Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The epic home run

Before I hit you with the second Cardboard Appreciation tournament and the weekly polls that come with it, I thought I'd squeeze in one more poll before that.

Here's the deal:

I was watching that commercial that's playing during baseball games this season. I can't even tell you what they're trying to sell. Credit cards or drugs or something.

It's that one where they show little kids playing baseball, imitating famous home run moments of the past. The usual stuff: Carlton Fisk in '75 and Kirk Gibson in '88.

That made me think about something that I've thought about before. The Fisk home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series is pretty much the epic home run of that decade. (Sure, there was Reggie Jackson in '77, but he hit three of them in Game 6. The drama is in the quantity more than the timeliness). The Gibson home run in Game 1 of the '88 World Series is the epic home run of the '80s (Cardinals fans will argue Ozzie and Royals fans George Brett, but we're trying to be objective here).

There has been one definitive epic home run for each decade going back to the 1950s. Take a gander:

1950s: 1951, Bobby Thomson off of Ralph Branca in special playoff series.

I'd show a Thomson card, but I don't have any, and the Giants are stinking, sign-stealing cheaters. So I have the fine, upstanding Branca to show instead.

1960s: 1960: Bill Mazeroski off Ralph Terry in World Series.

It was a pitcher's decade, so there weren't a lot of epic home runs. And this was the first World Series walk-off ever.

1970s: 1975: Carlton Fisk off Pat Darcy in the World Series

I thought I'd give you a break from the Masterpieces "butt" card. The Red Sox went on to lose this Series, but Game 6 might be the most dramatic Series game ever. Crazy stuff in that game.

1980s: 1988, Kirk Gibson off Dennis Eckersley in World Series.

I still don't believe what I just saw. It was really one of those "brain doesn't compute" moments.

1990s: 1993, Joe Carter off Mitch Williams in World Series

It's stunning how few cards I have of Carter as a Blue Jay. People must have hoarded them after that home run.

That brings me to the decade just past, 2000-09.

It's not easy finding THE epic home run from that decade. It's possible I'm just too close to the decade to review it. But here are the World Series epic homer candidates for that decade:

1. 2001 World Series, Game 4: Derek Jeter's "Mr. November" home run in the 10th inning to win the game and tie the Series against the Diamondbacks.

2. 2001 World Series, Game 5: Scott Brosius' walk-off home run in the 12th inning (each of these HRs came off of Byung-Hyun Kim, remember?) to give the Yankees a win and the Series lead.

3. 2003 World Series, Game 4: Alex Gonzalez's home run in the bottom of the 12th off Jeff Weaver giving the Marlins a 4-3 win over the Yankees.

4. 2005 World Series, Game 2: Scott Podsednik's home run off Brad Lidge in the bottom of the 9th in Game 2, giving the White Sox the victory. Podsednik hadn't hit a homer all regular season.

That's it for the Series. I don't know if I can pick from that. I want to say the Jeter home run, but what makes that more special than the Brosius home run, the fact he he it a couple minutes after midnight?

But if I throw in the Championship Series for the previous decade, that's where things really get interesting, because that's where the drama was the last 10 years.

Some possibilities:

1. 2003 ALCS: Aaron Boone's 11th-inning walk-off home run off the Red Sox's Tim Wakefield in Game 7 to send the Yankees to the World Series
2. 2004 ALCS: David Ortiz's two-run winning home run in the 12th inning in Game 4 against the Yankees, setting stage for Red Sox comeback from 0-3 series deficit.
3. 2004 NLCS: Jim Edmonds' walk-off, two-run home run in the 12th inning of Game 6 in the Cardinals' victory over the Astros.
4. 2005 NLCS: Albert Pujols' monster winning home run off the Astros' Brad Lidge in the 9th inning of Game 5.
5. 2006 ALCS: Magglio Ordonez's three-run home run for the Tigers in the 9th inning of Game 4 against the A's, sending Detroit to the World Series.
6. 2006 NLCS: Yadier Molina's two-run home run in the 9th inning of Game 7 against the Mets, giving St. Louis a 3-1 victory and a trip to the World Series (this came four innings after Endy Chavez's famed catch).
7. 2008 NLCS: Matt Stairs' home run in the eighth inning off of Jonathan Broxton in Game 4, giving the Phillies a 7-5 win.
8. 2009 ALCS: Alex Rodriguez's homer in the 11th inning against the Angels, tying Game 2, which the Yankees would win in 13.

