By Jim Caple
Page 2

Editor's note: He managed the Red Sox and coached for the Yankees. So we take a shot at how Don Zimmer, the man who knows them both so well, would handicap the ALCS lineups ... if given the chance. In other words, What Would Zimmer Do?

Leadoff: SS Derek Jeter vs. CF Johnny Damon

"Lord knows there are a lot of things I don't like about Steinbrenner but I have to give him his due when it comes to enforcing a strict dress code. I remember once when Clemens went out to pitch a night game with 5 o'clock shadow and George went nuts. Ordered him back into the clubhouse to shave while we had Luis Sojo pitch the first two innings. Fortunately, we were playing the Devil Rays so it didn't make any difference. My point is, when you look like a champion, you play like a champion.

"Then look at the Red Sox. How can you play with hair like Damon? It's going to get in your eyes chasing after flyballs and the tobacco juice and sunflower seeds are going to get stuck in that beard and no one is going to want to sit next to him in the dugout and pretty soon team harmony is gone and you've got 25 guys taking 25 cabs. That's what happened when that Commie pitcher Bill Lee grew a beard when I was managing Boston. I told him to shave it but Boston's gutless ownership wouldn't back me up and we blew a 14-game lead to the Yankees, who I don't think I need to add were clean-shaven.

"Huge edge for the Yankees."

Batting second: 3B Alex Rodriguez vs. 2B Mark Bellhorn

"I was playing canasta with Lou Piniella when we heard about the A-Rod trade. You should have seen Lou. His face turned so red he looked like Chief Wahoo, only he wasn't smiling. I'm still pretty ticked off about it. The Yankees had won seven straight division titles and have the highest payroll in the baseball and then they get the best player in the league, too? How is that fair? How can we compete with that down in Tampa Bay?

"Awwww, it makes so mad thinking about it I don't even remember what I was going to say about Bellhorn.

"Anyway, huge edge to the Yankees."

Manny Ramirez
"Look at that hair! That is not the hair of a champion!"

Batting third: RF Gary Sheffield vs. LF Manny Ramirez

"These guys are real pieces of work, aren't they? I hear Sheffield is ticked off at Bonds because Barry stole his personal chef. Makes me sick the way players are spoiled rotten today. We didn't need any personal chefs when I was playing. We would just show up at Toots Shor's after a game and he would serve us a steak as thick as a catcher's glove -- and about as tough. But did we complain? Hell, no. We were too drunk by then.

"And Manny? Give me a break. Last year he sat out a game against us then showed up at our hotel for drinks with Enrique Wilson. Let me tell you, that never would have happened in the old days when the Giants and Dodgers were still in New York. Back when I played for Brooklyn, if you even passed a Giant behind the batting cage without spitting in his face or spiking him or saying his mother was ugly, it was an automatic $100 fine. I'll never forget the summer of '55 when Alvin Dark and some of his other Giants punks shot up Carl Erskine at the Causeway tollbooth and Clem Labine had to take over as head of the family and made us go to the mattresses until things cooled down and Walter O'Malley moved us to the West Coast and put Fredo in charge.

"Or am I'm getting it confused with 'The Godfather'?

"Anyway, call it even."

Cleanup: LF Hideki Matsui vs. DH David Ortiz

"Everyone was disappointed by how few home runs Matsui hit last year but he's adjusted to American pitching and found his power stroke. Plus, he's the most fundamentally sound player I've seen in decades. Never makes a mistake. He's just like Carl Furillo was, except he's left-handed and he plays left field not right and he's Japanese and he never put Vick's Vap-o-Rub in my jockstrap.

"And Ortiz is one of the sweetest kids you'll ever meet. Always a huge smile for everyone. And power? One day in batting practice I saw him hit a ball clean out of Yankee Stadium. True, it hit a 64-year-old woman waiting for the No. 4 train on the subway platform and killed her instantly, but that doesn't take away from how impressive that drive was.

"Slight edge to the Yankees."

Bernie Williams
"The only thing sweeter than Bernie's guitar playing is his batting stroke."

Batting fifth: CF Bernie Williams vs. RF Trot Nixon

"Everyone knows that Bernie plays the guitar but he also has a beautiful voice, sort of like Paul Anka. Him and me would celebrate together after big wins. He'd play the guitar and I'd bang around the tambourine and we'd sing "Moon River" or "My Way" until the clubbies kicked us out. Bernie may be slowing down in the field and he throws like a little girl now but mark my words, when his baseball career is over, he's going to be very big in Branson.

"I don't know that much about Trot Nixon but I voted for his father three times.

"Solid edge to the Yankees."

