2) The Dodgers aren't really so old after all. Just ripe. Their dynasty may have begun to show a few cracks here and there but it certainly isn't ready to collapse. Why, look at Napoleon; before Waterloo he came back for 100 days, and the Dodgers have to last for only 60. Even Robinson and Reese aren't yet as old as Napoleon.
3) The Dodgers are hitting. Streaky, maybe, but hitting. Snider is leading the league in home runs with 30. Hodges, despite his .258 batting average, has hit 22 homers and driven in 63 runs. Sandy Amoros, in three weeks, has raised his average from .212 to .254; Robinson has gone from .224 to .292. Furillo is over .300. And the team is hitting in the clutch, which is most important of all.
4) The pitching is superb. During that eight-game winning streak, Dodger starters needed only one-third of an inning of relief; seven times they went all the way, which sent a statistics-minded gentleman leafing through the dusty back pages of his record books to discover that nothing quite so nice as this had happened to a Brooklyn pitching staff since September of 1949. Newcombe's fast ball was once again overpowering; old Sal Maglie's curve was once again Sal Maglie's curve of old; Carl Erskine was back from the gates of the pitchers' graveyard with all his tremendous ability unimpaired; young Roger Craig was fast and sharp and Clem Labine continued to look for all the world like the best relief pitcher in baseball.
5) The Dodgers are all healthy once again.
6) The National League is not really that tough. The Braves and Redlegs have yet to prove that they can stay with the old pros when the heat is on.
7) The Dodgers are really just one big happy family.
The last item may require a little elaboration, since it is this, more than anything else, which many of the Dodgers feel jerked them out of the doldrums and sent them winging after the league leaders.
On the night of July 13, between the games as Brooklyn blew a double-header to the Braves, Manager Walter Alston quietly but firmly shut the clubhouse door and not so quietly ripped into his ball club. It was a secret meeting and no one outside of the team was supposed to know what went on behind those doors. But the story leaked out.
"He called us gutless," said an anonymous Dodger two days later to a New York writer traveling with the club, and that is the way the story hit print. And then it began to snowball. Other anonymous Dodgers told the story, with variations, to other writers, until the nation's sport pages were loaded down with the fight between Alston, standing out in the open, and his team, hiding unnamed behind the protective cloak of anonymity.
"I called no one gutless," said Alston. "I don't use that word. Perhaps," he added, "I might have accused them of choking up." And that, to Walter Alston's everlasting credit, is about all that he said in his own defense.