Invariably, when a stranger learns of my ink-turned-Internet-stained professional life (and we're on the brink of something like tonight's Stanley Cup finale between the Penguins and Red Wings), the question gets asked: "What's it like covering a Game 7?''
A Game 7 isn't just approached and played out differently than the games that precede it, it sounds different. Or rather, it
Noise at a Game 7 is punishing, unforgiving and rarely relenting.
My Game 7 experience is skewed by the site of two unforgettable instances. I've covered seventh games across various sports, from the Trail Blazers blowing a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter against the Lakers in the 2000 NBA Western Conference finals to
None of those venues were as noisy, though, as Minneapolis' Metrodome for Game 7 of the '87 and '91 World Series. The Twins' victories over St. Louis and Atlanta, respectively, came in the first and second Series played indoors, the result of the first and second Series in which the home teams won all seven games. That was no coincidence: The tsunami of sound was just part of the Twins' Dome-field advantage in those October classics, along with the spongy, pale-green plastic turf, underwater lighting and the aforementioned gray, inflatable roof.
Too bad, in a way, because the ballpark overshadowed a lot of individual highlights and games. Not too bad, though, because without it, Minnesota still might be waiting for its first major championship since the
Game 7 in '87 was basic baseball at the end of a series sloshed on home-field advantage. The Twins outscored the Cardinals 18-5 in Games 1 and 2, got outscored in the middle three at Busch 14 -5, then cracked open Game 6 -- before all those fluttering Homer Hankies -- with
If that Series was more heartwarming -- the core of that Twins club had started as rookies and lost 102 games -- the one four years later was heartstopping and nervewracking. Five games were decided by a single run, three went into extra innings, and two more were tied into or through the eighth. Game 7 was all of the above, scoreless through seven, then eight, then nine.
Known as a Worst-to-First Series (the Twins and Braves had finished last in their divisions in 1990), it is also remembered as the Series that made daily newspapers feel as obsolete as they would when the Internet wave descended a few years later. In the press box, profanities and pounding fists grew pandemic, moving across by time zone -- Eastern sportswriters through Central into Mountain -- as lengthy games killed deadlines for stories and box scores.
At 36, Morris was Deadwood's
In both clubhouses, there was some of that what-a-shame-either-team-had-to-lose talk you sometimes get with Game 7s. Not from Morris, though.
"Days like this,'' he said, "are what make all the rest of the [stuff] you endure in life worthwhile."
There's your Game 7 for you.