Monday, October 28, 2013

Hosting the World Series and Monday Night Football on the Same Day

The Red Sox and Cardinals play the pivotal fifth game of their very entertaining World Series Monday night at Busch Stadium. The series is tied at two and aces Jon Lester and Adam Wainwright will square off. The last two nights have featured a walk-off obstruction play and a game-ending pickoff, so who knows what's in store for this one. Less than a mile away, the Rams and Seahawks will play at the Edward Jones Dome on Monday Night Football. Have we ever seen a city host these two sporting events at the same time?

October 27, 1986: Mets vs. Red Sox in Game Seven, Giants vs. Washington on Monday Night Football

It's happened once before. Yes, I know that New York and East Rutherford aren't the same city, but come on. One night after the Mets made their famous Game Six comeback to tie the series, the seventh game scheduled for Sunday night was rained out, pushing it back a day and putting it up against Big Blue's MNF matchup with Washington.

A 2012 Deadspin item linked to this YouTube video of an old news feature about that night and how people brought portable televisions to Giants Stadium to watch the Mets win it all. So many people were following the game that the roar after the final out caused a Washington false start.

There a few more close calls, including two football games that had to be rescheduled for Monday night because of a Sunday night World Series finale.

The Twins and Cardinals went the distance in the 1987 World Series, with Game Seven to be played on Sunday, October 25. That pushed the Vikings-Broncos tilt back a day, and the game went up against the regularly scheduled Rams-Browns MNF game. Frank Viola's eight strong innings led the Twins to a 4-2 win for the championship. The next night, Wade Wilson threw five interceptions, but Minnesota still beat John Elway's Broncos 34-27.

Ten years after that, the same scenario played out in Miami. The Marlins and Indians were playing Game Seven of the Fall Classic on Sunday, so the Dolphins game against the Bears was postponed until Monday. The Marlins won the title by rallying in the ninth inning to tie the game before Edgar Renteria ripped a walk-off single in the 11th. The next night, the Dolphins led the winless Bears by 15 with six minutes left in the game, but Chicago roared back to even the score before winning 36-33 in overtime. This was played opposite the regularly scheduled MNF game, a Packers win at New England in a rematch of the previous year's Super Bowl.

New York was the center of the baseball world in 2000 when the Yankees took on the Mets in the Subway Series. The Yanks won the first two games at home on Saturday and Sunday before the two teams had the day off on Monday. That night, the Jets played the rival Dolphins at home on MNF and fell behind 30-7 in the fourth quarter. Vinny Testaverde engineered a comeback for the ages, tying the game in the final mintes on a touchdown pass to offensive lineman Jumbo Elliott. John Hall's overtime field goal gave the Jets a 40-37 win and capped one of the greatest games in Monday Night Football history. The World Series resumed in Queens on Tuesday night and although the Mets won Game Three, the Yankees won the next two to clinch their third straight championship.

Our last close call was in 2007. The Rockies won 21 of 22 games to surge into the playoffs and roll to the World Series. The Red Sox derailed them quickly, stomping them 13-1 on their way to a four-game sweep. Boston clinched on a Sunday but if the Rockies had won a game, they would have hosted Game Five at the same time as the Broncos-Packers game at Mile High Stadium. Like the games in 1997 and 2000, this one went into overtime as Jason Elam's field goal at the gun tied it at 13. Green Bay won the coin toss and on the first play of the extra session, Brett Favre hit Greg Jennings for an 82-yard touchdown to win the game.

Update: Reader Doug mentioned the 1993 World Series. SkyDome hosted Game Two between the Blue Jays and Phillies on Sunday, October 18, 1993. The next day, the CFL's Toronto Argonauts played a home game against the Calgary Stampeders. During the off night of the World Series, Toronto was stomped 51-7. Toronto sports fans cheered up when the Blue Jays won in Philly on Tuesday en route to their second straight title.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Boston vs. St. Louis in the Postseason

The Red Sox and Cardinals begin what should be a terrific World Series on Wednesday night at Fenway Park. It's certainly an even matchup as both clubs posted identical 97-65 records during the regular season. It's the third World Series between teams that had the same record (1949 Yankees-Dodgers 97-57, 1958 Yankees-Braves 92-62).

