Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 23, 2009
BASEBALL: Nails, Bitten
I've complained previously about the absence of close serieses in this postseason, and the Phillies-Dodgers series hasn't done anything to improve that picture. The Angels' rousing 7-6 victory last night, however, offers at least the hope that this series may go down to the wire (a close Game Six would count). This series has already gone further than any of the others.
Carl Bialik in yesterday's WSJ, however, pointed out that the games themselves have been as tight as any postseason in memory: if you add in last night and if you count the Twins-Tigers 1-game playoff, 12 of 24 games this postseason have been decided by 1 run. Only twice in the post-1969 history of multi-round playoffs - and never since the addition of the wild card - has the game seen half of the postseason games decided by one run. Bialik also noted (again, writing before last night):
The Tigers tied the game in the 8th, took the lead in the 10th and lost it in the 12th. Since then, nine of the 20 postseason games - or 45% - have seen ties or lead changes in the 8th inning or later, making for an unusually thrilling postseason. Of 1,232 playoff games before this season, just 307, or 25%, were so close so late.
As Bialik notes, the highest percentage of one-run games (64.7%) is the all-time champion of great postseasons, the 1972 postseason, the last before the adoption of the DH rule. That postseason featured the following:
-All three serieses went the distance.
-11 of the 17 games were decided by 1 run.
-The ALCS featured two extra-inning games, one-run games in the deciding Games 4 and 5, and one of the two Oakland runs in the 2-1 Game 5 victory being scored on a steal of home on which the A's best player (Reggie Jackson) suffered a season-ending injury.
-The deciding Game 5 of the NLCS was won 4-3 on two runs by the Reds in the bottom of the ninth, a game-tying homer by Johnny Bench and a series-ending wild pitch.
-All but Game Six of the World Series between the Mustache Gang Oakland A's and the Big Red Machine were one-run games, and there were four lead changes in the seventh inning or later.
The other postseason with at least half the games (11 of 19, 57.9%) decided by one run was 1991.