World Series: Yankee Panky, Phillie Phactoids

 

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.

Yankee Panky

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.

Phillie Phactoids

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.

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1950: Cheap Gas, Truman, a Yankee Sweep

In America in 1950, the last time the Yankees and Phillies met in the World Series, the average cost of a new car was $1,510 and filling it with gas cost 18 cents a gallon. Harry S. Truman was President. With World War II just five years removed, the Korean War began when North Korean Communist forces invaded South Korea. “All About Eve” won the Academy Award for Best Picture. My folks got married.

On the diamond, the Philadelphia “Whiz Kids” defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers on the final day of the season to win the National League pennant.. Meanwhile the Yankees outlasted the Detroit Tigers by three games  to win the American League flag.

The Yanks entered the World Series as heavy favorites, coming off a World Series win against the Dodgers in 1949. The Phillies were playing in their first Series in 35 years.

New York wound up sweeping Philadelphia in four games, although all four were tight, pitching duels.

Game One: Yankee right-hander Vic Raschi pitches a two-hit shutout to beat the Phillies and surprise starter Jim Konstanty, 1-0. Konstanty was making his first and only start of the season.

Game Two: Joe DiMaggio’s 10th inning home run into the left-field upper deck at Philadelphia’s old Shibe Park gives Allie Reynolds and he Yankees a 2-1 win over Robin Roberts.

Game Three: Shortstop Granny Hamner’s error in the eighth inning allows the tying run to score and the Yanks win 3-2 in the ninth on a two-out single by Jerry Coleman.

Game Four: Fueled by a Yogi Berra home run, rookie left-hander Whitey Ford, shown above, holds the Phils scoreless until an error in the ninth inning, and the Yankees prevail, 5-2.

The Yankees pitching rotation allowed only three earned runs and finished the Fall Classic with a combined 0.73 ERA. Only four other teams finished with an ERA of less than 1.00 — the 1905 New York Giants (0.00), the 1966 Baltimore Orioles (0.50),  the 1907 Chicago Cubs (0.75) and the 1920 Cleveland Indians (0.89).

The Phillies also became the last National League team to fail to hit a single home run during the World Series. The last two NL teams without a homer before than were the 1939 Cincinnati Reds and the 1927 Pittsburgh Pirates. All three clubs were swept by the Yankees.

Coleman, the Yankees acrobatic second baseman who knocked in the winning run in both the first and third games and batted .286 in four games, was named the World Series MVP. Outfielder Gene Woodling led the Yankees with a .433 average and DiMaggio hit .308.  Hamner hit .429 for the Phils, and first baseman Eddie Waitkus (whose godson is a Red Sox fan) batted. 267.

Konstanty would win the NL MVP Award that year, while Yankee shortstop and future Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto won AL honors. And the Yankees would go on to win three more World Series and five straight overall, the longest run in baseball history.


Pete Carroll, the Jets, the Dead and USC

Things have worked out just fine for Pete Carroll at USC.

Nearly 15 years ago, I settled into a window seat on an American Airlines flight from JFK to San Francisco, one of a seemingly endless chain of business trips from New York to Silicon Valley.

I opened up my Sunday New York Times (which always makes for great cross country reading) and started reading the sports pages, when a man sat down in the empty seat next to mine.

The guy looked familiar, though I couldn’t place him right away. Then it hit me. That’s Pete Carroll, Coach Carroll. formerly of the Jets.

After my “Hey Coach” introd we struck up a conversation, and talked on and off as AA Flight 15 made its way across the Alleghenies over the cornfields of Iowa and the Rockies and eventually into SFO.

As it turned out, we were born the same year, so we had a lot in common growing up, Carroll in Northern California and me in suburban New York. He asked me if I was a Jets or Giants fan. I told him the Giants were my team, but that like many New Yorkers I also followed the fortunes of the Jets, especially when they were having a good season.

We talked about Grateful Dead concerts we had attended, about Woodstock and some of the other great bands of the 60s and 70s.

A Year with The Jets
Carroll had just been fired by the Jets after just one season at the helm. The Jets got off to a 6–4 start under Carroll in 1994, but in week 12 they were victimized by Dan Marino’s clock play that led to a Dolphins game-winning touchdown.

