7 UP: Nothing beats a Game 7

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There’s nothing like a seventh game in the World Series. It’s a game in a season, and a season in a game. Astros vs. Dodgers. One game. Winner take all.

Throughout baseball history, there have been 38 seventh games since the first World Series in 1903. Tonight marks the first World Series Game 7 ever at Dodger Stadium, and the first for the Dodgers since 1965, when they beat the Minnesota Twins on a three-hit shutout by Sandy Koufax (pictured above), his second complete game shutout in four days.

Houston is hoping to win its first World Series since the franchise began play as the Colt 45s in 1962. The Astros, then a National League entrant, were swept by the White Sox in their only previous World Series appearance in 2005.

Just last year, the Cubs snapped a 108-year drought when they beat the Indians 8-7 in 10 innings in a memorable Game 7. So now baseball fans are blessed with a second straight World Series Game 7 for the first time since 2002, when the Angels beat the Giants for their only World Championship.

Walk-off wins

That was one of just six walk-off wins in Game 7 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. (Technically that was Game 8, since Game 2 wound up in a 6-6, 11-inning tie.)

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.

Bill-Mazeroski-s-walk-off-home-run-pittsburgh-pirates-8859387-666-800In 1960, the Pirates edged the Yankees, 10-9, on a home run by Bill Mazeroski, pictured at right. That remains the only Game Seven in World Series history to end on a home run. Incredibly, not a single strikeout was registered in that contest,

In 1991, Jack Morris pitched a shutout and Gene Larkin drove in the only run with a single in the 10th inning as the Twins beat the Braves.

Six years later, Edgar Renteria’s single in the 11th gave the Florida Marlins a 3-2 win over the Indians — and the championship.

In 2001, 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 inning.

Cardinals are Game 7 leaders

The St. Louis Cardinals have won eight seventh games (1926, 1931, 1934, 1946, 1964, 1967, 1982 and 2011), a record. Overall the Cards are 8-3 in Game 7. The Yankees have also played in 11 World Series Game 7s, winning five, four against the Brooklyn Dodgers and one against the San Francisco Giants.

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 started 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) in Game 7s, and the Giants are 0-4 (1912, 1924, 1962 and 2002).

Other Game 7 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 38.
  • 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 Brooklyn Dodgers and then the Milwaukee 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 before last year, in 1945, they lost to the Tigers in Game 7.
  • There were no seventh games between 1912 and 1924, the longest gap in baseball history.
  • The Oakland A’s are the only team to win back-to-back Game 7s, in 1972 against the Reds and 1973 vs. the Mets.
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Detroit Tigers in the first World Series Game 7 in 1909.
  • The National League has won 23 of 38 World Series Game 7s; the American League 15.
  • Game on.

MORE GAME 7: New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro ranks World Series Game 7s.

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Gotta go to Mo for World Series security

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Witnessing one bullpen failure after another in the playoffs makes baseball fans, especially Yankee fans, appreciate the great Mariano Rivera all the more.

Year after year, Rivera, pictured above with Jorge Posada and Scott Brosius after saving the final game of the 1999 World Series, compiled a post-season resume that is unrivaled in baseball history. In 96 playoff games and 141 innings, Mariano had a 0.70 ERA. He had 42 saves (same as his number) in 47 opportunities. Sure Mo blew a few – most notably against Arizona in the 2001 World Series in Game 7 and two games against Boston in the fabled ALCS 3-0 comeback. He was human.

That 0.70 ERA is the best all-time in MLB playoff history, ahead of such luminaries as Sandy Koufax, Christy Mathewson and Babe Ruth. And the 42 saves is more than twice as many as the runner-up, Brad Lidge.

Here’s another stat – Rivera allowed exactly two home runs in post-season, none after Jay Peyton took him deep in the 2000 World Series with the Mets. Heck, Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen has given up as many homers in this World Series alone.

Trivia Answer

Name the only franchise to win both American and National League pennants? It’s the Houston Astros of course. They Astros won the National League pennant but were swept by the White Sox in the  2005 World Series. And this year they were American League champs.

Next Yankee Manager

If the Yanks continue their Joe trend, then third base coach Joe Espada will be named the next manager, succeeding Joe Girardi. Girardi won one World Series in 10 years. He took over from Joe Torre, who won four World Series in 12 years. And another Joe – McCarthy – managed the Yankees for 16 years between 1931 and 1946, winning a franchise best 1460  games and seven World Series.

Going out on a limb here, and tabbing Al Pedrique as a dark horse candidate for the next Yankee manager. Pedrique has been successful managing the Yankees Triple A affiliate Scranton, and has groomed many of the young Yankee stars, including Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez. Greg Bird, Luis Severino and more.

