What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Baseball’s Fall Classic is so because it brings us baseball fans moments we’ll never forget. Now that the World Series is upon us, and for reasons we’ve all heard eleventy bajillion times by now, this one promises to be one with all the hallmarks to add to this. Having said that, I will be the first to admit this list is biased. That’s the beauty of having your own blog; you can write whatever you want, and if you really want to be delusional, you can pretend that somebody actually reads it.
But, I digress. …that point is it’s my list, and some moments are good, some are bad, but they are all memorable.
25) 2001: Byung-Hyun Kim Tries To Sink The Snakes
This is really baseball’s inverse answer to the Dallas Cowboys’ Chuck Howley being the only Super Bowl MVP who played on the losing team. If there were such an award for World Series Goat, Byung-Hyun Kim would be your hands-down winner even though the Arizona Diamondbacks won that series.
Kim only makes two appearances in this series, and they both were disastrous.
Kim never saw the mound again in this series.
24) 1929: The Cubs Can’t Blame This One On Steve Bartman
Forget about the alleged Curse of the Billy Goat. Forget about Steve Bartman. The 1929 World Series is the perfect example as to why Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908. Heading into the bottom of the seventh inning at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, the Cubs certainly looked to have Game 4 in hand as they held a seemingly insurmountable 8-0 lead.
“Seemingly” is the key word.
Connie Mack’s A’s rallied for a 10-run home half of the seventh, all aided by a crucial error committed by Chicago’s all-star center fielder Hack Wilson. The A’s went on to win the next 2 games and win the series 4 games to 2.
23) 2004: Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen Enter the Witness Protection Program
The 2004 St. Louis Cardinals were led by a trio of sluggers in Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen. Together, three accounted for 122 HR and 358 RBI during the regular season. However, in the World Series against the Boston Red Sox, Rolen and Edmonds might as well have been living next door to Ray Liotta in the closing scene from GoodFellas, as they disappeared, combining to hit just .033 (2-for-30) in the Red Sox’s four-game sweep.
22) 1983: Mike Schmidt Becomes Mr. Un-October
Mike Schmidt is easily in the conversation as one of the greatest third-basemen of all time. During his career, Schmidt slugged 548 home runs, sacked three MVP awards, grabbed 10 Gold Gloves and appeared in a dozen All-Star games. You would never know that if all you saw of Schmidt was the 1983 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles. Schmidt hit just .050 (1-for-20) and the Phillies rolled over in five games.
21) 2011: The Cardinals Just Won’t Die
If you ever needed to know why baseball has such a great history, Game 6 of the 2011 World Series explains why. Just look at the quotes from the guys who played in it.
St. Louis Cardinals’ outfielder Skip Schumaker:
“This is the best game I’ve ever been a part of; ever seen. I’ve got to think it’s gotta be the best game in World Series history, in my opinion. I know I’m only 30 years old … but this has got to go down in history.”
St. Louis Cardinals’ shortstop Daniel Descalso:
“I’ve never seen a baseball game like that before. That’s got to be the greatest game I’ve been a part of, seen, heard about. That’s got to be one for the record books.”
St. Louis Cardinals’ relief pitcher Octavio Dotel:
“We won! We fucking won! It’s over! It doesn’t matter!”
The recipe for a classic World Series game? Start with 11 wonderfully bizarre and dramatic innings spread over a span of 4 hours, 33 minutes, and add five ties and six lead changes. When St. Louis native David Freese’s no-out, 3-2 bomb landed on the grass in the batter’s eye to clinch the game for the Red Birds, a Cardinals fan waved a sign in the stands: Deep In The Heartbreak of Texas. It’s been that way for Rangers fans ever since.
20) 2001: Luis Gonzalez Puts Fangs in the Snakes
New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera will be remembered for quite some time as the most dominant reliever in postseason history. Except for the night of November 4, 2001.
Facing the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, the Yankees led 2-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning at Bank One Ballpark. The outcome appeared to be locked down with the mighty Rivera on the hill. Until Luis Gonzalez blooped a single to score Jay Bell that gave the Diamondbacks their first title.
19) 1988 World Series: Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco End Up On A Milk Carton
When it comes to the 1988, most people remember Kirk Gibson stroking a Dennis Eckersley hanging slider in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 1; which is the only time I saw a series get clinched in the opening tilt. A main reason why that was the case is the fact their two main sluggers, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco left their bats in the dugout. Seriously, the Dodgers took five games to win that series, but in those five games, McGwire and Canseco combined for a pathetic .055 (2-for-36).
