We have just had one of the most incredible sixth games of a World Series–or really any baseball game–ever played. Can Game 7 possibly live up to it?
Drawing from two relatively recent World Series (meaning those of which I have vivid memories), with an honorable mention for a third, we can ask: Will this Game 7 be like 2002 or like 1975? (The third example will come from 1986.)
In 2002, I had the distinct honor of being able to attend both the sixth and seventh games. In Game 6, the Angels came back from five runs down in the seventh inning, and won, 6-5. It was, and remains, the biggest late comeback in an elimination game in the history of the World Series (or, I believe, any other postseason series).
Game 7 started off with an unbelievable buzz in the stands. But once the game began, it just seemed like the visiting Giants were shellshocked, and just standing around waiting for something to happen. That “something” would be a double in the third inning by Garret Anderson that cleared the bases and gave the Angels a 4-1 lead that was never challenged. Game 7 had not come close to Game 6 in its excitement. (No complaints: The Angels won the World Series!!!)
In 1975, we also had a fantastic Game 6, with frequent lead changes, dramatic home runs, and extra innings. It was and remains, by all accounts, one of the great baseball games at least of recent decades, if not all time. The Boston Red Sox blew an early 3-run lead, then overcame a 6-3 deficit in the 8th to tie it. They won on the famous “will it fair” home run by Carlton Fisk in the bottom of the 12th.
Game 7 was not too shabby, either, even if is not nearly as well remembered as game 6. The Red Sox took an early 3-0 lead, but never scored again, eventually allowing the Reds to score the go-ahead run in the top of the 9th, so that Cincinnati won the championship. Thus did they miss a chance to win their first World Series since 1918–they would not win till 2004. (The Giants, on the other hand, waited only 8 years to brush off the tough loss of 2002, and finally win their first since their move to San Francisco in 1958.)
Following last night’s unbelievable Game 6 defeat, will the Rangers be more like the shellshocked 2002 Giants, or the quick-recovering 1975 Reds?
We could also add to the conversation 1986, when Game 6 featured the implausible “one pitch away” meltdown of the Red Sox as they were on the verge of clinching that elusive championship in Game 6. They took a 5-3 lead over the NY Mets in the top of the 10th–much like the Rangers last night (who had also blown a 2-run lead in the 9th). Game 7 featured a 3-0 lead for the Red Sox that held from the second inning till the sixth. They never led again, but made things interesting in the 8th. So in 1986 the in-game events of Game 7 bore a bit more in common with 1975. But like 2002, it featured the shocked loser of Game 6 losing again.
There have been some great sixth games, and some great seventh games. Only a few series have been great in both games 6 and 7. ((1991 springs to mind. No implausible comebacks in either game, just two spectacular baseball games with it all on the line.)) Here’s hoping that, whatever the outcome, this is one of the latter!