Thursday, October 27, 2016

Reliving 1991 - Game 7: Just a Game

And now we've reached Game 7. After all the chaos and tension of the previous six games, this was the only possible way this Series could have ended. The series was destined for seven games from the start, and going in, there's no reason to believe this game will be anything but tight. The only question is if will live up to the previous six.

You know the pitching matchup by now: John Smoltz of the Braves against Jack Morris of the Twins. Morris was pitching for the team he cheered for as a child; Smoltz was pitching against the pitcher he idolized as a child.

The home team had won each of the first six games of the Series. As our broadcast begins with a shot of a packed-full Metrodome, the Twins have to feel good that they get to host the final game. After all, they've never lost a World Series game in the Dome.

Play by play here; video here.

Lonnie Smith shakes Brian Harper's hand. The fans start roaring as Morris takes the mound. And we're off.

Top 1 - Braves 0, Twins 0

Jack Morris pitching.

"And here he is. From Highland Park, a suburb of St. Paul, Jack Morris."

The game hasn't started yet, and Jack Buck has made a mistake; Highland Park is a neighborhood of St. Paul, not a suburb. I accept this mistake, though, because at least he didn't call St. Paul a suburb of Minneapolis.

Lonnie Smith flies to right. One out.

Don Denkinger is the home plate umpire. Cardinals fans hate him.

Pendleton grounds to first, unassisted. Two outs.

Whenever there was a game broadcast at the Dome, the announcers always felt the need to mention what it felt like outside. Tonight was apparently a "chilly, clear" night.

Ron Gant strikes out. Three outs.

Bottom 1 - Twins 0, Braves 0

John Smoltz: 8-1 after the All Star break, 2-0 against Pittsburgh in the NLCS (including Game 7). He was exactly who the Braves wanted on the mound for this one.

This World Series was the first in (Atlanta) Braves history, but they ended up going to five in the 1990s. This was the only one to go to Game 7.

Dan Gladden strikes out. One out.

Chuck Knoblauch flies to right. Two outs.

That ball was in the air forever. Seemed to defy gravity. The Braves staggered under it a little but Justice caught it cleanly.

And now Puckett. The fans give a roar, but it dies kind of quickly. The nervous tension is already taking over.

Here's the list of players to hit an extra-inning walkoff home run in the World Series, through Game 6, 1991: Dusty Rhodes, Eddie Mathews, Carlton Fisk, Kirby Puckett.

And since then: Chad Curtis, Derek Jeter, Alex Gonzalez, David Freese.

First 88 World Series: Four such instances. Next 19 World Series: Four such instances.

Kirby Puckett grounds to pitcher. Three outs.

Top 2 - Braves 0, Twins 0

David Justice singles to center.

Another ball falls in front of the too deep Puckett. That's at least three hits he's allowed for that reason.

Jack Buck said that hit almost makes up for Justice's near home run from Game 6. No, no it doesn't. That ball would have won the World Series if it had been fair. This was a second-inning single.

Sid Bream grounds to second, Justice to second. One out.

Justice was running on the play, so he didn't really have much of a chance. Same thing as a bunt.

Brian Hunter strikes out. Two outs.

I don't remember Morris getting a strike out on a high fastball like that in past game this series. Seems like he always went with the forkball.

Greg Olson flies to second. Three outs.

Bottom 2 - Braves 0, Twins 0

Tim McCarver is talking about tension, and numbness in the joints. They show Tom Glavine staring straight ahead, glazed look in his eyes, slowly cracking his knuckles. Reminder, this is the 2nd inning.

Kent Hrbek flies to right. One out.

They show Chili, and behind him, the Braves dugout. Leo Mazzone is rocking full force now. I think this is when it started. And it didn't stop the rest of his career.

Now we learn about Smoltz's path to the Braves. Originally drafted by Detroit, he was traded in the 1987 Doyle Alexander trade. Alexander went 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA down the stretch for Detroit in 1987 after the trade. Then he went 0-2 with a 10.00 ERA against the Twins in the ALCS that year and flamed out of baseball two years later. Smoltz, meanwhile, ended up in the Hall of Fame. So it goes.