They lost all of their remaining games to finish 6–10. Carroll was fired, replaced by Rich Kotite. How did that work out Jets fans?

I remember telling Carroll that I felt been giving a raw deal from the Jets, who never really gave him a chance.

He told me he was returning home to San Francisco to interview with the 49ers for a defensive coordinator position.

Well Carroll took that position in 1995 and two years later was named head coach of the New England Patriots. Taking over for Bill Parcells, he led the Pats to a 33-31 record and two playoff appearances in three years before being replaced by none other than Bill Belichick.

Success at USC
Carroll was named the head coach at Southern California in December of 2000,  signing a five-year contract after USC had gone through a tumultuous 18-day search to replace fired coach Paul Hackett. He was not the Trojans’ first choice, and was considered a long shot as USC initially planned to hire a high-profile coach with recent college experience.  Meanwhile Carroll, who had not coached in over a year and not coached in the college ranks since 1983, drew unfavorable comparisons to the outgoing Hackett.

To date, Pete Carroll. He is 93-16 as head coach with the Trojans, with back-to-back national championships in 2003 and 2004. His team won a school-record 34 straight games from 2003–2005, a streak that started after a triple-overtime loss to California and ended with the national championship game in the 2006 Rose Bowl, against the Texas Longhorns.

In a recent interview, Carroll told Esquire magazine: “Jerry Garcia said that he didn’t want his band to be the best ones doing something. He wanted them to be the only ones doing it. To be all by yourself out there doing something that nobody else can touch — that’s the thought that guides me, that guides this program.”

Yep, things are working out just fine for Pete Carroll at USC, thank you.


Yankees-Mariners: History in the Making

Ken Griffey, Jr.  slides home with the winning run as the Seattle Mariners beat the New York Yankees in the deciding Game Five of the 1995 ALDS.

The other night the MLB Network ran a replay of the fifth and deciding game of that fantastic 1995 American League divisional series between the Yankees and the Mariners. You remember, the one where the series was decided by Ken Griffey, Jr’s mad dash home on Edgar Martinez two-run double in the bottom of the 11th inning. Where the two teams combined for a record 22 home runs, 11 by each club.

Amazing how many players from that game have played a part in the destinies of the two teams in the 14 years since the Mariners won that 6-5 thriller. Consider this:

Seattle Mariners

Randy Johnson, the big left-hander, won two games in the series, including the clinching Game 5 in relief. Later Johnson won three games against the Yankees for the Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series, ending New York’s three-time championship run. And finally the Big Unit pitched two years for the Yankees in 2005 and 2006, winning 17 games each season but failing miserably in the playoffs both years. Yankee fans would later joked that Johnson killed the when he faced them, and he killed them again when he pitched in pinstripes.

Ken Griffey, Jr.: Had a terrific series with five homers and a .391 average, and of course he scored the series-clinching run. Griffey later went on to play for the Cincinnati  Reds, but never experienced the glory of those halcyon days in Seattle. He came back to the Mariners in 2009 to wind down his career. Despite more than 630 career home runs, Griffey has never been to a World Series.

Tino Martinez: Hit .409 against the Yankees in the 1995 ALDS, then was traded to New York in the off-season along with Jeff Nelson and Jim Mecir for Russ Davis and Sterling Hitchcock. Tino was the first baseman on four Yankee championship teams.

Jay Buhner: Traded to the Yankees for Ken Phelps and incidentals in the middle of the 1988 season, Buhner went on to a stellar career in Seattle, He hit .458 in the 1995 ALDS.

Alex Rodriguez: As a pinch-runner in Game 5, A-Rod scored the tying run. After signing as a free agent with Texas, Rodriguez was traded to the Yankees before the 2004 season. Although he has yet to play in a World Series, Rodriguez has won three American League MVP awards, including 2005 and 2007 with the Yanks.

Lou Piniella: Manager of the Mariners in 1995, Piniella was an outfielder with the champion 1977 and 1978 Yankee teams. He later managed the Yankees, won a World Series with the Reds, and managed the M’s, Devil Rays and now the Cubs.

