Even the so-so sports fan pays attention to a Game 7.
Casual sports fans usually know who’s playing in a championship series — Stanley Cup, World Series, NBA Finals — but that casual interest turns to rapt attention in a Game 7.
So it was on the night before Halloween when Houston Astros played host to Washington Nationals in a Game 7 for the World Series title. The oddity of the 2019 Fall Classic was that going into that winner-take-all game, the visiting team had, improbably, emerged victorious in all of the first six. More improbably, visiting Washington won this Game 7, too.
Every sports fan has their favourite Game 7. Mine dates me tremendously, as it goes back to Oct. 13, 1960, when I was a Grade 5 student at Fleming School in Brandon. Mr. Sytnyk was my teacher and I had some explaining to do when I showed up for afternoon classes about an hour late because of the Pittsburgh Pirates-New York Yankees Game 7. In those days, World Series games were afternoon contests (10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Manitoba). Got home for lunch around 12:10 and was mesmerized by the enormity of the moment. The powerful Yankees had won three games by scores of 16-3, 10-0 and 12-0. The underdog Pirates’ three wins were by narrow scores of 6-4, 3-2 and 5-2. My father, bless his soul, agreed with me that catching the last few innings of the ball game was easily as important as the first afternoon class of a Grade 5 student. Then, Bill Mazeroski struck. After the Yankees tied the game 9-9 with a pair of runs in the top of the ninth, Mazeroski led off the bottom of the ninth with a Series-winning homer off Ralph Terry of the Yankees and pandemonium broke out in Pittsburgh and in my family’s west-end Brandon home.
Other favourite game 7s? Leafs’ fans want to forget the Stanley Cup first-round series against Boston in 2013, when the Bruins trailed 4-1 with 14 minutes to go, scored three late goals to force OT and then saw Patrice Bergeron win it in the extra period. In the NBA, it’s hard to match Cleveland’s 93-89 win over the powerful Golden State Warriors, in Oakland, to win the 2016 title.
One final note: Of all the Stanley Cup games that have gone to overtime, only twice has the Cup been won with an OT goal in Game 7. And both times it was a Detroit Red Wing — Pete Babando in 1950 and Tony Leswick in 1954. That means it hasn't happened for the past 65 years. Maybe we’ll get that Game 7 OT drama next June.
- Paul Daugherty of Cincinnati.com, with a “Joker” movie review: “So depressing it made a Bengals game seem like a weekend in Vegas.”
- Tim Hunter of KRKO Radio, on European politics: “I gotta say, this Brexit thing is dragging on longer than a Brett Favre retirement.”
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Kevin Durant told the Wall Street Journal that sometimes ‘he hates’ the business of the NBA. I don’t know about you, but I would love every aspect of any business that is going to pay me $40 million next season not to work.”
- Comedy writer Jim Barach: “An XFL player has left the league after learning the base salary is $27,000 a year. He feels he can make more money taking fans to the games and back while driving for Uber.”
- Jay Busbee of Yahoo Sports, on NFL officiating: “Technology has forever altered the officiating game, turning every disputed play into an episode of CSI: Lambeau Field.”
- ABC late-night funnyman Jimmy Kimmel, on Donald Trump’s visit to Game 5 of the World Series: “Usually to get booed that much at a sporting event in Washington, D.C., you have to play for the Redskins.”
- Janice Hough of leftcoastsportsbabe.com: “Atlanta Falcons release kicker Matt Bryant, 44, after two missed field goals last Sunday. ‘If only they had given the young man a chance to get more experience,’ said Adam Vinatieri.”
- Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “The NFL fined Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill $10,527 for giving a trailing Broncos defender the peace sign en route to a 57-yard touchdown. So, it would’ve been $5,263.50 if he’d only used just one finger?”
- Perry again: “Celtics centre Tacko Fall — the NBA’s tallest player at 7-foot-5 — was placed in concussion protocol after hitting his head on a low ceiling at the team’s practice facility.”
- Janice Hough again, on the 0-7 Dolphins playing the 0-8 Bengals on Dec. 22: “The Christmas turkey will be served early this year.”
- Former MLBer Ron Fairly, who died recently at 81, channeling his inner Yogi Berra during his broadcasting days: “Last night I neglected to mention something that bears repeating.”
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