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 Posted:   Sep 17, 2019 - 1:54 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Ultimately I saw a team that was lacking considerably compared to the 1980 team which I think went cold at the worst time and also didn't manage its pitching right (Tommy John started Game 3 instead of Game 1 because he'd gotten hurt in his final start in Cleveland which cost him his 23rd win).

The 81 team I view more favorably just because the first round playoff series against Milwaukee and the ALCS sweep of Martin's A's did provide some atonement for the 80 ALCS loss. Reggie's Game 5 HR in the ALDS was his last great moment as a Yankee. And a couple weeks before there was this memorable brawl he had with John Denny of Cleveland.

Reggie being carried away smiling and Mr. May's failure to stop Mr. October from charging the mound makes me wonder if they planned the whole thing. The entire charade was hilarious, though.

But the 81 World Series was ultimately worse than even the 80 ALCS. Key thing there was the bullpen which was supposed to be unhittable suddenly went bad. People point to the three relief losses of George Frazier but the big failure was Ron Davis. In 1980 and 1981, Davis was arguably the first great set-up relief pitcher there ever was. He was like Mariano Rivera in 1996 in terms of being an unhittable assasin, but in the World Series he suddenly lost control of all his pitches and that really bit the Yankees in the rear in Game 4 (which they should have won). Davis's World Series choke was why Steinbrenner then banished him the next year to the Twins.

Although its true the Yankees ultimately won more matchups against the Royals and Dodgers (I have to admit back then I hated those two teams MORE than I hated the Red Sox), it's always worse if you lose the last matchup. That's why if a scenario like 2004 had to happen I wish it had been in 2003 and then we "atone" the next year.

I watched game six of the 1981 WS--the first time since it originally aired--and it's interesting to see how "unfit" some of those players look: Rick Monday, Rick Reuschel, Bob Watson, Lou Piniella...yet they were all superb players. I think Pedro Guerrero was a great player and he sure had himself a fine series.

I lost count of all the seeing-eye singles that got between Nettles (who must have been seriously injured) and Larry Milbourne, the shortstop I have completely forgotten about. Bucky Dent was injured or benched, I guess.

Davis walking Hooten was awful, and Frazier was hit hard but by no means as bad as his 0-3(!) series record would indicate. He was a "second season" call up and really was thrown into the fire. Lemon taking out Tommy John so early was a dumb tactical error. The 1981 World Series Wikipedia page states that TJ said that Steinbtenner plotted the Yankee strategy. Really? Was "George S." actually involved to that degree? If he was, that would explain all that 1980s Yankee futility.

 Posted:   Sep 17, 2019 - 11:06 AM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

Nettles had wrecked his thumb on a diving line drive in Game 2 (reminiscent of his defensive gems in the 78 WS) that forced him to miss the three games in LA. His absence from the lineup (Aurelio Rodriguez replaced him) didn't help in those games.

And yes, Steinbrenner was micromanaging a lot. Reggie missed the first two games due to injury and was ready for Game 3 when they were up 2-0 but Steinbrenner had Lemon bench him one more game (and that robbed me a chance to see Reggie go up against Valenzuela which I had wanted all year to see!) which backfired big time. Also bad was putting Bobby Brown in the outfield in Game 4 where he made a key defensive gaffe.

If you were watching that Game 6 telecast you probably heard Cosell prattle on about how much the team was embarrassing the city. That will tell you where Steinbrenner got the idea for his statement after the series apologizing to the city for their performance.

Game 6 of the 81 WS, with Reggie's last game and the last postseason game until 1995 is like watching the death of my childhood. I can never look at it again (just like I can't look at the 04 ALCS or Game 7 of the 01 WS; I can handle the 76 WS sweep and the 95 ALDS because those losses are a prelude to great things. Even 80 ALCS is okay because they atoned that in the 81 ALDS and ALCS the next year)

 Posted:   Sep 21, 2019 - 9:25 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

I've covered the tragedy of the '76-'81 Yankees, now I'm on to the glory. I couldn't find much on the 1976 World Series, except the MLB highlight film and a few key moments. That '76 Reds team was a buzzsaw that destroyed everything in its path to the title.

Reggie Jackson's '77 signing was clearly the last piece of the puzzle of what was then-called "The Best Team That Money Could Buy."

I started off backwards, and watched Game 6 of the 1977 World Series first, and absolutely loved it. The way that Yankee team played *like* a team: moving runners over, sacrifice fly balls, booming home runs, and key pitching. Mike Torrez was strong in Game 6. I'm surprised he wasn't kept on, but then we wouldn't have had that Bucky Dent moment in '78. Dent was pretty sloppy in Game 6, but a few players had trouble with the turf that day.

Reggie having to wear a batting helmet in the 9th inning...the fans with their legs draped over the rightfield wall...Reggie bulldozing the fans in their en masse pitch invasion...that third Reggie HR...

Reggie Jackson's 3 home runs on 3 first pitches off 3 different pitchers is as perfect and aligned with the stars as any player ever achieved; it's my single-favorite sports moment of my lifetime--and I'm not even a Yankee fan, yet those Yankees--and those Dodgers of '77-'81--were my introduction to baseball and I still fondly remember those days.

Off to watch 1977 games 1-5...

 Posted:   Sep 21, 2019 - 9:32 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Oh, and congrats to the 2019 Yankees for having clinched the AL East and their 100th victory. I don't see them winning the pennant, but anything can happen...

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