New York Yankees

The Core Four

Four Yankees involved in the 1995 ALDS are still with the Yankees, 14 years and four World Champions later. Andy Pettitte started and took a no-decision in the Yankees 15-inning win in Game Two, and was in the bullpen warming up in Game 5 as Jack McDowell surrendered a one-run lead in the 11th inning. Jorge Posada was a backup catcher, but did score a run against the M’s. Mariano Rivera started his spectacular run of post-season success with 5 1/3 innings of scoreless relief and eight strikeouts, including a pivotal stint in the eighth and ninth innings of Game 5. And although a youthful 21-year-old shortstop named Derek Jeter, right, did not  see any action against the Mariners, the familiar No. 2 was roaming the bench urging his teammates on, a captain in waiting.

Don Mattingly: Speaking of captains, Don Mattingly, in his only playoff appearance and his final season, batted .417 with a home run and six RBIs, including a go-ahead, two-run double in Game 5. In what turned out to be his final at bat, Mattingly took a called third strike against Randy Johnson in the 10th inning.

Bernie Williams: Another member of those four Yankee champions. hit two home runs and batted .429 in the series against the Mariners. It was Bernie, playing left field, who fielded Edgar Martinez’ hit in the left-field corner in Game Five but threw home too late to nab Griffey.

The catcher when Griffey slid across the plate and electrified the city of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest was star-crossed Jim Leyritz, who Game 2 of the 1995 ALDS for the Yankees with a dramatic 15th-inning home run in the rain at Yankee Stadium. Leyritz, no stranger to post-season heroics, later helped the Yankees to championships in 1996 and 1999. His dramatic three-run homer that tied the score in the eighth inning is considered the turning point in the Yankees win over the Atlanta Braves in 1996. He was later involved in a drunk driving accident in South Florida in which a woman was killed.

Randy Velarde, utility infielder who hit the go-ahead hit single in the top of the 11th inning in Game 5, signed on as a free agent with the California Angels after the 1995 season. He eventually returned to the Yankees, and helped lead them to a five-game win against Seattle in the 2001 ALCS. Ironically, Velarde recorded one of just 15 unassisted triple plays in major league history, playing second base for the Oakland A;s against the Yankees in 2000.


Walkway Over the Hudson: Bridging the Ages

DSCN2608 The  southern view from Walkway Over the Hudson shows the Mid-Hudson Bridge.

Way back in 1889, the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge opened,  spanning the Hudson River and linking New York and New England to an extensive railway network for both passengers and freight.

The bridge was considered an engineering marvel of the day, and at one time was the longest bridge in the world. It features seven main spans with a total length is 6,767 feet, including approaches, and the deck is 212 feet above water.

The bridge remained as the only Hudson River crossing soutDSCN2611h of Albany until the construction of the Bear Mountain Bridge in 1924. Throughout World War II, the  Poughkeepsie bridge carried troops to be shipped overseas. At the zenith, 3,500 train cars crossed the bridge on a daily basis.

And now, after decades of inactivity following a fire in 1974, the bridge has been transformed into the Walkway Over the Hudson, the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge and a New York State Historic Park. The Walkway provides access to the breathtaking Hudson River landscape for pedestrians, joggers and bicyclists.

And what an incredible view, more than 200 feet above the river. Vistas everywhere, from the Mid-Hudson Bridge and Poughkeepsie skyline to the south, to the bluffs of the Hudson and the Catskill Mountains to the north, shown below. Priceless.

The World in 1889
The world was a lot different in 1889, some 120 years ago, when the Poughkeepsie Railroad BriDSCN2601dge first opened. That year for instance, President Grover Cleveland signs a bill admitting North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Washington as U.S. states, before turning over the reins to Benjamin Harrison.

That same year, The South Fork Dam collapsed in western Pennsylvania, killing more than 2,200 people in the Johnstown Flood.

Meanwhile, the Coca-Cola Company was incorporated in Atlanta. The Wall Street Journal was established in 1889, and Herman Hollerith received a patent for his electric tabulating machine, an early precursor to the computer.

In the world of sports, there was no NFL and no Stanley Cup. And basketball was still just a gleam in the eye of James Naismith. The first Olympics, in Athens, was still seven years away.

