Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Game Seven

The Game Seven.
For the NHL, the NBA, and Major League Baseball it is the Super Bowl. One game to decide it all. A one game series that decides everything, be it for one round or one year. Game Sevens happen most years in all sports. Some are made famous by the performances therein.






Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees
ALCS Game 7: October 16, 2003
Aaron (Bleeping) Boone

The Red Sox were set to go back to the World Series, about to beat their hated rivals in the New York Yankees when Grady Little leaves Pedro Martinez in too long. Pedro gives up the 5-2 lead with three runs allowed in the 8th. Tim Wakefield comes in to pitch the 10th and is fine but in the 11th he lets a knuckler hang a little too long and a moment is born. Home run. Game over. Thuuuuuuuu Yankees win!
Sometimes the Game 7's are a culmination of a series of events despite a lopsided outcome. Witness The Idiots:
Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees
ALCS Game 7: October 20, 2004
The Idiots Part I

The Red Sox were beaten and bruised heading into Game 4 of the ALCS against the New York Yankees, having been outscored 32-16 in 3 games. Then came The Steal by Dave Roberts. It tied Game 4 in the bottom of the 9th at 6 a piece. David Ortiz ended the game in the 12th with a two run walk off Home Run. Game 5, in Yankee Stadium, another extra inning afair. After 14 innings and David Ortiz at the bat, "Big Papi broke a 4-4 tie sending the series back to Yankee Stadium for Game 6 and Curt Schilling's bloody sock. After a quicky surgery to repair a torn tendon in Curt's ankle, he took the mound and pitched six scoreless innings. After being pulled through seven and one run, the Red Sox sent it to Game 7 by winning 4-2. Game 7 was a joke. The Red Sox had all the momentum and crushed the Yankees 10-3, becoming one of the few times to come back from a 3-0 hole in a Best-of-Seven series and go on to break an 80+ year World Series Drought.

New York Yankees vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
2001 World Series Game 7: November 4, 2001
Broken Bat Bloop

After a series of back and forth games, including walk off home runs that seemed to say the Yankee Mystique thrived in a post 9/11 New York Love In (which was much deserved), and after a Game 7 in which Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, and Randy Johnson pitched to a 2-1 Yankees lead in the bottom of the 9th, Luis Gonzalez found himself in the situation of dreams: two outs, bases loaded, World Series on the line. The game was now tied 2-2 after a Tony Womack double played Midre Cummings. He also faced a nightmare in Yankees closer Mariano Rivera who had been sporting a stellar .70 ERA in the Playoffs. On an 0-1 pitch, Luis Gonzalez blooped a soft single over the head of Derek Jeter, sending Jay Bell to home with the winning run. The unstoppable Yankees were stopped. The Diamonbacks won a thrilling World Series. Another Game 7 made it's mark.
These are the best Game 7's of the past decade in Major League Baseball. This is not counting the 1997 extra innings heroics of the Florida Marlins Craig Counsel plating home after a wild pitch from Cleveland Indians reliever Jose Mesa. Or the terrific play of John Smoltz in a 1-0 extra innings loss in the 1991 Game 7, being out pitched by the Twins Jack Morris.
The NBA has had it's share of epic Game 7s as well, but none more epic than the Kings/Lakers show down of 2002 in the Western Conference Finals.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings
Western Conference Finals Game 7: June 2, 2002
Sacramento Queens

After a back and forth series that included a memorable shot at the buzzer in Game 4 that helped further the legend of "Big Shot Bob" Horry the Kings and Lakers played a very tense Game 7 that featured 16 ties and 19 lead changes on the way to ending regulation with a 100-100 tie. In the end the Lakers big men (Shaq and Kobe with 35 and 30 points respectively) won the day, including Shaq's clinching free throws in over time.
The NHL has it's own brand of theatre, with four heroes and goats alone in this past decade making for memorable snapshots of sports history.
Colorado Avalance vs. New Jersey Devils
Stanley Cup Finas Game 7: June 9, 2001
This One's for Ray

Raymond Borque played years and years with the Boston Bruins, regarded as one of the best defensemen in NHL history. For all his time with the B's one thing eluded him, no matter how close he got: The Stanley Cup. He was traded to the Colorado Avalance in 2000 at the trade deadline in what everyone figured would be his last go around. When the Avalance were knocked out of the playoffs by the Dallas Stars everyone feared he would call it a career. He stated, "One more year." One year later, after a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils (defending champions), Ray Borque was lifting the Stanley Cup over his head with tears in his eyes.
Edmonton Oilers vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Stanley Cup Finals 7: June 19, 2006
Stanley Comes to Raleigh

A series that was known for it's back and forth nature, and a series of stumbles and blunders by Oilers goaltender Ty Conklin that cost them Game 1 of the series when he let in a flukey bounce goal with less than 30 seconds left. Without the hot goaltender, Dwayne Roloson, that the Oil had ridden to the Finals, Edmonton was exposed a bit. By the time all was said and done, NASCAR had a rival for the most popular sport in North Carolina as Eric Staal and long time leader Rod Brind'Amour raised the Silver Cup for the first time in franchise history.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Detroit Red Wings
Stanley Cup Finals 7: June 12, 2009
Superstar Treatment

Known as a grinder and energy guy, Max Talbot came into Game 7 a local legend, known for his commercials where he declared himself a "Super Star". By the end of this re-match from the prior years Finals, he had become a true Super Star. Of all the times to find his hands (he'd scored 12 goals in the regular season and 6 in the Playoffs), he found the score sheet twice and Pens goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made a breath taking last second save to send the Penguins to victory, a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings and giving the franchise their third Stanley Cup title.
All of these instances don't even take into account the Lakers/Trailblazers of 2000, Bill Mazeroski of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960. There are many instances not noted in this post because there are far too many to recollect.
Tonight the Penguins, those same Penguins, take on the upstart Montreal Canadiens in a Game 7 to see who moves on the Eastern Conference Finals. The Habs already beat the #1 seeded Washington Capitals to advance this far. Can they defeat the #4 seeded defending champs? I don't know. I hope not, but I know it'll be a damn good show.

Interpol- Slow Hands

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