“We’ve won three games. That’s not what we set out to do.” — Johnny Damon

November 2, 2009

Warren Spahn

WARREN SPAHN

I know all about that, Mr. Damon. Baseball is all about chickens and hatching and not counting prematurely.

I was at the fourth game of the 1958 World Series with my father, my brother, and Mike Ferrante. The Yankees lost that day to Warren Spahn, one of the greatest pitchers of all time. The Milwaukee Braves, who had beaten the Yankees in the ’57 World Series, were ahead three games to one. When we got home, some of our friends were there, waiting for their chance to gloat over what looked like certain annihilation.

But it was not to be. The Yankees won the next three games and the title.

Of course history and the odds are not in the Phillies’ favor. Teams that have won three of the first four games have gone on to win the World Series 34 of 40 times. The last time a team bucked that trend was 1985, when the St. Louis lost the last three games to Kansas City.

If the Pirates’ manager, John Russell, wants to know how he can pull off such a miracle this year, I can only offer him Casey Stengel’s explanation after the Yankees sunk the Braves in ’58: “I couldn’t have done it without the players.”

06Stengel

CASEY STENGEL

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