Batting sixth: C Jorge Posada vs. 1B Kevin Millar

"Let me tell you -- Jorge is the most underrated player in the game. A catcher who hits for average and power from both sides of the plate -- are you kidding me? And no one handles pitchers better. Before that one playoff game in Seattle a couple years ago, Clemens was speaking in tongues and walking around the clubhouse with a chainsaw but Jorge just went up, talked real soft to him and rubbed his belly and pretty soon Roger calmed right down and shut out the Mariners on one hit. I'd like to see Piazza do that with a pitcher.

"Millar has a big mouth.

"Huge edge to the Yankees."

Batting seventh: DH Ruben Sierra vs. C Jason Varitek

"I guess Ruben had a big home run against the Twins and Joe says he's a changed player now but I still remember him being the biggest pain in the butt the Yankees ever had. I'm still trying to get the peanut butter stains out of all my underpants.

"But that Varitek, boy, I love this kid. Great catcher, good hitter, natural leader, loyal teammate, good haircut. He's the type of guy you would want in the trenches with you, unless Clemens is charging you with a chainsaw, in which case, I still want Jorge.

Jason Varitek
"Whenever one of those crazy brawls breaks out, I want Varitek on my side."

"Big edge to the Red Sox."

Batting eighth: 1B John Olerud vs. SS Orlando Cabrera

"Let me tell you, not only is Olerud the slickest glove at first base, he is the nicest, most politest player in baseball. Always saying, 'Please' and 'May I' and 'Excuse me' and 'Thank you.' I bet he would even ask permission to cut the cheese. And he'd never put Vap-o-Rub in your jock.

"But what's the deal with this Cabrera kid, though? Where's Nomar?

"Solid edge to the Yankees."

Batting ninth: 2B Miguel Cairo vs. 3B Bill Mueller

"He's not much of a hitter but Cairo provides solid defense at second, better than the Yankees have had since before Knoblauch started throwing balls into the stands. Knoblauch hit the same fan 13 times in one season. The poor guy is brain-damaged, doesn't have any teeth left, is hard of hearing and has lost control of most of his bodily functions, but you should hear him when he yells 'Boston sucks!' That's why Yankees fans are the greatest in baseball.

"Then there's Mueller. What's it say about a guy who wins the batting title one year and bats ninth the next? I don't know, but I don't like it.

"Even."

Starting pitcher: Mike Mussina vs. Curt Schilling

"Don't get me wrong. I think Moose is a great pitcher. But I never liked how he thinks he's smarter than everyone else just because he went to Stanford and I have a steel plate in my head. He'd be a better pitcher if he thought less and farted more. Look at David Wells.

"Schilling is a great pitcher, too, but he talks too much. What is it with pitchers these days, anyway? I remember with the Dodgers, Don Newcombe wouldn't speak the day before a start, the day of a start or the day after a start. And that was back when we had four-man rotations. So the only words I ever heard out of his mouth were 'Hello' on the first day of spring training and 'Goodbye' the last day of the season.

"Oh, there was one other thing Newk said to me. One day he walked up and said, 'You didn't hear this from me but it's Furillo who keeps putting the Vap-o-Rub in your jock.'

"Definite edge to Boston."

Joe Torre
"That's the face of a great leader, I tell you."

Managers: Joe Torre vs. Terry Francona

"C'mon. It's insulting to even compare Francona to Torre. I played for Walter Alston and Casey Stengel and I managed against the best of the best and there is no one -- no one! -- better than Joe. You know how some managers are two moves ahead of everyone else? Joe is two months ahead of everyone.

"I remember a game David Wells was pitching against the Mariners and Boomer was tiring and Joe wanted to get Stanton out of the bullpen. I said, no, I think he can go another batter or two. And Joe said, 'No, if I bring in Jeff Nelson now then the Mariners will pinch-hit Randy Winn and I like that matchup.' And then he said, 'Speaking of Boomer, that reminds me. You should dump all your Krispy Kreme stock. It's overvalued and I've got an uneasy feeling about their accounting practices.' Well, Stottlemyre didn't agree at all. He said that Wells was good for another inning and that Krispy Kreme's Price Per Earnings ratio still was good and they were opening stores left and right and besides, the Mariners wouldn't bring in a pinch-hitter anyway. But Joe just smiled and said, 'I've got a feeling.' And sure enough, the Mariners pinch-hit Winn, he bounces into a double play and Krispy Kreme has lost three bucks a share since then.

"And Francona is going to match that? Don't make me laugh.

"Huge edge to the Yankees."

Prediction: "New York wins Game 1 by a score of 6-2. Now, can I go back to watching 'Golden Girls'?"

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com




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WHAT WOULD ZIM DO?