Chili Davis strikes out looking. Two outs.

Brian Harper singles to center.

Now maybe Buck will stop counting down the number of consecutive batters Smoltz has retired. I get it when the number gets large, but not when it's the second inning.

Shane Mack is up. He got two hits in Game 6, so hopefully that stays with him tonight and gives him some confidence.

Shane Mack singles, Harper to second.

There we go. Although there are fewer things more frustrating than a pair of two-out singles. They just get you excited for no reason.

But, Mike Pagliarulo, who was 3-for-3 with a homer off Smoltz in Game 4, is up. McCarver is reminding us how pissed Smoltz was to give up that home run on a fastball. I think he should NOT remind him of that.

Mike Pagliarulo grounds to first, pitcher covering. Three outs.

Well, I tried.

Top 3 - Braves 0, Twins 0

Oh, nice, the Braves front office staff wears little Tomahawk-shaped lapel pins. How adorable.

Mark Lemke grounds to second. One out.

I enjoy not having to swear at Mark Lemke.

Everybody in the Braves dugout looks sick. Except Olson. He looks completely chill. Like he's thinking about hunting instead of baseball.

Rafael Belliard singles to right.

I feel like I've spelled his first name three different ways in these games. But I'm not going to look him up or even look to see if I've spelled it consistently.

Belliard to second on passed ball.

Less good.

I like Morris' guts, though. Harper made mince meat of a breaking ball on the passed ball, but Morris went right back to one on the next pitch.

The top of the third marks our first reference to the phrase "It's a shame somebody has to lose." There are probably some players who would take a tie right now.

Smith walks.

Probably another semi-intentional walk, although why they'd do that with Pendleton up next is a good question, so maybe not.

Pendleton flies to left. Two outs.

No issues with that one. Off the end of his bat, not deep at all.

Ron Gant is introduced as a "first-ball fastball hitter." So on the first pitch...

Gant grounds into a fielders choice, Smith out, short to second. Three outs.

Bottom 3 - Braves 0, Twins 0

Nick Esasky is shown on the Braves bench, even though he's described as having been on the disabled list for two years with vertigo. I mean, at some point they gotta tell him to stay home, right? And he never did play again.

Greg Gagne grounds to third. One out.

McCarver brings up that this is the first World Series to have three games end with a run being scored on the final swing of the bat. Possibly related, everybody has ulcers.

Gladden doubles to left.

The Gladdenstache wakes up. Wasn't a great looking swing, but it was well-placed down the left field line. I'm glad it's the Twins threatening now instead of the Braves.

Exterior shot of the Metrodome. There doens't appear to be any snow on the ground. Give it a few days. Four, to be exact.

Knoblauch flies to right, Gladden to third. Two outs.

Kirby's up with a runner on third. Hope he didn't use up all his magic last night.

They showed the Twins dugout for the first time. They don't look quite as stressed as the Braves one, but they're also not in a happy place right now.

Puckett strikes out. Three outs.

Jack Buck: "We have six more innings to go of torture and pleasure." As disturbing as that sounds, I ... I kinda like it. It's fitting.

Top 4 - Braves 0, Twins 0

Morris threw a palmball at Justice. That's so old school the ball was sepia-toned while going to the plate.

Justice strikes out. One out.

Bream flies to left. Two outs.

Hunter doubles to left.

Doubles are fine if there are two outs. McCarver gives us the helpful stat that it was the 40th extra-base hit in the World Series, which is two away from the record. I'm trying to remember the play-by-play, and I think we're only going to tie that record, not break it. CLIFFHANGER.

Lemke is on deck, which makes this current at bat with Olson the most important of the game. Morris HAS to get Olson.

(Yes, I have The Fear with Lemke. And I don't care how bizarre it is.)

