Game 7 was probably the best World Series game of your lifetime

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I make the caveat in the headline because you may be of a certain age and you may have, say, been at the Bill Mazeroski game in 1960, at Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956 or at Game 6 of the 1975 World Series when Carlton Fisk hit his famous homer. If that’s the case, hey, you may have a different idea of what the best World Series game you ever saw happened to be.

For those of us with no real living memory of baseball before the 1980s, however — the 40ish and under crowd — Game 7 2016 may very well be the best we’ve ever seen. I’ll give it a day or so to sink in before I etch this list in stone — and I’ll explain why I think it was the best when I get down to the number one slot — but in the meantime, here’s my take on the ten best World Series games I’ve ever seen:

10. Game 6, 1995

All of these are subjective to some extent, but I’m gonna sneak a super fan-centric objective won in here at number 10. Sorry, it was my team doin’ it here, so it was elevated for me. Tom Glavine’s eight innings of one-hit, shutout ball and David Justice’s homer, mere days after idiot Braves fans questioned his worth and nerve. A year prior we endured (hopefully) the only October of our lifetime without a World Series. This October I was treated to my team winning the only title it has so far won in my lifetime. You’d put your own team’s win in at number 10 if you were making this list, right?

9. Game 7, 1997

Given that you know last night’s game is coming later, you know that the Indians get three losses on this list. Sorry, guys. Not your fault. Jose Mesa’s blown save and Tony Fernandez’s key error sent it to extra innings and Edgar Renteria’s single with the bases loaded gave the Marlins an improbable World Series win.

8. Game 6, 2011

This might have been higher for a lot of people, but personal circumstances that I may or may not write about one day made it a surreal experience of sorts that made it something of an out-of-body experience that is best left for another time. And no, it did not feature alcohol or chemicals of any kind. It was just weird. Anyway, the game itself was not a crisp one — five errors, a boat load of walks, lots of lead changes and that infamous Nelson Cruz misplay of the David Freese ball — but it was definitely an exercise in high drama.

7. Game 7, 2014

This was the Madison Bumgarner game. It was the best one I saw in person, as I was covering it in Kansas City. It may not have had moment-by-moment competitive drama like some of these other entries, but it was the best individual performance I’ve ever seen in a World Series Game, with Bumgarner coming in for a five-inning save only a couple of days after dominating the Royals with a compete game shutout.

6. Game 1, 1988

The Kirk Gibson home run. It’s been 28 years and I still cannot believe what I just saw. It was so improbable a year for the Dodgers and then, against the heavily-favored A’s, the impossible happened. Feel free to use those phrases if you want. No need to credit me.

5. Game 6, 1993

Everyone remembers “Touch ’em all, Joe!” but what is forgotten is that the Phillies had every reason to pack it in, down 5-1 entering the seventh inning, when they rallied for five runs and the lead. That, and not just the fact of the homer, helped make Joe Carter’s game-winning blast all the more memorable. What is also forgotten is that these two teams played a whale of a Game 4 too, with the Jays beating the Phillies 15-14. A game in which the Phillies led 14-9 entering the top of the eighth. Mitch Williams blew that one too. May have been worse, frankly.

4. Game 6, 1986

The Buckner game. Or the Schiraldi game if you want to think about it more deeply. Either way, Mookie Wilson’s grounder, Bill Buckner’s blunder and Ray Knight scoring to tie the series at 3 made everyone who was watching it stand up and wonder what in the hell just happened. If this was a series-deciding game it may be a couple of slots higher, but as it was, it was probably the best non-definitive World Series game I’ve seen.

3. Game 7, 2001

Down go the three-time defending champion Yankees to an expansion team in its fourth season. And it was no cheapie, as Luis Gonzalez and the Diamondbacks had to get through Mariano Rivera at the height of his powers to do it. A great series overall, of course, with Derek Jeter’s “Mr. November” moment in Game 4 and the backdrop of September 11th looming over it all. Baseball, however, does not give a team extra points for allegedly momentum-shifting homers, even from its biggest stars, and it does not hew to dramatic scripts with a basis in the real world. It just does its own crazy thing.

2. Game 7, 1991

Jack Morris vs. John Smoltz, of course. For as hard as it was for me as a Braves fan to endure the defeat, there was no mistaking the greatness of this game. Even then, in a pre-Internet age when immediately hyping everything to the nth degree was not yet the order of the day, everyone watching this one knew it was instant history. For weird reasons I’ve explained before, I actually had to listen to this game on the radio rather than watch it, and in some way that made it even more timeless and significant than if I had watched it unfold. I watched a taped version of it later. Knowing what was coming only diminished is slightly.

