By Rob Ficiur
When the New York Yankees went up three games to two against Houston Astros – baseball fans were one Pin Stripe win away from another Dodger – Yankee World Series Classic. To me the Yankees are the spoiled rich kids of sports. When they need a player, they over pay in free agency and get what other teams cannot afford. Major League Baseball’s luxury tax is supposed to curb spending by big market teams. It seems that Yankees ignore it and keep hoarding the elite talent. As much as I dislike the Yankees, I wanted a Dodger vs Yankees not a Dodger vs Astros final. Why?
1. Recalling Fond Memories – Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Davey Lopes and Bill Russel – these were the Dodgers I followed in my growing up years. If we had had a Dodgers Yankees World Series, (again) I could relive the days when my Dodgers beat George Steinbrenner’s Yankees. The Dodgers were led by 18-year-old star pitcher Fernando Valenzuela. Fernando was the first (and still only) pitcher to win the Cy Young and Rookie of the year the same season. Those Dodger greats I listed above were the team’s infielders for all my growing up years. It was great to have them win in 1981. The two teams met three times from 1977-1981 and have not met in the World Series since.
2. Recalling awful memories – Some of my worst World Series memories come from the Yankees beating the Dodgers in the 1977 and 1978 not so classics (according to me). It was during these two World Series that Reggie Jackson became known as Mr. October when he hit five home runs in the six game finals of 1977. What I remember is a missed called from the umps. The Dodgers were trying to throw a double play ball from second to first and Mr. October moved hit butt in the way of the ball. Instead of an interference call (and an out) the Yankees scored. Note to self: Maybe it is just as well I don’t relive these bad memories.
3. Longtime rivals – the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers met in the World Series seven times between 1941-1956. In the five years from the 1952 -1956 these two rivals faced off four times in the World Series. While these games are long before my birth and my memory there is still a history that fans could have reflected on if the Yankees had made it to the final.
4. Babe Ruth vs Dodgers Memories – No doubt a Yankees vs Dodgers World Series would have brought back many Babe Ruth memories. Fans will always remember Babe Ruth calling his shot in the 1928 World Series and then hitting the ball right where he pointed. The only problem with Babe Ruth vs Dodgers memories is that they are as fictional as any baseball lore. The Dodgers and Ruth’s Yankees never met in the World Series. The facts don’t stop stories from getting bigger than the real life experience. Babe Ruth was the Dodgers first base coach for part of the 1938 season. The Los Angeles Dodgers did have a Babe Ruth bobble head day in September 2014, even though Babe had no on field connection to the Dodgers.
5. The Houston Astros do not have a history that engages fans. The team that was founded in 1962 (known for three years as the Houston Colt 45s). Their only previous World Series appearance was the 2005 four game sweep by the Chicago White Sox. Previously I never really believed that fans lost interest in a final series when a small market team made it. My apathy to the Astros surprises even me.
6. The Astros and the Dodgers have met before in playoff action. In 1980 the two teams tied with 92 wins. The Astros won the one game playoff to go on (and lose) the National League championship. The next year the two teams met again in a best of five playoff round. The Astros won the first two at home; the Dodgers won the next three to move on to the next round. The teams could never meet in the Worlds Series because they were both part of the National League. When the Astros moved from the National League to the American League in 2013, the World Series match up was now possible.
With their American League best .623 winning percentage can the Astros beat the National League’s best team, the .642 Dodgers? One of the best two teams in baseball will win it all. But it still would have been more fun for the Dodgers to meet (and sweep) the Yankees.