Mutiny and a
Despite a disgruntled crew and a deserting skipper, Oakland
won the swag in a tempestuous World
Despite a disgruntled crew and a deserting skipper, Oakland won the swag in a tempestuous World Series
by William Leggett
Excerpt from October 29, 1973
No complete game pitched by either side. More men left on base than ever before in a World Series. Hitters striking out in staggering numbers. Men tracking batted balls with all the dexterity of soldiers crawling through a minefield. The winning manager quitting a world championship team before the first sip of champagne. The best player in the tournament having to defend himself against an overexuberant fan with two out in the final inning.
It was that kind of crazy Series. Last Sunday afternoon the Oakland A's, a mutinous baseball team, mercifully ended it by giving a 5-2 beating to the New York Mets, the club that had limped in with a record just shading the high side of .500. But while hardly an artistic triumph, it was indubitably the A's second consecutive championship and the fourth in six years for the much maligned American League, and that should lower the altitude of the National League's high horse.
For the third October in a row the Series had gone to a seventh game, and for the third October in a row it confounded lovers of the predictable. If New York's pitching was admirable, as expected, the Mets fielded so poorly at times that one wondered if a spell had been cast on their famous gloves. On the other hand, the Mets were not supposed to outhit the A's but they did, .253 to .207. Even so, they had a line of frustrating innings almost beyond belief; over one stretch New York left runners on base in 30 of 34 innings. Oakland, which during the past two seasons had hit more home runs than any other American League team, sent 218 men to the plate before finally getting a ball out of the park in the deciding game.
Poorly played though it was overall, the 70th Series produced some dramatic defensive plays in addition to its comic highlights. Oakland's excellent leftfielder, Joe Rudi, made a month's worth of startling catches in a week and New York Shortstop Bud Harrelson played his position as well as it can be played.
But not until the fifth game did the Series get out from under its zany peripheral activities and permit a viewer to concentrate on the Rudis and the Harrelsons in short, on baseball. The A's resembled a soap-opera troupe, and Charles O. Finley, the jolly green gew-gaw who owns them, exhibited all his familiar charm and grace. At one stage an Oakland player was asked if he had talked to Finley recently. "No, not at all," he said. "Every time I call him he's out walking his pet rat."