The Twins dugout is full of players sitting with their elbows on their legs, hands folded nicely in their laps. It's like they're so desperate to not develop a nervous tick they're choosing to squeeze the life out of their own hands instead.

Olson flies to right. Three outs.

Mack started toward center on that ball, then ran hard in, catching it below his knees. In other words, it was terrifying.

Bottom 4 - Braves 0, Twins 0

"Tension fills the park," says Buck. He honestly can't handle this game. It's too much for him.

Hrbek hit by a pitch.

Um ... that ball didn't look like it hit Hrbek. It came awfully close to hitting his elbow, then bounced off Olson's glove and hit the umpire square in the thigh. While the umpire was grimacing, Hrbek pretended the ball hit him, and the ump believed him. Replays are inconclusive at best; if it hit him, it was just by the seams.

But whatever. The leadoff guy is on for the first time, and Chili is up.

Davis flies to left. One out.

Chili is no longer up.

Pat Olson. Not the same guy I
showed yesterday. I'm like 90% sure.
We are now introduced to Pat Olson (left), who has now attended 283 consecutive World Series games. If we assume that this game is actually 284, then that puts his streak as starting in Game 1 of 1946. (Because why would he start his streak in Game 2 of a series?) That's an awesome life.

(HINT Nicci)

Harper flies to right. Two outs.

Another awkward looking but effective play by Justice. He ran like one leg was two inches shorter than the other, but made a nice sliding catch to keep Hrbek on first.

Mack flies to second. Three outs.

Top 5 - Braves 0, Twins 0

Lemke singles to right.

I would like to kick Mark Lemke in the shins.

Now they're talking about how they're in automatic bunt territory here. It's hard to believe we've gotten that far in this game already, but they're right. I'm sure both managers know the first run is going to win this thing. So everybody expects Belliard to bunt, which he does.

Belliard sacrifices, catcher to first, Lemke to second. One out.

That was easy. He just bounced it straight down, took the Metrodome hop, and Harper had no chance at Lemke.

Smith singles to third, Lemke to third.

He was trying for a hit there, not a sacrifice. Then he slid feet first, as if to say "please get me out." Luckily for him, Pags' throw took Hrbek just barely off the bag, and he was safe. I've seen three replays, and I'm not convinced Hrbek pulled his foot. But the umpire had the best view. (Not sarcasm, either).

Still, though. Smith was a good hitter. Try to get Lemke home.

And now Pendleton is up; he's 10 for his last 11 (this is an approximation). I am not happy with these developments.

Pendleton flies to short. Two outs.

Buck said "pops him up for the second out," before Gagne was even under that ball. And then Gladden almost ran into him. Too close for my liking.

And now Gant is up. He was the Braves' second-best hitter in 1991 after Pendleton, but the Twins have been oddly unafraid of him. He did hit the ball that led to Puckett's Catch, but he hasn't been more than OK in the series, so they obviously had something on him.

The crowd is going in waves. They're silent between pitches and roaring when Morris is about to throw.

SO CLOSE! It's not in the play-by-play, but Morris just bounced one up there. Harper blocked it and it bounced about 15 feet in front of home plate. Lemke started to come, but Morris grabbed and threw back to third and almost got him. So, so close to a go-ahead run. So, so close to getting out of the inning at third.
Sorry for the blurry. I paused it right when Pags caught it.
He looks out, doesn't he?

And on replays ... I think they got him. I paused it, and I think he was out. The Twins thought he was out. I think Lemke kinda thought he was out. But he was safe.

And there was (of course) no replay challenges in 1991, and I'm glad. Just let the call stand.

(Easy to say now, 25 years later.)

(Also, I kinda want to puke.)

Then Morris almost picks off Smith, who is remarkably still at first despite what happened with Lemke. Smith has not been a good baserunner this series. That will become apparent one more time before we're done.

Gant strikes out looking. Three outs.