Old School Baseball

Game One of the 2017 World Series ran just two hours and 28 minutes, the quickest playoff game in more than 20 years. The game  brought back memories of the old days, when games typically ran two hours, sometimes less.

As a kid, I used to go to Sunday doubleheaders at Yankee Stadium, and most times be home before dinner. And the price was right – $1.50 to sit in the upper deck, half price with a high school card. Two games for 75 cents. Top that.


Clueless Joe costs the Yankees a playoff win

girardiYankees manager Joe Girardi, who has a habit of over-managing, suddenly decided to under-manage at the most critical point of the season. It cost the Yanks a playoff game.

Everything was going so well for the Yankees in Game 2 of the ALDS against Cleveland. They had knocked out Indians’ starter Corey Kluber, the likely AL Cy Young Award winner, en route to an 8-3 lead in the sixth inning.

With two outs and two men on base, New York’s Chad Green hit Cleveland’s Lonnie Chisenhall with an 0-2 pitch. Or did he? Catcher Gary Sanchez, who caught the ball, yelled “Foul!” and looked over at the Yankee dugout.

Chisenhall never reacted to the pitch, something a player would normally do if hit in the hand by a 95-mph fastball. Instead he sheepishly trotted down to first base.

Replays clearly showed the ball did not hit Chishenhall’s hand, but rather the knob of the bat. “There was nothing that told us that he was not hit by the pitch,” Girardi said after the Yankees lost 9-8 in 13 inning to fall behind two games in the best-of-five series. “By the time we got the super slow-mo, we are beyond a minute. It was too late. They tell us we have 30 seconds.”

Seriously. Why not challenge? If you win, it’s a strikeout and the inning is over. It’s an extremely low-risk, high-reward proposition. It’s already the sixth inning, and the Yankees had two challenges remaining. If the ruling on the field is overturned, the inning is over. If not, at least it was reviewed.

Instead play continued, and Francisco Lindor promptly hit a grand slam to get the Indians right back in the game.

Excuses, excuses

Compounding the issue, Girardi later claimed he didn’t want to stop play and upset Green’s rhythm.

“I think about the rhythm and never want to take a pitcher out of rhythm and have them stand over there to tell me he wasn’t hit,” Girardi said.

Fess up Girardi, you messed up. Admit it and move on. That excuse might fly in some cities, but not in New York.

Ten years ago, almost to the day, the Yankees suffered a similar heartbreaking ALDS loss to the Indians in Cleveland. That night another Joe – Joe Torre – failed to ask for a stoppage of play when a swarm of midges appeared on the field as reliever Joba Chamberlain was trying to pitch.

Torre later admitted that he should have called time. That indecision eventually cost Torre his job. He was replaced by – you guessed it – Joe Girardi.

It doesn’t appear that Girardi will lose his job as a result of his non-challenge. But this promises to go down as one of the more boneheaded managerial decisions in Yankee postseason history.

Social media lit up after the game. Giradi’s legacy, along with the Yankees playoff aspirations, certainly took a hit last night.

You below it Clueless Joe, you blew it.


10 games the Yankees will regret

yankeeslose_400x400As the Yankees continue their thus far futile chase to catch the Red Sox, win the American League East and avoid the dreaded one-game, wild card playoff, they are looking back at 10 games they should have won.

1. April 7 – Orioles 6, Yankees 5: The Yankees begin a trend that will hurt them all season, taking an early lead only to fritter it away and lose. In this case the Yanks, leading 5-1 in the fifth, lose 6-5.

2. June 13 – Angels 3, Yankees 2, (11): Tyler Clippard surrenders the tying run on an Eric Young home run in the eighth; New York loses 3-2 in 11.

3. June 15 – A’s 8, Yankees 7 (10): Kicking off a disastrous weekend in Oakland, the Yanks tie the game in the ninth and take a 7-6 lead in the 10th. With two outs, Khris Davis bloops a single just off Starlin Castro’s glove to score the tying and winning runs. The A’s sweep the four-game series.

4. June 27 – White Sox 4, Yankees 3: Jose Abreu singles in the tying and winning runs with two outs in the ninth off Dellin Betances as Chicago counters a Yankee rally for a 4-3 win.

5. July 1 – Astros 7, Yankees 6: A grand slam by DiDi Gregorius in the sixth helps stake the Yanks to a 6-3 lead. However Houston rallies against Betances and Aroldis Chapman in the eighth to win.

6. July 14 – Red Sox 5, Yankees 4: At Fenway Park, the Red Sox score the tying and winning runs against Chapman in the ninth without hitting the ball out of the infield. Boston ties the score on a Castro error, then wins on a walk-off walk to Andrew Benintendi.

