Baseball, to me, reached its peak in the 1970s. This to me was the Golden Decade for Major League Baseball. Today we are going to look at the best five teams of the decade. The scary thing about this 10-year span was that it was so stacked you had great teams like the Royals 76-78, Dodgers 74-78, Phillies 76-78, that don’t even get near the list. Baseball was a special sport in the 1970’s, as the baseball “Game of the Week” on NBC was a special occasion on Saturday afternoons. Remember outside of your home team broadcasting around 40 or so road games and a couple of home games? Those Saturday “Games of the Week”, and later in the 70’s, some Monday night baseball games were all you got to see. It was not like today when you could see pretty much every game that was played.
Kids instead of playing video games and being on their phones actually went outside and played baseball. Or maybe it was raining so they stayed inside and traded baseball cards with their friends. Today let’s go back and look at the teams that made those days special to baseball fans
The Yankees were owned by George Steinbrenner and managed by the hot-tempered Billy Martin, which always led to fireworks. The Yankees had been swept in the 1976 World Series by the Cincinnati Reds. They came into the 1977 season as the favorites to win the American League Championship.
The Yankees battled with the Orioles and Red Sox all year and ended up winning the A.L. East Title by 2.5 games to advance to the ALCS, and a rematch with the Royals who they had beaten in a classic five-game series in 1976.
Once again the ALCS would go the five-game limit with the Yankees prevailing in the end.
That led to a throwback World Series between the Yankees and the rival Dodgers. The Yankees, just like the old days, would come out victorious in six hard-fought games, culminating with Reggie Jackson’s historic three home run night in game six at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees after the 1976 season signed Cincinnati Reds ace starter Don Gullett to a huge contract. Unfortunately for the Yankees and Gullett, the Free Agent Acquisition pitched injured for much of the year and the injury he suffered would eventually end his career.
The A’s were a great team from 1972-74, winning three straight World Championships. Starting pitching puts this team on the list as the A’s had three 20-game winners in Jim (Catfish) Hunter, Ken Holtzman and Vida Blue.
The A’s won the A.L. West title by six games over the second-place Kansas City Royals. They then met the Baltimore Orioles in the ALCS and won a hard fought but low scoring best-of-five series. They won the fifth and deciding game 3-0 behind a five-hit shutout by their ace Catfish Hunter.
The World Series would once again see this gutty team pushed to the limit, finally prevailing over the underdog New York Mets in yet another game 7.
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This was the first of two consecutive World Championship teams for the Reds. They were more dominant in the regular season than any other team on this list.
In the regular season, the Reds finished an unbelievable 20 games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the N.L. West title. The Reds went 64–17 at home in 1975. That is the best ever home record by a national league team and the second-best in baseball history behind only the 1961 Yankees, who went 65–16 at home that year. The Reds also set the major league record for most consecutive wins to ever close out a half with 10, when they went into the all-star break on a 10-game winning streak. The 840 runs scored by the Reds in 1975 were the most in the league that season and their +254 run differential was also the best in the league. The Reds were the only team in the National League to have a winning record on the road, going 44–37.
The Reds swept the high-powered and talented Pittsburgh Pirates in three straight games. They out scored the Pirates 19-7 in the short three-game series.
The World Series in 1975 was not so easy for the Big Red Machine as they met a very talented Boston Red Sox team in a series for the ages. The Reds would prevail in the seventh game in Boston coming from 3-0 down in the sixth inning and winning the game in their final at-bat 4-3 on a bloop single by future hall of fame second baseman Joe Morgan.
The 1970 Orioles had one the greatest starting rotations in Major League Baseball history as they boasted three 20 game winners. They also boasted a terrific starting eight that could put a lot of runs on the board quickly.
The Orioles ran away with the A.L. East in 1970 finishing a full 15 games ahead of second-place New York.
In the ALCS they made short work of the A.L. West Champion Minnesota Twins, sweeping them in three games. They out scored the Twins 27-10, in a series that showcased their ability to score runs.
The Orioles went on to remove the demons of the 1969 World Series by jumping out to a 3-0 lead over the Cincinnati Reds. The Orioles would go on to win the series in five games.
The 1975 Reds won more games, but the 1976 Reds never lost in the postseason. The Phillies and Yankees were both excellent teams in their own right, but they were no match for the Big Red Machine. The Reds went 49–32 at home and an incredible 53–28 on the road in 1976.
In the NLCS the Reds faced the Philadelphia Phillies and made quick work of them in three games.
Next up the Reds faced the New York Yankees in the World Series and would out score the Yankees 22-8 to win the series in four quick games. Johnny Bench was the series MVP, hitting two home runs in game four to help the Reds clinch the World Series.
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