The Jack Morris arm pump. Gant took that ball without even flinching, and Morris responded with a long, exaggerated fist pump, one that looked more like a huge air guitar chord than anything else. Huge, huge moment.

Bottom 5 - Braves 0, Twins 0

Pagliarulo flies to center. One out.

Pags got us all excited there. Gant caught it on the run one step from the wall.

Buck is now begging us to not turn off the TV after the game is over because there will be something special. I will be happy to oblige if my DVD shows it. Partially because I won't be able to/want to move.

Gagne strikes out. Two outs.

Gladden singles to center.

Gladden's second hit, and the fourth in the game for the Twins. Two bad there's two outs. But Kirby's one batter away, so we just need Knoblauch to somehow get on. Maybe he can lean into one.

Knoblauch flies to center. Three outs.

He did not lean into one. It's hard to lean into one that's over the heart of the plate. Darn.

Top 6 - Braves 0, Twins 0

Justice grounds to first, pitcher covering. One out.

Good job by Hrbek to not panic there. The short hop kind of ate him up there, but he stayed calm and tossed it to Morris with time to spare.

Bream grounds to first, unassisted. Two outs.

Are they trying to test if Hrbek is awake? Because he is. He looks like he hasn't slept in a week, but he's awake.

Hunter is up. He apparently spent the last half inning flexing his hand, unsure if he could swing. It even got to the point that a pinch-hitter grabbed his bat and got ready. But Hunter stayed in there.

Hunter flies to center. Three outs.

Morris has his first 1-2-3 inning since the first. And Puckett, Hrbek, and Davis are coming up. 1991 me is thinking that if they don't win it here, they might not win it. I have a tension headache (present day me, that is.)

Bottom 6 - Braves 0, Twins 0

We are told that Washington beat the Giants today 17-13 to become the last undefeated team in the NFL. Because we want a fucking football score right now.

(Washington would finish that season 14-2 and go on to win the Super Bowl ... in the Metrodome.)

Puckett walks.

That's his first unintentional walk of the Series. And now the leadoff batter is on, with three good hitters coming up, and Puckett has decent speed, and oh man the Twins are gonna win and it's awesome.

Hrbek is 0 for his last 14, although he got hit by a pitch his last time up, so maybe the streak is over.

Hrbek honestly looks exhausted. Like he's gonna fall over any minute. It must be taking literally all his energy to swing these full swings.

Hrbek flies to center. One out.

Gant barely moved. Puckett wasn't able to move, either.

But Chili's up, and he's homered twice this series, so why not another one? Time to win.

Davis grounds into a double play, first to short to first, Puckett out at second. Three outs.

I'm literally speechless. That was so fast.

Top 7 - Braves 0, Twins 0

Bream is rubbing somebody's earlobes in the dugout. I don't know whose ears they were. I don't want to look it up because I'm nervous and I need to get some Advil.

Olson strikes out. One out.

Morris completely overpowered him.

Lemke flies to center. Two outs.

Lemke's at bat was so quick I didn't get a chance to be nervous that he was batting.

Rafael Belliard chokes up like an inch and a half. It looks like he weights 105 pounds. It's amazing players who look like that can have a big league career.

Belliard strikes out. Three outs.

Belliard was openly trying to walk there. Morris realized he had no intention on swinging and just poured the last two down the middle.

Bottom 7 - Braves 0, Twins 0

Morris and Smoltz have been remarkably calm this game. I'm sure their hearts were racing, but they haven't betrayed that at all.

Harper grounds to third. One out.

Mack grounds to third. Two outs.

Smart play by Mack. Pendleton was way back, and he's had a sore leg, and it was a decent bunt. Problem is the turf was so fast that it got to Pendleton quickly and gave him a chance to get the out.

Pagliarulo grounds to third. Three outs.

Quit hitting to him, huh?

Top 8 - Braves 0, Twins 0

Smith singles to right.

Smith didn't want to swing at that. He checked up, made contact anyway, and it fell in front of Mack.