This will be the fourth time that these teams have met in the Fall Classic. It will also be the 11th postseason meeting between St. Louis and Boston teams in the four major professional sports. In fact, Boston and St. Louis are the only cities that have met in a World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup Final and NBA Final.

Year Round Boston St. Louis Result
1946 World Series Red Sox Cardinals Cardinals 4-3
1967 World Series Red Sox Cardinals Cardinals 4-3
2004 World Series Red Sox Cardinals Red Sox 4-0
Year Round Boston St. Louis Result
2001 Super Bowl XXXVI Patriots Rams Patriots 20-17
Year Round Boston St. Louis Result
1957 NBA Finals Celtics Hawks Celtics 4-3
1958 NBA Finals Celtics Hawks Hawks 4-2
1960 NBA Finals Celtics Hawks Celtics 4-3
1961 NBA Finals Celtics Hawks Celtics 4-1
Year Round Boston St. Louis Result
1970 Stanley Cup Finals Bruins Blues Bruins 4-0
1972 Semifinals Bruins Blues Bruins 4-0

In 1946, Ted Williams returned from serving in World War II and hit 38 homers with a .342/.497/.667 slash line to lead the Red Sox to 104 wins and the American League pennant. On the other side, the Cardinals needed a best-of-three tiebreaker to get past the Dodgers and reach the World Series.

Boston was down to its last out in the ninth inning of Game One, but Tom McBride singled in the tying run to force extras before Rudy York's solo homer won it in the tenth. The two sides then traded shutouts, with Harry Brecheen evening the series for St. Louis in Game Two and Dave Ferriss putting the Sox ahead again in Game Three. The Cards thrashed their way to a 12-3 in the fourth game, but Boston took the lead once more with a  6-3 win in the fifth.

The Red Sox needed to win one game in St. Louis to claim their first title since 1918, but it didn't come. Brecheen's complete-game victory in Game Six pushed the series to a seventh game, which was a classic. The Cardinals led 3-1 in the top of the eighth inning, before a second-and-third, no-out jam pushed St. Louis starter Murry Dickson out of the game. Brecheen came in from the bullpen and got two outs and it looked like he'd wriggle out of the mess unscathed. But Dom DiMaggio came through with a double that tied the game. The clutch hit came with a price. DiMaggio injured his hamstring on the play and had to be removed for Leon Culberson.

With two outs in the bottom of the inning, Harry Walker stroked a hit to Culberson in center field and Enos Slaughter scored all the way from first base on what went down in history as the "Mad Dash." Slaughter said he wouldn't have even tried to score if DiMaggio had still been in center field. Brecheen recorded the final three outs in the ninth and the Cardinals won the series.

Two decades later, the two teams met again thanks to Carl Yastrzemski's Triple Crown and a worst-to-first turnaround by the Red Sox. But the "Impossible Dream" team had the nearly impossible task of beating Bob Gibson.

In Game One, the St. Louis ace struck out ten in outdueling Jose Santiago in a 2-1 victory. The only tally against Gibson came on a home run off the bat of Santiago, the only Boston pitcher to homer in the World Series.

A.L. Cy Young winner Jim Lonborg dominated Game Two for the Red Sox. He retired the first 19 batters, but lost the perfect game bid when he walked Curt Flood with two outs in the seventh. He still had a shot at a no-hitter, but Julian Javier doubled with two down in the eighth. That would be the Cards' only hit in a 5-0 Sox victory. Lonborg's was the second World Series one-hitter (Claude Passeau had the other in 1945) and there hasn't been one since.

Nelson Briles pitched the Cardinals to a Game Three victory before Gibson's five-hit shutout gave them a 3-1 series lead. Boston was in a big hole, but Lonborg kept them alive with a three-hitter that sent the series back to Fenway. The Sox hit four solo homers early in Game Six, but it was 4-4 in the eighth inning. Boston busted out with four runs to force a seventh game and another date with Gibson.

