The 10 Best Baseball Games Since World War II

 

Hello, blog. It’s been a while. What a sports year it has been, with lifetime underdogs finally becoming champions in basketball soccer and even baseball. With the incredible postseason we just witnessed, it’s only fitting I talk about, at least in my opinion, the 10 best games since World War II. My criteria was simple: the most exciting, back and forth, goosebump inducing, awe-inspiring games I as a fan have either witnessed live or via YouTube (the World Series began being broadcasted on TV in 1947, and most since 1960 are available on video in some shape or form(thank god for MLBClassics)).

 

FIVE HONORABLE MENTIONS: 2001 World Series Game 4, 2015 ALDS Game 5 (TEX @ TOR), 1954 NL Playoff (BRK @ NYG), 2014 World Series Game 7, 1986 World Series Game 6.

These games are the “best” of the rest, each for their own special reasons. In 2001, it felt like destiny for the Yankees to bring back New York’s pride in itself following 9/11, and it seemed like the baseball gods were on their side after a huge 9th inning home run by Tino Martinez sent the game into extras to see Derek Jeter just clear the short porch in right and forever become Mr. November. 2015’s wild 7th inning is still the craziest half hour I have ever seen live, in anything (even Game of Thrones), and 1954’s NL Playoff will forever be remembered as “The Shot heard round the world”. 2014’s game 7 saw the epic conclusion of perhaps the greatest postseason pitching effort ever from Madison Bumgarner, and 1986 brings back too much pain as a Sox fan for me to speak of.

 

10. 1992 NLCS, Game 7: Braves 3, Pirates 2

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Full game here

The validation of a miracle for one team, and the nuclear detonation of another.

In a rematch of the previous year’s NLCS, Pittsburgh’s ace Doug Drabek looked completely up to the task of finishing the series off, outdueling Atlanta star John Smoltz when it mattered most, throwing 8 shoutout innings at Fulton County Stadium. Unfortunately for him, baseball games last nine innings. Terry Pendleton started the rally with a leadoff double, before an error and a walk loaded the bases with no one out. Jim Leyland finally pulled Doug Drabek, but the momentum was already with the Braves. Even after a sacrifice fly made the game 2-1 and a walk loaded the bases, the Pirates never quit, with Stan Bellinda getting a blooper to put them one out from their first World Series appearance in 13 years. However, it was not to be, as a liner from minor leaguer Francisco Cabrera was just enough to score Sid Bream under a Barry Bonds throw to send the Braves to their second straight World Series and the Pirates to a 20 year playoff drought.

 

9. 2003 ALCS, Game 7: Yankees 6, Red Sox 5

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Full Game Here

Ugh x 100000. One of my first memories in any sport was watching Aaron fucking Boone join the list of Yankee nobodies who crushed the hopes and dreams of the Red Sox. I could literally write a book about this game though. Clemens vs Pedro, Game 7, Red Sox vs Yankees. How much bigger could it get? Unfortunately, as with 1999, we didn’t get the duel we had hoped for, as Clemens was chased from the game after giving up 4 runs in three innings of work. Pedro, however, was cruising through 7 innings, taking a 5-2 lead into the 8th inning. For some inexplicable reason, Grady Little left Pedro Martinez in the game even after surrendering several hits in a row and allowing the Yankees to get the game to 5-3 with the tying run on base. Jorge Posada promptly doubled to tie the game at 5 before Pedro was finally pulled. The game went scoreless through the ninth and tenth before Aaron Boone sent one high and deep into the left field bleachers at Yankee Stadium, sending the Evil Empire to their sixth world series in eight years and breaking the hearts of at least six states. The Red Sox wouldn’t have to wait long to exact revenge on their old rivals though…

8. 2004 ALCS, Games 4-7: Red Sox come back from down 3-0

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Game 4 Game 5 Game 6 Game 7

…Like I said, not long at all :). I simply could not choose one game that was better than the other three for this list. For me they are really one long-flowing game, like the kind played in The Sandlot. Where to even start here? The Red Sox, facing their arch-rival, completely were decimated in the first three games, losing 19-8 at home in game three, their World Series drought about to reach 87 years. Nobody thought they would even win game 4, let alone come back and make it interesting, except for Kevin Millar and maybe a couple other guys in that clubhouse. But they did it. David Ortiz became a fucking God over these four games. He literally could have written a book and gotten it put into the Bible in New England after this. Anyways, the Red Sox, down 4-3 in the ninth inning of game four, were facing the greatest closer to ever live, Mariano Rivera. However, they fought off adversity, with Kevin Millar drawing a walk, Dave Roberts coming in and stealing second when even Stevie Wonder could see he was going, and then Billy Mueller tying it to send it to extras, where the playoff God walked off in the 12th to stave off elimination. Game 5 was the longest postseason game of all time at the time, and featured an almost identical copy of game 4: Ortiz homers to make it 4-3, Millar gets on, Roberts steals second, Red Sox tie it and send it to extras, and Ortiz walks off in the 14th inning to send it back to New York. How could you possibly follow that up? Only with Curt Schilling throwing the game of his life without being able to feel his foot, and then the Johnny Damon show in game 7. One of the most incredible strings of games we have ever seen.

