Likewise, the Cincinnati Reds hardly worked up a sweat in disposing of Los Angeles in three games (page 33) to set up a meeting with the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series. The Braves were pushed to four games by the Rockies, whose Game 3 triumph forced Atlanta to use Greg Maddux on three days of rest for the first time this season (below).
The ferocity of the Seattle-New York series exposed a dangerous underside to the expanded postseason. Both the Mariners and the Yankees heaped heavy workloads on their closers and best starting pitchers, even with as many as 14 more postseason games looming. Seattle closer Norm Charlton, who missed all of last season following two surgical procedures on his left elbow, threw four innings in Game 2 (his longest outing since 1991) and then pitched in each of the next three games too. His New York counterpart, John Wetteland, threw 3⅓ innings in Game 2 (his longest outing of this decade) and was so awful coming back in Game 4 that Yankee manager Buck Showalter lost without using him in Game 5.
If one accepts the safe assumption that Johnson will be voted the Cy Young Award this year, the series ended with two Cy Young winners (Johnson and the Yanks' Jack McDowell) pitching out of the bullpen on one day's rest in a game started by a third Cy Young winner (Cone), who was left in to throw 147 pitches—a total of 282 in two series starts.
"I can barely lift my arm over my head, but I would have stayed out there all night if it would have gotten us a win," Cone said after Sunday's marathon. "The guys put their careers on the line. One pitch could have blown out their arms. You hear the rap people put on the modern-day player I, I, I and me, me, me—well, this series was anything but that. If this doesn't do a lot to diminish the greedy ballplayer image, I don't know what will."
Said Tim Belcher, one of only nine pitchers Seattle carried on its 25-man Division Series roster, "After this, I think you'll see teams carry more pitchers because of the extra round of playoffs. It used to be teams carried nine. Ten was gobs of pitchers. Now, maybe the Rockies had the right idea. They had 12."
The player strike that began last year reduced the 1995 regular season by 18 games. Given a full season, a team might have to endure 181 games to win a world championship. (The 1927 Yankees played a total of 158 games.) And de facto commissioner Bud Selig has floated the idea of expanding the Division Series to another best-of-seven round. "Only if you play a shorter season and then get a couple of off days to set up your rotation," Piniella says of that prospect. "I think a best of five for the first round is sufficient, anyway."
It's hard to imagine what could happen in seven games that could come close to matching the epic between the Mariners and the Yankees. In many ways no one ever saw anything like it. In the previous 781 games played in 144 postseason series since the first World Series in 1903:
•Never had a player hit five home runs in five games. Seattle's Ken Griffey Jr. did so after renewing acquaintance before Game 1 with Reggie Jackson, heretofore the only other man to hit five in a postseason series, though Jackson needed six games in the 1977 World Series to do so. "Mr. October," Junior said upon his audience with Jackson. "I'll go rub my bat against him." Consider the crown passed.
•Never had a player driven in seven runs in one game. Martinez did so in Game 4, three on a third-inning home run that took a large bite out of a 5-0 New York lead and four on an eighth-inning grand slam off Wetteland that broke a 6-6 tie. When a crowd of reporters converged on him after his record night, Martinez first excused himself for 20 minutes of exercise with a stationary bike and weights. "I do it every day," he said.
•Never had a player hit home runs from both sides of the plate in the same game. Yankee centerfielder Bernie Williams did that in Game 3 at the Kingdome, first taking Johnson out righthanded to the opposite field and then pulling a pitch from Bill Risley into the third deck in rightfield.