Jenkins: It Might as Well Be Spring…1965.
I’d love to say, “Hey, I’m too young for this stuff,” but those Dodgers teams were a staple of my youth. Growing up in Southern California, I spent a good part of my teenage years watching them dismantle the opposition with pitching, defense and fundamental intelligence.
And here’s the beauty of baseball: The comparison absolutely can be made, especially now that the so-called Steroid Era is (for the most part) behind us.
...So it comes down to the starting rotations. I saw nearly all of Koufax’s great performances, either in person or on television, and within the time frame we’re discussing, he was the best who ever lived. He took the mound at Yankee Stadium for Game 1 of the ‘63 World Series and set a strikeout record. He pitched a shutout on two days’ rest in Game 7 of the ‘65 Series in Minnesota. He had the best fastball and the best curve, to the point where he needn’t bother to throw off-speed. So just forget about Justin Verlander, Roger Clemens or anyone else; Koufax was the best.
Right behind Koufax there was Hall of Famer Don Drysdale, a sidearming right-hander and as nasty as they come. The Dodgers had solid No. 3 starters on those two World Series teams (Johnny Podres, then Claude Osteen), but they never approached the depth of this year’s San Francisco rotation, or the fact that any one of three guys - Cain, Vogelsong, Bumgarner - could be considered the ace, with a two-time Cy Young winner (Tim Lincecum) a sudden, unbeatable weapon in relief.
I can’t pick a winner in good conscience. Could go either way.