18 ) 1969: The Baltimore Orioles Do Their Impression of the Wehrmacht
In 1969, the Baltimore Orioles rolled through the American League like the German Army through Poland in 1939, racking up a 109-53 record during the regular season. However, once they got to the World Series, they were more like the Germans at Stalingrad in 1942. The “Miracle” Mets pitchers, led by Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman, shut down the Orioles offense to the tune of a collective .146 average.
17) 1990: Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco End Up On A Milk Carton, Part II
In 1988, McGwire and Canseco couldn’t hit water if they fell off the Oakland-Bay Bridge. 1990 against the Cincinnati Reds was no different. They hit a combined .154 (4-for-26), and the A’s got swept.
16) 2008: Evan Longoria Takes the McGwire-Canseco Serum
It was a big year in Tampa in 2008 when that franchise finally set aside 15 years of expansion misery by winning the American League pennant. More impressively, the upstart Rays knocked off the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox in the American League Champion Series in the process. During the regular season, the Rays were bolstered by rookie third baseman Evan Longoria with his slash line of .272 BA/27 HR/85 RBI. However, in his first taste of World Series action against Philadelphia, Longoria hit .050 (1-for-20), and his Rays got flushed by the Phillies in five.
15) 1952: Gil Hodges Dodges Success
In what you must see as a common theme on this list, many times guys dominated in the regular season, only to become a hothouse flower come the frosts of October . In the spring and summer, Hodges was one of the Dodgers’ leaders with 32 HR and 102 RBI. But in October against the Yankees, Hodges was 0-for-the-Series. That’s right. Bagel. Doughnut. Zippo. It was one of the worst performances by a position player in the history of the World Series.
14) 1941: Hey Mickey, You’re Not So Fine…
I told you at the outset this blog is biased. Now, I’ve tried to keep it from being obvious here, but I hate the Dodgers with the intensity of a million supernovas. In other words, anything which fucks the Dodgers to me is as right as eating a hot dog at the ball game.
In 1941, “Dem Bums” from Brooklyn had yet to win a World Series, but this year brought the Dodgers closer than they’d ever been. A key factor to that success was catcher Mickey Owen, who was one of the best defensive catchers in the league. In fact, Owen set a record by handling 508 consecutive fielding chances without an error. The problem was #509 was a kick in the nuts.
With two outs in the top of the ninth inning in Game 4, the Dodgers were poised to tie the series at two games apiece. The Bums clung to a 4-3 advantage and the Bronx Bombers were down to their last out. On a two-strike count, Dodger pitcher Hugh Casey fooled Yank 1B-OF Tommy Henrich with a classic “banana” curveball. The swing and miss should have ended the game…except the sure-handed Mickey Owen let the ball get past him, and Henrich reached first base safely.
After this, the Dodgers unraveled like a Kmart sweater. They allowed four runs after this to lose the game 7-4, and they continued the dissolve-job in the next game to lose the series 4-1.
13) 1981: Dave Winfield Becomes “Dave Losefield”
The 1981 season defined “fucked up.” A players’ strike caused Major League Baseball to split the season into two halves, which created the situation of a play-off between the first-half and second-half winners. The Cincinnati Reds in total won more games than any other National League team, but didn’t win either half, so they got to go play golf early.
Meanwhile in the American League, the New York Yankees made their way into the postseason by virtue of a 34-22 record in the first half. They then defeated the Milwaukee Brewers and Oakland Athletics to get to the World Series, where they faced the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Yankees depended on baseball’s first $2 million man in Dave Winfield, but when he got to the World Series, he tallied 1 hit in 22 at-bats for an .045 average. The Yankees lost to the Dodgers in six games.
Yeah, I know this was good for the Dodgers, but we’ll balance that out later.
12) 2002: Livan Wears His War Wound Like A Crown
If only he called his child Jesus…
In 1997, Livan Hernandez was baseball Jesus in South Florida when he took the World Series MVP Award with the Marlins with his destruction of the Cleveland Indians. But five years later when he took the mound for the San Francisco Giants, he was less divine and more mortal. The Giants were facing the
Los Angeles California Anaheim Angels in the series. Hernandez took the hill in Game 3, and he wasn’t a stellar pitcher in the regular season. Hernandez posted a record of 12-16 with a 4.38 ERA during the 2002 season, but he got shelled in Game 3, giving up 6 runs on 5 hits and 5 walks in 3.2 innings.
So, when this series goes to a decisive Game 7, to whom did Giants manager Dusty Baker hand the ball. Much like tossing an alkali metal into a bucket of water, Hernandez exploded in that game, dissolving violently to the tune of 4 runs on 4 hits and 4 walks in less than three innings.
