The 1976 season was the zenith of the "Big Red Machine," which remains in the pantheon of baseball dynasties. Cincinnati's "great eight" of regulars included future Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Tony Perez and Morgan; future all-time hits leader Pete Rose; and Dave Concepcion, George Foster, Cesar Geronimo and Griffey. They dominated the NL West with a 102-60 regular-season record and cruised into the playoffs."We knew before it started that we were going to win it," Anderson said. Why was that? "The regulars played in all seven games in the postseason," Anderson said. "They only played 57 games together in the regular season. Yes, the team won seven in a row. But it was seven in a row by the most dynamic team in history." In the NLCS, the Phillies had home-field advantage but Cincinnati won Games 1 and 2 at Veterans Stadium. The most dramatic battle in the series was Game 3 at Riverfront Stadium. Trailing 6-4 in the bottom of the ninth, the Reds used back-to-back homers by Foster and Bench to score three runs and advance to the World Series. The Yankees, who were playing in their first postseason in 12 years, were dispatched in four games in the World Series. After a 5-1 win in Game 1, Anderson couldn't hide his confidence to Dayton Daily News reporter Si Burick in the tunnel to the clubhouse. "We're going to win it in four," Anderson recalled telling Burick, off the record at the time. Sure enough, Cincinnati trailed for only three innings in the entire series, and that came in Game 4. The Reds batted .313 while posting a 2.00 ERA in the four games. "When we got to the Yankees, we knew we had a better team," Griffey said from his home in Florida. "Our way of playing was different than most. We were very businesslike on the field, but we had fun also. No one talks about it, but we had excellent pitching. Our offense and defense was there every night. We didn't make any mistakes. But our pitchers kept us in the games and gave us an opportunity to win every night. "After we thought about it, sweeping seven games in a row -- no one thought we'd do that. We thought we might lose one to the Phillies and one to the Yankees. There was a lot of personal pride in what we did to win and how we went about it." With all due respect to Matt Holliday, Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Helton and the Cinderella Rockies' special feat this year, the 1976 Reds will always remain in the elitist of classes, regardless of what Colorado does next. "The '76 team, to me, was the best team ever," Morgan said. "That's just my opinion. It's not just because I played on it, either. They were so good. It wasn't a team of Phi Beta Kappas off the field, but everyone knew his role, and together that made it a very special team. We were on a roll at the right time, as Colorado is now." "The Rockies deserve everything they get, no matter what happens in the World Series," Anderson said. "Some day, [manager] Clint Hurdle, the coaches and players, they will be looking at their children and grandchildren and hear them say, 'Look at what Grandpa did.' Can you imagine that?"
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less