Tonight at 8 p.m., the MLB Network unveils the top spot in its "MLB's 20 Greatest Games'' series, its countdown of the best games of the past 50 years. Stunningly, it is not the Cubs' 9-3 win over the Sox last night. The choice is an appropriate one, nostalgic and legendary not only for the outcome but for the talent involved: Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, won by Carlton Fisk's "if it stays fair" home run in the bottom of the 12th inning.
During the three-hour program, Fred Lynn (here talking about his frightening crash in to the wall that spurred the Sox to add padding to the fences the next season -- and by the way, does Lynn ever age?) and Johnny Bench, one of five Hall of Famers to play in the game, join hosts Bob Costas and Tom Verducci in studio to discuss it over video replay.
Bernie Carbo, whose pinch-hit three-run homer tied the game in the eighth (faring far better against Rawly Eastwick than Bob Bailey did against Rich Gossage three years later, Zim), is among those interviewed.
Curiously, in the MLB Network's publicity about the program, there's no mention of any extended conversations with Fisk, though Dwight Evans, Pete Rose, and Pat Darcy (who allowed Fisk's homer) are prominent. The program airs opposite the Sox-Cubs game on ESPN tonight, but it's definitely a must-watch. I'll be at Fenway, so this one's going on the DVR.
For what it's worth -- and that's probably about as much as a Pat Darcy rookie card -- here's my Sox-slanted list of the greatest games of my lifetime, keeping in mind that I didn't start following baseball until three years after Fisk's homer hit the pole:
1. Game 7 of the 2004 American League Championship Series: You know what's an underrated phrase in Red Sox lore? "Pokey Reese has it."
2. Game 6 of the 1975 World Series: It's weird. All those years on ESPN and Joe Morgan never once mentioned playing for the World Champion Cincinnati Reds.
3. Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS: When Jason Varitek gave A-Rod a bad case of Mittface to help pivot the Sox season in the right direction, it was Bill Mueller who hit the winning homer off Mariano Rivera. When Dave Roberts stole second, it was Bill Mueller who knocked him in, again against Rivera. No wonder Mueller remains about as universally popular among Sox fans as any recent player.
4. Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS: Two random recollections of one of the greatest games ever played, not to mention one of the greatest baseball play-by-play broadcasts ever by Al Michaels: 1) Bruce Hurst and Chuck Finley both pitched in this game. Always thought they were very similar, though Finley had the better career and neither appears on the other's comps page. 2) When the Angels were one out away, camera hog Reggie Jackson could not have been more obvious as he sidled up to Gene Mauch and tried to bask in what was supposed to be his glory.
5. Game 4 of the 2004 World Series: I consider myself extraordinarily blessed personally and professionally. I don't have many regrets, big or small. But I'll always wish I made more of an effort to make it out to St. Louis on October 27, 2004. It looked like a pretty good time from the couch.
Whaddaya mean there are other teams besides the Sox? That doesn't even make sense.
All right, I guess we can put Game 7 of the 1991 World Series and Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS in there somewhere. Long live Pudge, Bernie . . . and you too, Francisco Cabrera.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.