7. 1993 World Series, Game 6: Blue Jays 8, Phillies 6

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Oh, so this is where the Back to Back cover came from!

Touch ’em all Joe! The Blue Jays repeated their 1992 victory over the Braves and went Back 2 Back by outdoing everyone since 1960 in game 6. The Blue Jays looked to be in excellent position to repeat, taking a 5-1 lead into the seventh inning on the back of a strong Dave Stewart performance, when the wheels came off for the Jays. Lenny Dykstra’s three run home run followed by an RBI single and a sacrifice fly flung the Phillies in front 6-5, where it stayed until the 9th when “Wild Thing” Mitch Williams came on to send it to a seventh game. It was not to be, as Williams walked Ricky Henderson, causing him to switch to a “slide step” delivery for the first time in his professional career to counter Rickey’s speed. This mechanics change did nothing, as Williams lived up to the wild part of his nickname, surrendering a single to MVP Paul Molitor to put the winning run on first for Joe Carter, who promptly belted a no-doubter into the bleachers, the first World-Series winning walkoff home run since 1960.

6.  2001 World Series, Game 7: Diamondbacks 3, Yankees 2

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Full game here

The 2001 Yankees seemed like a team of destiny after the World Trade Center attacks on September 11th; determined to win a championship for their devastated city, the Yankees had already upset the greatest regular season team of all-time, the 116 win Seattle Mariners, in the ALCS and were just a game away from a World Series championship after late-game heroics in aforementioned game 4 and game 5 put the Yankees up 3 games to 2. It was a matchup of two of the most dominant pitchers of their generation: Roger Clemens vs Curt Schilling. And damn if they didn’t pitch like it. Both had shutouts into the sixth inning before Arizona went ahead 1-0, which looked like almost a comfortable win with the way Schilling was pitching. The Yankees quickly answered with a Tino Martinez RBI single to tie it in the 7th, before Alfonso Soriano crushed an 0-2 pitch in the 8th to put the Yankees up 2-1. After surrendering a single to David Justice, Schilling gave way to Miguel Bautista and then Randy Johnson, who had thrown 104 pitches the night before, to keep the game within reach. Legendary Yankee manager Joe Torre countered with his own legend in Mariano Rivera, who shut it down in the 8th. After Johnson kept the Yankees at bay in the 9th, the stage was set for a classic ending.

Rivera surrendered a leadoff single to Mark Grace, and then a throwing error by Rivera on a bunt put runners at first and second with still nobody out. After Rivera redeemed himself by getting the force at third on yet another bunt, Tony Womack bitch slapped the entire city of New York by ripping a one out double into right, tying the game and putting the winning run on third. After hitting Craig Counsell (lol) to load the bases, Rivera faced Diamondback home run king Luis Gonzalez with the infield infamously in, looking to stop the runner at third from scoring on a ground ball. As Tim McCarver infamously pointed out just seconds before it actually happened, a lazy blooper against a cutter would easily win the game, and Luis Gonzalez did just that, breaking millions of hearts blooping one over Jeter’s head and into the history books.

5. 1960 World Series, Game 7: Pirates 10, Yankees 9

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Full game here, also shows players who played in this game talking about it after each inning.

The OG Walk-off home run against the Yankees, and I finally found it on YouTube! Glorious! Thanks Bing Crosby!

This game featured so many amazing players, making it automatically great to watch. Highly recommend it if you have three hours to kill. Anyways, the Pirates looked off to a championship after taking a 4-0 lead through the fourth inning. However, the legendary Casey Stengel wouldn’t let his team quit, as Mickey Mantle and co. quickly rallied in the 5th and 6th innings to pull ahead 5-4 before tacking on an additional two runs in the top of the eighth to pull ahead 7-4. This is where the fun really began, as the Pirates scored to make it 7-5 before Jim Coates got within one strike of retiring Roberto Clemente and escaping further damage. However, a combination of a high chopper and Clemente’s speed prevented Yankee first baseman Bill Skowron from recording the out, making it 7-6 Yankees. Hal Smith then delivered what at the time seemed like a knockout punch, crushing a 3 run shot to left field, making it 9-7 as the Yankees prepared for their last ups.