All tolled, Hernandez’s line for the series was 0-2 with a 14.29 ERA and 9 walks in 5.2 innings.
11) 2002: Dusty Makes One Pitcher While Destroying Another
There’s a reason these moments are back-to-to back…
As an Angels fan who can remember Nolan Ryan’s 383 strikeouts in 1973, I can tell you many members of the Halos fan base love to attribute the 2002 World Series title to the “Rally Monkey.” In fact, Angels fans can thank the “Rally Dusty.”
The Angels entered Game 6 down 3 games to 2 against Dusty’s San Francisco Giants, and with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning of that game, the Giants were eight outs away from their first title since 1954. Then the “Dusty Factor” entered the equation.
Giants starter Russ Ortiz pitched six brilliant innings, but it was getting clear it was time to go to the bullpen. As is usual for Baker, he left Ortiz in the ball game too long, and it wasn’t until after Ortiz had given up hits to Troy Glaus and Brad Fullmer that Dusty made a move. The problem is that instead of having guys already warmed up had Dusty made the move in-between innings, the Giant bullpen had to rush to get ready, which is probably why they gave up the three runs the Angels needed to rally to a 6-5 victory. Ortiz takes what was an avoidable loss, and then the next night happens.
Whether he deserves it or not, John Lackey put the first card in the house that is his reputation as a “big-game” pitcher because he was the pitcher of record when Garrett Anderson stroked the bases-clearing triple in Game 7 which sealed the series for the Halos.
10) 1980: The Phillies Are The Original “Drought Breakers”
The Philadelphia Phillies are one of the original National League franchises, having been established in 1883. Between that time and 1980, the Phillies only ever appeared in two World Series; 1915 and 1950. But they didn’t win until 1980, which means they broke a 77-year World Series championship drought. At that time, the Phillies thirst for a championship dwarfed any other in baseball. Just look at the other no-win streaks which still existed at the time:
For our purposes, the clock started at 1903 marking the start of the World Series. Prior to that, the Phillies had another 27 years with no winning.
9) 1988: Kirk Gibson Makes A Deal With the Devil
This is personally my darkest baseball moment, because as I’ve said, I hate the fucking Dodgers.
We all know this moment. The A’s enter the bottom of the ninth holding a 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth, and uber-closer Dennis Eckersley was on the hill. For the first two outs, Eck was Eck, but then he walked Mike Davis. Dodgers pitcher Alejandro Pena was due up next, and needing at least one run, manager Tommy Lasorda turned to Kirk Gibson to pinch-hit.
To say Gibson was beat up would be an understatement. They guy’s knees were so shot he could barely walk. But the Dodgers were desperate and thin on bench players, so out comes Gibson. The ambulance back up to home plate, Gibson spills out on the field, somehow he tags an Eckersley pitch, the paramedics drag his nearly lifeless body around the bases, toss him back in the ambulance, wake up Tommy Lasorda, and the rest is history.
Maybe I’m exaggerating a wee bit, but the point is fuck the Dodgers.
8 ) 1991: “And We’ll See You Tomorrow Night!”
I don’t what else you can call this moment other than to simply use Jack Buck’s iconic call. Game 6 of the 1991 World Series between the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves was in the bottom of the 11th inning deadlocked at 3 runs each. Then Kirby Puckett stepped up to the plate. Don’t forget the Twins were facing elimination down 3 games to 2, until Puck tagged a 2-1 Charlie Leibrandt fastball and Game 7 became a reality.
7) 1985: Don Denkinger Has a Gift For The Royals
Yeah, I know it’s not fair to say that first base umpire Don Denkinger’s blown call in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series cost the Cardinals that title, but there’s no denying that was a turning point in the series. Face it, had Denkinger not missed this call, the Red Birds likely win this affair in six games.
It all started with the Royals’ hitter Jorge Orta dribbling a routine grounder to St. Louis Cardinals’ first baseman Jack Clark, who flipped the ball to pitcher Todd Worrell who was covering the bag. Worrell clearly beat Orta to first base, but that’s not how Denkinger called it. The Royals rallied after this point, going on to would go on to score both the tying and winning runs. As often happens, Kansas City carried that momentum over to Game 7, in which they seal-clubbed the Cardinals 11-0.