The future Hall of Famer did it all in the ultimate game, homering off Lonborg and striking out ten in a complete-game 7-2 win, his third of the World Series. Boston's championship drought dragged on and would not end until 2004 when these two met a third time.

2004 gave us two sensational League Championship Series, with the Red Sox coming back from an 0-3 deficit to beat the rival Yankees and the Cardinals outlasting the Astros in a seven-game thriller. After Boston's historic LCS victory, the World Series was an anti-climax.

Four batters into the first inning of Game One, the Red Sox took a 3-0 on David Ortiz's three-run homer. Boston never looked back. They outslugged the Cardinals 11-9 despite making four errors. The Boston battery led the way in the second game. Jason Varitek's two-run triple in the first inning provided the offense for Curt Schilling, who pitched six innings without allowing an earned run. The Sox won 6-2 to take a 2-0 series lead out west.

It was another night, another first-inning knockout punch for Boston in Game Three, which came on Manny Ramirez's two-run homer. St. Louis put the tying and go-ahead runs on base with nobody out in the third inning, but pitcher Jeff Suppan's baserunning blunder at third base turned into a double play. Pedro Martinez set down the next 13 Cardinals and the Red Sox won 4-1 to move on the precipice of a curse-ending sweep.

Johnny Damon led off the top of the first inning of Game Four with a home run, giving Boston a first-inning lead for the fourth straight game. Derek Lowe pitched seven shutout innings of three-hit ball before Keith Foulke finished the 3-0 win by recording the out that New England had waited 86 years for.


The one St. Louis-Boston playoff meeting in the NFL was memorable one. The powerhouse Rams were 14-point favorites against the upstart Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI.

New England's defense kept the high-flying Rams in check early in the game and only trailed 3-0 after the first quarter. A turning point came about halfway through the second quarter when Ty Law picked off Kurt Warner and ran it back for a touchdown that gave the Patriots the lead.

New England extended its lead right before halftime when Ricky Proehl fumbled and set up a Tom Brady touchdown pass to David Patten with only 36 seconds until intermission. Their defense continued to stymie the Rams and stunningly, the Pats were up 17-3 in the fourth quarter.

It looked like they put the game away in the fourth quarter when Warner fumbled near the goal line and Tebucky Jones picked it up and ran it 97 yards for an apparent three-score lead. But a holding call against Willie McGinest negated the play and gave the "Greatest Show on Turf" new life. Warner ran in for a score two plays later and the the lead was cut in half with 9:33 to play. With less than two minutes left, Warner started a lightning-quick touchdown drive. On just three plays the Rams moved 55 yards in 21 seconds, tying the game on Proehl's 26-yard grab. It was 17-17 and it appeared that New England's luck had run out.

But little did we know that a football legend was about to grow before our eyes. Tom Brady took over at his own 17 with 1:21 remaining and no timeouts. Calling the game on FOX with Pat Summerall, John Madden advised a conservative approach to play for overtime. He quickly changed his mind after Brady completed three short passes to J.R. Redmond and one big one to Troy Brown that got them to the Rams' 36. One more Redmond catch set up Adam Vinatieri's game-ending championship-winning 48-yard field goal that sealed one of the NFL's greatest games and kick-started a great dynasty.


The most common Boston-St. Louis postseason matchup came on the hardwood, with the Celtics and Hawks meeting for the NBA crown four times in a five-year span.

Rookie Bill Russell led the Celtics to their first NBA Finals in 1957, while Bob Pettit's Hawks were also making their first appearance in the championship round. Game One went into double overtime, and it was St. Louis that pulled out the victory 125-123. To date it is the only NBA Finals opener that required two OT's. That was a sign of things to come, as they split the first six games with three of them were decided by only two points.

Game Three had some fireworks before tip-off. Red Auerbach took issue with the height of the baskets in St. Louis and asked for them to be measured. Hawks owner Ben Kerner was offended and an argument ensued that ended with Auerbach punching Kerner right in the mouth. Imagine if Gregg Popovich punched Jerry Reinsdorf before a game today. Red was fined 300 bucks by the league.

