Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre homers in Game Five win over St. Louis.
(This is a blog I first posted on October 25, 2008, during the 2008 World Series between the Phillies and the Rays. Philadelphia won that Series in five games. Here, three years later, on the eve of a sixth game between the Cardinals and the Rangers, we’re still hoping for a Game Seven.)
We need a seven-game World Series. This year.
There’s nothing like a seventh game in the World Series. It’s a game in a season, and a season in a game. One game. Winner take all.
Throughout baseball history, there have been 35 seventh games since the first World Series in 1903.
The last seven-game series in 2002 saw the Angels beat the Giants for their only World Championship.
The previous year, as the nation recovered from the 9/11 attacks, the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in seven on a bloop, walk-off single by Luis Gonzalez off Marino Rivera in the bottom of the ninth.
Since 1987, the only other seven-game series occurred in 1991 when the Twins beat the Braves, and 1997 when the Marlins beat the Indians, both in walk-off extra inning games.
Jack Morris pitched a shutout and Gene Larkin drove in the only run with a single in the 10th inning for the Twins win. Six years later, Edgar Renteria’s single in the 11th gave Florida a 3-2 win and the championship.
There have been a total of six walk-off wins in Game Seven overall. The Red Sox beat the Giants in 1912 when some Giant misplays and Larry Gardner’s sacrifice fly against Christy Mathewson enabled Boston to rally for a 3-2, 10-inning win.
Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators won their only World Series in 1924, also against the Giants, on a bad hop single by Earl McNeely in the 12th.
And in 1960, the Pirates edged the Yankees, 10-9, on a home run by Bill Mazeroski. That remains the only Game Seven in World Series history to end on a home run.
The St. Louis Cardinals have won seven seventh games (1926, 1931, 1934, 1946, 1964, 1967 and 1982), a record. Not surprisingly, the Yankees have played in the most, winning five out of eleven.
The Cards twice beat both the Yankees (1926, 1964) and the Red Sox (1946, 1967) in Game Seven showdowns. St. Louis Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, above right, pitched in three seventh games in four seasons, beating the Yankees in 1964 and the Red Sox in 1967 before losing to the Tigers in 1968.
The Pirates have the best record at 5-0 (1909, 1925, 1960, 1971 and 1979) and the Giants are 0-4 (1912, 1924, 1962 and 2002).
Other Game Seven facts and figures that may interest only me:
- A total of 16 seventh games were staged between 1952 and 1979, nearly half of the all-time total of 35.
- Six seventh games occurred in the 60s; five apiece in the 50s and 70s.
- Between 1955 and 1958, the Yankees played four straight seventh games, exchanging wins with the Dodgers and then the Braves.
- All four of those World Series were won by the road teams, including the first and only championships for Brooklyn and Milwaukee, in 1955 and 1957.
- The Yankees avenged those losses in 1956 and 1958; they also beat the Dodgers in seven in 1947 and 1952.
- The last time the Cubs appeared in the World Series, 1945, they lost to the Tigers in Game Seven.
- There were no seventh games between 1912 and 1924, the biggest gap in baseball history.
- The Oakland A’s are the only team to win back-to-back Game Sevens, in 1972 against the Reds and 1973 vs. the Mets.
Before we rush out to canonize Josh Beckett just yet, let’s take a look at the numbers. At age 27, he’s won more than 16 games in a season just once (20-7) last year, and overall is 77-52 with a 3.74 ERA.
Yes he’s been dominant in the post-season (he’s been there twice, in 2003 and last year), but he does have two losses. He’s not Bob Gibson or Sandy Koufax, at least not yet.
At age 27, Doc Gooden had 132 wins and a Cy Young….and look what happened to him. At age 27. Bob Feller had 112 wins, despite missing three full seasons and most of a fourth serving his country in World War II. Roger Clemens had 89 wins, two Cy Young awards and an MVP….and look what happened to him
And now Beckett has back spasms and may miss the Red Sox opener. He’s had injury problems before. Time to put a stop to the Cooperstown campaign — at least temporarily.
With the signing of David Carr to back up Eli Manning, the Giants now have two overall #1 selections on their roster — Carr and Eli. Makes you wonder if any other team has two #1s. Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer and Orlando Pace are among the few members of that elite #1 club still active. Michael Vick is not.
Prediction — the toughest ticket in New York sports history will be for Opening Day at the new Yankee Stadium in 2009.
Leigh Montville has written two great baseball bios, on Babe Ruth (The Big Bam) and Ted Williams (The Biography of an American Hero). The trilogy piece should be on Willie Mays, the greatest player many of us have ever seen.
Looking forward to selection Sunday, although I doubt my alma mater, Holy Cross, will make the big dance. Bob Cousy and Tommy Heinsohn are nowhere in sight.
My early picks for the Final Four — North Carolina, Texas, Kansas and Louisville. These are “draft” picks only, and subject to change, esp if two appear in the same bracket.
How do you spell Syracuse? N-I-T