Somewhere between the promos for the new season of 24 and shots of the guys from Fastlane getting drunk in the stands, there is, so far, a pretty exciting World Series being played. The San Francisco Giants and Barry Bonds are proving they are not chokers and the Anaheim Angels there is more to their team than a hyperactive monkey. The Rally Monkey was actually on FOX Sports interviewing players last week. How would you feel if you were a real sports journalist for FOX? They have hired both Tom Arnold and a monkey, not that there is really that much difference, intelligence wise. Anyways, since the midpoint of the season, Major League Baseball has been sponsoring a contest with Mastercard to log onto mlb.com and vote on the most memorable plays in baseball since 1905. Winners will be announced during the World Series, provided Bud Selig does not figure out some way have the World Series cancelled or end in a tie. As with any production with MLB involved, there are some things that do not make a lot of sense. Namely, many of these moments are not really "moments." But, there are enough good choices to come up with a Top 10.
A moment, by my definition, is like a snapshot, or at worse a 60-second video clip. A lot of these choices are what might be called "memorable events" or "memorable games," but not moments. Ichiro's 2001 explosion onto the scene is not a moment, but proof that Japan can produce not just quality pitchers, but MVP-quality field position players as well. The 2001 Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Yankees was exciting, but you need to choose one moment, not the entire series. Barry Bonds hitting 73 home runs was mind-blowingly impressive, but neither memorable nor a moment. Quick, who were the Giants playing when he broke the record? I didn't think so. The 1998 home run chase was much more exciting, and it is included here as a joint Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa phenomenon. McGwire's 62nd home run against the Cubs is my choice. He almost missed first base, hugged his son, and then hugged Sosa who ran in from right field. That was a memorable moment, not the entire season's race. Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak and Ted Williams batting .406 were truly great and memorable, but are not moments. The same goes for Carl Hubbell's five strikeouts of five Hall of Famers at the 1934 All-Star Game, Don Larsen's perfect game in the '56 World Series, and Johnny Vander Meer's consecutive no-hitters in 1938. And once again, Roger Maris gets the short end of the stick, his 61 home runs in 1961 do not make my list.
The next group for elimination is great "games." These are not moments, so they do not qualify. Good-bye Christy Matthewson's three shutouts in the 1905 World Series. So long Nolan Ryan, your seventh no hitter at age 44 was impressive, but not that memorable. Jack Morris' 10 shutout innings in the 1991 World Series will never be duplicated, mainly because today's pitchers are a bunch of wussies, but sorry, a complete game can't be a moment. Reggie Jackson may be Mr. October, but his three home runs in game six of the 1975 World Series is eliminated.
The final few are eliminated for various reasons. A "Memorable Moment" should happen on the field, so Babe Ruth being sold to the Yankees in 1919 and Satchell Paige being the first Negro League player inducted into the Hall of Fame do not make my list. I do not remember who Rickey Henderson broke the stolen base record against in 1991, so he is not memorable. The 1986 World Series game six, the Buckner game, is eliminated because I cannot vote for someone's error as a great moment, though it is memorable. Roberto Clemente's 3,000th hit in his final at bat does not count, because we didn't know it was going to be his final at bat. Willie Mays' "The Catch" is a great highlight, but you know, centerfielders make that catch all the time. Sorry Say-Hey Kid, you're cut.
So, here's the Top 10, and it wasn't easy.
1995, Cal Ripken breaks Lou Gehrig's consecutive-game record. Truly amazing, that victory lap he took almost made me cry.
1939, Lou Gehrig's "Luckiest Man" speech. Although this was not in a game, it did happen on the field. Give a guy an open microphone, and they immediately start mimicking this speech.
1947, April 15th, Jackie Robinson breaks the color barrier. Socially, the most important sporting event of the last 100 years.
1985, Pete Rose breaks Ty Cobb's all-time hits record. I was at the game before this when Rose went 0-4. Story of my life, right there. I hope he is in the Top 10, just so he's invited to the World Series. Did I mention I hate Bud Selig?
1974, Hank Aaron breaks Babe Ruth's all-time home run record. He had a Hammer. Consistently, one of the most overlooked baseball stars of all time.
1993, Joe Carter hits game 7 walk off home run. This would probably be higher, except it happened in Canada or America Jr.
1975, World Series, Carlton Fisk waves home run fair. Much like an open mike leads to Gehrig's speech, wiffle ball home runs lead to this impression or the one listed at number 2.
1960, World Series, Game 7, Bill Mazeroski hits game winning-home run. Any home run to win the series, you are near the top.
1988, Kirk Gibson hits game-winning pinch-hit home run. I don't even like the Dodgers, but this made me jump out of my seat. Wiffle ball home runs may start with the "wave fair," but end with the hobble around the bases and the fist pump. If you have a fat Italian friend that will come out and hug you at home plate, that makes it even better.
1951, Bobby Thompson, "The Shot Heard 'Round the World." "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the Pennant!" The greatest call of all time.
There you go, my Top 10. Agree or disagree? Go to mlb.com and vote for your own moments, and then tune in to the World Series and see who wins.
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