The seventh game was one of the greatest in NBA Finals history. The two teams went back-and-forth, ultimately going into double-overtime once again. Pettit's 39 points led the way for the Hawks, but Russell grabbed 32 rebounds and Tommy Heinsohn scored 37 points and added 23 boards for a 125-123 Celtics lead.

With three seconds left and needing to go the length of the court, Hawks player-coach Alex Hannum put himself in the game to make a daring attempt. He'd throw the ball all the way off the other backboard and Pettit would catch the bounce at the foul line for the game-tying shot. Amazingly, the play worked perfectly, but Pettit missed the put-back and the Celtics won the series.

The next year brought a Finals rematch and after two games it seemed like they were headed for another down-to-the-wire thriller. The set was tied at 1-1 and Game Three was all square as well when Russell sprained his ankle and was finished for the series. The Celtics hung around, but St. Louis won in Game Six at home behind Pettit's marvelous 50-point performance. He scored 18 of the Hawks last 21 points in one of the best Finals performances ever.

That loss must have made the Celtics really angry, because they responded by winning the next EIGHT league titles. They swept the Lakers in 1959 before another pair of showdowns with the Hawks. 1960 was a seven-game series with no team winning back-to-back games. But it wasn't that dramatic for a seven-gamer as the average margin of victory was 14.4 points. 1961 was the most lopsided of the four series, with Boston winning in five games. The Hawks moved to Atlanta after the 1968 season and other than the brief two-year existence of the ABA's Spirits of St. Louis, there hasn't been pro hoops in St. Louis since.


We finish on the ice and although the Bruins and Blues haven't met in the postseason in over 40 years, this matchup provided one of hockey's most indelible moments.

In both of their first two seasons as an expansion team, the Blues went to the Stanley Cup Finals in and were swept by the Canadiens. They made it back in 1970 and this time they went up against Bobby Orr's Bruins. Orr led the league in scoring, becoming the first (and to date, only) defenseman to claim the scoring title.

The Finals opened in St. Louis and the Bruins dominated anyway, winning the first two games 6-1 and 6-2. At home at Boston Garden, they cruised to a 4-1 victory in Game Three, but Game Four was much tighter. Both teams scored a goal in each period and the contest went to overtime knotted at 3-3.

Orr was tripped while scoring the Cup-winning goal and this photo of him in flight is one of the most famous in sports.

The 1972 semifinal series between the two was an absolute rout, with the Bruins sweeping four games by a combined score of 28-8. Boston moved on to the Finals and beat the Rangers in six games. This Bruins-Blues set is the only series featured here that wasn't for the championship.

The history between St. Louis and Boston sports teams doesn't run as deep as that between some other cities, but it's highlights are as memorable as any. Slaghter's Mad Dash, a double-overtime NBA Finals Game Seven, Bobby Orr's famous goal, the Sox ending the Curse and a Super Bowl walk-off win. Hopefully this World Series will produce a moment like those.

Matt Adams John Axford Carlos Beltran Matt Carpenter Adron Chambers Randy Choate Allen Craig Daniel Descalso David Freese Matt Holliday Jon Jay Joe Kelly Pete Kozma Lance Lynn Seth Maness Carlos Martinez Yadier Molina Edward Mujica Shane Robinson Trevor Rosenthal Kevin Siegrist Michael Wacha Adam Wainwright Kolten Wong Quintin Berry Xander Bogaerts Craig Breslow Clay Buchholz Mike Carp Ryan Dempster Felix Doubront Stephen Drew Jacoby Ellsbury Jonny Gomes John Lackey Jon Lester Will Middlebrooks Franklin Morales Mike Napoli Daniel Nava Jake Peavy Dustin Pedroia David Ross Jarrod Saltalamacchia Junichi Tazawa Koji Uehara Shane Victorino Brandon Workman

Thursday, October 17, 2013

0-6 or Worse and Playing on Monday Night Football

I am a New York Giants fan. They gave me some soul-crushing losses in my life, but they made up for all of that and then some by beating the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Four years later, they made another Super Bowl run that might have been even more improbable and after that game I said I was set for life in my Giants fandom.