And now Pendleton's up. They're wondering if Smith will try to steal or if Pendleton will bunt, but I'm having a hard time paying attention, because my legs are bouncing nervously. They have been for a while and I just now noticed it, so I think this counts as cardio? I'm not sure.

The bullpen is going for the Twins. Morris might be tiring. This is dumb.

Son of a! Pendleton got a two-strike foul-tip. Harper claimed he caught it, and the home plate umpire didn't see it and asked for help, but it very clearly bounced. So still two strikes.

Morris is about to throw his 100th pitch.

Pendleton doubles to left, Smith to third.

Oh dear God. Morris' 100th pitch is drilled to left center, and it bounces high off the plexiglass. Gladden had to wait for what seemed like ages for it to come down, then fired to the infield, only to find that, somehow, Smith was only at third.

Smith pulling up as Knoblauch pretends to throw him out at
second, with Gagne in on the act.
Smith apparently got deked by Knoblauch as he was running to third - Knoblauch faked a throw to Gagne, as if it was a double play, with Gagne even running to the base to keep up the act. Smith saw that, stopped at second, and hopped for a solid three seconds before running to third.

He's had two bad baserunning plays so far this series, but this third and final one was by far the worst. There is no way a guy fast enough to be a leadoff hitter shouldn't have scored on that play. The Twins got so, so lucky.

And yet, it's still second and third with nobody out.

Gant is up, and first base is open, and they're fjkhkdaswl PITCHING TO HIM!??! Wait .. Justice is on deck. I'm sure Kelly trusts the righty-righty matchup instead of Morris vs. Justice. So it makes sense.

Gant grounds to first. One out.

Man, Kelly looked smart there.

And he'll look even smarter here. He walks slowly to the mound to talk to Morris himself: "Who would you rather face, Justice or Bream?" Kelly walks off the mound and leaves Morris there, leading to a big cheer from the crowd.

Justice walks intentionally.

Morris has spoken. It's up to Bream. Bases loaded, one out. Still no score. A man is eating a foam tomahawk in the stands. My neck is sore.

Kelly's relievers (Bedrosian and Guthrie) are ready to go. But he left Morris in there. Balls of steel there from the manager.

Bream fouls off three or four pitches. I stopped counting because I can no longer count. Then he hits one to Hrbek. The play is to home.

Bream grounds into a double play, first to catcher to first, Smith out at home. Three outs.

Of all the pitches Jack Morris threw in his life, none were bigger than that. That play increased the Twins' chances of winning the game - and, by extension, the championship - by 29 percent. The website Grantland determined that it was the 12th most valuable play in baseball history since 1947, and the only one of the top 15 that was a defensive play. That makes it the most valuable pitch ever thrown. A career-defining, World Series-saving pitch.

Hrbek does a double fist pump in celebration, then bounces the ball in celebration. The crowd is roaring. I have goosebumps, 25 years after it happened. What a play. What a game. What a series.

Bottom 8 - Braves 0, Twins 0

Randy Bush hitting.

Bush singles to center.

Damn, Randy! One pitch and you did your job! I completely forgot he played in this game. It's the start of a rally. Time to win a World Series.

Al Newman running.

At this point, Buck can only say "wow-o-wow-o-wow." He's completely done. We're all just along for the ride at this point. Nobody has any clue what's happening.

Gladden's trying to bunt Newman over. It's not going well.

Gladden flies to center. One out.

Smoltz made mincemeat of him there.

Knoblauch singles to right, Newman to third.

One pitch after saying you can't hit-and-run on a pitcher like Smoltz, the Twins hit-and-run on a pitcher like Smoltz. The Series-winning run in on third, and Kirby Puckett is at bat. I feel like I'm in a fever dream.

Cox is walking to the mound. Smoltz looks furious, then frustrated. He can't believe he's getting taken out. He can't believe he didn't get the job done.

Mike Stanton pitching.

