Why is a game 3 tiebreaker called a rubber game?

Christopher P

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Dec 28, 1998
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I've only heard this in baseball, which seems to have its own lexicon of phrases. Does anyone know why when a series is tied 1-1, the third and final game is called the rubber game?

Chris
 

Max Leung

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Um...maybe the winner of the game gets the other teams groupies, and hence they buy a box of rubbers?
 

Evan S

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It's called a rubber game because it's the deciding game of the series. The winner of that game wins the series.

Because rubber bends and is flexible, it's called the rubber game because the series can "bend" either way.
 

KeithH

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Evan got it. Technically, it is usually called a "rubber match" rather than a "rubber game". Same difference though.
 

Brian Kleinke

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ROFL.... this was brought up at work (the term) in regards to the 3rd match of PING PONG!

So it applies all over the place

Brian
 

Joseph DeMartino

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Actually, Evan didn't get it, since the term is found in print long before the elastic material known as rubber was widely used. And it is usually expressed as "the rubber game of a match", not "rubber match." (That is, the deciding game of a match consisting of several games.)

I can see nobody in this thread is a bridge player (or knows any), since a game of bridge (and similar serial card games) is often referred to as "a rubber". The term was generally used of card games long before it moved into the world of modern sports, though it originally came from the old European game of lawn bowling ("bowls" in English, Bocce ["bah-chee" Sp?] in Italian.)

From The Word Detective:

 

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