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THOSE HAPPY BIRDS!
Jack Mann
October 17, 1966
Underdogs, a team supposedly without solid pitching, the astounding Orioles used their big bats effectively if sparingly, ran out a retread reliever and three youthful starters and smothered the Dodgers four straight
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October 17, 1966

Those Happy Birds!

Underdogs, a team supposedly without solid pitching, the astounding Orioles used their big bats effectively if sparingly, ran out a retread reliever and three youthful starters and smothered the Dodgers four straight

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GAME 2

Wills made his presence known again after the second game, but in a somewhat different way.

"His fast ball was just straight—it didn't move," the Dodger captain said disparagingly. Smart-aleck Jim Palmer had thrown 115 pitches—maybe 100 of them fast balls—and had smothered the Dodger bats in a four-hit, 6-0 victory. Wills almost never loses his poise, his confidence, his innate sense of superiority, but Palmer's here-it-is hit-it performance left Maury playing pepper with the second baseman and nudged him into his sour-grapes position.

"That's better yet," the victorious Palmer said. "If they can't hit a fast ball that doesn't move, then they are really bad hitters. Which is what I said, didn't I?" Then Palmer, his arrogance justified, added, "But you better believe my fast ball moved today."

Moved better than Sandy Koufax'. Sandy, pitching his third big game in eight days, gave up only one earned run in six innings (and it was "earned" only because official scorers don't give errors when one outfielder spooks another off a fly ball), but it was a weak performance for Koufax, who failed to impress the Baltimore hitters. He looked tired, he was forcing his pitches and he had Willie Davis behind him in the outfield.

Grieve a little for Willie. He gave Baltimore the game when he dropped two fly balls in the fifth inning and threw the second one away after he picked it up. Later he ran Ron Fairly off another fly and ended the day with an unearned run average of 4.00. There never had been a clearer case of one man blowing a World Series game all by himself, and if there had been, it would have been less impressive because the losing pitcher would not have been named Koufax.

Of course, there is the question of whether Willie Davis deserves to be grieved for, because he squanders his gifts. The Orioles' Wally Bunker observed that the Dodgers "don't take the bats off their shoulders." He was accusing them of being beggars, of taking any pitch that might be a ball because they must walk first and then scramble to victory if they are to get there at all. That's the Dodger rule, but Willie, the only member of this wonderfully team kind of team who is not a team player, is an exception to a number of Dodger rules. He does not bunt, and he simply will not take a pitch (he had 624 at bats this past season and only 15 walks) even when a pitcher is obviously wild and tiring, as McNally was in the third inning of the first game (Willie swung on the first pitch and popped up). He would run to Sunset and Figueroa with a bat if he heard that somebody would be throwing a baseball past there sometime this week. Willie would like to swing at it.

Moreover, if a ground ball is needed to move a runner from second to third, Willie shoots for the mountains anyway and hits a fly ball. Once in a while he reaches the mountains and then he wants to do it again, and the hell with that greatest-good-for-the-greatest-number jazz. He overthrows cutoff men with maddening consistency, runs bases carelessly and does these things because he is too stubborn or too something to accept the good advice a player gets in the Dodger organization.

And he's a hot dog, too, even though he says he is not. So why should anyone feel sorry for him? Because, as Mildred Dunnock said of her salesman, a terrible thing has happened to Willie and attention must be paid to him.

When attention was paid, after the game, Willie offered no excuse other than the sun, which confounded Umpire John Rice, too. Rice chickened when Luis Aparicio lobbed the ball to him after the last out in the Dodgers' fourth, minutes before Willie's first muff. Red-faced, Rice watched the potsy toss sail past his face and over his shoulder. "I blew it," the umpire admitted amiably. "That sun was a bitch."

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