They didn't bring in Stanton to face Puckett. They're walking him to load the bases and get to Hrbek, who is 0-for-3 against Stanton this series. McCarver is describing this like it's incredibly controversial and/or ballsy, but it makes sense to me.

So Kent Hrbek can win the World Series now. Bases loaded, one out. Just like the Braves had in the top of the inning. This game is beyond comprehension at this point.

Hrbek lines into a double play to second, Knoblauch out, second unassisted.

My god. Dear god.

Top 9 - Braves 0, Twins 0

Newman playing short.

I'm not sure anybody is even having fun at this point. This is just excruciating.

Hunter grounds to third. One out.

Olson grounds to short. Two outs.

Not really sure you should be swinging first-pitch at a pitcher who is well over 100 pitches in the 9th inning, but that's what Olson did. I approve of the result.

Now Lemke is up in the 9th inning of the 7th game of a series in which he's been awesome. I don't like that he's up. He's not a home run guy, but he has three triples this series. I wish it wasn't Lemke.

They show a woman with bright red nails looking completely miserable in the stands, and McCarver tries a bad pun about how Lemke is trying to "nail" one. I mean, at least he's trying.

Lemke strikes out. Three outs.

Lemke's magic is done. And Jack Morris just threw 9 innings of shutout ball in the 7th game of the World Series.

 Bottom 9 - Braves 0, Twins 0

Davis, Harper, and Mack are due up in the 9th. I would appreciate it if Chili just ripped one out of here and take us out of our misery. So anytime now Chili.

He's trying to listen. His swings haven't exactly been compact here. But now with two strikes, he has to shorten his swing a bit. Right?

He's fouled off several pitches. He's got Stanton measured. He's not scared of the situation.

Davis singles to right.

CHILI! A great at bat and it pays off. The World Series-winning run is on first.

Jarvis Brown running.

Will something called Jarvis Brown actually score the Series-winning run? No way, right?

Harper shows bunt, and Stanton almost hits the backstop. I think Stanton might be a bit amped up.

Ooh, the corner infielders charge, and Harper swings away. Then he bunts on the next pitch.

Harper singles to pitcher, Brown to second.

Stanaton and Bream both went for it, neither got it. The second baseman was running to first to cover, so Stanton had to chase the ball all the way to the second-base line, and he pulled something doing it. He's gotta come out.

So, the Braves have to make an injury replacement for their pitcher in the bottom of the 9th. Because of course.

Alejandro Pena pitching.

Mack is up. McCarver is again talking about bunting, and Mack shows the bunt but it goes foul. Lots of bunts this inning. And really, all you need is one (similar to All You Need is Love), so get those runners closer.

Mack grounds into a double play, second to short to first, Brown to third. Two outs.

That was a great turn by Lemke. Falling away from second, and throwing around Harper, and he gets the ball to second in time for Belliard to get it back to first. That took the air out of the stadium, which is understandable, but also weird, since the Series-winning run is still on third.

Pagliarulo walks intentionally.

Al Newman was on deck. He's not going to bat here, though.

Paul Sorrento hitting.

I don't like this option for the guy with the game on the line, mostly because I didn't remember that he played for the Twins in 1991 until I started watching these games again. Why is he batting here? Leius is still on the bench - and, presumably, will have to come in if Sorrento fails here - so why not let him bat? He's seen more pitches lately too.

Ugh. I can't stand this. Just win this thing already!

The infielders are all playing super far back, like all of them almost in the outfield. Can't Sorrento bunt? I know he's a power guy, but just drop it down and see what you can do. Keep it fair, you win the Series.

Sorrento strikes out. Three outs.

Ugh. Stupid.

Top 10 - Braves 0, Twins 0

Scott Leius playing short.

How is this game still happening? How has nobody scored? This isn't possible. This has been absolutely remarkable.

Honestly, this game was taken out of the players' hands a long time ago. I believe I've written this before, but this series should really be considered a tie. Starting about the 8th inning, it turned into a giant cosmic coin flip. Somebody is going to win only because somebody must. There are no ties in championships. But both these teams deserve it.