7. August 13 – Red Sox 3, Yankees 2 (10): Rafael Devers shocks the Yankee Stadium crowd with a home run against Chapman in the ninth before Benintendi singles in the winning run in the 10th.

8. August 18 – Red Sox 9, Yankees 6: Trailing 3-0 the Bombers take a 6-3 lead in the seventh. But Boston rallies with four runs in the bottom of the seventh against Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle and add two more in the eighth to win 9-6.

9. September 5 – Orioles 7, Yankees 6: The Yankees score six runs in the third for a 6-1 lead, and take a 6-5 lead into the ninth. However with outs and nobody on base, Betances walks Tim Beckham and then yields a walk-off homer to Manny Machado.

10. September 8 – Rangers 11, Yankees 5: The Yankees give Masahiro Tanaka a 5-1 lead, but he gives it all up and more as Texas goes on to win 11-5.


Indians look to surpass Giants 26-game streak

McGraw John 3569.63_FL_CSUThe red hot Cleveland Indians still have some work to do to surpass baseball’s longest winning streak.

More than 100 years ago, way back in 1916, the New York Giants set the record for consecutive games won without a loss.

In the midst of a 31-game September homestand at the legendary Polo Grounds, manager John McGraw’s Giants won 12 straight before a 1-1 tie with the Pittsburgh Pirates. New York beat Pittsburgh in a doubleheader the next day and went on to win 14 more games before losing the second game of a doubleheader to the Boston Braves on September 30. The 26-game winning streak included seven doubleheader sweeps.

It was a very strange year for the Giants. They started out 2-13 before embarking on a 17-game win streak, all on the road. Despite the two winning streaks, the Giants finished in fourth place, seven games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers, with an 86-66 record.

Exactly half of the Giants wins that year came occurred during the two streaks. Take away the streaks and the Giants were 43-66, nearly 25 games below .500.

Outfielder Dave Robertson was the only Giants regular to hit better than .300. He finished at .307 with a team-leading 12 home runs. The Giants hit only 42 homers as a team, but led the NL with 206 stolen bases. Pitchers Jeff Tesreau and Pol Perritt won 18 games apiece.

The Indians have already won 21 games in a row, equaling the 21-game streaks compiled by the Chicago Cubs in 1935 and the Chicago White Stockings in 1880. And Cleveland bettered the previous American League best 20-game winning streak reeled off by the Oakland A’s in 2002.

Other major streakers throughout baseball history included the Chicago White Sox (19 games in 1906), the New York Yankees (19 games in 1947 and 18 games in 1953) and the Giants (18 games in 1904).

Only the 1906 White Sox and the 1947 and 1953 Yankees went on to win the World Series.

The Providence Grays won 20 games in a row 1884, before baseball’s modern era began at the dawn of the 20th Century. Amazingly, Hall of Famer Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn won 18 of those 20 games for Providence.


Happy Birthday, Dad

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The first college football game ever televised, Waynesburg vs. Fordham in 1939.

On a steamy August Saturday afternoon in the summer of 1938, New York right-hander Monte Pearson, shown below right, pitched the first no-hitter in Yankee Stadium history. The Yanks beat the Cleveland Indians, 13-0, that afternoon to complete a doubleheader sweep.

Pearson, who was 16-7 that year and won exactly 100 games lifetime,  faced the minimum 27 batters, striking out seven. Tommy Henrich and Joe Gordon each homered twice.

In the opener that day, Joe DiMaggio’s third straight triple of the game plated two runs in the bottom of the ninth to cap a three-run rally and give the Yankees an 8-7 victory. A crowd of 40.959 was on hand Pearson_Monteas the Yankees increased their American League lead  to 12 games en route to their third straight championship.

One year later come September, Fordham University defeated Waynesburg College of Pennsylvania, 34-7, at Randalls Island in New York. But that wasn’t the story. NBC filmed the first college football game ever televised, as Bill Stern brought the play by play to viewers.

Waynesburg’s Bobby Brooks made history with a 63-yard touchdown run, the first televised TD. Reportedly, there was no victory dance in the end zone.

The W2XBS broadcast signal had about a 50-mile radius, and there were about a thousand TV sets in the New York metropolitan area at the time. The signal didn’t even reach Waynesburg, about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh. So who saw the game? Who knows?

Columbia Shocks Army
In October of 1947, Army was a huge favorite as the Cadets brought a 32-game winning streak into New York to face Columbia’s Lions. Army had not lost since 1943; Columbia was coming off losses to Yale and Penn.