In 1889, the New York Giants, leaders of the National League defeated the Brooklyn Bridegrooms of the American Association,  6 games to 3, in an exhibition series for the championship of baseball. Dan Brouthers of the Boston Beaneaters hit .373 to win the National League batting title, while Tommy Tucker of the Baltimore Orioles led the AA with a .372 average. John Clarkson of Boston and Bob Caruthers of Brooklyn won 40 games apiece to pace their respective leagues.

As trains rumbled over the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge, shown above, Spokane won the Kentucky Derby, Willie Renshaw took the last of his seven Wimbledon crowns, and Willie Park Jr won British Open in a playoff.

And undefeated Princeton won 10 games to win the college football championship (there was no playoff system in 1889 either fans).


Hometown Heroes: The Best of White Plains

Former Washington Redskin and Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Art Monk is the best athlete ever to come out of White Plains.

I was born and raised in White Plains, New York, 27 miles north of midtown Manhattan, the county seat of Westchester, famous for a Revolutionary War skirmish against the British in 1776. The oldest of four, I lived within walking distance of 11 first cousins, my grandparents and dozens of friends. It was a great place to grow up.

Of all the athletes to come out of White Plains, Art Monk was undoubtedly the best. Monk, the wide receiver who played most of his career with the Washington Redskins, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year,

A product of White Plains High School and Syracuse University, Monk was drafted in the first round of the 1980 NFL draft by the Redskins. During his 14 years in Washington, the Redskins won three Super Bowls. Monk’s 940 career receptions ranks eight on the all-time NFL list.

Monk’s best season was 1984, when had led the league with 106 receptions, at that time an NFL record. The three-time Pro Bowler finished his career with 68 touchdowns and 12,271 yards receiving.

Here is the SportsLifer list:

The Top 10 Best Athletes from White Plains

 1. Art Monk — In addition to the above, he is also a distant relative of jazz pioneer Thelonious Monk

2. Larry James — A double medalist at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, James won a gold medal running the third leg on the US 4x400m relay team. That team set a world record of 2:56.16 seconds that lasted until 1992. James, left, handing off to Lee Evans, also won a silver medal in the 400m at the Mexico City games. As a collegian at Villanova University, James won the NCAA 440-yard title in 1970, and three indoor crowns at that distance in 1968, 1969 and 1970.

3. Dick Nolan — Joined the New York Giants as a defensive back in 1954 after a collegiate career at Maryland. A member of the 1956 Giants team that won the NFL championship, he had 28 interceptions in a nine-year career, including six in his rookie season. Later went on to coach the 49ers and Saints.

4. Jim Turnesa — One of seven famous golfing brothers, Jim was the only one to win a major championship, the 1952 PGA Championship, beating Chick Harbert 1-up in the match-play final. He was also a member of the 1953 Ryder Cup team.

5. Bob Hyland — Born and raised in White Plains and a graduate of Archbishop Stepinac High School, Hyland was an All-America offensive lineman at Boston College. He was drafted in the first round (ninth overall) by the Packers in 1967, and was a member of Green Bay’s second Super Bowl champion in his rookie season. Hyland played for four teams during his 11-year NFL career. His popular White Plains establishment, The Sports Page, was one of America’s first sports bars.

6. Sal Yvars — A catcher with the New York Giants and later the St. Louis Cardinals, he played eight years in the majors from 1947 to 1954. A .244 career hitter, Yvars best year was 1951 when he hit .317 for the Giants, who win the National League pennant on Bobby Thomson’s miracle home run.

7. Mal Graham — A first-round draft pick of the Celtics in 1967, this NYU product played two seasons and won two titles with Boston. Graham, pictured top row, right, with the 1968-69 Celtics, averaged 4.7 points per game. He is currently a judge with the Massachusetts Court of Appeals.

8. Jay Saldi — Tight end, he played his college ball at South Carolina before going to the Dallas Cowboys in 1976. Saldi played for seven seasons with Dallas, and was a member of the Cowboys team that won Super Bowl XII. His best year was 1980, when he had 25 receptions for 311 yards. He wound up his nine-year career with the Chicago Bears.

9. Marty Conlon –  A Stepinac graduate who later played at Providence College, Conlon played with seven different teams in a nine-year NBA career.The 6-10 center averaged 6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.

