BEST & BIGGEST

We all have our favorite games that we really remember. I’m throwing “out there” two of the BEST games of the Cards/Blues for me. While writing this blog, it brought back many wonderful memories.. hope it does for you too. These are the BEST games….
…the Blues had been down the Playoff trail so often but with the same futile endings…some of the frustrating years–1999-2000 team (51-19-11) for 114 points (most franchise history); 1980-81 team-103 points; or even way back 1967-68, 1968-69, 1969-70 teams that made the Stanley Cup Finals but it always ended good but “just a bit short”..However..the 2018-19 Stanley Cup Championship, Game 7 has to be the brightest & BEST of these hockey games.
It was a miracle on ice (step aside 1960 USA Olympic team)..of sorts…the Blues were in last place on Jan 1, 2019! In those days, playoffs weren’t the talk…it was trade talk. But, things changed…and in a hurry. New Head Coach Craig Berube used a relentless checking game by the forwards, tying up the opposition deep in their end, then eventually forcing a turnover and a shot on goal….the Blues advanced through the playoffs to reach the Finals. The Bruins held home ice advantage after smashing the Blues 5-1 in game 6 to push the series back to Boston. Game 7 was a classic. The Bruins controlled…maybe dominated would be a better word…most of the 1st period. They kept the pressure on with aggressive fore-checking and the Blues were barely getting any good “rushes” down the ice. Bruin Capt Zdeno Chara –a 6-9 defenseman who’s been in the NHL since 1997 was zeroing in on Blues forwards as they entered their offensive zone & he’d knock most of them over like bowling pins…it looked lopsided in the early going….I had a quick flashback of how it looked way back in 1970 when the Bruins swept the Blues with Bobby Orr flying….remember that SI cover…all over the place & the Bruins dominating. Jordan Bennington was putting on a show as he kept it clean with his glove saves & deflections. Suddenly…out of nowhere…with 3:13 remaining in the 1st period–Jay Bouwmeester’s shot got through a screen of players and Ryan O’Reilly tipped the puck past Tuukka Rask for the opening goal. Everyone was stunned! The Blues fans were ecstatic! Then, with only 8 seconds left in the 1st period, Jaden Schwartz passed to an open Alex Pietrangelo who backhanded his shot for his 3rd goal of the playoffs. Like everyone else…I was almost in shock….up 2-0 after practically having our head handed to us in the first 15 minutes!! Boston outshot the Blues 11-6 in the 2nd period but no one scored! In the 3rd Boston came out flying-committing to an all-out offensive approach…. which opened up opportunities for the Blues. At 11:25 mark, Vladimir Tarasenko reached a puck deep in the Bruins’ zone and passed to an open Brayden Schenn who fired in the 3rd goal. When 3rd liner, Zach Sanford made it 4-0 just 2 min 57 later, the 4-0 lead gave Blues fans lots of smiles. Boston wasn’t done though…the all-out assault continued as for the last 4:38 of the game as Boston pulled their goalie. One shot after the other whistled in from near & far as Jordan Bennington was terrific…despite surrendering a goal at the 17:50 mark. The 50 years of frustration came to an end as…speaking for most fans…I was exhausted  It was GREAT!
….Not to be overlooked….game 6 of the 2011 World Series… the David Freese game! The Cards had led a charmed life to get to this point as their journey to that Series was almost as eventful. They were still 10.5 games out of 1st place on Aug 28 after beating the Pirates 7-4. That win began a long string of 21 wins-8 losses to squeeze them into the Wild Card game. Miraculously, Octavio Dotel won 3 of those game in September..his only 3 wins EVER as a Cardinal!! The Cards defeated Houston on the final day of the season to snatch the wild card spot when the Braves who had been tied with them for the WC spot, lost to the Phils 4-3 in 13 innings on that last day. The Cards HAD TO KNOW at that point that something “special” was going to happen.
…Cards then opened their playoffs with those same Phils (Eastern Div champ). The series was tied 2 games apiece as game 5 began. It was a classic matchup-Chris Carpenter v Roy Halladay. Raphael Furcal led off with a triple followed by the next batter, Skip Schumacher who sent him home with a double making it 1-0….and THAT was IT! Final score 1-0…Carpenter allowed 3 hits in his complete game shutout. He used 110 pitches and faced only 31batters (27 batters is a perfect game!) Cards knocked off the Brewers 4-2 in the NLCS to advance to the World Series against the Rangers.