1. Game 7, Last night

I never thought something would knock the Jack Morris game off the top spot for me, but this one did. Not because anyone did anything comparable to what Morris did in that game. Far from it. But it included a dozen different dramas and great moments, not just one great performance, and because it was simply the most entertaining World Series game I can remember.

It was a see-saw battle. Six runs scored off the two best pitchers of the postseason, yet that still not deciding the game somehow. Extra innings. An old man in his last game hitting a homer off of the man who had been the most dominant reliever going. A slightly younger man no one expected to provide heroics hitting a dramatic homer off of the hardest thrower in baseball. That hardest thrower not throwing as hard as he normally does because he was on fumes and then, when he was done, breaking down in tears. A young star making two bad errors and botching a squeeze play yet also hitting a big home run. A rain delay that allowed everyone to breathe followed by a lightning rally that took everyone’s breath away again. An attempted comeback by the home team that fell just short. A title to a team that hasn’t seen one in 108 years.

Was it the best-played game of all time? Oh, gosh no. It was imperfect in a hundred ways with many people making mistakes — managers included — but almost everyone given a chance to atone for those mistakes. Some did, some didn’t, but they had their chances and it made for a most human of World Series drama. It was a game not decided by super heroes, like a 1991 Jack Morris or a 2014 Madison Bumgarner, as much as it was decided by men, all of whom were no doubt exhausted by the time it was over, having given everything they had in the process. It was everything we want sports to be in terms of drama. Human drama. There were no goats, just some men who were outplayed or simply out of gas. There were many heroes.

People want different things from baseball. Game 7 of the 2016 World Series gave me everything I want and far, far more than I could’ve ever hoped for. It was the greatest World Series game I’ve ever seen.

Max Muncy and Matt Beaty step on Rhys Hoskins’ ankle on consecutive plays

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In the 10th inning of Game 4 of the NLCS last year, infielder Manny Machado — then with the Dodgers — stepped on the foot of Brewers first baseman Jesús Aguilar. Aguilar, understandably, wasn’t happy about that and both teams’ benches spilled onto the field. It was a continuation of a tumultuous series for Machado, who was also vilified for not hustling and sliding hard into Orlando Arcia twice. The Machado-Aguilar dust-up served as a referendum on Machado’s character until he finally signed a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres.

Recently, Machado criticized the analysts on MLB Network for holding double standards. Dan Plesac and Eric Byrnes argued with Greg Amsinger about the Jake Marisnick collision at home plate with catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Amsinger felt Marisnick was in the wrong; Plesac and Byrnes defended Marisnick. On Instagram, Machado said if he had been the one who bulldozed Lucroy, Plesac and Byrnes wouldn’t have defended him, in part because he is Latino. Diamondbacks outfielder Adam Jones said earlier this year that Machado would “one hundred percent” be treated differently if he were white.

With that context in mind, something interesting happened in the fourth inning of Thursday afternoon’s game between the Dodgers and Phillies. Leading off the top of the fourth inning against Aaron Nola, Max Muncy grounded out to shortstop Jean Segura. As Muncy crossed the first base bag, he stepped on first baseman Rhys Hoskins‘ ankle. On the next play, Matt Beaty beat out an infield single hit to third baseman Maikel Franco, shifted up the middle. As Beaty crossed the first base bag ahead of the throw, he tripped over Hoskins’ ankle. MLB.com hasn’t posted video of the incidents yet, but here’s a look at both plays from @jomboy_ on Twitter:

We rarely see runners tripping over the feet of first basemen, but here we have it happening on back-to-back plays. Hoskins’ footwork around the bag was textbook given the situations. The commentators on the exclusive YouTube broadcast gave the runners the benefit of the doubt. Other than that, there has surprisingly been little discussion of these plays. A July 18 game isn’t exactly Game 4 of the NLCS, but look at how much conversation the Marisnick-Lucroy play generated and that was less than two weeks ago. These plays deserve a “Was it dirty?” conversation.

One wonders what the conversation would have looked like if it had been black or Latino runners stepping on Hoskins’ ankle on back-to-back plays. Would they have gotten the immediate benefit of the doubt like Muncy and Beaty? Would malicious intent have been ascribed to them instead? That, really, is Machado’s point about the double-standard applied to non-white players. It doesn’t excuse any of his obviously terrible behavior, but if we’re going to criticize players for bad behavior, we should do so evenly and fairly. Muncy and Beaty deserve criticism for their poor, sloppy, dangerous base running. Frankly, Major League Baseball should consider fines and/or suspensions. Machado was fined for stepping on Aguilar.