I still stand by that, but I didn't expect this. Through six winless games, Big Blue has allowed a league-high 209 points while scoring only 103 points (third-lowest total in the league). Their point differential is -17.7, a number that is only surpassed by one of the NFL's other winless teams, the Jaguars (21.3).

That sets up a cover-your-eyes matchup between the 0-6 Giants and the 1-4 Vikings. Fortunately for America's football fans, this game will be nationally televised in primetime against no other games on Monday Night Football.

Has this weekly showcase game ever featured a team that went this this far into the season without a win? Yes, in fact it's happened five times.

Team Record MNF Game Opp Score Final Record
1980 Saints 0-11 11/24/1980 vs Rams Lost 27-7 Finished 1-15
1991 Bengals 0-6 10/21/1991 at Bills Lost 35-16 Finished 3-13
1997 Colts 0-6 10/20/1997 vs Bills Lost 9-6 Finished 3-13
1997 Bears 0-7 10/27/1997 at Dolphins Won 36-33 OT Finished 4-12
2007 Dolphins 0-10 11/26/2007 at Steelers Lost 3-0 Finished 1-15

The first two decades of New Orleans Saints football were miserable, and the low point came in 1980. After 12 losing seasons they actually went 8-8 in 1979 before going right back in the gutter.

They dropped their first 11 games in 1980, with only two L's coming by seven points or fewer. Then the Rams and the Monday Night Football crew came to town. Los Angeles dismantled the Saints 27-7. The Saints totaled 96 yards for the entire game and poor Archie Manning was sacked eight times. The only New Orleans score came when it was already 27-0 and was set up by a long kick return in garbage-time.

Superdome fans were not pleased that night, throwing paper airplanes and booing the home team. However, the debacle gave birth to a new sporting tradition. 'Aints fans wore paper bags over their heads and fans of terrible sports teams have been doing it ever since.

Head coach Dick Nolan, who guided the 49ers to consecutive NFC Championship Games in the early '70s, was fired after the game. It was his last as an NFL head coach.

After a couple of three-point losses under offensive coordinator and interim head coach Dick Stanfel, the Saints finally broke through in game #15 against the 3-11 Jets. In what was called "The Woes Bowl," Manning led a game-winning fourth-quarter drive in freezing temperatures and 46-mph winds.

After the legendary Paul Brown passed away a month before the 1991 season, his son Mike took over as owner and GM of the Cincinnati Bengals, ushering in an era of terrible football and extortion of Hamilton County taxpayers.

That '91 season was a doozy, as Cincy started 0-8 and held opponents under 30 points just twice during that stretch. The seventh game of the streak was on MNF, with the 0-6 Bengals traveling to Buffalo to face the 6-1 Bills. Jim Kelly threw five touchdowns and the host club stomped the Bengals 35-16.

Two weeks later, the Browns blew three chances to win in the final five minutes as the Bengals pulled out their first victory of the season. Cincinnati finished 3-13 and head coach Sam Wyche was shown the door. He was replaced by Dave Shula, who slogged through four and a half dismal seasons with a 19-52 record.

The 1997 Colts weren't as awful as the first two teams featured here. After a couple of early blowout losses, they dropped three straight by a total of only nine points. Still, they were 0-6 heading into a Monday nighter at home against the Bills.

It wasn't much of a game as both offenses sputtered and Jim Harbaugh left with an ankle injury in the third quarter. With 6:12 to play, Cary Blanchard tied the game for Indy with a field goal. But the Bills rolled down the field and Steve Christie kicked the game-winner as time expired for a 9-6 Buffalo win. It was one of only three games since 1940 in which neither team scored a touchdown or committed a turnover.

The Colts would sink to 0-10 before pulling a huge upset for their first victory. Backup QB Paul Justin outdueled Brett Favre to lead the Colts to a 41-38 win over the defending champion Packers. Indy finished 3-13, which worked out just great because it netted them the number one pick in the draft. They took Peyton Manning and the rest is history.

One week after the aforementioned Colts-Bills game, the 0-7 Bears were set to visit the Dolphins on Sunday, October 26. However, Pro Player Stadium was hosting the seventh game of the World Series between the Marlins and Indians that night, so the NFL game was pushed back a day. The baseball game was a classic, and the football game was a good one as well.

