Low comedy usurped high drama in the opening stages of the World Series as the Mets and the A's traded victoriesand absurdities
by Ron Fimrite
Excerpt from October 22, 1973
The dignity of the National Pastime seems unlikely to be enhanced by the 1973 World Series, an event that, in its opening phases at least, displayed more elements of low comedy than high drama. That the participants should be the New York Mets and the Oakland A's seemed appropriate under the circumstances for, despite their recent successes, both have long and honorable histories of buffoonery. The Mets set the tone from the very beginning by entering the Series with the worst won-loss record (82-79) of any team in history. The A's, on the other hand, are proper champions, but because of the eccentricities of their owner and their own occasionally bizarre behavior, they have had difficulty persuading the public that they should be taken seriously. Even after they whipped Cincinnati last year, not everyone was convinced they were the better team.
"I don't believe people think of us as legitimate world champions," said Team Captain Sal Bando, a fine player and fine gentleman. "We are out to prove that we are."
The Mets had even more to prove. If the A's are regarded with some disbelief, the Mets are positively incredible. They were not taken seriously as contenders for the National League championship until the last several weeks of the season, and they did not actually win their title until a day after the season officially ended. They entered the Series for the second time in five years as Cinderellas.
The A's, for their part, were not entirely comfortable in the role of favorites. They are constitutionally happier as underdogs and the puff pieces about the "poor little Mets" rankled them. The image the visitors brought to Oakland was the one the A's themselves had worn so proudly a year ago in Cincinnati. The japes directed at them then for their popinjay uniforms, their coiffures, their intramural squabbles, their mulish owner and their strategy-obsessed manager merely perpetuated a well-cultivated, if accidentally conceived, reputation. The A's are climbers, not establishmentarians.
"Last year it was kind of a bonus just being in the Series," said Reggie Jackson, the team's star slugger and unofficial spokesman. "It was easier for us to win because nobody expected us to. Anything we did was worth a pat on the back. This year we're the world champions. The pressure is on us."