10. Willie Turnesa — Another of the famous Turnesa brothers and a graduate of Holy Cross College, Willie won U.S. Amateur titles in 1938 and 1948 and the British Amateur in 1947.

White Plains Reserves

Eric Ogbogu – Graduated from Maryland in 1998 and played seven seasons with the Jets, Bengals and Cowboys as a defensive end.

Art Schult — A reserve outfielder with the 1953 Yankee squad that won a fifth straight World Series. Schult hit .264 lifetime in a career that spanned five years and four different teams.

Channing Frye — Born in White Plains, his family later moved to Arizona, Frye was a top draft pick of the New York Knicks in 2005 and averaged a career best 12.5 points a game as a rookie. The forward-center now plays for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Grover “Deacon” Jones — Not to be confused with the NFL Hall of Fame defensive end, Jones joined the Chicago White Sox in 1962. The first baseman played three years and posted a .286 lifetime batting average.


The 10 Best Football Games at Yankee Stadium

Earlier this week, a new bowl game to be played in Yankee Stadium in 2010 was announced at a press conference in the Bronx. The game, to be played between Christmas and New Year’s Day, will feature the third- or fourth-place finisher in the Big East against the seventh-place team in the Big 12.

Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz, Jr., is on record as saying the game should the called the “Jeter Bowl.”

In July, the Yankees announced that Notre Dame will host Army at Yankee Stadium on November. 20, 2010, marking the first football game in the new Stadium and the 50th time the schools have will square off against one another in one of the classic rivalries in college football.

The original Yankee Stadium was host to many monumental football games, beginning with Notre Dame-Army clashes in the 1920s. While the New York Giants were playing across the Harlem River at the Polo Grounds, several football teams named the Yankees played at the Stadium, including one in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) from 1946 through 1949.

The Giants moved into the Stadium in time for the 1956 season, and that year won the NFL championship against the Bears.

So, what were the top ten football games in Yankee Stadium history? Here’s the SportsLifer list:

Top 10

1. In what is called “The Greatest Game Ever Played” the Baltimore Colts defeat the New York Giants, 23-17, in overtime in the game that raised the profile of the NFL. Alan Amache, above, scores the winning touchdown in the December dusk, 1958.

2. At halftime of a scoreless game, Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne urges his squad to “Win one for the Gipper.” And the Irish do just that, rallying to defeat Army, 12-6, in honor of the late Irish All-American George Gipp, 1928.

3. In a game that features four past or future Heisman Trophy winners (Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis of Army, Johnny Lujack and Leon Hart of Notre Dame), the number one ranked Cadets and second-ranked Irish play to a scoreless tie. Lujack’s game- saving tackle of Blanchard preserves the tie in the “Battle of the Century,” 1946.

4. Much as they did 22 years earlier at the Polo Ground, the Giants don sneakers instead of football cleats on an icy field. New York overwhelms the Chicago Bears, 47-7, to win the NFL championship, 1956.

5. Pat Summerall kicks a 49-yard field goal in a swirling snowstorm to give the Giants a 13-10 win over the Cleveland Browns, forcing a playoff for the NFL East crown. The Giants would go on to down the Browns in that playoff and advance to the NFL championship game, 1958.

6. Undefeated Fordham and the Seven Blocks of Granite need one more win to reach the Rose Bowl, but NYU beats Vince Lombardi and company and spoils their Thanksgiving, 7-6,on a muddy field, 1936.

7. Giants quarterback Y.A.Tittle ties NFL record with seven touchdown passes against the Washington Redskins. The Giants win the game, 49-34, 1962.

8. In the second and final edition of the Gotham Bowl, right, Nebraska edged Miami, 36-34, despite an MVP performance by Hurricane quarterback George Mira. Only 6,166 brave the bitter, 14-degree temperatures, 1962.

9. Yankee Stadium plays host to its final NFL Championship game, with the Green Bay Packers defeating the Giants,16-7, on the strength of three field goals by guard Jerry Kramer, 1962.
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10.
Central State University of Ohio defeats Grambling, 37-21 in the final Whitney M. Young Urban League classic….and the last football game ever played at the old Yankee Stadium. ”They just came to play; we didn’t,” said dejected Grambling coach Coach Eddie Robinson. 1987.