Most of the country saw the regularly scheduled Monday night game, a Super Bowl rematch between the Packers and Patriots (Green Bay won 28-10). The Chicago and Miami markets saw the Bears get their first win in a 36-33 overtime shootout.

The Fins led 33-18 with six minutes left in the game, but Erik Kramer threw two TD's and added a two-point conversion to force overtime. In the extra session, Jeff Jaeger kicked a 35-yard field goal to give head coach Dave Wannstedt a victory over his former boss Jimmy Johnson. The Bears ended the '97 season at 4-12 and Wanny was let go after another 4-12 year in 1998. He landed in Miami as Johnson's defensive coordinator. The Dolphins made the playoffs, but were blasted by the Jaguars 62-7 in the first round. Johnson resigned, Dan Marino retired and Wannstedt took over as head coach.

Our last game was an absolute mess. The 7-3 Steelers hosted the 0-10 Dolphins to end the Thanksgiving weekend slate of games. Too much turkey, some rain and a resodded Heinz Field combined to produce a 3-0 slopfest. Lightning caused the game to be delayed by 25 minutes and things got worse from there. This punt is a good example of how the game was:

The game was scoreless for over 59 minutes until Jeff Reed poked a 24-yeard field goal to win it for the Steelers and hand Cam Cameron's Dolphins another loss. 

Miami would sink to 0-13 before they finally won a game. At home against Baltimore, they gave up a tying field goal with 12 seconds left. But in overtime, Cleo Lemon connected on a pass to Greg Camarillo, who ran it over 50 yards to the house to set off a championship-style celebration of the team's only win.

The Giants are in not-so-good company here, but they'll be at home against the sad Vikings. So maybe they can join the '97 Bears and be the second 0-6-or-worse team to break through on Monday Night Football. It's also worth noting that 2013's third remaining winless team, the 0-5 Buccaneers, host the Dolphins on Monday night in Week 10. So if Tampa Bay loses its next three to the Falcons, Panthers and Seahawks they could join our list at 0-8. Stay tuned. Or don't. It's probably better if you don't stay tuned.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Los Angeles vs. St. Louis in the Postseason

The Cardinals and Dodgers will play for the National League pennant for the first time since 1985. It's the fourth playoff meeting between the Redbirds and Dodgers and the 13th between St. Louis and Los Angeles teams in the four major sports.

Year Round St. Louis Los Angeles Result
1985 NLCS Cardinals Dodgers Cardinals 4-2
2004 NLDS Cardinals Dodgers Cardinals 3-1
2009 NLDS Cardinals Dodgers Dodgers 3-0
Year Round St. Louis Los Angeles Result
1975 Divisional Cardinals Rams Rams 35-23
Year Round St. Louis Los Angeles Result
1961 West Finals Hawks Lakers Lakers 4-3
1963 West Finals Hawks Lakers Lakers 4-3
1964 West Semis Hawks Lakers Hawks 3-2
1966 West Finals Hawks Lakers Lakers 4-3
Year Round St. Louis Los Angeles Result
1969 Semifinals Blues Kings Blues 4-0
1998 West Quarters Blues Kings Blues 4-0
2012 West Semis Blues Kings Kings 4-0
2013 West Quarters Blues Kings Kings 4-2

The 1985 NLCS was tied at two games apiece with the home team taking all four games. The next two were classics. In Game Five, Fernando Valenzuela was shaky for L.A. as he walked eight in eight innings, but he only allowed two runs. Ken Forsch was knocked out in the fourth for the Cards, but Ken Dayley, Todd Worrell and Jeff Lahti kept it a 2-2 game. Tom Niedenfuer relieved Valenzuela in the bottom of the ninth and faced switch-hitter Ozzie Smith with one out. The Wizard was never a power hitter. Coming into the at bat, he'd had 4,889 career plate appearances (including playoffs) and hit 13 home runs, all from the right side. Batting lefty, he did the unexpected.

