chases Lloyd. Mike Stanton comes in and picks off Rizzuto to end the inning. Score: 1951 8, 1998 3

Top of the 8th: Bauer leads off the inning with his fourth hit of the day. After McDougald flies out, Berra hits a shot to right-center that gets goes all the way to the wall, allowing Berra to chug into third with a triple. Mantle strikes out, but Woodling singles home Berra. Singles by Brown and Coleman bring in another run before Torre brings in Hideki Irabu to get the final out. Score: 1951 11, 1998 3.

Bottom of the 8th: The 1998 Yankees show a little life. O'Neill leads off with a double and 1 out later Tino Martinez singles to right-center to score O'Neill. That's all they get, though. Score: 1951 11, 1998 4.

Bottom of the 9th: Johnny Sain is still in the game, but he's tiring. Spencer and Jeter stroke back-to-back singles, and a walk to Brosius brings out Stengel, and Joe Ostrowski comes into the game. He's greeted by a bloop single by Bernie Williams, though, to make it 11-5. O'Neill pops out in foul territory for the first out, but Jorge Posada lines a single a score Jeter and make it a 5-run game. Tino Martinez -- who already has a home run in this game and a team-leading 9 HRs in this tournament -- comes to the plate with the bases still loaded and a chance to pull the 1998 team within a run. The 1998 team had two 9th-inning comebacks in the semifinals. Could it happen again? ... No. Martinez hits a 1-1 pitch hard, but it's on the ground right to Rizzuto, who flips to Coleman at second for one and over to Collins at first for the series-ending double play. 


1951 Yankees win the series, 4 games to 2

Ballgame over! Series over! Greatest World Series Ever Tournament over! 1951 Yankees win! Thuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh Yankees win!

Series MVP: The computer gives the series MVP to Hank Bauer, who was 12-for-26 and scored at least once in every game. You could make an argument for Collins, who drove in 7 runs in the series and had a key home run in the deciding game, and for Raschi, who tossed a pair of complete-game victories. But I won't argue too much with the Bauer pick.

Tournament MVP: The computer did not give out a Tournament MVP, but I will, and I think it's an easy pick. Vic Raschi of the 1951 team. It's hard to argue with an 8-0 record, a 3.57 ERA and 5 complete games. Two wins in each series. That's an ace. 

Other notables: Yogi hit .308 in the tournament with 7 HRs and 20 RBIs while Joe Collins had a surprising 20 RBIs as well. Mantle hit .268 with 4 HRs and 19RBIs. 

For the 1998 team, Tino Martinez had 9 HRs and 26 RBIs, while Bernie Williams had 6 HRs and 23 RBIs. Paul O'Neill hit .339 and Derek Jeter hit .325. 

So, there you have it. The 1951 Yankees pop the champagne corks in the clubhouse in the Greatest World Series Ever. Are they the best Yankees team ever? No -- anything can happen in a 7-game series (and the computer made some lineup decisions that were a bit odd, to say the least). So we'll hold off on declaring them the greatest of all time. But after this tournament, Yogi, Mickey, Joe D., Phil and the boys can light up some celebratory cigars and celebrate at Toots Shor's. 

The final-round recap:

... and the final bracket


HoraceClarke66 said...

Well, thanks for all the time and effort, Bernie. I guess the key to the 1951 team's effort was keeping DiMaggio on the bench. That bum!

COULD the 1951 team have beat the 1998 team in a short series? Sure. The Big Three of Raschi, Reynolds, and Lopat were three of the greatest World Series pitchers who ever played. They were a combined 16-6 in the Fall Classic, with 4 saves, and the highest ERA any of them had was 2.79.

A team with those starters—not to mention a lineup and bench full of both canny veterans and amazing kids (Jackie Jensen was a benchwarmer)—could beat any team that ever played in a short series. Imagine if they'd had Whitey Ford, who was in the service!

That said...

HoraceClarke66 said...

...The 1951 Yankees were a lily-white team that played in a very white American League. For that matter, nearly half of their opponents—Washington, St. Louis, and Philadelphia—weren't even really competing.

Could they have taken the 1998 Yankees in a regular season? I sincerely doubt it.

Take a look at the personnel. Sure, the 1951 squad was superior at catcher with Yogi Berra—maybe the greatest catcher ever—and in left field with the Bauer/Woodling platoon over The All-Purpose Herd: Curtis/Raines/Daryl/Ledee/Spencer. I'd call them even at third with Rookie of the Year Gil McDougald and Intern Bobby Brown vs. Scott Brosius in his career year.

But when it comes to the rest of the infield and outfield, the 1998 team is clearly superior, if only because Mantle was still on the way up and DiMaggio on the way down and out.

Let's call the starting pitching even, too: The Big Three, plus The Ploughboy, Tom Morgan, and Johnny Sain v. Wells/Cone/Pettitte/The Original El Duque/Irabu.

