Yanks make a statement; Torre passes Stengel

Great baseball teams, when they are demolished by an opponent, as the Yankees were the night before last by the Los Angeles Angels, hear the message and take matters in hand.

The Yankees did precisely that last night, shaking off two straight beatings, including that 18 to 9 massacre, to defeat the Angels’ best starting pitcher 8-2.

Andy Pettitte re-established the reputation of Yankee pitching just a night after Mike Mussina had left it in doubt. Pettitte allowed only one run over seven innings. And instead of the Angels looking like the Yankee-killing nemesis of the night before, they looked like just another team.

Achieving that effect was important for the Yanks, and they need to remember how to do it if and when they face the Angels in the playoffs. They’ve got to get that monkey off their backs.

The victory was also the 1,150th for Joe Torre as Yankee manager. With that he passed the great Casey Stengel. Stengel was also the manager of the 1962 Mets, who lost 120 games. The night before last the Yankees looked like that team. Last night they looked like the Yankees.

Just one Stengel story: Circa 1963 the great lefthander Warren Spahn got traded to the Mets. It was the end of his career, and he found himself pitching for Stengel for the second time. The first time had been at the beginning of his career with the Boston Braves, who were like the Mets not a very good team. Spahn later commented about Stengel, “I played for him before and after he was a genius.”

One more: Stengel famously testified before a Congressional committee on the issue of major league baseball’s antitrust exemption. He rambled on in the usual incomprehensible Stengelese for several minutes making no sense whatsoever. Mickey Mantle testified next: “I agree with everything Casey said.”

Damn Yankees, gotta love ’em.

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