A pitcher can get ulcers just reading the Yankee lineup. Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle hit more home runs this season than such teams as the Cardinals, Red Sox and Athletics. Maris and Mantle are capable of settling the Series themselves, but if they need help, it is available. There are Elston Howard, who became an intelligent hitter this season; Moose Skowron, a hot-and-cold free-swinger; and Yogi Berra, still the money man. In Cincinnati's Crosley Field, with the center-field wall only 387 feet away, these hitters may keep the little boys outside the park very happy. Tony Kubek, Bobby Richardson and Cletis Boyer are comparative breathers, but only comparative. It was singles-hitter Richardson who nearly wrecked the Pirates in last year's Series.
The Reds have some power too, though just a shadow of the Yankees'. Frank Robinson is the heart of the Cincinnati attack, the most valuable player in the league. But Robinson has been in a month-long slump, which began when he injured his left knee. The knee is all right now, but the slump lingers. Vada Pinson would be the best center-fielder in the league if Willie Mays were not. His speed helps him beat out topped rollers, his strong wrists supply him with surprising power. Hitting left-handed, he could be dangerous in Yankee Stadium, with its short right field. The same is true for Gordy Coleman. Wally Post and Gene Freese, two righties, are strong hitters in Crosley Field. Eddie Kasko does not hit home runs (only two this year), but with an important run waiting on second, he is a tough customer.
The Yankee bench is strong even without Bob Cerv. John Blanchard, in limited use, hit 20 home runs this season, four of them in successive at bats. Hector Lopez also hit well enough to play first string on most other teams. The Reds have the most successful pinch hitter (over .400) in baseball in Jerry Lynch, a lefty. Gus Bell, for many years a Cincinnati favorite, stands behind Lynch. Behind Bell there is very little.
DEFINITE EDGE TO YANKEES
The Yankees are good fielders—a surprising plus for a team with such power. Howard is a fine catcher with a throwing arm strong enough to keep a fast man like Pinson honest. Blanchard, when catching or playing the outfield, is not brilliant, but he is not embarrassing. The infield of Skowron, Richardson, Kubek and Boyer is as good as any in baseball, with Boyer at third making up for whatever Skowron at first gives away. Kubek and Richardson make the double play smoothly and often. In Berra, for so many years the Yankees' catcher, Manager Ralph Houk has found a very competent left fielder. He has his comic moments, stumbling occasionally, and his arm has limited range, but he also has the knack of coming up with the big play. Mantle and Maris play the outfield almost as well as they hit, although Mantle's arm, perhaps sore, has not been strong lately. One problem the Yankee outfield will encounter in Crosley Field: the ground in the deep outfield slopes up to meet the wall in left and center, and this requires some getting used to.
Defensively, the Reds range between adequate and poor. Darrell Johnson, for two years in the Yankee bullpen, will share the catching with John Edwards and Jerry Zimmerman, depending on which Yankee is pitching. Of the three, Johnson is the most experienced. Coleman puts up a brave battle at first base, as does Dick Gernert, who plays against left-handers. Don Blasingame and Eddie Kasko are ordinary at second base and short. Elio Chacon and Leo Cardenas are better, flashier, but younger, and Hutchinson may go with experience. Freese has improved at third, but his scatter arm still keeps the customers behind first base alert. Post, Pinson and Robinson form a fair outfield. If Lynch starts instead of Post, the defense is weakened. Robinson will play right field in Crosley, but will switch to left in Yankee Stadium. There, left is always a difficult place to play in October, when the area around home plate is lost in the haze of the late-afternoon sun.
DEFINITE EDGE TO YANKEES
With two days off for travel, both managers will need only three starters. The Reds have good ones in Joey Jay, Jim O'Toole and Bob Purkey. Jay is the Reds' big winner, but it is O'Toole, a cocky young left-hander with good breaking pitches and the ability to keep the ball low, who will probably give the Yankees the most trouble. Cincinnati's pitching coach is Jim Turner, who spent 11 years with the Yankees. His knowledge of the Yankee hitters, combined with that of ex-Yankee Catcher Johnson, should help the Reds greatly.
The Yankees have the best pitcher in baseball in Whitey Ford, the cool little left-hander. In Yankee Stadium he will be rough, but Crosley Field will be something else again. Ralph Terry, who gave up that final home run last year to Bill Mazeroski, and Bill Stafford, a swaggering young right-hander, will be the other Yankee starters.
Other pitchers may see action, of course—Bud Daley, Jim Coates and Roland Sheldon of the Yankees and Ken Johnson, Jim Maloney and Ken Hunt of the Reds. But if relief is needed in the late innings, it will be Luis Arroyo for New York and either Jim Brosnan or Bill Henry for Cincinnati. Arroyo, the chunky left-hander with the puzzling screwball, has been a marvel this year. Brosnan, author and right-hander, and Henry, a left-hander, have both been effective, if not as publicized as Arroyo.
EDGE TO REDS
Statistically, the Yankees appear to be a shoo-in, but there are other factors to be considered. Those impressive records of the Yankees were made against an expanded—and therefore weakened—American League. Even the smallness of Crosley Field may hamper the Yankee sluggers. Wrigley Field in Los Angeles is smaller than Crosley, and in nine games there this season the Yankees, overeager, hit only 12 home runs, below their per-game average. Yankee pitching collapsed in the small park, and the lowly Angels won six of the nine games. One other danger confronts the Yankees. It is possible that Roger Maris may find everything anticlimactic after his exciting bid to break Babe Ruth's home run record and therefore have a bad Series.
Cincinnati needs a healthy Frank Robinson, the Robinson of July rather than September. Perhaps the team's greatest handicap, however, is the lack of Series experience. Yankee Stadium, with its imposing three decks filled with 70,000 people, is enough to rattle any player. The Yankees—most of them—have been through it before.
Perhaps with this in mind, the Las Vegas odds-setters have made the Yankees 11-to-5 favorites in the Series. Before the season opened, they had the Reds at 35 to 1 to win the pennant. They underestimated the Reds then, and they have made that mistake again.
AT THE ODDS, THE REDS ARE THE BETTER BET