After two quick singles to lead off the inning, the Pirates turned to eventual winning pitcher Harvey Haddix to finish the job. However, Mickey Mantle had other ideas, singling to right-center, cutting the lead to 9-8. After Yogi Berra grounded out to first, Mickey Mantle stepped up again. Realizing he was toast at second, Mantle fell back toward first, narrowly avoiding the tag from Pirate first baseman Rocky Nelson in a crazy sequence that could have ended the game. While all this commotion was happening at first base, Gil MacDougald raced home from third to tie the game at 9 apiece, where it would stay heading into the bottom of the ninth.

Ralph Terry stayed in for the bottom of the 9th, where his first batter faced was none other than our hero, Bill Mazeroski. After taking the first pitch for a ball, Mazeroski slammed the next pitch into left-center for a solo shot, ending the World Series and one of the greatest games ever to be played.

4. 1975 World Series, Game 6: Red Sox 7, Reds 6

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Full game here

Ah, what a joy this game is. Everything about it is amazing, even down to the old school Red Sox hats and helmets, my personal favorite of their uniforms. This game truly had it all and then some.

Thanks to soaking rain that delayed games 6 and 7, Boston had the luxury of starting ace Luis Tiant for a must win game 6. The Red Sox jumped out to an early 3-0 lead before the Reds tied the game, partially on a Ken Griffey line drive that led to Fred Lynn injuring himself, only to continue playing despite not being able to feel his legs for most of the remainder of the game. The Reds then went ahead 6-3 after a two-run double from George Foster and a solo home run from Cesar Geronimo chased Tiant in the 8th. Fred Lynn finally found his legs and singled to lead off the bottom of the 8th, followed by a walk to Rico Petrocelli. After two quick outs, Bernie Carbo, former Cincinnati prospect and game 3 hero, came out to pinch hit for Roger Moret, and delivered with a 3-run game tying home run to dead center (well over 400 feet away), his second pinch-hit home run of the series. Later, Carbo admitted he was crossed as fuck during this at-bat and the one in the 7th game too. Fucking nuts. The Sox then loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the 9th but failed to score (shades of 2016!)

The game then went to the 10th and 11th, where Dwight Evans did Dwight Evans things, robbing what looked sure to be a go ahead RBI double, and then turned two while he was at it. In the 12th, Rick Wise pitched his way around two singles to get it to the bottom of the 12rh, tied at 6. What could possibly follow up the theatrics of the later innings of this game? Just Carlton Fisk hitting one of the most iconic home runs in MLB History. “A long drive… if it stays fair… Home Run!” off of what is now known as Fisk’s pole along the Green Monster at Fenway, as the Red Sox sent it to seven.

3. 2011 World Series, Game 6: Cardinals 10, Rangers 9

Full game here

Power Hitters. Power Pitchers. A hometown hero. This was an incredible ride, especially from a team in the Cardinals who barely snuck into a wild-card spot that season.

The Texas Rangers, repeat AL Pennant holders, were one game away from their first World Series in franchise history, while the Cardinals were looking for one to add on to their 2006 championship in what could have possibly been Albert Pujols’ final game as a Cardinal. What ensued outlived even the most optimistic of expectations. After a see-saw of a first seven innings, the Rangers led 7-4 heading into the eighth inning, just six outs away from a championship. Allen Craig homered in the eighth to make it 7-5 as young Ranger closer Neftali Feliz came on for the ninth inning. After making quick work of Ryan Theriot, Albert Pujols came to the box for possibly his final at-bat as a Cardinal, promptly blasting the first pitch he saw for a double to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of Lance Berkman, who was walked to set up the double play. Feliz then got Allen Craig to strike out looking, leaving it up to St. Louis native David Freese to stave off elimination. Feliz worked the count to 1-2 before Freese blasted one over right fielder Nelson Cruz’s head and off the wall. Because Cruz jumped to try to make the catch, the ball got pretty far away before he could make the throw allowing old ass Lance Berkman to score all the way from first to tie the game. Feliz was able to gather himself to get to the tenth.

In the tenth inning, the resurgent Josh Hamilton hit a two-run shot to right-center, prompting Ron Washington to clap his hands uncomfortably hard. St. Louis, once again down two with three outs to play with, went to work in the bottom of the tenth. After two singles and a sac-bunt, Theriot grounded out to score the runner from third, and Pujols was intentionally walked to put runners on the corners for Lance Berkman. Once again, the count was worked to 1-2, then to 2-2, making it three times in these two innings that the Rangers were a strike away from a World Series. Berkman then ended that hope, singling home Jon Jay to once again tie the game, 9-9. After an uneventful top of the 11th inning, hometown kid David Freese led off the bottom, where on a 3-2 pitch, he became a legend in St. Louis, crushing Mark Lowe’s offering into the center field grass to send the series to a seventh game.

