When there is a Game 7, it’s worth watching

Published 10:20 am Thursday, June 17, 2010

Seventh games in championship sports series give me goose bumps. I will watch the final game of any sport, anywhere, and at any time. I wanted Philadelphia to beat the Blackhawks last week in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup just to force a Game 7, even though I picked the Blackhawks to win it all.

Tonight in the NBA Finals is a Game 7. Celtics versus Lakers. I want the Celtics to win for two reasons. One: Kevin Garnett. Two: I hate Kobe Bryant.

The final game of any sporting series, where it is a winner-takes-all, is an amazing culmination of both mental and physical preparedness that is just amazing to watch. I challenge anyone not to admire both teams or players in any kind of a final, winner-take-all challenge. Seriously, I will watch the thumb wrestling championships if it is a winner-take-all contest.

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OK, I realize I am going a little man mental, but, ladies, please compare a Game 7 in baseball, hockey, or basketball to you watching Oprah take on “Grey’s Anatomy,” while the “Desperate Housewives” of Wisteria Lane are watching. It would be a showdown of HGTV versus all those Food Network shows that you all watch. (Cue music.) “Today’s ingredient — goat cheese!”

Famous Game 7s in my life that really stand out are:

No. 1: 1991 Game 7, Twins vs. Braves at Minnesota

The World Series itself was an improbability. Both teams had finished in last place in their divisions in 1990, and neither was projected to make a great leap forward in 1991.

Game 7 was set up by the dramatic ending to Game 6. Twins icon Kirby Puckett won the game with an 11th-inning solo home run to center field.

Game 7 matched veteran Jack Morris for the Twins against the Braves’ young John Smoltz.

Key play: In the eighth, the Braves’ Lonnie Smith singled and Terry Pendleton followed with a double to left-center field. Smith was running on the pitch, and a Chuck Knoblauch fake caused him to slide into second base and prevented him from scoring.

Jack Morris (who should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame) went on to throw 10 shutout innings.

Final moment: In the bottom of the 10th, Dan Gladden hustled a broken-bat single into a double and a couple minutes later Gene Larkin hit a fly ball single over a drawn-in Brian Hunter, giving the Twins the title. Wow!

No 2: 1987 Game 7 Minnesota Twins vs. St. Louis Cardinals at Minnesota

It was Joe Magrane against Frankie Viola. I remember watching this game in Duluth at St. Scholastica. I also remember driving to Minneapolis after this game to take part in a wild, crazy, two-day event of honoring the Twins by going into the streets and yelling a lot!

Two things that stood out to me were: One: I remember that Tommy Herr getting picked off in the sixth because Kent Hrbek blocked the view of the umpire. That was very cool because I really loved Hrbek. Two: That the Minnesota Twins first World Series championship was led by just a cool group of normal guys: Tom Brunansky, Hrbek, Puckett, Dan Gladden, Frank Viola, Greg Gagne, Steve Lombardozzi, Jeff Reardon, and Gary Gaetti. Oh, and the homer hankies! Good memories.

No 3: 2009 Stanley Cup Final Detroit Red Wings vs. Pittsburgh Penguins at Joe Louis Arena.

I thought that this series was over after the Red Wings were up 2-0. I will also say that this whole playoff year was amazing with a few more Game 7s just to get to this game. I am too sad still to recap too much more but The Red Wings lost 2-1 in a yelling at the TV, losing your voice game that will go down in history. This and Old Yeller made me cry.

So pull up a chair tonight and watch history unfold. The game starts at 8 p.m.

Father’s Day

Father’s Day is this Sunday. I will save you time in looking for the right gift. Here is what dads want:

1. Boat

2. Big screen TV

3. Tickets to a game seven sporting event, World Series or Super Bowl

4. Tickets to Las Vegas

5. To be left alone for a day

6. Money

Have a happy Father’s Day!

Tribune Publisher Scott Schmeltzer’s column appears every Thursday.