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OCTOBER 27, 2003
How To Win (And Lose) A World Series
By Steve Lombardi, NetShrine.com

In the six games of the 2003 World Series, the New York Yankees batters had the following numbers versus the Florida Marlins:  

Batting Average: .261 - On Base Average: .338 - and Slugging Percentage: .406.

Conversely, the Marlins batters had the following numbers versus the Yankees:  

Batting Average: .232 - On Base Average: .282 - and Slugging Percentage: .300.

So, if the Yankees collectively "out hit" the Marlins and "out pitched" them as well, just how did the Florida Marlins beat the New York Yankees in the 2003 World Series?

Simple – in a short post-season series, it takes more than solely "out walking, out slugging, and out pitching" your opponent to win.  In order to win in the post-season, a team needs to deliver in clutch situations (meaning with two outs) both at the bat and in the field, ensure their offensive outs are productive (as opposed to being empty and useless), and make smart decisions when opportunities arise.  If you do not want to believe it here, ask the Oakland A’s about why they were bounced from the post-season the last four years in a row.

Game 4 of the 2003 World Series is a perfect example of the importance of clutch performance, productive outs, and smart decisions.  In Game 4, all scoring occurred in four half innings:

Aside from the above, there were no other innings with significant offensive action:

There were six keys (in total) to Game 4 of the 2003 World Series:  the bottom of the 1st inning, the top of the 2nd inning, the top of the 3rd inning, the top of the 9th inning, the top of the 11th inning, and the bottom of the 12 inning. 

While Game 4 is the example used here to stress the importance delivering in the clutch, making productive outs and being smart in order to win in the post-season, just about any game in the 2003 World Series could be used to prove these points.  Examine:

Back to Game 4 of the 2003 World Series, perhaps there was even greater consequence to the fact that the Yankees failed to do what it takes to win in this particular game?

On the YES Network post-game coverage following Game 6 of the 2003 World Series, YES analyst Paul O’Neill made the following points about the series:

“There’s one game throughout the series that seems to just change everything.  And, [here] it was Game 4.

They [the Yankees] just came out.  They beat Beckett.  They’re in Miami.  All of a sudden, I saw them [the Yankees] come out for stretching [before Game 4] like they were going to walk all over the Marlins.

The Marlins bounced back.  They won that game.  And, they never gave the momentum back.  And, in a short series, that will get you the ring.”

Paul O’Neill, as a player, was a main member of teams who earned five World Series rings.  Very few players can match that post-season jewelry collection.  When he makes a statement such as this one, about the overall nature and key turning points of a World Series, it makes sense to believe it is true.  O’Neill speaks from experience.  And, there is no better learning tool than experience. 

Hmmm……..New York……...not delivering in the clutch, making unproductive outs, and being unwise – and compounding it by doing it in a pivotal game!  No wonder why the Marlins beat the Yankees in the 2003 World Series.

While the collective “statistics” may not back it up, the Marlins did what was necessary to win in a World Series - and they did it when it was necessary.  That should be a lesson to every team that hopes to win it all someday.


Steve Lombardi is the Creator & Curator of NetShrine.com.  Scrawling On The Scorecard appears regularly during the baseball season and sporadically during the off-season.  Steve can be contacted at sots@netshrine.com

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