Game 7 sure to produce yet another lasting image

In the process of covering the Braves for the past 11 years, there have obviously been many occasions when I have mentioned something about the epic 1991 World Series.  Twenty years later, fans still passionately talk about Kirby Puckett’s 11th-inning home run and the pitching duel John Smoltz and Jack Morris waged the following evening  in Game 7.

This was a Fall Classic that epitomized drama.  Five of the seven games were decided by one run and nine innings were not enough to determine a winner in the final two games.  Puckett’s walk-off homer in Game 6 forced the Braves to bring a 24-year-old Smoltz back on short rest.

Foreshadowing some of the success he would enjoy in the postseason over the next 15 years, Smoltz responded with 7 1/3 scoreless innings.  Unfortunately for the young right-hander, his effort was not enough to trump the one produced by his childhood idol.  Morris went the distance while leading the Twins to a 1-0, 10-inning, Game 7 victory.

Those who watched the game still talk about the tension it created.  Those of us who chose to pout and ignore the game now simply wish we had taken advantage of the opportunity to experience the rare opportunity to experience the splendor created by Game 7 of the World Series.

Once the Braves eliminated my beloved Pirates in the National League Championship Series that year, I figure I essentially put an end to my baseball season.   As hard as I try, I really do not remember seeing anything more than highlights from the ’91 World Series.

I remember being at my grandmother’s house the night a disgusted John Tudor sliced his finger while punching a mechanical fan after being pulled in Game 7 of the 1984 World Series.  I remember my dad driving us from Pittsburgh back home to Wheeling, WV in time to see the grounder go under Bill Buckner’s legs in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

I know where I was sitting when Edgar Renteria produced his two-out, 11th-inning single to end the 1997 World Series.  And I remember I was sitting in a black papasan chair when Luis Gonzalez hit his game-winning single off Mariano Rivera in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.

But I really have no vivid memories from the 1991 World Series.

I still remember coming home from football practice a few weeks later to learn Magic Johnson announce he had contracted HIV.  But other than what I gained from highlights, I really don’t remember anything about Puckett hitting that home run or Kent Hrbek lifting Ron Gant off the first base bag.

At 17-years-old, I did not have any desire to watch the World Series after seeing the Pirates bounced from the NLCS for the second straight year.   Twenty years later, it’s quite obvious that I was simply denying myself a chance to experience some of the greatness the postseason brings.

Fortunately this year’s postseason as a whole might be the greatest in baseball’s history.  Unfortunately for Braves (and Red Sox) fans, the drama actually began on the regular season’s final day.  Fortunately for baseball fans everywhere, the postseason has been extended to its limit with the Cardinals and Rangers set to play Game 7 of the World Series tonight.

It will seemingly be impossible for the Rangers and Cardinals to top what they created in Game 6.  It was ugly from both a pitching and defensive standpoint.  But from simply a competitive standpoint, it certainly felt like one of the greatest sporting events I have ever witnessed.

Twice the Cardinals tied the game in the ninth inning or later after being pushed to their last strike.   The guy (Lance Berkman) that they could have traded to the Rangers when they were seemingly out of contention in August produced a two-out game-tying single in the 10th inning.  Then the St. Louis native (David Freese) who had tripled off the right field wall to tie the game with two outs in the ninth inning drilled a walk-off homer to begin the bottom of the 11th inning.

You can’t make this stuff up.  The team that trailed the Braves by 10 1/2 games on Aug. 25 is now just one win away from winning the World Series.  Standing in their way will be Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison, who of course was part of the prospect-laden package the Braves used to bring Mark Teixeira to Atlanta.

This is just the fifth time in the past 20 years that the baseball world will have the pleasure of watching Game 7 of a World Series.   I suggest you don’t miss it.  You might still regret it 20 years from now.

16 Comments

Ahh 1991… Mark, one memory I’ll have forever is Kent Hrbek pushing Gant off first base (I think in game 2?)… resulting in me throwing things around my house similar how Gant reacted in the dugout. It’s kind of funny that there really was some amazing baseball played in that series, yet I remember that the most.

Yeah, I know you’re not the only one who vividly remembers that play. Sports has a funny way of making us some of the most forgettable moments the most memorable. Of course if the Braves had won one of those final two extra-inning games, only the die-hard fans would still remember this play 20 years later.

I still think of that play every time Hrbeks show is on. I know a few Twins that remember that play well and they don’t let me forget it.

Ok, so does Tony Larrusa send a thank you to Fredi Gonzales or just to those that caused the collapse – Prado, Heyward, McCann, Larry Parrish. Should we also send a letter to the lights at Sunlight Stadiium which allowed Infante the opportunity to hit a walk off? I am still stunned. You just need to get into the playoffs and good things happen. How many wild cards have won in the last 10 year?? – maybe 6.

It stiill hurts bad to watch these games. The obvious thing is the Phillies are going no where and the Nats look really good next year. The Mets and Marlins should improve as well. There is no guarantee the Braves will even compete. An injury to Huddy or Venters or Kimbrel or Borne or Uggs will knock them out immediately. JJs and Hanson’s injuries may have hurt a little, but Delgado and Minor did ok – better than Beachy and Lowe down the stretch. Imagine if Kimbrel missed 3 weeks???

Anyhow, not sure if they are going to make any changes. If they are loyal to Heyward, they may need to upgrade LF. Sorry Martin, but you don’t supply enough power or speed to play the position.

There’s no guarantee the Braves will even compete? Come on. There’s every reason to believe they will be better next year than this past year. The Phillies are old, we’re young. Sure there are changes to be made, but to say we won’t even compete is alarmist and absurd. We’re not a team who was all in and had to win this year or it would all be over (see Philadelphia). With our system we’re built for 2012, 2013, 2014 and beyond if we manage our talent well.

Will we win it all next year? Who knows.
Will we compete. Yes.

Bravesnorth – you make a good point. I have seen the Nationals really improve and the Phillies may be older, but they have plenty of guys in their prime. With the Marlins new ballpark and the improvement nationals have shown, I am a bit scared. They were soooo bad in September.

Injured McCann, Prado, Gonzalez, Hanson and Jurrjens as well as worn out Venters and Kimbrel accounts for a lot of the failure in September. I’m not blaming it all on injuries but lets not pretend the Braves are suddenly an awful team. A full year of Bourne and Medlen and a healthy and hitting (PLEASE!) Heyward should also be beneficial as well.

What do you guys think it would take to get Marco Scutaro from the Red Sox?

Seems like they’re keeping him. They apparently don’t have a lot of faith in Jose Iglesias and aren’t gonna be in the running for Reyes. And no one wants to overpay for Rollins.

Don’t they still have Jed Lawrie as a bridge still?

Lowrie is a question mark at this point. A utility infielder basically.

If we get anyone from the Red Sox it should be either Lawrie or Iglesias and not Scutaro. I think whats going to happen is they sign Reyes move either Lawrie to third and either trade or DH Youklis, now if they trade him I see maybe a Lawrie Youklis to the Mets for Wright and Fernado Martinez.

Honestly, it’s not even the stupid trades that is whats wrong here; you think Youkilis, who is a terrific fielding corner IF, is going to DH?

He’s not that terrific at 3B so the DH thing has been speculated a lot lately. He’s also been dealing with a lot of injuries so for one NC isn’t completely retarded…besides the idiot trades of course.

He’s also under a very team friendly contract. Much like half of Boston.

Thank you Indians for taking Lowe off the Braves hands and it only cost 5 million.

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