Folks did indeed go crazy, and the Cardinals took a 3-2 series lead out west. The Dodgers led Game Six 4-1, but St. Louis scored three in the top of the seventh, tying it when Ozzie got to Niedenfuer again for an RBI triple. Mike Marshall homered in the eighth to put L.A. back in front. Niedenfuer recorded two outs in the ninth, but the Redbirds had runners at second and third. Tommy Lasorda wondered if he should pitch to slugger Jack Clark or walk him to face, as Vin Scully put it, "that so-and-so Van Slyke." He chose to pitch to Clark...

Welp, that didn't work out. It was a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth and the Cardinals won the pennant. 

The two teams wouldn't meet in the postseason until 2004, when the Cards won 105 games and the N.L. Central while the Dodgers took the West with 93 W's. The powerful St. Louis club eased their way into the NLCS in four games, but the most memorable part of the series was the game they lost. The Cards won 8-3 in both of the first two games. L.A. was up against the wall in Game Three, but Jose Lima staved off elimination with a five-hit shutout.

St. Louis rolled 6-2 the next night to wrap up the series.

They played again in the NLDS five years later. The Dodgers took the opener, but thanks in part to a Matt Holliday homer, the Cardinals led 2-1 in the ninth inning of Game Two. St. Louis was one strike away from tying the series, but then this happened:

Oof. Error-walk-tying single-passed ball-walk-winning single. The Dodgers closed out the sweep two days later. Now they meet again in what should be a terrific NLCS.

*** It's worth noting one Cardinals-Dodgers showdown that isn't technically a postseason meeting. In 1946, the Cards were seven games behind Brooklyn on the Fourth of July, but they used a four-game sweep to help wipe out the whole deficit in two weeks. They went back and forth the rest of the way and they ended the regular season tied at 96-58, forcing a best-of-three playoff for the pennant.

The first game was at Sportsman's Park where Howie Pollet outpitched Ralph Branca for a complete-game 4-2 victory. Pollet's extra game broke a tie with Johnny Sain for the N.L. lead in wins and it kept his ERA at a league-leading 2.10. Joe Garagiola had three hits and drove in two and Stan Musial tripled and scored twice. Unfortunately for Branca, this would not be his most notable defeat.

The series shifted to Ebbets Field and the hometown Dodgers got on the board in the first inning, but quickly gave up a pair in the second. It was still 2-1 with two outs in the fifth when the Cards broke it open against Brooklyn starter Joe Hatten. Musial doubled and after an intentional walk, Enos Slaughter smoked a two-run triple before scoring himself on Erv Dusak's hit. There would be plenty of support for Redbirds righty Murry Dickson, who took an 8-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth. The Dodgers rallied, scoring twice and knocking out Dickson with one away. Southpaw Harry Brecheen entered in relief and gave up another hit and a walk to make it 8-4 and load the bases. He buckled down to strike out Eddie Stanky to record the second out, bringing up Dick Whitman (not that Dick Whitman). Brooklyn skipper Leo Durocher elected to pinch hit righty Howie Schultz for the lefty Whitman, but Schultz struck out to end the game.

The Cardinals won the pennant and took on the Red Sox in the World Series. Brecheen had complete-game wins in Games Two and Six before coming in from the bullpen and winning Game Seven as well.


We've had one St. Louis-Los Angeles NFL playoff game and neither team exists anymore. The St. Louis Cardinals, coached by Don "Air" Coryell, beat out the Cowboys for the NFC East title in 1975. They visited the West champion L.A. Rams, whose quarterback James Harris was down with an injury. Young Ron Jaworski made his second career start in a divisional-round playoff game.

Jaws ran for a touchdown, passed for another and watched his defense score two more on pick-sixes off Jim Hart as the Rams won 35-23. Lawrence McCutcheon rumbled for 202 yards on 37 carries. Since 1960, only four players have rushed for more yards and only three have toted it more in a playoff game.

Harris was put back in the lineup for the NFC Championship Game and L.A. was stomped by the wild-card Cowboys 37-7.

After the 1987 season, the Cardinals moved to Phoenix. Football returned to St. Louis in 1995, when the Rams moved from Los Angeles.


