Look at it this way. Things could be worse.
You could be a Cleveland Indians fan.
Two years ago the Indians were within one victory of a date with the Rockies in the World Series. They never got that win, blowing a 3-1 lead to the Red Sox in the ALCS.
Now the Tribe faithful get to watch a World Series where two former Indian Cy Young winners, the Yankees’ C.C. Sabathia and the Phillies’ Cliff Lee, are the aces of their respective staffs,.
When Sabathia matched up in Game One, it wasn’t the first time they faced off at Yankee Stadium. The two left-handers started in the first game at the new Stadium last April. Lee got the win and Sabathia wound up with a no decision as the Indians beat the Yankees 10-2.
And Lee prevailed again in the series opener, besting Sabathia and the Yankees in a complete game 6-1 victory.
All-White World Series
The 1950 World Series between the Yanks and the Phils has the dubious distinction of being the last World Series where every player for both teams was white.
When the Yankees added catcher Elston Howard for the 1955 season they became the 13th of 16 major league teams to integrate. The Phillies added John Kennedy in 1957, the last NL team to do so.
The Yankees victory in the ALCS snapped a two-game post-season drought against the Angels, who knocked the Yankees out of the divisional round in 2002 and 2005.
The only other team to beat the Yankees twice in a row in the post-season was John McGraw’s New York Giants, who won the World Series against the Yankees in both 1921 and 1922 when the two teams shared the Polo Grounds.
The last time the Yankees won a World Series in seven games was in 1962, when they prevailed over the San Francisco Giants. The Phillies have never played a seventh game in the World Series or any other playoff series.
The Phillies are the oldest continuous, one-name, one-city franchise in all of professional American sports, dating to 1883. The franchise was founded in Philadelphia in 1883, replacing the team from Worcester, Mass.
It took the Phillies 97 years to capture their first World Series. They “phinally” won their first title in 1980 when they beat the Royals in six games.
The Phils, of course, are defending champs, and for the first time in history they’ve won consecutive National League pennants.
Gotham vs. Philly
It’s too bad the Rangers aren’t skating against the Flyers this weekend. Then you’d have the total New York vs. Philadelphia sports showdown.
As it is, the Eagles are hosting the Giants Sunday. The Knicks play the 76ers in their home opener Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. And of course the Yankees and Phillies resume the World Series with three games in the City of Brotherly Love beginning Saturday.
Johnny Blanchard, right, Yogi Berra, left, and Elston Howard split catching duties with the World Champion 1961 New York Yankees.
In the long and storied history of major league baseball, no player has ever homered in five successive at bats.
Johnny Blanchard, the former Yankee who passed away earlier this week, may have come the closest.
On July 21, 1961, Blanchard hit a pinch-hit grand slam with two outs in the ninth inning to give the Yankees an 11-8 victory against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
The following night, Blanchard, again hitting for Clete Boyer, hit another home run in the ninth to tie the score, helping the Yanks rally for an 11-9 win.
After a couple of days off, Blanchard homered in his first two at bats against the White Sox on July 26 at Yankee Stadium in a 5-2 win. His bid for a record fifth straight homer landed in the glove of Chicago right fielder Floyd Robinson a few feet shy of the short porch in right.
Only 34 players in history have homered in four straight at bats. Notable accomplishments include the following:
- Robert Lowe (1894), Lou Gehrig (1932), Rocky Colavito (1959), Mike Schmidt (1976), Mike Cameron (2002) and Carlos Delgado did it in one game.
- In addition to Blanchard, three other Yankees performed the feat: Gehrig, Mickey Mantle (1962) and Bobby Murcer (1970).
- Another Yankee, Reggie Jackson, hit four homers in a row against the Dodgers in games five and six of the 1977 World Series.
- Schmidt also hit four in a row over the course of two games in 1979, the only player to do it twice.
- Blanchard and Baltimore’s Jeff Manto(1995) are the only players to hit four straight over three games.
- Ted Williams hit four in four games with the Red Sox in 1957, the only player ever to do that.
- Jimmie Foxx (1933), Hank Greenberg (1938), Stan Musial (1962) and Barry Bonds (2001) are among others who did it.
- Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson and Mark McGwire are among those who didn’t.
Blanchard, a native of Minnesota, had a brief stint with the Yankees in 1955 before coming to the majors to stay four years later.
A catcher, first baseman and outfielder, Blanchard was a valuable utility man on five straight Yankee pennant winners (1960-64), and played on both the 1961 and 1962 champions.
Blanchard had a career year in 1961, batting .305 with 21 homers and knocking in 54 runs in just 243 at bats.
He batted .345 in five World Series, including .400 in 1961 against the Reds. In that Series, Blanchard hit a game-tying home run in the eighth inning of game three and a two-run shot in the game five clincher.