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THE GOOD GUYS AGAINST THE BAD GUYS
Ron Fimrite
October 24, 1977
Amid antagonism in the clubhouse and anarchy in the Yankee Stadium bleachers, New York took a 3-1 World Series lead. Then a 10-4 win in Game 5 kept alive the happy Dodgers' hopes of having the last laugh
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October 24, 1977

The Good Guys Against The Bad Guys

Amid antagonism in the clubhouse and anarchy in the Yankee Stadium bleachers, New York took a 3-1 World Series lead. Then a 10-4 win in Game 5 kept alive the happy Dodgers' hopes of having the last laugh

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GAME 1

A World Series record is set even before the first pitch is thrown as Pearl Bailey, snatching the microphone from its cradle and turning this way and that so the 56,668 Yankee Stadium spectators can observe every nuance of her performance, requires two minutes and 21 seconds to sing the national anthem, breaking the old record of 2:13 set by The New Christy Minstrels in 1973. Jos� Feliciano's famous rock version in 1968 was clocked at 1:50, though for patriots and music traditionalists it seemed an eternity. No matter. The fans do not hear much past "rocket's red glare" tonight, so vocal are they in urging the commencement of hostilities. New York baseball fans are notorious for their short musical attention span. Even so brief a composition as Three Blind Mice would fall on deaf ears in Gotham's raucous stadiums. But the elongated anthem is a harbinger, for this game will tie a Series record for most innings played at night: 12.

It begins as if it will be a long one only for the Yankees. Dodger leadoff hitter Davey Lopes walks and scores on Bill Russell's triple into the endless corridor of left center field. Ron Cey scores Russell with an equally long sacrifice fly into the same acreage. The favored Dodgers are off quickly to a two-run lead. It is halved in the Yankees' half of the first when Thurman Munson singles through the short-third hole and is advanced to third by Reggie Jackson's looper to center that tumbles inches beyond a groping Russell. Munson ultimately scores on Chris Chambliss' single to right. Willie Randolph's line-drive home run ties the game in the sixth. Randolph also scores the go-ahead run in the eighth on Munson's line double to left. Dodger starter Don Sutton, celebrated for his aplomb in pressure situations, is removed by Manager Tom Lasorda after this unhappy turn of events.

Both teams will suffer and yet gain strength from their weaknesses in this game. The Dodgers' base running is execrable. In the first inning Reggie Smith is trapped like a not-so-sly fox between first and second when a hit-run play goes awry and is embarrassingly run down. In the sixth the hit-run is executed to perfection as Glenn Burke, starting in center field, singles neatly through a space vacated by Randolph as he rushes toward second to head off Garvey, who had run with the pitch. The ball is hit so softly and there is so much confusion between Centerfielder Mickey Rivers and Right-fielder Reggie Jackson as to whose responsibility it is to pick it up that Garvey has a chance to score. Although he is being waved on to the plate, he hesitates just long enough between second and third to arrive simultaneously with Rivers' looping throw that comes in on the first-base side of home. Garvey slides, and Munson lunges for him with the ball. Umpire Nestor Chylak calls the runner out. Garvey complains, but as Lopes observes, "If he had been running like he's supposed to, it wouldn't have been close. He was anticipating the ball being picked up instead of running all the way."

Now it is the ninth inning, the Dodgers trail 3-2, and Dusty Baker is on first after a leadoff single. Manny Mota, batting for Burke, fakes a bunt and takes a ludicrously inaccurate swing. There stands Baker, ensnared as Smith was before him. Only this time the trap does not close. Baker swivel-hips past Chambliss in the rundown, the first baseman swiping at him as if practicing his forehand. Mota's fly ball is no help, but Catcher Steve Yeager walks, a development that prompts Manager Billy Martin to remove Don Gullett, pitcher of 8? estimable innings, for Sparky Lyle, winner of the final two American League playoff games against Kansas City. Lyle instantly gives up a bouncing single by pinch hitter Lee Lacy that scores the reprieved Baker with the tying run. 3-3. Extra innings.

It is the Yankees' turn to "capitalize on one of their own failings—a nagging inability to execute the sacrifice bunt. In the 10th inning Munson leads off with a walk, and Paul Blair, a defensive replacement for Jackson, is instructed to sacrifice. His bunt drops directly in front of the plate, and Catcher Jerry Grote, who replaced Yeager after the starting receiver was removed for a pinch runner, pounces on it to force Munson at second. In the 11th it is Lou Piniella who reaches base with a single and Bucky Dent who forces him at second with a bunt that falls once more into Grote's nimble fingers. Lyle, who has not batted since 1974, also is a failure at sacrificing.

In the 12th, however, failure succeeds. Randolph leads off with a double down the right-field line, Munson is walked intentionally, and the house organist plays Over There, one of many patriotic airs composed by George M. Cohan and favored by George M. Steinbrenner, the Yankees' principal owner. Blair doggedly steps in to try his hand again. In his days as Baltimore's centerfielder he was acclaimed as an accomplished bunter, but this night he seems no more familiar with the tactic than Babe Ruth was. He takes a called strike and bunts a high pitch foul. Looking hurt and befuddled, he stands prepared to try again. Then Third-Base Coach Dick Howser, apparently recognizing Blair's confusion, calls out Blair's name and, with no attempt at deception, removes the bunt sign. Relieved of his sacrificial responsibility, Blair slaps a clean single to left that scores Randolph with the winning run.

Lyle, who foiled the Dodgers for 3? innings, is a winner for the third straight time in postseason play. Asked how it is that he can pitch so well so frequently, he holds his left arm out from him as if it is a perfect stranger. "I don't even talk to it," he says. "I don't want to know why it can pitch that often."

Game 2

Lasorda appears beatific before the game. He arrives on the field in the company of a priest, and he advises newsmen of his love for his fellow man, particularly his fellow Dodgers. "I believe in togetherness," he says. "I believe a team is like a family. I eat with my players. I have drinks with them in my office. I know the names of their wives and children. They make my life enjoyable."

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