Friday, October 28, 2011

Can Game 7 Top Game 6? Sure -- For Whichever Team Wins It

Game Sixes have been legendary before.

1947: Al Gionfriddo robs Joe DiMaggio.

1951: DiMaggio's last game.

1953: Yanks beat Dodgers in bottom of 9th on Billy Martin's single, to clinch a 5th straight World Championship.

1965: Jim "Mudcat" Grant pitches a shutout and hits 2 home runs.

1975: Carlton Fisk does the Fenway Twist, capping what was already one of the greatest games ever.

1977: Reggie! Reggie! Reggie!

1978: Catfish and the Goose finish off the Bums.

1980: Carlton and McGraw give the Phillies their first title.

1985: Don Denkinger makes a mistake.

1986: John McNamara makes many mistakes -- even if you don't count leaving Bill Buckner in.

1991: Kirby Puckett saves the game with his glove, and wins it with his home run -- same inning as last night, 20 years later, and with Jack Buck's call from that homer being copied by his son Joe Buck last night: "And we'll see you tomorrow night!"

1992: Dave Winfield finally gets his ring.

1993: Joe Carter touches 'em all.

1995: David Justice's homer is all Tom Glavine needs.

1996: Joe Girardi's triple ends a drought -- well, it's a drought by Yankee standards.

2002: Giants blow a 5-0 lead and lose Game 7, too.

2003: Josh Beckett takes advantage of cold Yankee bats to win the last World Series game at the old Yankee Stadium.

2009: Hideki Matsui drives in 6 runs, including a homer off Pedro Martinez.

2011: The Rangers needed 1 more out in the 9th, and blew it. Then they took a 2-run lead in the 10th and needed just 1 more out, and blew it -- just like the Red Sox in '86. The difference is that, unlike the Mets, the Cardinals couldn't finish it off in the 10th, but they sure did in the 11th.

Imagine being born and raised in a great baseball city, growing up rooting for a storied team, and hitting a game-winning extra-inning home run for them in the World Series. David Freese now knows. As long as he's within a decent bus ride of St. Louis, he'll never have to buy another drink.

Can Game 7 top Game 6? Sure -- for whichever team wins it.

One thing's for sure: Ron Washington, the Rangers' manager is on the spot.

* In 1978, Tommy Lasorda flipped out over Reggie Jackson's "Sacrifice Thigh" in Game 4, and instead of calming his team down, telling them, "Okay, we got screwed, but it's just one loss, we can still win this thing," he stewed in his own juices, and the Dodgers followed his lead. From the "interference" play onward, the Yankees outscored the Dodgers 21 to 4.

* In 1980, the Royals were about to tie up the Series, when Dickie Noles brushed back George Brett. Royal manager Jim Frey flipped out, and didn't calm himself or his team down, and although they hung on to win, the Phillies won the next 2.

* In 1985, Whitey Herzog moaned about the Denkinger goof, and the Cardinals lost Game 7 11-0.

* In 1986, McNamara didn't remind the Red Sox that they still had to win only 1 more -- and the Sox were winning that Game 7 in the 5th and were only 1 run down in the 7th. It was still possible.

* In 1991... Well, the Braves did take it to the limit, and beyond. I can't fault Bobby Cox on that one.

* In 1993, Jim Fregosi didn't calm the Phillies down after blowing a 14-9 8th inning lead at home. Although the Phils did win Game 5, they lost Game 6 on the Carter homer.

* In 1996, Cox could be faulted. The Braves blew a 6-0 lead in Game 4, and were outscored 10-2 the rest of the way. He should have reminded them that the Series was still only tied.

* In 2001, Bob Brenly did calm the Diamondbacks down after their shocking walkoff losses in Games 4 and 5, and they pounded the Yanks in Game 6, and came from behind to win Game 7. So it can be done.

* In 2002, Dusty Baker proved he was capable of getting a team close, but couldn't be trusted to get his team to finish the opposition off. (Cincinnati Reds, are you listening? You've got a good team, but do you have the right manager?)

That Game 6 last night had 1986 Game 6 written all over it -- although the Rangers' drought of 40 seasons isn't even close to the 68 years the Red Sox had at the time. And if Greg Prince of Faith and Fear in Flushing is reading this, he'll bristle at his beloved '86 Mets being compared to any Cardinal team.

But that game, coupled with the rainout the night before, means the Cards can start Chris Carpenter, their ace, for Game 7.

This may be beyond Ron Washington. I'm not sure any manager can bring a team back from being soclose to winning the whole thing and blowing it.

The Cards have the momentum, their ace on the hill, Albert Pujols, and the home crowd. I think they're going to win it.

*

There's a column in today's Daily News that says the Mets should do what the Yankees did last year with their shortstop, Derek Jeter: Play hardball with Jose Reyes, lowball him, and let him take his chances with the other 29 teams.

There's a problem with that theory.

Reyes didn't grow up as a Met fan. He's much more likely to say, "To hell with you" (or it's Spanish equivalent) than to say, "Okay, okay, I give in."

He's also much more likely to get a good deal from someone else. After all, he's not going to be as expensive as Jeter, for the simple reason that he's not as good as Jeter.

Never was. Isn't now, even as a batting champion. Never will be.

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