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All Aces
Tom Verducci
November 01, 1999
In a World Series stacked with top-drawer starters, Orlando Hernandez and the Yankees got a leg up on the Braves
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November 01, 1999

All Aces

In a World Series stacked with top-drawer starters, Orlando Hernandez and the Yankees got a leg up on the Braves

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Myers did contribute the only hit off Cone, a fifth-inning single after which he was immediately eradicated by a double play. By then, the Braves trailed 7-0 and their starter, Millwood, who has the best winning percentage (.690) among active pitchers with at least 50 decisions, had long been driven from the game. Ten of the 15 batters he faced reached base, and five of them scored. The Yankees, contrarians to the slugfest mentality of these times, hadn't bothered to hit a home run in half the games of their 10-game World Series winning streak. They preferred to use singles, bunts and walks like arsenic. They were on the doorstep of having their third world championship team in four years without a 30-home-run hitter. "My pitches were either right down the middle or way out of the zone," Millwood said afterward. "You can't do that against these guys."

It wasn't the sort of flameout you expected from any of the Big Eight starters in this Series. Through Game 2 (chart, page 43) they had started more than half of all the postseason games since 1991 (113 of 212) and earned one quarter of all the victories in that time (53).

Such superb starting pitching gave the century-closing Series a fittingly retro look, recalling the 1963 Fall Classic, when future Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale (for the Los Angeles Dodgers) and Whitey Ford (Yankees) converged, or the five-game '05 Series, when the Cooperstown-bound Christy Mathewson and Joe McGinnity (New York Giants) and Chief Bender and Eddie Plank (Philadelphia Athletics) accounted for nine of the 10 starting assignments and every game ended in a shutout.

This Series did more than wink and nod at the past. It fairly welled up with tears, especially during one particularly touching moment when the 18 living members of the All-Century team were introduced before Game 2. Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey Jr. and Willie Mays delicately assisted 81-year-old Ted Williams into a chair upon a stage erected at second base. Williams in his winter has acquired an endearing patina, the fierce Teddy Ballgame having become a sweet Grandfather Baseball. The entwinement of three generations and 2,334 home runs captured in wordless eloquence the greater part of a century of baseball.

There was, too, a less poignant moment that better caught the spirit of this World Series. The first set of All-Century players to be introduced were starting pitchers Clemens, Koufax, Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan and Warren Spahn, a five-man rotation spanning every baseball season since 1946. They stood there erect and silent in coats and ties, like a tribunal of elders satisfied by how the century was closing. Cone and Millwood were throwing in the bullpens. Baseball never seemed more timeless.

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