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Remembering World Series Game 7s of recent history

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This is an updated version of a post I originally wrote on the even of Game 7, 2014. No one remembers anything on the Internet, so it’s OK to post it in a mostly-similar fashion two years later, right? Of course.

What happened before has no bearing on what will happen today. People will try to convince you that’s not the case. They’ll toss out a stat about Game 6 winners going on to win Game 7. They’ll note that nine of the last 10 World Series Game 7s were won by the home team. They’ll name-check the 2001 World Series as if it’s meaningful rather than simply interesting. They’ll make bold predictions about Game 7 which are wholly dependent upon Game 6. When they do so they’ll ignore the fact that the last time we had a Game 7 it was preceded by that game’s winner getting pounded the night before.

Sorry, everyone. Like I said earlier this morning: what happens tonight is gonna happen because of what happens tonight, not because of what happened before.

But, as long as we keep that in mind, there is no harm in gawking at history. Specifically Game 7 of the World Series. Here’s a brief rundown of the ones that happened in the past 30+ years or so:

2014: The Madison Bumgarner Game

Maybe it was the Madison Bumgarner Series? In this Game 7 Giants manager Bruce Bochy brought Bumgarner in on two days’ rest to protect their one-run lead in the fifth. And then he stayed in for the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth, holding the Royals scoreless and earning the longest save in World Series history. He also won his two starts that series. Everyone is correct to note how significant it would be for Corey Kluber to win his third World Series start tonight, but I am more impressed with MadBum’s 2014, given that he pitched as many innings in that last game as a starter would who qualified for a win, yet did so on such short rest.

2011: The Cardinals defeated the Rangers, 6-2, in St. Louis

Man, what a disaster that ended up being for the Rangers. Game 6 was the real disaster, but Game 7 was, obviously, where it ended. Chris Carpenter started his third game in a seven game series but, unlike Kluber today, that was thanks rainout, not by design. Allen Craig of all people robbed someone of a homer in the field. David Freese‘s postseason legend was cemented with more RBIs and a World Series MVP. Overall not a competitive game, though. The highest drama had already gone down in this series. This is pretty common pattern, as we’ll see.

2002: The Angels defeated the Giants, 4-1, in Anaheim

This was a fantastic series, but Game 7 was a bit of a comedown here as well. The Angels’ big comeback in Game 6 when the Giants were eight outs away from winning it all traumatized Giants fans for a good bit. Obviously, three World Series titles since then have helped those wounds heal.

2001: The Diamondbacks defeated the Yankees, 3-2, in Phoenix 
1997: The Marlins defeated the Indians, 3-2, in Miami
1991: Twins defeated Braves, 1-0, in Minneapolis

If we’re lucky, tonight we get one of these. All three ended in a walkoff with Luis Gonzalez, Edgar Renteria and Gene Larkin doing the honors, respectively. Of course, the men who hit the walkoffs weren’t necessarily the men most remembered for their exploits in the series or even the game. A Game 7 can certainly create heroes, but in 1997’s case, Jose Mesa and Tony Fernandez instantly became goats. In 2001, Gonzalez was a hero, but Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson became legends. In 1991, Jack Morris nearly became immortal, with his performance almost catapulting him into the Hall of Fame.

1987: The Twins defeated the Cardinals, 4-2, in Minneapolis

Fun footnote: This was on a Monday and was broadcast by ABC, which also broadcast Monday Night Football at the time. The Broncos-Vikings were scheduled to play the Monday Night game that week but it was moved to Tuesday due to the stipulations in the teams’ respective Metrodome leases. Until Sunday night’s Game 5, this was the last victory baseball had over the NFL in any real way. Or at least it felt like it.

1986: Mets defeated Red Sox. 8-5, in New York
1985: Royals defeated Cardinals, 11-0, in Kansas City

Two more instances in which all the drama — be it Bill Buckner or Don Denkinger-induced — happened in Game 6. We had negative drama last night in Game 6 — everything was pretty much decided by the third inning — so perhaps we’ll get it all in Game 7 this time?

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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