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 scout and analyze the ALCS ... if given the chance. In other words, What Would Zimmer Do?

"I never realized how late these playoff games lasted back when I was Joe Torre's bench coach. You just lose all track of time because you get so caught up in the game and the pitching changes and the lineup moves and Derek Jeter giving you a hot foot when you're standing up on the dugout steps.

"But now that I'm not with Joe, the games just last too long for me. I mean, I don't mind staying up past nine every once in awhile. But midnight? That's just ridiculous. How are you supposed to watch these games and still get up early enough to see Willard Scott?

"Like Sunday's game between the Yankees and the Red Sox. I was into it for the first six innings. But after that, I started nodding off, just like Chuck Knoblauch did during that game with the Indians a couple years back. So I turned off the game and went to bed as soon as I saw Mariano Rivera warm up in the bullpen in the eighth inning. I saw that so many times from the dugout that I know Mo always means lights-out, and I certainly didn't need to risk seeing Steinbrenner hogging all the credit in the clubhouse afterward. Did I mention I hate that man? I used to try to shoot the champagne corks at his head, hoping I might get one right in his eye socket.

"Anyway, so now that the Yankees have completed that four-game sweep against the Red Sox, the only thing left is to figure out whether they match up better against the Cardinals or the Astros. I say the Cardinals. For one thing, Joe used to manage in St. Louis, so they won't be flipping him the bird like the fans did in Boston. For another, the Yankees don't want any part of facing Roger Clemens.

David Ortiz
Um, Zim ... guess what you missed?

"Let me tell you something about Roger. He's the fiercest competitor I've ever been around in my six decades in baseball. Jackie Robinson was plenty tough, but he was nothing compared to Rocket. Do you remember that one-hitter he fired against the Mariners in the 2000 playoffs? The game where he tried sticking one in A-Rod's ear? Well, he was still so hyped after that game that we had to shoot three tranquilizer darts into his rear end to stop him from ripping the plumbing out of the clubhouse.

"Even then, Joe had to distract him with shiny metal objects while Bernie and Jeter and David Justice held him down and wrapped him in ace bandages. Then we drove out of town and dumped him in the woods. By the time he'd eaten through the bandages and walked back to town the next morning, he had calmed down enough that he could communicate with hand signals and grunts. When we got back to New York, we just chained him to one of the batting cages and tossed raw meat to him until it was time for him to pitch against the Mets.

"Now that's what I call a gamer.

"Joe would probably come up with some sort of way to beat Clemens, but it would just be easier if the Cardinals win this series so they don't have to worry. So that's who I'll be rooting for tonight.

"I gotta go now because I'm beginning to feel guilty about not watching the end of that game last night. And I better call Joe and congratulate him on beating Boston again before it gets too much later."

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com




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WHAT WOULD ZIM DO?