November 08, 2009
And the tradition continues. With another postseason in the history books, I run down the 10 moments I'll remember most. Have a few of your own? Leave 'em in the comments below.
10. Vladimir Guerrero bests Jonathan Papelbon — ALDS Game 3
Guerrero's postseason record will most likely always be defined by failure, but the declining slugger did his best to provide at least one highlight when he hit a two-out, two-run single off Jonathan Papelbon(notes) in the top of the ninth inning at Fenway Park. The hit gave the Angels a 7-6 lead in ALDS Game 3 and helped complete a sweep over a Red Sox team that previously owned the Halos in October. Though Vladdy had a rough start in the ALCS against the Yankees, he picked it up once the series went to Anaheim, finishing his postseason with a line of .378/.425/.541 and one homer, three doubles and seven RBIs. If that was his last stand with the Angels, it wasn't a bad final act.
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9. Ryan Howard's RBI double stuns Rockies — NLDS Game 4
One day after Guerrero crushed Boston's hopes, Ryan Howard(notes) did the same to the Rockies in Colorado. His two-out, two-RBI double off Huston Street(notes) didn't give the Phillies the lead — it'd take Big Brown scoring on a Jayson Werth(notes) single to do that — but it did ensure that the series wouldn't return to Philadelphia for Game 5 (and that
Cliff Lee(notes) Cole Hamels(notes) would be available for Game 1 of the NLCS against Los Angeles, which seemed like a big coup at the time). The double was part of Howard's streak of eight straight postseason games with an RBI that would enable him to win NLCS MVP (before, of course, breaking the World Series record for strikeouts with 13 Ks.)
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8. Jeff Mathis (who?) downs Yankees in 11th — ALCS Game 3
Jeff Mathis(notes) is why we actually bother playing the games. The Angels catcher only hit .211 with eight doubles in the regular season and ranked as the biggest hole in the Los Angeles lineup. Against the Yankees, however, he entered some sort of zone, hitting five doubles over five games, including two in the extra innings of Game 3. His double off Alfredo Aceves(notes) in the bottom of the 11th inning gave the Angels their first win of the series and momentarily put Mathis' name alongside the biggest stars in the sport.
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7. Matt Holliday's error in Los Angeles — NLDS Game 2
Matt Holliday's(notes) failure to grab a liner from James Loney(notes) — the Cardinals outfielder said he lost it in the lights — snatched defeat from the jaws of certain victory and gave the Dodgers a new life they'd use to take a 2-0 NLDS lead. It was easily the biggest error of the '09 postseason and possibly the only one to inspire the Green Day parody above.
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6. Chase Utley joins Reggie Jackson — World Series Game 5
Chase Utley(notes) was the one who crowned the Phillies "WFCs" last October and he did his best this November to make sure his title could still apply. That didn't happen, but Utley's World Series performance was something to behold. The second baseman hit two homers apiece in each of Philadelphia's wins and his five total dingers were enough to tie Reggie Jackson for most in a Fall Classic stand. Utley was so impressive that we even momentarily considered his chances of being named World Series MVP while playing for a losing cause.
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5. Umpire Tim McClelland makes the worst call of all time — ALCS Game 4
It's now three weeks later and I still can't fathom how umpire Tim McClelland missed what was clearly a double tagging of Robinson Cano(notes) and Jorge Posada(notes) right in front of him. It was the worst call in a postseason full of bad calls that included an earlier McClelland misstep on a tagup that wasn't early, Phil Cuzzi's royal foul line hosing of Joe Mauer's(notes) Twins and some poor umpiring to start the Phillies-Rockies series.
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4. Cliff Lee shuts down the Yankees — World Series Game 1
It ultimately mattered as much as winning your first 10 hands of blackjack on a losing Vegas trip, but what Phillies fan will ever be able to forget the euphoria of Cliff Lee's Game 1 start at Yankee Stadium? The lefty's complete game was a complete masterpiece — 10 strikeouts, no walks and only one unearned run — and extended what was one of the most amazing runs by a pitcher in postseason history. (The midseason acquisition finished his October and November with a 4-0 record, a 1.56 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP.)
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3. Hideki Matsui owns clincher, wins World Series MVP — World Series Game 6
Did Hideki Matsui(notes) save his best for what could have been his last game as a Yankee? Perhas, but it was a great effort no matter when it occurred. After not starting a game in Philadelphia because of the DH absence, Matsui's performance in Game 6 — 3-for-4, a homer, a double and a record-tying six RBIs — helped the Yankees grab their 27th title. Combine that line with two big homers in Games 2 and 3 and Matsui did more than enough to become the first Japanese player to be named World Series MVP.
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2. Alex Rodriguez takes home his first title — World Series Game 6
There were no shortage of Alex Rodriguez(notes) moments to consider when it came to creating this list. His game-tying homer against Joe Nathan(notes) in ALDS Game 2. His instant replay homer in World Series Game 3. The revelation he may have a picture of him as a centaur above his bed. In the end, we'll go with the encapsulating moment of A-Rod grabbing the hardware and removing his name from the list of great players to never win a championship. After a relatively quiet regular season, A-Rod was the posteason's biggest story and his numbers — .365/.500/.808 with six homers, five doubles and 18 RBIs — were absolutely phenomenal.
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1. Johnny Damon's double dash — World Series Game 4
Every World Series needs an iconic play and it's usually a big home run or a closer falling to his knees after recording the final out. This year, Johnny Damon(notes) contributed one of the most unique memories when he stole two bases in the ninth inning of Game 4. The heads-up play was the first time a runner had ever stolen two bases on one pitch in a World Series game and it spurred Brad Lidge's(notes) three-run meltdown, which gave the Yankees a 3-1 series lead instead of an anything-can-happen 2-2 tie. When we talk about this World Series in the future, Damon's double steal will be the one play we remember most.
To relive all the postseason coverage on Big League Stew, click here
(A big BLS head nod to @fotodave for the gentle reminder.)