And Jack Morris is still on the mound, warming up for the 10th. Apparently during the ninth, Kelly went to him and thanked him for the game. Morris said there was no way on earth he was coming out. Kelly responded with "Ok, it's just a game."

Just a game.

And so Morris is on the mound for the 10th. And it's obvious he would have been there, if needed, for the 11th, the 12th ... who knows how long? Kelly didn't appear to have a gun with him in the dugout, so maybe he wouldn't have been able to take him out at all.

Jeff Blauser hitting.

Blauser pops to catcher. One out.

Harper drifted back, unable to see that ball. Then at the last moment, he saw it and caught it right up against the fence. I wonder if we've seen the result of the cosmic coin flip.

Lonnie Smith, the goat of the moment, is up.

Our first view of Ted Turner in the stands, and he looks like he's about to fall asleep. I know he's just relieving the tension, like everybody in the Dome, but the timing of the camera shot was bad.

Smith strikes out. Two outs.

Morris' fastball is just as fast in the 10th as it was in the 1st. Remarkable.

Pendleton grounds to short. Three outs.

Somehow, Morris' 10th inning of work might have been his cleanest. Maybe the Braves are just done.

Bottom 10 - Braves 0, Twins 0

Blauser playing short.

A lot of the innings I've seen while rewatching this Series were so unfamiliar to me that they may as well have been happening live. But the bottom of the 10th? I've got this one memorized.

The Gladdenstache is leading off. He swings at the first pitch and saws his bat in half. A little blooper into shallow left that takes a high hop off the turf, over Hunter. Gant is right there to back him up, and is up firing to second, but Gladden, who never stopped running, beats it by a whisker.

Gladden doubles to left.

Knoblauch's up. He has one job: Get Gladden to third, any way possible. The crowd is roaring, but now there are no nerves behind that roar: It's one of anticipation. It feels like, finally, this is it. This is where it happens. Knoblauch gets the bunt down.

Knoblauch sacrifices to third. Gladden to third. One out.

Puckett's up, and the crowd doesn't roar as loud as they normally would for their hero, because they know: Puckett's getting walked. There's no way he gets to swing a bat this inning.

Puckett walks intentionally.

The outfielders are coming in now, standing where they can catch a ball flat-footed and still throw out Gladden at third. Any Twin that can hit it deep wins the series.

Hrbek walks intentionally.

Jarvis Brown is on deck, but he's not going to swing. Gene Larkin grabs a bat.

Gene Larkin hitting.

He can barely run - his leg is visibly swollen. If he hits it on the ground, the inning is probably over. But if he hits it in the air...

Larkin singles to left, Gladden scores. Twins 1-0.


The Twins are celebrating like mad on the field, but it gets subdued pretty quickly. They're all clearly spent. They won the series, sure, but it's more like they survived it.

The Braves are stunned in their dugout. They're too tired to truly show sadness, or any other emotion. Just blank stares.

As the Twins celebration breaks up, the cameras show a different site: Jack Morris shaking hands with Ron Gant, Brian Hunter walking away after congratulating another Twin. There's no animosity here; the Braves are gracious in defeat, the Twins humble.

It's not a common site to see the losing team shaking hands with the winning team during the on-field World Series championship celebration, but it's because the players are fully aware of what just happened. They didn't so much play in the World Series as much as they witnessed it. They were just as much a part of the audience as we were. They fully grasped the magnitude of what took place in these seven games, and they knew they were lucky to be a part of it.

It was 25 years ago today that Dan Gladden jogged home and jumped on home plate, ending the greatest World Series ever played. It seems like a lifetime ago, but the memory is fresh. Whenever the Twins win their next World Series, whether it's next season or 25 years from now, the celebration will be long and loud, and Twins fans will be overjoyed. But there will also be something in the back of our minds: Sure, winning that future World Series will be great, but it still won't quite compare to the magical 9 days in October of 1991.

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