Now the Los Angeles Dodgers know how the Boston Red Sox felt-beaten into an open grave with their own shovel by the New York Yankee cadaver.
Go back with us now to a Sunday just five weeks ago in Fenway Park when the Yankees, king left for dead, had finished a four-game sweep of the Sox, outscoring them, 41-9, with a 68-hit bombardment, 57 of them singles.
Yesterday before a full and frenzied Yankee Stadium throng, the Yankees completed a weekend sweep of three World Series games from the Dodges, humiliating the Blue, 12-2, on 18 hits 16 of them tantalizing singles.
The Dodgers arrived here fat and sassy with a two-games-to-nothing lead and ahlf a leg up on a world title. Just so, the Sox led the Yanks by 14 games in July, and even by four games when that September baseball carnage began.
As the Angelenos prepared to take a red-eye fligt back to the coast-eyes red with tears-they were as stunned as those Bosox. Just as Boston's lead had, in one weekend, gone from plus four to zero, so the Dodgers had gone form two up to one down.
To complete Los Angeles humiliation, Yankee rookie Jim Beattie, sent to the minors in midseason for supposedly being terrified under pressure, pitched the first complete game of his major league career, fanning seven in a nine-hitter.
Although catcher-captain Thurman Munson drove home five runs with three hits, it was the Dodgers who handed this game away with three physical errors and three times as many mental blunders even more confidence-destroying.
The sad Red Sox could tell them how that felt as well. The Dodgers had no excuse. The early luck was theirs.
The Dodgers had every early-inning break on this raw, windy, overcast Bronx day. The weather may not have met Southern California standards, but luck certainly did.
Three bat-of-an-eyelash plays, each with a run at stake, all went the Dodgers' way. They led, 2-0, after 21/4 innings, instead of trailing 1-0.
Los Angeles veteran pitcher Burt Hooton with 15 wins in his last 19 decisions, while it was the Yanks who had rookie, Jim Beattio, on the mound with a 6-9 career record and zero complete games.
Who would guess that it would be Hooton and the Dodgers who would suddenly lose their composure, and their lead, falling behind, 7-2, after four innings?
The Dodgers early good fortune went thus:
In the first, Dave Lopes singled, stole second uncontested on a fast ball letter high when Munson didn't even consider a throw, then scored on Reggie Smith's line single to right.
That sounds fundamental, but right fielder Lou Piniella had a perfect chance on the blistered one-hopper to him to throw out Lopes at home. Piniella's arching chuck looked good to the uninitiated, but it lacked zip. The classic rifle-armed right fielders-Smith. Dwight Evens, Dave Parker-would have had Lopes dead.
Munson compounded felony by backing up and taking the one-hoppeg behind the plate as Lopes slid in front of him. Had Munson blocked the plate, he might have had a play.
In the bottom of the first, Los Angeles tried to hand New York a big lead as a single, terrible error by shortstop to Reggie Jackson loaded the bases with one out.
Los Angeles was gambling on a double play, then pulled off a beaut. Lou Piniella, whose 10th-inning single won the previous game, broke his bat on a feeble dribbler to Russell.
With Jackson bearing down on second a double play seemed impossible. But Lopes made a gorgeous pivot, avoiding the rampaging Jackson and pegging across his body to first to nip Piniella, a true slewfoot, by inches and prevent a run.
Once again in the third, fortune was with L.A., sort of.
After Piniella robbed Steve Yeager of a possible leadoff triple with a lunging each against the right field fence-you can't say Piniella leaps-Lopes singled.
Russell, whose day afield was an abomination, then got the second of his three hits, lashing a hit-and-run liner over Nettles' head at third. Because Lopes was running, he was safe at the plate by a whisker, though this time Munson made a game block and tag and got a bruised foot for it.
That ended L.A.'s good luck.
When Garvey smashed a darter marked "RBI single" to Nettles' left with two out, L.A. was on the verge of a 3-0 lead.
But Dodger Rick Monday had said the right words about Nettles, a former roommate, before the game.
"The way to stop Nettles," he said, "is to shackle his right hand to his left ankle, and his left to his right. The put a ball and chain around his neck. That way, he'll still knock the ball down, but he won't be able to throw you out."
Just so, Nettles dove, knocked down Garvey's smash, held it in the infield and saved a run, it proved, when he threw out the next batter, Ron Cey, to end the inning.
