October 31, 2008
The 10 most memorable moments of the 2008 postseason
10. Matt Stairs hits game-winning 2-run HR — NLCS Game 4
The Dodgers still had a shot at making the NLCS a series until the 39-year-old midseason acquisition from Canada stepped up to the plate and hit a titanic blast off Jonathan Broxton, a pitcher who gives up homers about as frequently as Lauryn Hill releases new albums. Stairs not only makes the list, he receives extra points for introducing 'The Ass Hammer' into the sports blog lexicon.
9. James Loney hits grand slam off Ryan Dempster — NLDS Game 1
The hopes and dreams built by Cubs fans over an entire season died the instant that Loney crushed a Dempster changeup into the center field basket at Wrigley. The Dodgers run wouldn't last past the NLCS but at least Loney joined Steve Garvey, Will Clark and Josh Beckett as famous Cubs' playoff foils.
If there was any doubt the young Rays would be ready for their first postseason appearance, they disappeared when Longoria crushed two pitches from Javier Vazquez over the left field wall at Tropicana Field. Longoria's blasts established himself and the Rays as a calm, cool and collective playoff force — up until the World Series, anyway.
7. Joe Blanton hits first Series homer by a pitcher since 1974 — World Series Game 4
There are millions of reasons we all love baseball and a built-like-a-tugboat pitcher going yard on the sport's biggest stage despite a .077 (2-for-26) career average has to be among the top 2-3 percent of them.
6. David Ortiz resurrects Red Sox with 3-run homer — ALCS Game 5
Big Papi's shot in the seventh inning paved the way for Boston's epic seven-run comeback. But even though Boston didn't ultimately finish the job in the ALCS, who doesn't like the part in the horror movie when monster twitches then roars back to life?
5. Chase Utley guns down Jason Bartlett at the plate — World Series Game 5
I'm fearful this play got lost in the fast pace at which events seemed to advance during the Game 5 resumption. Still, it was a brilliant move by Utley and if Derek Jeter had made it, the play might have already supplanted Willie Mays' catch in the '54 Series.
4. David Price records four-out save against Red Sox — ALCS Game 7
We may have seen a star been born when David Price trotted into the eighth inning of Game 7 with Red Sox on each of the bases and J.D. Drew at the plate. Despite being a mid-September callup, Price handled the situation like a veteran, striking out Drew and then closing out the top of the ninth for the Rays' first AL pennant.
3. Shane Victorino goes grand slam on CC Sabathia — NLCS Game 2
When this happened, I wrote that the Phillies were going to the World Series. It might've been the only prediction that came true all season long, but when the Flyin' Hawaiian recorded a loaded deep off the NL's best pitcher, there was no alternate outcome.
To bathe myself in the spotlight just a few more moments, here's what I wrote at the time:
"The path to the World Series is made up of seven victories, but you don't advance from step-to-step without creating a few memorable moments, the kind that immediately enters a fanbase's institutional memory for the long haul, the kind that lets everyone know that this is really happening, the kind where everything seems real and finally here."
Absolutely and brilliantly prescient, wasn't ... OK, I'll stop now.
2. Bud Selig suspends Game 5 due to rain — World Series Game 5
No, it doesn't come close to being a "feel-good" memory like the other moments here.
But, for better or worse, it might be the top thing people remember about the '08 postseason. Luckily for Selig, the Phillies prevented him from seeing his decision turn into a Rays comeback that would have made him public enemy No. 1 in Philadelphia. In a way, it actually gave an otherwise poorly-perceived Series its own trademark.
1. Brad Lidge strikes out Eric Hinske for Series winner — World Series Game 5
Unless you're dealing with a highlight like Kirk Gibson in '88 or Reggie Jackson in '77, your most memorable moment is always going to be the last out of the World Series. And because Brad Lidge's strikeout of Hinske had so many parallels to Tug McGraw's strikeout of Willie Wilson in '80, it created a few extra goosebumps for the Phillies fans who had waited 28 long years for such a moment. Harry The K's call of the K will live on forever.