By Steve Silverman
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The Houston Astros have a big, fat zero in the category of World Series titles in their history. That will change Tuesday or Wednesday if they can find a way to finish off the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
If they can’t, the Dodgers will celebrate in front of their home fans and win the Fall Classic for the first time since 1988.
Jose Altuve figures to lead the way if the Astros are successful, while Justin Turner is likely to take on a similar role for the Dodgers, if they are going to rally from the 3-2 deficit.
This matchup is being mentioned with the best World Series of all-time, largely because two classic games (Game 2 and Game 5, both won by the Astros) have already been played.
If the Dodgers win Game 6 and force a decisive game, I think it will deserve strong consideration for ranking among the top 10 World Series. Of course, we will need at least one more dramatic finish for that to happen.
I have been watching the World Series since 1964 and chronicling it since 1981. I’ve seen plenty of memorable moments. Take a look:
1. Cincinnati Reds defeat Boston Red Sox 4-3, 1975 – This one is at the top of nearly all the rankings for a number of reasons. The Reds were heavy favorites and featured some of the greatest players of all-time, including Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Pete Rose and Tony Perez, but the Red Sox were excellent and played their best baseball against the top team of the last 55 years. Game 6 featured a dramatic game-tying three-run homer from Bernie Carbo, and Carlton Fisk won it with his home run off the foul pole in the 12th. The relentless Reds came back from a 3-0 deficit to win the seventh game on Morgan’s ninth-inning bloop single.
2. Minnesota Twins defeat Atlanta Braves 4-3, 1991 – The Twins and Braves engaged in a remarkable series that included three extra-inning games. The Twins came home for Game 6 trailing, but they tied the series when Kirby Puckett hit a game-winning home run in the bottom of the 11th inning. They followed that up with a 1-0 triumph in 10 innings as Jack Morris and John Smoltz engaged in one of the best pitching duels of all-time.
3. New York Mets defeat Boston Red Sox 4-3, 1986 – This series was as joyous for the Mets as it was painful for the Red Sox. The Mets were a remarkable team in ’86, but they had been pushed hard by the Astros in a six-game NLCS, and they were not at their best for the Fall Classic. Boston was about to win the series in six when New York rallied from a two-run deficit with two outs and nobody on in the 10th inning to win. Mets fans are still thanking Mookie Wilson for his tricky ground ball that went through Bill Buckner’s legs. New York rallied from a 3-0 deficit in Game 7 to earn an 8-5 victory and the franchise’s second World Series title.
4. Arizona Diamondbacks defeat New York Yankees 4-3, 2001 – With the Sept. 11 tragedy as the backdrop, this brilliant World Series helped rally Americans. President George Bush threw a perfect strike to open Game 3 at Yankee Stadium, and the Yankees won the three middle games. The Bombers tied Games 4 and 5 with two-out, ninth-inning home runs by Tino Martinez and Scott Brosius, respectively, but lost Game 7 in Arizona on Luis Gonzalez’s single over a drawn-in infield in the bottom of the ninth.
5. Chicago Cubs defeat Cleveland Indians 4-3, 2016 – The Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, and the team’s fandom venerated with joy. Chicago rallied from a 3-1 deficit to take the series, and Game 7 saw Cleveland rally to tie the seventh game with three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning off fireballer Aroldis Chapman. However, the Cubs went on to win after scoring two runs in the top of the 10th and fighting off a furious Indians rally in the bottom half.
6. Los Angeles Dodgers defeat Minnesota Twins 4-3, 1965 – The upstart Twins battled the Dodgers on even terms for six games, with the home team winning each time. That changed in Game 7 as Dodgers manager Walt Alston sent Sandy Koufax to the mound for at Metropolitan Stadium. The legendary lefty blanked the Twins on three hits and struck out 10.
7. Detroit Tigers defeat St. Louis Cardinals 4-3, 1968 – The Cardinals were considered one of the greatest teams of the decade as they were a superb mixture of pitching, speed, defense, and power. The Tigers trailed 3-1 in the series and were being outclassed, but they rallied for a 5-3 win in Game 5 behind the pitching of Mickey Lolich. They won Games 6 and 7 in St. Louis, as Lolich defeated Bob Gibson in the finale.
8. St. Louis Cardinals defeat New York Yankees 4-3, 1964 – This marked the end of the great Yankees dynasty, as the Bombers would not appear in another World Series until 1976. The Yanks won Game 3 in memorable fashion as Mickey Mantle hit a game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth off knuckleballer Barney Schultz, but the Cardinals won Game 4 on a grand slam by Ken Boyer and Game 5 on an extra-inning homer by Tim McCarver. The Yankees rallied to win Game 6 in St. Louis, but Gibson got the best of them in Game 7.
9. Pittsburgh Pirates defeat Baltimore Orioles 4-3, 1979 – The Orioles built a 3-1 lead, scoring 22 runs in their victories, but the Pirates shut down Baltimore’s offense and allowed just two over the final three games. Hall of Famer Willie Stargell hit a game-winning, two-run homer in Game 7 and won the Series MVP award.
10. Oakland A’s over New York Mets 4-3, 1973 – The “Ya Gotta Believe” Mets were a last-place team on Aug. 30, but they rallied to win the NL East and beat the “Big Red Machine” in the NLCS. The A’s were heavily favored, but the Mets took a 3-2 lead in the series before Oakland won Games 6 and 7. Reggie Jackson’s two-run homer in the third inning of Game 7 gave the A’s a 4-0 lead, and the Mets couldn’t find their mojo. It was the second of Oakland’s three consecutive World Series titles.
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