…In the Series opener, the Rangers led the in the 1st game 3-2 as the Cards came to bat tied 2-2 in bottom of 6th. David Freese doubled with 1 out and scored with 2 outs on a base hit from Allen Craig. The Cards made it stand up for winning pitcher Chris Carpenter when Fernando Salas, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel, Arthur Rhodes & Jason Motte handled the last 3 innings….look @ that five-some of relievers…what a hodge-podge conglomeration of so-so pitchers that shined on that night! Texas won 2 of the next 3 games so the Cards were down 3 games to 2.
…game 6 scoring line is shown below… On Mike and Mike in the Morning the next day, ESPN senior baseball analyst Buster Olney called it the greatest game in the history of baseball. The scoring was continuous–Texas led 1-0, Cards grabbed 2-1 lead, tied 2-2 after 2 innings; In top of 7th the Rangers got HR from Adrian Beltre & Nelson Cruz to take what seemed to be an insurmountable 9-6 lead. The Cards rallied & scored runs in the 8th, 9th, 10th & 11th innings of a WS–the only team to EVER DO THAT ! Allen Craig homered in the 8th ,it was now 7-5 after 8 innings. With 2 outs in the 9th, 2 runners on base and down, 1-2 in the count, David Freese hit a drive over RF head for a triple—driving home both runners and sending the game into extra innings. Texas answered…Josh Hamilton hit a 2-run HR in the top of the 10th. In bottom of 10th, Cards had Leadoff singles by Daniel Descalso & John Jay and advanced on a sacrifice bunt. Lance Berkman drove in the tying run with a single to tie the game!! now it was9-9!! Then it was David Freese’s magic moment, his HR to right-center field was the game-winner…it’s still exciting to see him throw his helmet off between his legs as he’s ready to cross home plate with the winning run of Game 6. WOW! WHAT A GAME! Chris Carpenter won game 7 for the Cards 6-2. David Frese had another key hit. David Freese became only the 6th player in MLB history to earn League Championship Series and World Series MVP awards in the same postseason. When he retires, I suggest he opens a “Game 6” restaurant!
Then there are BIG games…games that changed the sports arena permanently.. …Super Bowl III, Jan 12, 1969 has many special memories. The AFL, which began in 1959, was separate and apart from the NFL. While the NFL was more established, the AFL had wealthier owners in many cases. The leagues had agreed to merge in 1966. It’d almost be like the XFL teams wanting to merge with the NFL today. Many fans…and experts still felt that the AFL was inferior. The Packers of the NFL had crunched the AFL opponents in Super Bowls I & II. The Colts of the NFL were 18 point favorites against the NY Jets in III. The Jets were led by their confident… some would say cocky…QB from Alabama, Joe Namath. Namath “guaranteed” that the Jets would WIN the game in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. Shockingly, the Jets had a 16-0 lead early in the 4th quarter. Final score 16-7! Namath was named the MVP of the game without scoring or throwing a touchdown! He is only player to ever do that!! Shortly thereafter, parity in the leagues began to evolve…so this game caused very important consequences in the NFL. …..in 1966 Texas Western beat Kentucky in the NCAA Championship game 72-65. An upset– absolutely! But there were much deeper implications. Kentucky’s Head Coach Adolph Rupp was the kingpin of the SEC. Rupp began coaching @ Kentucky in 1930! He took Kentucky into the SEC in 1932. By 1966, he’d been there 36 years! When he retired in 1972, his record was 876-190… He ruled the SEC on the court AND off the court. The “Baron” ruled SEC basketball. All the other SEC coaches followed his lead in many ways. He had always refused to recruit black players. But…when he lost to Texas Western, who started 5 African-Americans, he changed his policy….and….and began recruiting African- Americans. …consequently, so did all the other SEC coaches! That one game changed SEC & NCAA basketball forever!
Thanks for the read…your thoughts…maybe your most memorable game(s)…post them on my FB page, email me your thoughts or post on prepcasts.com. THANKS!
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