6) 1977: Reggie Jackson Becomes Mr. October
1977 saw the Yankees in the midst of one of their rare double-digit streaks in which they had not won a title. So, when we get to Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, the Bombers are up on the Los Angeles Dodgers three games to two. The Yanks right fielder Reggie Jackson single-handedly sealed the Dodgers with three consecutive swings which produced three home runs and five RBIs. That powered the Bronx Bombers to a 8-4 win, their first championship since 1962, and forever earned Jackson the moniker “Mr. October.”
5) 1986: “It Gets Through Buckner!”
The Boston Red Sox were just one out away from winning the 1986 World Series. The champagne was on ice in the visiting locker room, and the scoreboard at Shea Stadium even momentarily flashed “Congratulations Boston Red Sox 1986 World Series Champions.”
Then the most infamous error in baseball history happened.
It was the bottom of the tenth inning and the Mets quickly found themselves down to their last out, trailing the Red Sox five runs to three. Then future Hall-of-Famer Gary Carter stroked a single to left field. Kevin Mitchell followed that with another base hit to center, advancing Carter to second. Ray Knight followed that with yet another single, scoring Carter and moving Mitchell to third.
At this point, Red Sox manager brought pitcher Bob Stanley into the game, but for some reason didn’t pull a double-switch to put in a defensive replacement for first baseman Bill Buckner, whose knees were in Gibson-esque condition by this point, and it was abundantly clear this game may come down to a play in the infield. The odds of that increased dramtically when Bob Stanley wasted no time uncorking a wild pitch allowing Mitchell to score and moving Knight into scoring position.
Down to their last strike, Mets center fielder Mookie Wilson tapped a 3-2 offering for a slow roller up the first base line…right at Buckner. What looked to be a sure out in a Little League game became the moment which defined “The Curse of the Bambino” for yet another generation as the ball rolled between Buckner’s surgically-destroyed knees, allowing Knight to score the winning run from second base.
Naturally, Red Sox fans blame Buckner for that loss, which completely ignores the fact Boston led Game 7 by a 3-0 score through the fifth inning before starting pitcher Bruce Hurst dissolved in the sixth. Let’s also not forget reliever Calvin Schiraldi’s role in this, having been the pitcher to give up the tying runs in Game 6 and the winning run in Game 7.
4) 1957: Lew Burdette Hangs Three On The Yankees
Today, when we talk about big-time post-season pitching performances, we mention names like Jack Morris, Curt Schilling, and Madison Bumgarner, just to name a few. But we must not forget Lew Burdette in 1957.
That year, the Milwaukee Braves faced the defending World Series and perennial baseball Godzilla in the New York Yankees. This was only the Braves third appearance in the Fall Classic, and starting pitcher Lew Burdette made sure it was one of their most memorable. With the series tied at three, the Braves turned to Burdette in Game 7, as he had already delivered two victories. Toeing the slab on just two days rest, Burdette hurled a seven-hit shutout to give the Braves their second World Series championship.
3) 1956 World Series: Don Larsen’s Perfect Game
Larsen was a rather unremarkable pitcher who notched on of the games more remarkable accomplishments; achieving perfection on the games biggest stage. The definition of a “journeyman,” Larsen took the hill for 14 major league season with 7 different teams. Over that time he amassed an 81-91 won-loss record, but in World Series play, he was 4-2 with an ERA of 2.75. But for that one game in October 1956, Larsen needed only 97 pitches to secure his spot in history.
2) 1960 World Series: Bill Mazeroski Delivers The Only Game 7 Walk-Off Home Run
What else could you expect to be the ending of the only World Series in which the loser outscored the winner? In the three games they won, the Yankees topped the Pirates by totals of 16-3, 10-0, and 12-0. But it’s not by how big you win, it’s about how many games you win. So, when this series came down to Game 7 tied at 9, you knew something had to give. Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski came to the plate to face reliever Ralph Terry, and promptly sent the second pitch he saw over the left field wall at Forbes Field, giving Pittsburgh its first World Series triumph in 35 years on the only walk-off home run ever hit in the seventh game of a World Series.
1) 1991 World Series: Jack Morris Delivers a 10-Inning Masterpiece
The 1991 World Series between the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves was arguably one of the best ever. It’had everything you could ever want from a seven-game series; five one-run games, four of which went into extra-innings, multiple walk-off hits (including #8 on this list), but the piéce-de-resistance came in its final game. In short, Jack Morris found a way to be better than perfect.
Don Larsen may have the only perfect game in World Series, but he doesn’t have the gutsiest one. That’s all Morris, who carried the Twins to their second World Series title in five years on the strength of ten innings of shutout baseball in which he scattered seven hits and eight strikeouts.