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?

"Yankees fans are pretty worried right now, and everyone else is convinced the Red Sox are going to win. But I don't think so. When I was bench coach with the Yankees, we were in worse spots and Joe always found a way out.

"I mean, you remember that one time he had cancer and had to leave the team? He put me in charge; but to be honest with you, he was still calling the shots. They'd put him through chemotherapy and he'd be all loopy from the painkillers, but he still always made the right call. Like there was this one time when they gave him a little too much codeine and he called me up in the middle of the game and told me to signal for the suicide squeeze. I told him we didn't have anybody on base, but he insisted; and darned if it didn't work. He also had me give Chili Davis the day off and let Pettitte bat for himself; and sure enough, he hit two home runs into the black seats.

"That's Joe, though. He's always out-thinking everyone. A couple years ago, we had an off-day in Cleveland, so the coaching staff went to see that Bruce Willis movie, 'The Sixth Sense.' We're about 20 minutes into the movie and Joe got up to leave. I asked him where he was going and he said, 'Aw, this movie is too predictable for me. The reason Willis can see the kid is because his character is dead, too. He just doesn't know it yet.'

ONE FINE DAY
It might be hard to believe -- but we've got another Sox-Yanks Game 7 on our hands. And this one could change everything.
"And I remember the first day of spring training in 2000 when he got the coaches together and told us that Knoblauch's throwing problems were going to get worse, that we needed another left-handed bat and that the tech bubble was about to burst and that we should get our money out of the stock market right away. Naturally, we all did. I would have made a lot of money except I lost it all on a horse named MyOhMy at Yonkers. I think Joe hit the exacta that day.

"And then there was a game in late 2002 when we were sitting in the dugout shooting the breeze and all of a sudden Joe says, 'You know, U.S. intelligence is wrong -- Saddam Hussein doesn't have any weapons of mass destruction.' And then he just got up, signaled for Mike Stanton and we won the game.

"That's why I know the Yankees are in safe hands and they're going to win tonight. I don't know how, but Joe just always knows. Why, he called me up in Tampa in August and said I should have someone board up my windows because climate conditions indicated a bad hurricane season, and that right after that, I should get my flu shot because he was afraid supplies might be low. He also recommended getting a paper ballot for the election this fall because Florida might have problems with its electronic voting system.

"What can I say, he's a genius. But you know what sort of worries me? When I talked to him last week, he asked me whether my insurance premiums were all paid up."

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com




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WHAT WOULD ZIM DO?