defense is the strongest in baseball. There are few better catchers than
Howard, and his strong arm could brake the Swift Set more than a little.
Richardson makes all the plays at second. Kubek, after shaking off his Army
cobwebs, is back at shortstop, which he plays in a high style all his own.
Boyer, with the fastest reflexes in the East (or West), is at third. The
outfield of Tresh, Mantle and Maris has speed and strong arms.
juggled lineups nervously late in the season. When Tommy Davis is in left
field, Gilliam at third and Larry Burright at second, all is calm, all is
bright. When Davis is moved to third and Gilliam to second to make room for
Wally Moon or Duke Snider in the outfield, the infield moans with pain. The
rest of the Dodgers are tolerable afield, with only one exception: Frank
The Giant infield
of Cepeda, Hiller, Pagan and Davenport passes the major league test, but only
Davenport is eye-popping. Mays is in center, which automatically makes the
The outcome of a
NY-LA Series could hang on two pitchers: Ford and Koufax. The first two games
would be in Los Angeles, which can be searingly hot in early October. Ford
tires quickly in heat. He would do better starting game 3 in Yankee Stadium,
but the Yankees can't wait that long. Ford will be counted on to work three
games if necessary. Koufax looked anything but fit the first times out after
his long layoff, and may not even be ready for a Series. But if he suddenly
rounded into form, or even 75% of his form, the Dodger pitching staff might
Much, too, will
depend on another player who turns up frequently on sick call: Mickey Mantle.
In terms of sheer determination, this has been his finest season, but his legs
have been looking unsteady of late. With a little rest, however. Mantle could
do much to neutralize the Dodgers' advantage in the pitching department.
All other things
being equal, a NY-LA Series would turn on the matter of whether the Yankees can
control the Swift Set. The Yankees have faced no team all season with the
Dodgers' speed, but neither have the Dodgers faced a catcher with the all-round
skill of Elston Howard. A battery of Ford and Howard should have no trouble
with the swifties, but the right-handers Terry and Stafford lack Ford's move to
first and his poise. The Dodgers have been running better pitchers to the
showers all season long.
If the Giants
produce a miracle finish (an old Giant habit), they would probably start
right-handers Sanford and Marichal in Candlestick Park, lefties O'Dell and
Pierce in the Stadium. Ford would be happier in the cool breezes of San
Francisco, but the tough right-handed Giant hitters could give him fits. A
Yankee-Giant Series might well turn into a wild, free-swinging affair.
The Dodgers, take
them all for all, are a slightly better team than the Yankees, but the Yankees
have one big advantage: plenty of World Series experience. If Koufax were well,
the Dodgers would win. Without him, the Yankees are the best bet by a
Let a team's two
best pitchers fall off their accustomed pace, put the hex on the two best
hitters, pack the All-Star shortstop off to the Army, and what have you got? A
second-division team? No, you've got the New York Yankees, who next week will
be at the same old stand: the World Series, their 13th in 16 years. What
happened? As significant as anything, Thomas Michael Tresh happened.