On to the hardwood, where the Bob Pettit/Lenny Wilkens Hawks squared off with the Elgin Baylor/Jerry West Lakers four times in a six-year span in the 1960s.

St. Louis won 51 games in 1961 to win the Western Division, 15 games ahead of the second-place sub-.500 Lakers. L.A. beat Detroit in the 2-vs-3 Division Semis to move on to St. Louis. 

Baylor poured in 44 in the opener and 47 in the fifth game to give the Lakers a 3-2 lead and a chance to complete the upset at home. But Pettit put up a ho-hum 31-point 21-rebound performance to pull out an overtime win and force a seventh game. Back at home, Pettit posted 31 and 17 in Game Seven. That was enough to beat Baylor's 39 points (he averaged 37 in the series) and the Hawks won by two. They lost to the Celtics in the Finals in five games.

They met again in the West Finals two seasons later, this time with the Lakers as the top seed. The home team won all seven games by an average of 12 points and the Lakers won another West crown before falling to Boston again in six games.

In 1964, Wilt Chamberlain's San Francisco Warriors won the regular season division title, relegating Hawks-Lakers to a best-of-five conference semifinal. St. Louis won the first two games, but nearly coughed up the series before winning Game Five at home. They used a balanced attack as Pettit, Wilkens, Richei Guerin, Cliff Hagan and Zelmo Beaty each averaged 14+ points in the playoffs. They pushed the Warriors to a seventh game, but Wilt was too much as the Warriors reached the NBA Finals.

1966 brought the fourth matchup in six years, the third one that was for the Western Division title. L.A. jumped out to a 3-1 series lead, but the Hawks took two elimination games to force the decisive seventh game. In that one, West scored 35 points and Baylor added 33 more to win it for the Lakers before yet another crushing NBA Finals defeat at the hands of the Celtics.


There were four NBA playoff meetings between these two cities and there have been four in the NHL as well. The first was in 1969, when the Blues and Kings were both expansion teams in their second season. They both made the playoffs in their inaugural seasons, with the Kings bowing out in the first round and the Blues going to the Finals.

They met head-to-head in year two. St. Louis was by far the best in the West, led by coach Scotty Bowman (yes, he goes back that far). Goalies Glenn Hall and Jacques Plante shared Vezina honors before the Blues swept the Flyers by a combined score of 17-3 to reach the West Finals. The Kings had a tougher road, upsetting the Oakland Seals in a seven-game first-round set. St. Louis swept L.A. in four games to win the West again before they were swept themselves by the Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Finals for the second straight year. St. Louis went to the Finals for the third straight time in 1970 but was swept again, this time by the Boston Bruins on Bobby Orr's famous clinching overtime goal.

The Kings and Blues wouldn't battle in the playoffs again until 1998. This was a fun St. Louis team, with Brett Hull, Pierre Turgeon, Chris Pronger, Al MacInnis and Grant Fuhr. They took down Luc Robitaille, Rob Blake and the Kings 4-0 in the first round of the postseason with a pair of one-goal wins in L.A. St. Louis was beaten in the next round by the eventual champion Red Wings, who were coached by the man who coached the Blues 30 years earlier, Scotty Bowman.

L.A. and St. Louis have met in each of the last two postseasons. In 2012, the 2-seeded Blues must have been thrilled when the 8-seeded Kings stunned the Presidents' Trophy-winning Canucks in the first round. But Los Angeles tore through the Blues as well, sweeping them thanks in part to goalie Jonathan Quick. The Kings beat 3-seeded Phoenix in the West Finals before dispatching the Devils to complete an amazing run to their first Stanley Cup victory.

Last season, the Blues edged the defending champs by one point to gain home-ice advantage in the 4-5 first-round matchup. It was a great series as all six games were one-goal affairs. The Blues won the first two at home, with the opener going to overtime and the second game decided on a last-minute goal. But L.A. evened the series with two home victories before taking control with a overtime win in St. Louis in Game Five. The Kings returned home to close out the series with their fourth straight win. L.A. beat San Jose in the next round in seven games before the Blackhawks ousted them in five in the West Finals.