But in the pen, the Big Five of The Great One, Stanton, Nelson, Mendoza, and the Aussie clearly outpace Bob Kuzava and Joe Ostrowski...

HoraceClarke66 said...

...It would be nice to see it played out, though.

Bernie, we don't want to run up your electrical bills anymore, but I'd love to see a whole roster, regular-season showdown between these same 27 champions and maybe 5 other Yankees teams that were almost as good but didn't quite make it.

Say, the 1921, 1954, 1964, 1981, and 2003 teams, with maybe 1942, 1963, 1980, and 2002 also given thoughtful consideration.

Put them in 4 divisions of 8 teams each, play out a whole season, and see what happens. Then a playoff between the winners, just for the hell of it.

But in any case, thanks for doing this.

HoraceClarke66 said...

One last note, intended primarily for Mr. Cashman:

The 1951 Yankees, like pretty much every team in this Tournament of Champions, generally had 4 lefties in the lineup, along with a switch-hitter, and two more left-handed hitters on the bench.

They also had a lefty in the rotation, and two more in the pen.


Scottish Yankee fan said...

Thank you for taking the time and effort to post these matches I have really enjoyed reading them

BernBabyBern said...

Glad folks have enjoyed it. It was fun.

Horace, I can put seasons together on the software, and could do something like you suggested. I'd have to learn a little more about the program, but I think it'd be interesting. I don't think it would be that tough to put together. Maybe something to run in the offseason.

JM said...

This was great, Bern. I was grumpy after losing the 1927 team, but I came around.

As for Hoss's comment that, in reality, the '51 team could not have beaten the '98 team, I beg to differ. Yes, they were a white team and could have benefitted from signing some of the African American players breaking into MLB, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. After all, the '98 team starters were largely white and Latino. It's kind of amazing now that I think of it. Davis, Raines and Straw were mostly role and backup players by that time in their careers. Of course, by the 90s, Black American kids had moved away from baseball in droves, so it's not an inexplicable development. I may be wrong, but I think that was reflected across the majors.

As for flat-out ability, the '98 pen was great, no question. The real greatness of the team was depth--Torre could do almost anything and the chosen player(s) would come through. You could probably say the same about the '51 team, too. There's a lot to argue about when comparing the two teams, and maybe the computer would come up with a different result if the series was replayed. But I don't think it's out of the question that the older team could prevail. As I've said before, none of us ever saw them in action, and recency bias will make us lean toward the teams we've seen and remember best. So I give the historic teams a little more credit to try and balance that out.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Well, as I said, JM, I think the 1951 team could beat anyone in a short series. But over a season?

Also, on the 1998 team, I count Derek Jeter, Luis Sojo, Homer Bush, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Daryl Strawberry, Chili Davis, Ricky Ledee, Tim Raines, El Duque, Hideki Irabu, Ramiro Mendoza, and Mariano Rivera as guys who would almost certainly NOT have been allowed on the 1951 Yankees roster. (Tino, maybe.)

That's over half the roster, and a helluva lot of talent.

But I'm also talking about how many players of color they would've had to play.

For instance, opponents the 1998 Yankees played included the likes of Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Kenny Lofton, Nomah, Mo Vaughn, Pedro, Tom Gordon, Canseco, Carlos Delgado, Rafael Palmer, Roberto Alomar, Sandy Alomar, Jr., Eric Davis, Harold Baines, Fred McGriff, David Justice, Bartolo Colon, Frank Thomas, Magglio Ordonez, Johnny Damon, Jose Offerman, David Ortiz, Tony Clark, I-Rod, A-Rod, Juan Gone, Roberto Kelly, Cecil Fielder, Garret Anderson, Ken Griffey, Edgar Martinez, David Segui, Glenallen Hill, Miguel Tejada, and Rickey Henderson—most of whom would have been excluded from the AL of 1951 due to complexion alone.

(Among the NL teams the Yanks played that year, there were Cliff Floyd, Edgar Renteria, Livan Hernandez, Vlad the Lad, Rondell White, Ugie Urbina, Javy Lopez, Andres Galarraga, Andruw Jones, Ozzie Guile, Gerald Williams, Carlos Baerga, Rey Ordonez, Edgardo Alfonzo, Bobby Abreu, Tony Gwynn, and Greg Vaughn.)

Not too shabby. And frankly, a lot better than the competition the 1951 edition faced.

And...unlike in 1951, many of the Yankees' opponents were juicing, while it SEEMS that nobody on the Yanks was. That's a tremendous disadvantage to overcome—but the 1998 Yankees did...

HoraceClarke66 said...

Always very difficult to judge talent over the years, in any sports. Most of the more recent teams would have had the better athletes, as training got more sophisticated and people in general got bigger and faster. Most of the older teams would have had players much more steeped in the nuances of the game.

But in baseball, I have to go:

1998 Yankees
1927 Yankees
1939 Yankees

Which is really phenomenal. In a 150-year-old professional sport, our boys have at least the top three teams. And we got to see one of them (the very best!).

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