Saturday, October 21, 2006

October 21st, 1976

Reds at Yankees

This game marked, in essence, the last great moment of the Big Red Machine. Scoring four runs in the ninth inning, the Reds increased their lead to 7-2 and put to rest the final notions of a Yankee comeback. This was the Reds' second title in a row and while the '76 version wasn't as dominant as the '75 team they were nonetheless pretty good. They would fail to make the playoffs the next year, however, and the final dynasty of the 1970s, the Yankees, would take over. (The '70s, especially in the middle period, are perhaps the most dynastic period in baseball history as three team won seven of the World Series each winning all their titles in a row.)

This victory was also notable for marking something new. 1976 was the first time a team had gone through the entire playoff system without losing a game. It was not the first time a team had won a title without losing a postseason game, of course; the 1907 Cubs were the first to go undefeated. (Although the Cubs did tie one game in their Series, the first team to win every game was the 1914 Boston Braves.) However, starting in 1969 a team had to play two different series to win a title, and until the '76 Reds, no team had gone undefeated through both series.

In fact, until 1995 when the playoffs were expanded to a third series, no other team went undefeated through the playoffs. And as you probably know, no team has ever gone through the Division, League Championship and World Series without losing a game; although two--the '99 Yankees, and '05 White Sox--have lost just one. The Reds were therefore not only the first team to go undefeated through two rounds of playoffs, but remain the last team to win a World Championship without a losing a game. And given the difficulties of going 11-0 against playoff caliber competition, they figure to remain the last team to do it for a long, long time.

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