Tuesday May 31, 2011
The 20 Greatest Games: Who Was I Rooting For?
Eventually I'll get around to how many of MLB's “20 Greatest Games of the Last 50 Years” I feel deserve the honor. In the meantime I'm curious just how many of the games made me happy at the time. Did my team win? Did it lose? Did I not care? What's my record in these 20 games?
20. May 17, 1979: Philies 23, Cubs 22 (10 innings). Didn't care. Didn't watch. Didn't even register, to be honest. (0-0-1)
19. 2003 NLDS, Game 4: Marlins 7, Giants 6. Rooting for the Giants just because they're one of the original teams, hadn't won a World Series since '54, and the Marlins were upstarts who already had one Series title, in '97, and no personality. Watched it on TV. (0-1-1)
18. 1980 NLCS, Game 5: Phillies 8, Astros 7 (10 innings). Was probably rooting for the Astros as an anti-Pete Rose kind of thing. I hated Pete Rose even before the gambling allegations became known. (See: Ray Fosse, Bud Harrelson, Moe haircut, etc.) Don't think I caught the game, though. I was an A.L. guy. (0-2-1)
17. 2004 ALCS, Game 4: Red Sox 6, Yankees 4 (12 innings). Oh god yes, totally for the Sox. I admit I thought it was pointless. Sox were down three games to none. Even if they won this one, no one had ever, ever, come back from three-zip to win a 7-game series. And against a team that had hurt them so badly for so many years? And yet... And yet... If they ever do a greatest series countdown, this one will be higher up. And, yes, watched it. (1-2-1)
16. Game 163 of the 2009 season: Twins 6, Tigers 5 (12 innings). Born and bred in Minnesota, baby. Watched it all. That was a good afternoon. (2-2-1)
15. 1995 ALDS, Game 5: Mariners 6, Yankees 5 (11 innings). I was at this one: 300-level behind homeplate. I'd been to all of these M's games throughout September and October. Refuse to Lose. The best part of my best baseball year ever. (3-2-1)
14. 1993 World Series, Game 6: Blue Jays 8, Phillies 6. Rooting for those hapless Phils. Somehow, when Mitch Williams came in, I knew. I guess everyone knew. (3-3-1)
13. 1997 World Series, Game 7: Marlins 3, Indians 2 (11 innings). Indians. They've had nothing since '48, and the Marlins were upstarts. Jose Freakin' Mesa. Painful. (3-4-1)
12. 2001 World Series, Game 4: Yankees 4, Diamondbacks 3 (10 innings). God, no. Screw 9/11, screw Jeter, screw the Yankees. (3-5-1)
11. Game 163 of the 1978 season: Yankees 5, Red Sox 4. God, no. And, yes, I ran home from school to watch the second half of this afternoon ballgame. Oh, Yaz. Where was your '67 magic, Yaz? (3-6-1)
10. 1988 World Series, Game 1: Dodgers 5, A's 4. Yep. Dodgers were big underdogs here. I'd just returned from a year in Taipei, Taiwan, was watching the game sitting on the floor in the living room of my father's house. When Gibson hobbled to the plate, I think I actually said aloud, “What do they think this is? The Natural?” It was. (4-6-1)
9. 2001 World Series, Game 7: Diamondbacks 3, Yankees 2. Mark Grace, Tony Womack and Luis Gonzalez made me happier than maybe any three men ever have. And seriously, this game should've been up higher. (5-6-1)
8. 1986 ALCS, Game 5: Red Sox 7, Angels 6 (11 innings). Mixed loyalties here. I'd never liked the Angels, an organization without flavor, who had spent years trying to buy a championship with the likes of Minnesota's own Rod Carew. But poor Gene Mauch. He deserved a Series. I probably began rooting for the Red Sox, and then, when they began to win, tried to put the brakes on. They didn't come on. (5-6-2)
7. 2003 NLCS, Game 6: Marlins 8, Cubs 3. Cubs. Awful. Who roots for the Marlins? Unless they're playing the Yankees. (5-7-2)
6. 2003 ALCS, Game 7: Yankees 6, Red Sox 5 (11 innings). You have to ask? (5-8-2)
5. 1986 NLCS, Game 6: Mets 7, Astros 6 (16 innings). Hated this Mets team at the time. Doesn't Ray Knight look like Derek Jeter's old brother? That hate has dimmed with time and with the Mets' historic ineptitude ever since. (5-9-2)
4. 1992 NLCS, Game 7: Braves 3, Pirates 2: Wanted the Pirates because they hadn't been in 13 years, the Braves had been the year before, and I hated (and hate) the tomahawk chop. (5-10-2)
3. 1986 World Series, Game 6: Mets 6, Red Sox 5 (10 innings). See no. 5. (5-11-2)
2. 1991 World Series, Game 7: Twins 1, Braves 0 (10 innings): No-brainer. My team, my main team, my mother team. Crack out a homerun/Shout out hip-hooray!/ Cheer for the Minnesota Twins today! (6-11-2)
1. 1975 World Series, Game 6: Red Sox 7, Reds 6 (12 innings). Red Sox. Never liked that Reds team, but appreciate them now, just like, as a Twins fans, I never liked the 1969-71 Orioles but appreciate them more than ever now. BTW: Did you see their show on this game on the MLB Network ? Who knew Johnny Bench talked so much? (7-11-2)
7-11-2. Not bad, considering I perpetually root for the underdog.
- Eight of the 20 games are World Series games, including the top three.
- Four are NLCS games, including no. 4.
- Three are ALCS games, including no. 6. (Which is too high.)
- Two are LDSs, including M's over Yankees at no. 15, the only game on the list I attended.
- Two are one-game playoffs, including no. 11, the Bucky Dent game.
- One is a regular season game. No. 20.
- 13 of the 20 games went into extra innings, including the top three.
- 13 of the 20 games were won by the home team, and all of those were won on the final at-bat.
- Of the seven visitor victories, two were at Wrigley Field, two at the Astrodome. (Bummer, dudes.)
- Six of the 20 games entered the bottom of the final inning (the 9th, or what became the final extra inning) with the home team behind. ('95 Mariners, '93 Blue Jays, '88 Dodgers, '01 Diamondbacks, '92 Braves, '86 Mets)
- Of these six, the final swing in four of the games changed the home team from losers to winners ('95 M's, '93 Jays, '88 Dodgers, '92 Braves)
- Of these four, two of the final swings came with two outs. ('88 Dodgers, '92 Braves)
- Of these two, one ended a series. ('92 Braves)
Final inning? Check. Home team behind? Check. Final swing reverses fortunes of teams? Check. Two outs? Check. Ends series? Check. And mate.