World Series: November Baseball History As 2021 Fall Classic Expands After October
When the Astros pushed back that first-inning grand slam to win Game 5 of the World Series against the Braves, it ensured that said series would come back to Houston. It also allowed us to once again experience one of the oddities of the sporting calendar – Major League Baseball being played in November.
Game 6 at Minute Maid Park takes place on Tuesday, which Gregorians agree on November 2. If the Astros get the better of the Braves and force a defining Game 7, then it will take place on November 3. Both dates are – moving conclusion to come – squarely within November limits.
Playoff baseball is strongly associated with October, it follows that November MLB games are infrequent. They are also very recent. The earliest example of November baseball at the highest level dates back to 2001, when the September 11 attacks forced the last day of the regular season to be pushed back from September 30 to October 7. the playoff schedule and World Series Games 5, 6 and 7 between the Yankees and the Diamondbacks took place in November.
From that point on, casual November baseball was a function of two coincidental events – the regular season starting a little later than most seasons, and the World Series going on long enough to reach the rarely explored shores of November. In all, six different World Series took place in November – Diamondbacks-Yankees 2001, Yankees-Phillies 2009, Giants-Rangers 2010, Royals-Mets 2015, Cubs-Indians 2016 and Astros-Dodgers 2017 – and the 2021 edition will be done. Sept. Going further, a total of 11 World Series games were played in November. Game 6 between the Braves and the Astros will make 12.
Other than 2001, the common theme of the seasons that extend through November is the later opening day. Courtroom observers will gasp as the evidence to come:
- Opening day 2009: April 6
- Opening day 2010: April 5
- Opening day 2015: April 6
- Opening day 2016: April 4
- Opening day 2017: April 3
- Opening day 2021: April 1
The general lesson is that the later you start in April, the more likely it is that the World Series will extend into November. It’s also worth noting that the schedule now includes additional days off, which is how the current season continues despite the start of April 1. It also means that November baseball will likely be a semi-regular event going forward.
It turns out that the month of November saw some legendary World Series matches. Of particular note is Game 5 of the 2001 World Series, when Scott Brosius hit an equalizer against Byung Hyun-Kim with two strikeouts in the bottom of the ninth. The Yankees then smothered the D-Backs in 12 innings by a score of 3-2. Game 7 of that same series, on November 4, was even more iconic, as Luis Gonzalez gave Arizona a win on foot with his slapping bloop from Mariano Rivera.
Before we continue, you’ll probably remember this moment from Game 4 of this series:
This homerun within the series earned Derek Jeter the nickname Mr. November. His clutch explosion did happen in November, albeit barely. This, however, is only due to the fact that Game 4, which started on October 31, lasted after midnight local time. So it’s not technically a World Series game in November.
The fifth game of the 2015 World Series took place on November 1 and it’s our next classic in November. The Mets held a 2-0 lead going into ninth, and manager Terry Collins let starter Matt Harvey continue to pitch. Thanks in part to that decision, the Royals matched him and ultimately won the game and the series in the 12th inning.
Rivaling 2001 Game 7 is the seventh game of the 2016 World Series between the Cubs and the Cleveland baseball team. With head-to-head title droughts in play, Cleveland scored three points in the eighth to tie the game. Two of those points came on an unlikely home run from Rajai Davis to Aroldis Chapman. The game went to the extras after a 17-minute rain delay, and at the top of the 10th, the Cubs put two on the board. Cleveland mounted a serious threat in the half-field – Davis made a run – but Michael Martinez beat Kris Bryant in third to finish him with the tied scoring potential first.
Perhaps the current World Series will add to this brief register of November classics? Maybe indeed.
Before we leave this topic, let’s do a quick walking tour of the November MLB record books, okay? We will do it. To the numbers:
- Most November games played: Six – Derek Jeter, Yankees; Jorge Posada, Yankees
- Most November hits: Eight – Derek Jeter, Yankees
- Most November home runs: Three – Chase Utley, Phillies / Dodgers
- Most November Extra-Basic Achievements: Four – Chase Utley, Phillies / Dodgers
- Most November Total Bases: 14 – Chase Utley, Phillies / Dodgers
- Most bases stolen in November: Two – Lorenzo Cain, Royals; Johnny Damon, Yankees
- Most November RBIs: Seven – Addison Russell, Cubs
- Most November runs marked: Five – Johnny Damon, Yankees; Chase Utley, Phillies / Dodgers
- Most November markets: Four – Nick Swisher, Yankees
- Highest batting average in November (min. 10 home plate appearances): .600 – Johnny Damon, Yankees
- Highest November baseline percentage (min. 10 plaque appearances): .667 – Johnny Damon, Yankees
- Highest slugging percentage in November (min. 10 slab appearances): 1.273 – Chase Utley, Phillies / Dodgers
- Most November rounds pitched: 14 – Cliff Lee, Rangers
- Most November pitching wins: Two – Randy Johnson, Diamondbacks
- Most strikeouts in November: 10 – Roger Clemens, Yankees; Tim Lincecum, Giants; Mike Mussina, Yankees
- Most November markets: Seven – Andy Pettitte, Yankees
- Lowest November ERA (min. 6 innings pitched): 0.00 – Miguel Batista, Diamondbacks
- Most November savings: One – Ryan Madson, Royals; Mike Montgomery, Cubs; Mariano Rivera, Yankees; Brian Wilson, Giants
So who is the real Mr. November? With apologies to Jeter, it’s probably Chase Utley or Johnny Damon. Perhaps, however, an Astro or a Brave will burst into this conversation by the end of the 2021 World Series.
November baseball coming up? November baseball coming up, folks.