Army led, 20-7, at the half, but the Columbia combination of quarterback Gene Rossides and received Bill Swiacki brought the Lions back for a stunning 21-20 victory.

maris60And in September of 1961, Roger Maris of the Yankees, pictured left, hit a long home run into the upper deck at the old Yankee Stadium against Baltimore’s Jack Fisher. The round-tripper was Roger’s 60th of the season, equaling the mark Babe Ruth set in 1927.  Maris hit number 61 on the final day of the season, setting a record that many feel still stands.

These events, interesting in of themselves, have something else in common. My father was right there for each and every one. He was just 13-years-old at the Pearson no-hitter, a game he attended with other family members. The decision was made to leave once the Indians got their first hit. That never happened.

My Dad went to the Waynesburg-Fordham game with his cousin, who was at that time the manager of a powerful Fordham team.  By the time Maris tied the Babe in 1961, my Dad was a father of four, two boys and two girls, including me, the oldest. Of course, my Mom had something to do that.

My Dad took me to my first Yankee game nearly 60 years ago. He also brought me to my first Giants game, also at Yankee Stadium, and to my first Knicks and Rangers games at the old Madison Square Garden.

He’s always been there for me, whether it be cash, advice or a good meal. There’s still nothing I’d rather do than talk sports with my old man. I treasure the times I spend with him always.

Happy Birthday. Love you, Dad.

(Note: My father turns 92 today. World War II veteran, engineer, lifelong Yankee fan, married for 67 years, father of our, grandfather of 13, great-grandfather of 10. He’s the smartest man I’ve ever known.)

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Can Judge hit one out of Yankee Stadium?

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That is the question. It’s never been done, either at the new Yankee Stadium or the old ballpark — The House that Ruth Built — right across the street.

Seems like a super human feat. Mission impossible. Perhaps, but after Yankees’ phenom Aaron Judge cleared the left-center field bleachers with a 495-foot home run, it seems like a legitimate question.

Judge’s latest moonshot blast certainly opened some eyes. Consider that his home run would have landed in the corridor in front the Yankees retired numbers, under the Bank of America sign, if not deflected by a fan. Now look to the left of that spot, perhaps 25-30 feet, near the flagpoles. Notice the alley. Under ideal circumstances, with the wind blowing out, who’s to say Judge couldn’t clear that back wall. Not impossible.

There have been some monster shots in the new Stadium, but none as monstrous as the one Judge hit. Alex Rodriguez hit several bombs deep into the bleachers, and Philly’s Raul Ibanez and Cleveland’s Russell Branyan hit titanic shots.

But judging by the results, Aaron Judge has the best chance to hit a fair ball out of Yankee Stadium

Original Yankee Stadium Blasts

Nearly 16 years ago, July 22, 2001, Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams hit a ball that left the old Stadium, over the old Yankee bullpen in right field and onto the elevated tracks of the 4 line.But that was in batting practice.

I was at the ballpark with my family that day, a hot summer Sunday afternoon. We were sitting on the third base side, box seats. My son Dan, a teen-ager at the time, swears he saw the ball go out

“I saw it,” he said. “It went out in that little gap, over the wall and right onto the railroad tracks. “People noticed it, they were clapping. You didn’t believe me.”

Well, it was hard to believe.

“I didn’t see it,” Williams told the New York Post. “But I noticed that it never came back, so that should have been some indication it was out. Batting practice is a great relief and release of tension for me. I’ve had a lot of tension this year, so it’s kind of like hitting a punching bag. I always try to hit the ball hard, but that’s as hard as I’ve ever hit one. That’s a long way.”

It’s a feat that no Yankee slugger had ever accomplished before — not Babe Ruth, not Mickey Mantle, not Reggie Jackson.

Twice, Mantle came within several feet of hitting one out of Yankee Stadium, off Pete Ramos of the Washington Senators on Memorial Day, 1956, right, and against Bill Fischer of the Kansas City A’s on May 22, 1963. Both times the ball was still rising when it struck the façade in right field. Mantle later said the 1963 HR was the hardest ball he ever hit.

Josh Gibson and Frank Howard, among others, were reputed to have gone out of the Stadium, though neither has ever been proven.

Gibson, the great Negro League catcher, is said to have hit several moonshots in the his day, including a ball that traveled 580 feet in the 1930s.

Babe Ruth may have hit some balls out of the original Yankee Stadium before the upper deck in right field was built, but none have ever been documented. The upper deck in right was extended in 1937.

But Bernie Williams did it for real….even if it was BP. He even hit a home run in the game, a solo shot in the first inning, to help lift the Yankees to a 7-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Bernie finished his career with 287 home runs, 22 more in the playoffs. And one that didn’t count but went out of Yankee Stadium

Bernie goes Boom!