In a crucial Game 5 matchup to extend the season, the Yankees once more
In Kansas City, Billy Martin was at the batting cage on a bright afternoon. It was October 8th, 1976. The Yankees would play the Royals in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series the following day, marking their first playoff trip in 12 years and their first-ever ALCS matchup.
It’s the first time ever in a best-of-five series, which was how the LCS champions were chosen from 1969 to 1984.
When you participate in enough best-of-seven series, a part of your inner calculator becomes active, according to Martin, a second baseman for the Yankees in the 1950s. You’d better not have a bad day in a best-of-five situation since you’ll have to play catch-up straight soon. And occasionally, you never do.
The Yankees handled it wisely by winning Games 1 and 3, which meant that even after the Royals won Games 2 and 4, they were never in contention. It did, however, set up the first winner-take-all Game 5 in Yankees history, making it the first such game in the stadium’s history (freshly refurbished and reopened that year).
Yeah. It doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as “Game 7,” does it? Baseball’s most prestigious stage is Game 7, where the stakes have been raised to 11, to paraphrase Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap. The final game is the epitome of a rubber game. Instead of prose, Game 7 generates poetry.
However, a best-of-five series can last up to a month, like in the case of the Yankees-Guardians series, which was postponed from Monday night to 4 p.m. Game 5 is Game 7 on Tuesday. The possibility of gaining at least five extra days of the baseball season, which translates into five more days of summer, is present (even if the calendar disagrees).
Additionally, it has harsher repercussions because an eight-month season could end in just three hours, or at the crack of a bat. The Yankees manager Aaron Boone, one of the rare few who understands what it is to captivate a stadium full of stress and worry with one swing of the lumber, remarked, “It’s a fantastic chance.”
“With that, there are some nerves and difficulties you must overcome, but that is a normal aspect of playing at this time of year. But for the most part, you are excited about the chance to accomplish something exceptional.
The Bronx will therefore play host to the fifth such Game 5 rubber battle on Tuesday afternoon. The Yankees have played two of these games in their new stadium: in 2011, when they lost 3-2 to the Tigers and it was Mariano Rivera’s final playoff start (he pitched a scoreless ninth), and in 2012, when they defeated the Orioles 3-1 behind CC Sabathia’s 121 pitches in a complete game.
Due to the 1981 strike and the ensuing split season, Game 5 of the first-ever division series between the Yankees and Brewers was played in the old yard. Reggie Jackson launched a spectacular home run in that game that violently smacked off the upper deck face. Jackson said, “second bleeping base,” when asked where the ball had come to rest.
But the first such game was played, ending in a draw at 2-2 in the ALCS, between the Yankees and Royals 46 years (and four days) prior. The Royals quickly took 2-0 and 3-2 leads, but by the eighth inning, they had built a 6-3 lead, and the 56,821 spectators were raucously counting down the final six outs till the World Series.
When George Brett struck out, it appeared as though the entire ballpark had a heart attack, according to Thurman Munson. At that point, the score was 6-6.
It would require the first truly outstanding event in the stadium’s brief history for it to be revived. Chris Chambliss launched a tremendous homer to right-center on Mark Littell’s opening pitch of the bottom of the ninth inning, prompting Howard Cosell of ABC to remark, “That’s! Gone! before it actually vanished.
But it had vanished. Chambliss’ triumphant 360-foot tour of the bases was somewhat dangerous due to the on-field chaos that followed, but 27 years later, a few days after Boone’s historic home run against Boston, Chambliss chuckled and said, “If I had to, I could’ve floated around the bases.”
These are the odds. These are the results. Even while Game 5 may not have the same poetic appeal as Game 7, you’ll still feel anxious as Tuesday’s 4 o’clock approaches. This is perfectly adequate.