2.  1991 World Series, Game 7: Twins 1, Braves 0

Full game here

This and the previous game could easily be switched, had it not been for this one being a game 7. This game was great for completely different reasons than most of the others on this list; it featured two of the greatest pitching performances seen in World Series history from Twin City native Jack Morris of the Twins and John Smoltz of the Braves, and concluded probably the best World Series ever played.

Both teams were relatively quiet for the first seven innings, with neither having many hits or chances to score. However, things heated up in the eighth as they always seem to in these games. As Terry Pendelton doubled into the gap in left-center, it appeared Lonnie Smith would easily score from first base to give the game its first run, but he instead fell for the decoy of the Twins pretending to turn two, stopped at second, and ended up at third base instead of on the bench and in World Series history. Morris then forced a groundout and a double play to escape the 8th unscathed. After Smoltz gave up two base hits to put runners on the corners with one out, Bobby Cox pulled his ace. The move paid off as Mike Stanton was able to induce a double play to keep the game scoreless. In the ninth, the Twins had runners on first and second with no one out, but hit into a double play and struck out to send the game to the tenth inning, still scoreless.

Jack Morris, native of the Twin Cities area, and fucking World Series hero, refused to exit the game. The 1984 World Champion shook off multiple attempts by Minnesota’s manager Tom Kelly to pull him, which led Kelly to remark, “Oh hell, it’s only a game”. Morris recorded yet another 1-2-3 inning, with his 126th and final pitch of his historic night a lazy ground ball to short. In the bottom stanza, Dan Gladden reached on a broken bat hit, and then in one of the ballsiest moves of all time, he advanced to second on the hit, just beating Lonnie Smith’s throw. Chuck Knoblauch then bunted Gladden over to third for Kirby Puckett, who was intentionally walked. Hrbek was then intentionally walked, leaving Tom Kelly forced to pinch-hit a visibly injured Gene Larkin with the bases loaded and one out. After fucking forever of the Braves infielders figuring out where to stand, Gene Larkin pisses all over them and bombs one over the left fielder’s head. World Series over.

1. 2016 World Series, Game 7: Cubs 8, Indians 7

Full game here

Recency bias? Maybe, but I don’t think so. This has to be the greatest game I’ve ever seen, probably in any sport. So much was on the line. The two teams with the longest championship droughts in any North American sport. An EPIC rain delay. Home runs from the least relevant players on each team. A ragtag group of veterans who no one thought had a shot against a carefully crafted Theo Epstein masterpiece, in one final orgasm all over Joe Buck’s face.

I’m sure we remember what happened since it was two months ago, but I’ll just run through it for you real quick. Dexter Fowler immediately starts it off with a solo shot off the previously untouchable Corey Kluber to start it off strong before the Indians tied it in the third. The Cubs then regain the lead in the fourth, scoring twice to go up 3-1 (ironically, the lead Cleveland was looking to blow). Then came what I personally thought was the knockout blow, a BOMB from Javy Baez and an RBI single from Anthony Rizzo to put the Cubs up 5-1. With Hendricks pitching out of his mind all year and playoff legend Jon Lester available in relief, the game looked to be almost over. But, as we knew by then, the Indians thrived best when told they were finished and had no shot; they were able to get a few lucky bounces (literally) and get to within two off of Jon Lester in the fifth. Ross immediately paid for his sins in the top of the sixth, hitting a solo home run off the previously untouchable Andrew Miller in what ended up being his final major league at-bat. Lester and Andrew Miller then traded body blows in the rest of the sixth and seventh, setting up one of the best endings ever.

Jon Lester got the first two outs in the eighth inning before Joe Madden pulled Lester for superstar lefty Aroldis Chapman, who threw a career high 42 pitches the night before in a questionable move with the Cubs up 7-1 and then 9-1 late in the game. After a huge double from Brandon Guyer made it 6-4, Rajai Davis fucked my entire life up. Chapman settled down and got through the 8th and 9th to send the game into extra innings, where a rain delay again fucked my entire life up. After the delay, we were able to get back to the best game ever. In the 10th, against also previously untouchable Cody Allen, bionic knee guy Kyle Schwarber delivered again, Bryant moved up the pinch runner, Rizzo got walked, Zobrist said fuck you and drove in Almora, and Miggy Montero had another huge hit to make it 8-6, putting the Cubs just three outs away from their first championship in 108 years. Called upon to finish the job with Chapman’s arm about to fall off was Carl Edwards Jr. who got two guys out but then began to look like Calvin Schiraldi in an eerily similar situation, walking Guyer and allowing Rajai Davis to make it a one run game. Mike fucking Montgomery, a guy with ZERO big league saves was next in line. He was thankfully (for some people) able to force Michael Martinez to ground out to NL MVP Kris Bryant, whose throw put the Cubs back on top for the first time since child labor was legal.

Let me know what I missed or what you liked in the comment section or on my twitter @E_Carey66

 

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