If this is baseball's first World Series rematch in 20 years then it's a weird one.
The New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers have undergone personality transplants since last October.
The Series of 77 was Huggers vs , Muggers, Lasorda's Lovebirds against the Crankees. Chalk up another win for animosity.
Now, a bland calm named Bob Lemon has come to the stormy Yankee seas. Instead of Billy Martin's vinegar, the New Yorkers have been bathed in Lemon's oil of cloves. Seldom a lemon so sweet.
Under their new manager, the Yanks overcame the remains of Boston's 14-game division lead and have built a 51-21 record under the skipper they call "Lem."
After completing one of the three greatest comebacks in history, the Yankees have made themselves hard to hate. The pinstripers as underdogs? For once, that may be the case.
It is the Yankees with the injured second baseman-Willie Randolph; the Yankees with the hobbled center fielder and catcher-Mickey Rivers and Thurman Munson; the Yankees who do not have their great 25-3 pitcher Ron Guidry ready for the first Series game.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, apparently have been inspired by that Yankee staple - the fist fight between teammates.
Since that August day in, where else, New York when Stove Garvey and Don Suttton wrestled on the Dodger clubhouse floor, the Angelinos have been on fire.
"I'd hate to say that a fight woke up," Garvey said yesterday, "but whatever residure it left has definitely been positive. Did it ignite us? Well, we sure have blasted off."
Since that typhoon rolled the placid Dodger blue, Garvey has hit 430 in September and 389 as playoff mvp.
It is also the Dodgers who have the home-field edge-starting and finishing the series in Los Angeles-as well as the motivational effect of the death Sunday of their senior coach, 26-season Dodger Jim Gilliam.
The reversal of roles of these teams is almost eerily broad. It is L.A. manager Tommy Lasorda who now plays the old Martin game of dawdling on naming his pitchers and designated hitters.
"I don't know. . .I haven't met with my coaches." Lasorda has said for two days.
Finally, last night, he announced that southpaw Tommy John-not the expected starter. Burt Hooton-would open against the Yankees' Ed Figueroa in tonight's opener WRC-TV-4, 8:30.
Lasorda still refuses to dirulge who his platooned designated hitters will be, although Rick Monday (left) and Lee Lacy (right seem the obvious choices with switch-hitting Bill North playing center field every day.
Last year it was the Dodgers who talked too proudly about the superiority of their league, their morale, their Dodger method, their Big Dodger in the Sky. Never ruffle a Yankke's pride.
This year it is Guidry who has opened his mouth a smidgen wide, saying "I'd really like to beat the Dodgers in four games. I've already missed too much of the hunting season."
Even at yesterday's mandatory Series press conference it was the punctual Garvey who arrived a half-hour late.
Yankee Reggie Jackson jumped to his feet with a grin and announcd, "I want it to be noted that Steve Garvey was late, and that, although I was late, I was earlier."
"That's the first time that's ever happened," retorted Garvey.
The next words out of the Garvey's mouth were vintage Yankee in reply to the question, who would he start in the first game? "Well I think Burt Hooton has earned it," he replied.
Lasorda, who had publicly said "undecided" but surely knew that later in the day he would name John, just put his head in his hands.
Perhaps this Series' best potential matchup is between baseball's two candidates for Mr. October-Garvey and Jackson with their preposterously good postseason records.
"How would I compare myself to Reggie?" said Garvey, repeating a question, "Reggie . . . ah . . . Reggie Jackson you mean?"
Jackson rose, as though to pounce on Garvey."Well, one's tall, dark and handsome, while the other's short, Irish and kinda homely," said Garvey.
"Reggie and I are a lot alike," said Garvey, turning serious. "With two out in the bottom of the ninth, neither of us want anybody else in the world to be up expect us. That attitude-'I wanna do it. I'm gonna do it-weeds out a lot of people.
"I think Reggie Jackson is the best clutch hitter in baseball. I'm just working on it . . . but then I'm a lot younger than Reggie is."
The Yankees may be world champions. They may have won 100 games to the Dodgers' 95 in the regular season. But the statics say the teams are almost identical.
The Yanks have scored 730 runs, the Dodgers 727. New York has allowed more runs, 578 to 573. In power and speed, the Dodgers have an edge with a 149-to-123 superiority in homers and a 136-96 edge in stolen bases. But the Yanks have the best overall defense in baseball, 113 errors to L.A's 140, and superior relief pitching.
The Dodgers, however have two hidden advantages. Their superb rookie, Bob Welch (2.03 earned-run average in 111 innings), will go to the bullpen and can work long or short and, with starter Rick Rhoden (10-8), give Lasorda great flexibility in relief of a rattled starter in the early or middle innings.
While Lemon may be oath to hook Figueroa or Catfish Hunter, both notoriously poor early inning pitchers, Lasorda has no exuse for letting his team fall far behind early.
Long relief stints by Welch and Rhoden were keys to L.A. victories in the first and last games against Philadelphia.
In addition, the Yanks are in a quandry as to how to use Guidry, the man who has won 36 of his last 40 decisions. Louisiana Lightnin, the statistics say, is the difference between the Yanks being a good and a great team. No Doger has a comparably heavy role.
"I won't use Ron before the third game Friday unless he comes and aks me," said Lemon yesterday. However, if the Yanks lose game one, it is a near certainty that Guidry, the volunteer, will come knocking on Lemon's door.