I’ve completed both phases of my ‘classic’ MLB games study. I’ve changed the name from ‘greatest’ because of a certain level of subjectivity. Truly a game can be great, but saying one is classic is one that gets talked about for ages, even if just among a team or their hardcore fans. 293 games in the regular season and 84 in the postseason all met these 2 standards: combined Pitching Game Score of 150, and average Leverage Index of 3.00. 4 out of every 5 games were extra-inning affairs, and virtually all were strong pitcher duels with low scoring. I’ve yet to understand the blank from the 90’s to the 2000’s where no regular season games qualified. That will be the subject of a future mini-study. I’ll also get into team rivalries and other such circumstances.
When you examine the attached spreadsheet, you’ll see some numbers in bold. Those games involved the top 25 in either variable. I am outlining 3 games here in particular, plus one that went the conventional 9 frames.
9/21/45: Detroit and Philadelphia finish at dusk after 24 innings, tied at 1.
9/13/69 Braves and Astros score all their runs in the 13th, with Bob Aspromonte delivering a walk-off walk.
9/27/74: Orioles defeat Brewers 1-0 in 17. Great pitching duel between Jim Colborn and Jim Palmer. Bobby Grich scores on a fielders choice with bases loaded.
8/13/76 ranks as the best 9-inning game with no peer. Rangers defeat Indians 2-1, as Jim Umbarger outduels Dennis Eckersley. Toby Harrah comes through twice in the game for each run. Umbarger would pitch in the 1981 Pawtucket Red Sox game that went 33 innings. He pitched 10 innings of shutout baseball in that true classic.
To be fair, every one of the games in the spreadsheet is a classic. My aim to separate the lower-case classic from upper-case is just about accomplished.
As for the postseason, the Jack Morris 10-shutout game with the Gene Larkin finish won out as the only game to hit the top 10 on either side, making it the most classic of playoff games.
View the spreadsheet here MLB greatest games phase 2