It is a Los Angeles-created myth that the Dodgers are a fundamentally sound baseball team. It just is not true.The Dodger infield is painfully slow at the corners, extremely errorprone at shortstop and even a triffle skitterish at second. The only defensive standouts are at catcher and right field.
For the next two Yankee innings, the Dodgers did everything possibly to show 50 million people all their flaws. When a succession of blunders that reached double figures had ended, the Yanks had seven runs where they might have been held to two or three.
Hooton, who now has a 2.2 record and 4.79 ERA in four Series starts against New York created trouble by waling the Yanks's ninth hitter, Budky Dent, to open the third.
For cosmic punishment, Hooton threw a perfect two-strike low-away knuckle curve to Mickey Rivers and watched the unpredictable wandwaver poke a heart-breaking soft-quail hit to left.
Roy White, the senior-service Yank of 14 years who has tolerated shabby treatment at the hands of ownership for the last two years, continued his excellent postseason play by reaching base for the 10th time in the Series with a wicked RBI single to right.
Then the wildness commenced." Munson swung and missed at an ankle-high curve on the hit and run, but Yeager dropped the ball and had no play on a cheap double steal.
With Munson in an 0-2 hole, Hooton fed him an inexcusable high curve that rhe hungry captain gratefully dumped on a hump-back liner over Lopes' head for a two-run single and 3-2 lead.
Hooton, after one mental blunder, committed a worse one. He forgot to back up home. When right fielder Smith's howitzer throw sailed far over Yeager's head, no Dodger was in sight to keep it from bouncing into the stands, allowing Munson two bases, from first to third, on the ground rule.
After Jackson, whose two walks and a single raised his postseason on-base streak to 28 in 44 trips, had struck out, Piniella slammed a single through the drawn-in infield. Hooton's failure to backup had cost a run.
The next frame was pure Dodger nightmare, just the kind that haunted the Boston Red Sox when they crumbled before the Yankees' unflappable soundness in fundamentals.
First, Garvey, whose mobility is slight, could not flag a Brian Doyle grounder; single to right.
Then Dent smashed an ideal, if difficult, one-skip liner directly at Russell at short. Dent eats up each balls. Russell was eaten. It flashed between his legs into left, barely deflected. Naturally, left fielder Baker threw to the wrong base-third-allowing Dent to take second after Doyle took third.
Rivers followed with a chopper past first that Garvey couldn't get off the dime to reach (a Jackson single also had hit his glove). One run scored, Dent held at third.
When White dribbled to Garvey, the first sacker got tangled. He managed to tag first, but allowed Rivers to break for home, then thew wildly past Yeager.
Reliever Lance Rautzhan couldn't wait to hand the ball to Charlie Hough and get out of the combat zone. Of course, Munson slapped Hough's first kncukler softly into right for the seventh Yank run.
Such a wretched excess of embarrassment could not possibly stop. It was that daffy September in Fenway Park recreated with the Yankee magic, their waterfall of ground-ball singles and soft liners leading to a river of extra bases.
The Dodgers' doom was sealed in the seventh when, after Beattie allowed two leadoff walks, to heart of the L.A. order went tdown pathetically against the tired rookie. Russell, whose 11 hits put him only one short of the all-time Series record, fanned; Smith popped up and Gravy whiffed on three straight curves.
If doom was done, humiliation wasn't. The Yanks raced to bat. Jim Spencer and Doyle singled and advanced on a wiaid Hough knuckler. Yeager wasn't finished running back to the screen, a trip he already had made twice.
Rivers struck out for what should have been the last out, but the low-away flutterball escaped Yeager for a wild pitch as a run scored. Talk about writing on the wall. This was a sign painted in letters 10-feet tall: "Bums go home."
It was only a fitting finish that a man who had struck out on a wiald pitch to end an inning, should come around to score the 11th run.
After White singled home Doyle, Munson crashed the first Hough pitch 410 feet on a hop off the fence in Death alley to drive in his fourth and fifth runs of the game-the last being Rivers.
As Munson trotted to second, a tall, handsome man with the face and bearing of a Great Gatsby, climbed atop the Yankee dugout in an immaculate head-to-toe white tuxedo. He walked its 60-foot length slowly and proudly, then disappeared into the crowd like an apparition, like a dissolving Dodger dream.