Sad to say, this World Series is a bore. The big thing in Game 5 was the Bionic Woman visiting the dugouts. She wore a cowboy hat and didn't look at all like someone made out of spare parts. It took the Dodgers about two minutes to get ahead, 10-0, and now we're in Fun City for game 6. Heaven help us, this Series is so dull it could pass for a Super Bowl.
So all right. We do have the eternal soap opera, "Billy Martin, Billy Martin." The foulest villain now appears to be the Yankee owner. George Steinbrenner, who seems bent on making his manager, Martin, look foolish even beyond his awe-some capabilities. And who knows how many trees have made the ultimate sacrifice to provide paper for the lakes of ink used to report the poutings of their right fielder, Reggie Jackson?
Even as these words are typed, baseball writers from coast to coast are absorbed in reporting what Howard Cosell did to a Philphia sports-writer, Stan Hochman. No one is typing pretty words about the greatest game. They're writing about how Cosell allegedly slapped the writer, who supposedly is going to sue.
And that's what is wrong with this Series.
No baseball is being played.
Nothing memorable, at any rate, and so newspapermen are writing about soap operas and alleged slappings, and wouldn't it be wonderful to see some baseball?
But the Yankees and Dodgers aren't giving us any. In an ordinary year, five games of a World Series provide daily reminders of baseball's glory. Late-innings rallies, diving catches, bold base running, masterful pitching under pressure - those are the ingredients of memorable baseball, and this Series is forgettable.
Though the Yankees lead three games to two, they have scored only 18 runs to the Dodgers' 24. An inning-by-inning examination of the scoring produces convincing evidence that nothing is happening in the late innings.
Of of the 24 L.A. runs, only four have come after the fifth inning. Of those four, only one run has been significant - that one tying Game 1 in the ninth.
Of the 18 Yankee runs, eight came after the fifth - but only three mattered. They came in Game 1. Four others came after the Yankees were behind, 10-0, in Game 5.
Game 1 went 12 innings. After that, the games have been decided quickly. Enough runs to win have been scored no later than the fourth inning in all other games. So much for drama.
What about pure excitement? Surely Ron Swoboda,in 1969, saved the Mets with an incredible series of astonishing, diving catches in right field. And in 1970 Brooks Robinson threw his body in front of everything the Reds hit. In the Series, men rise above mortality.
Not this year. Only two fielding plays have been exceptional. Lou Piniella took a home run from Ron Cey with a leaping catch at the fence in game 4, opreserving a one-run lead in a game the Yankees would win by two. Graig Nettles made a charging, barhanded pickup and throw at third base to get Reggie Smith in the first inning of game 5. But his work will be soon forgotten, for the Yankees lost, 10-4. So much for trills.
Ah, base running. When the Oakland A's weren't punching each other's faces, Bert Campaneris was stealing another base. Joe Morgan and the running Reds exposed the Yankee outfielders for the noodle-arms they are. So what are Dodgers and Yankees doing in this Fall Unclassico?
Well, the Dodgers are being thrown out a lot. Reggie Smith wanted to steal second in Game 1 but stopped halfway and was run down. Later in that game, Steve Garvey tried to score from first on a 200-foot single. Even Mickey Rivers couldn't throw that poorly. In game 2, Garvey was out stealing and Rick Monday was nailed off third when a squeeze bunt was missed. Behind, 4-2, in game 4, Davey Lopes was caught stealing.
Meanwhile, ever so cautious the Yankees are standing still. They have not tried to steal a base. Only once have they gambled with their feet - and Piniella was thrown out foolishly trying in stretch a single to right in game 1. So much for derring-do on the basepaths.
Sparky Lyle's relief pitching in game 1, when he retired the last 11 Dodgers in a 12-inning game, is the single best performance of this series. Burt Hooton, Mike Torrez and Ron Guidry have done nice work, winning complete games, but they all had at least a two-run cushion over the late going.
From all this, what might a man make a Tuesday night's Game 6?
Nothing. The beauty of baseball is its unpredictability. That the first five games have been pedestrian is no guarantee the sixth will be. Indeed it may be guarantee that something absolutely delightful is in store. The percentage are in our favor.
One thing more. If we believe the team that makes the important plays is the team that will win, then the seres seems to belong to the Yankees. They threw out all those Dodger base runners. They've worked more effcenly for ther runs (home runs have accounted for 16 Dodger runs, only four Yankee runs).
And, besides, Billy Martin has asked the only reasonable question all week:
Somebody said Farrah Fawcett-Majors would attend Game 4 in Los Angeles and Martin said, "Her husband coming with her?