Why do some people emerge in the post season - and not others?
Generations of Yankee fans have been spoiled! They (we) are spoiled in the belief that our superstars will ALWAYS be superstars, in the regular season, post season, and without ever aging. They are immortal, are they not?
It all started with Babe Ruth (naturally). But how many people know that in his second World Series, Babe went 2 for 17 and was a total non-factor in the Giants sweep over the Yankees 4-0-1. After that, he never again failed his fans at the plate, although he DID screw up on the basepaths! In 1926, with rookie Gehrig in the 5 hole, clean up man Bob Meusel, who was a .309 lifetime Yankee hitter, was only .225 in all his World Series experience; so with two outs in the 9th inning of game 7, after having been walked for the (then) series record 11th time, Ruth felt the need to steal second and give Meusel and Gehrig chances to tie it up! Nice thought, but he was thrown out to instantly end the series and watch the Cardinals celebrate, sadly.
Gehrig was all business, never hitting less than .292 in any of his seven series, 5 times over .300, TWICE over .500. He was so much greater than his press, who were busy lionizing the Bambino.
Joe D., a broken man in 1949, played only a half season, and only went 2 for 18 in that World Series, but with others stars (including Yogi), the team won anyway.
Mickey, also hurt often, managed only 6 for 46 in three consecutive World Series' (61,62,63)
Winfield - his first World Series (1981), 1 for 22
There are dozens more.
But then, there are players who EMERGE in post season play. Arguably, it might be attributed to scouting and other teams' concentrating on the age old saying: "Never let the big man beat you."
There is the famous Bobby Richardson example. But before him, there was also another scrappy second baseman named Billy Martin who, in 1953, tied the (then) WS record with 12 hits, batting .500 en route to a .333 lifetime post season average. Richardson would add his name with a record 12 RBI in 1960. A career .266 hitter, Bobby averaged over .300 in his World Series career.
But when a big guy fails to produce, there will come a pitch when BOOM, he bites back in a key situation. In 1961, With Mickey in the hospital with that famous abcess, Cincinnati decided Roger Maris and his 61 homers would NOT beat them. Make the other guys do it.
Cincy took game two to tie the series, and lead 2-1 in game three. But in the 7th inning, PH deluxe Johnny Blanchard (who I believe had 4 pinch homers in 1961), did it again here and it was 2-2. The following inning, Maris (who would finish the series at only 2 for 19 with 4 walks) pulled one out of the park for the 3-2 lead, and game ending score. (Mgr. Fred Hutchinson said it was the most damaging blow of the series to the Reds.)
But with Hector Lopez, Moose Skowron, Yogi, and Blanchard leading the way, the Yanks' lineup was just too much for anyone in 1961. And that team hit 240 homers without DHs.
Ricky Ledee, Godzilla, Scott Brosius, Bucky Dent, Brian Doyle, and many others whose resume's perhaps didn't invite scrutiny have all come up big in the post season.
You just learn to take the bad with the good.
But nothing prepared me for the loss of Derek Jeter, this past week! When I found out he broke his ankle, it hurt me to the quick, as if he were my own son!
Here is a ballplayer that in all my years, has shown himself to be totally impervious to pressure (mental pressure): an amazingly true rarity. He is SO much more than the sum of his statistics!
With the current team (which I predicted in May tweets) unable to collectively "get it up", and their omnipotent shortstop now sadly a spectator, the Yankees' chances of advancing, let alone winning the ring, have dropped precipitously. They started out as Vegas faves at 5-1. Now it might as well be a googolplex to one! I wouldn't bet on it.
No problem right? They must now win four in a row, or three of four but face Verlander again in game 7.
Mystique and Aura are on vacation, or in the hospital, or in the Carolinas, visiting a leading medic in the field.
The team can't just win one for the Captain - they must win eight more (one at a time) to make him smile ... to make the fans smile ... and to regain their self respect.