The longer a World Series goes, there is a game that frequently gets replayed, talked about and even referenced in pop culture. Often in the World Series that are regarded classics, that game is the sixth game, especially if it is an instance that extends the series.
This year’s World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay is a most unique one, being played at the neutral site in Arlington Texas with players confined to a bubble after dealing with the cautious protocols of a 60-game season that there existed skepticism about when the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals dealt with significant coronavirus outbreaks.
But not only has the sport managed the season, it has already produced a compelling World Series between the regular season’s top teams. There was the iconic Game 4 which produced the stumble and touch the plate by October legend Randy Arozarena, whom the Yankees couldn’t get out in their latest early exit.
Game 5 produced a steady if not necessarily dominating showing by Clayton Kershaw, who was lifted after throwing two pitches in the sixth. The World Series despite its low ratings is a bevy of strategy with Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts utilizing his bullpen differently than normal while Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash frequently uses close to if not all of his position players, which he did Saturday when Brett Phillips got the iconic hit.
Which brings us to Game 6. Other than Dodger fans, a vast majority of those observing and following are hoping for a seventh game, which would mark the fourth time in six years a World Series goes the distance.
But to get there Tampa Bay must win Game Six, which throughout history has produced a series of iconic moments, especially since 1975.
The last few Game Sixes have not necessarily been iconic. Last year the Nationals posted a routine 7-2 victory in Houston, in 2017 the Dodgers extended the series with a 3-1 win and in 2016 the Cubs kept their comeback going with a 9-3 victory setting up the epic seventh game. In 2014 when the Giants won their third title in five years, the Royals kept the series going with a 10-0 victory.
The last iconic sixth game was in 2011 when the Texas Rangers lost to the Cardinals. Texas was one out away but David Freese tripled to tie it. Texas took a two-run lead in the 10th, blew the lead again and Freese homered in the 11th prompting Joe Buck to say: “And we’ll see you tomorrow night.”
From 2001 to 2010, there were four Game Sixes with only one falling into the iconic category. Sandwiched around two Yankee losses was the 2002 series between the Giants and Angels. The Giants were one win away from their first title since 1954 and held a five-run lead with eight outs to go but the Angels got a three-run homer from Scott Spiezio and then scored three more in the eighth and posted a routine 4-1 victory the next night.
The 1990s began with a sweep by the Reds and two by the Yankees. In between there was a run of six straight Game Sixes with the iconic ones coming in in 1991, 1993.
In 1991, Kirby Puckett kept the Twins alive with a game-ending homer that just cleared the left field fence prompting Jack Buck to tell the CBS audience “And we’ll see you tomorrow night.” While 1992, 1995 and 1996 were close victories by the Blue Jays, Braves and Indians, 1993 featured Joe Carter’s walk-off down the left field line. In 1997, the iconic moment was in Game 7 after Cleveland stayed alive with a routine 4-1 victory.
The 1980s featured Game Sixes in 1980, 1981, 1982, 1985, 1986 and 1987. In 1985 there was Don Denkinger’s call at first base which allowed the Royals to keep the series going, a year later there was Mookie Wilson’s little roller by Bill Buckner and 1987 the Twins kept the series going with a routine 11-5 win in a game noted for being the most recent World Series afternoon game.
The latter half of the 1970s produced Game Six in four of five seasons. While Reggie Jackson’s three homers in three straight at-bats is iconic, it came in an 8-4 win for the Yankees. It was the events in the 12th inning of Game 6 at Fenway Park that produced one of those iconic moments that will often get replayed.
Who can forget the iconic shot of Carlton Fisk willing his fly ball to stay fair in the 12th inning to keep the Red Sox alive against the Cincinnati Reds. It is such an iconic moment that in 1998 it gets referenced in Good Will Hunting when Robin Williams’ character tells Matt Damon’s character about passing up a chance to attend the game to meet his eventual wife, prompting a memorable piece of dialogue that ends with Williams saying: “I didn’t know Pudge was going to hit a home run.”
There are many candidates for the best Game 6 of all-time and in about 24 hours baseball fans will find out if 2020 adds another candidate to the list of classic games in what is an already compelling World Series even with the numerous pitching changes.
Source: Forbes – Business