How's that for drama?

I'm not exactly sure how to pick THE epic home run out of that crew. Possibly Aaron Boone?

So I'm going to put up a poll. I will select some (not all) from both the World Series and the Championship Series and let people vote for a week on what THE epic home run was for the first decade of the 21st century. (I refuse to add ALDS moments for consideration. It will just muddy things up).

Then we will send letters to George Will and Thomas Boswell and Ken Burns and Pepsi, and whoever else likes to get all dramatic about our favorite game, and declare that THIS is the home run of the decade. Let there be no dispute. I'll get it copyrighted and everything.

But I'm not going to put up the poll just yet. I'll let anyone who has any opinions on these home runs or others to make their comments. If I think a previously unmentioned home run deserves to be in the poll, then I'll throw it on there in the wee hours when I post the poll.

Who gets to join Bobby Thomson, Bill Mazeroski, Carlton Fisk, Kirk Gibson and Joe Carter?

Poll will be up by the time you rise tomorrow morning.


  1. Just haddddddd to bring up the Molina Home Run...

  2. I would say Magglio, selfishly, because I was there and it was an awesome moment.

  3. You forgot Eric Gagne's meatball to Hank Blalock in the All Star Game.

    Ok, so I'm bitter. Here's a happier memory:


    21 year old rookie Brian McCann bopping a homer in his first playoff at bat. OFFA ROGER CHEATIN' CLEMENS. w00t.

  4. That is a tough one. None of them really stand out to me. Maybe steroids ruined the home run of the decade.

    If I had to pick just one, I would probably go with the Boone home run. As a fan of Matt Stairs, I loved his homer. But, I wouldn't call it the homer of the decade.

  5. Ugh. And you haaaaad to bring up the Joe Carter homer off of Mitch Williams. Now I shall revert back to that memory and cower in a corner.

    Word verification: "parretho"--a promiscuous bird?

  6. I guess there's a little bias, but I favor the Ortiz home run just for the historical significance of it. I think it's the only one that comes close to the history of the other long balls that you've mentioned. This was the home run that started the only comeback when a team was down three games to none, it took place in the biggest rivalry in the sport and it led to the first Red Sox championship in 86 years.

    The main negative going for this dinger is that this really isn't the play that turned the series around. Everyone knows that was the Dave Roberts steal and unnerving of Mariano Rivera. Even with taking that into consideration, I still think the Ortiz bomb is the most historic of this group.

  7. I might have to vote for Pujols' shot off Lidge, if for no other reason than the line delivered by the Astro's charter pilot the next day who suggested the club look out the windows at 33,000 feet to possibly catch a glimpse of the ball.

    As for the earlier decade selections... no way to argue against them although the Bucky Dent homer in 1978 is pretty iconic as well.

  8. How can you leave off the 2002 World Series, Game 6 homer by Troy Glaus that basically turned the tide on what looked like a quiet 4 games to 2 San Francisco series win. That homer was classic, even more important than the 2-run double in the next inning that gave the Angels the lead, the win and the momentum. Fisk's homer is nice and all, but come on, the Red Sox didn't even win!

    To be fair to the Red Sox the most exciting post season I've ever watched was the 2004 ALCS. Even after Boston had basically knocked the Angels, winless, back to Anaheim and out of the playoffs, I still couldn't cheer the Yankees, regardless.

  9. I'd go with the Aaron Boone homer, but I may be biased by living in Yankee land.

    The Albert Pujols shot off Brad Lidge is a close runner-up, with the Molina homer getting a dishonorable mention. :)

    None of the World Series homers were particularly memorable, let alone epic.

  10. Reivax ~

    I thought Spiezio hit the 3-run homer in Game 6. At any rate, it was a rally starter, not an ender, and doesn't fit with the other HRs.

    The Fisk HR is epic not only because of the situation, but because that game has been credited numerous times with refocusing the public's attention on baseball after a number of years of empty seats and apathy.

  11. Yes, Spiezio, sorry, I got so excited writing it up, Glaus hit the double the next inning, lol, sorry. Please tell me I'm not losing my old mind...

    I was being tongue-in-cheeky with the Fisk comment. That was exciting, and I can still remember that World Series very well, I was ten years old and that '75 series was basically the birth of my love with watching sports on TV!
    I didn't know it was responsible for helping save baseball, I didn't even know there was a problem - Angel Stadium was always empty when I was a kid. I thought that was normal :)

  12. Am I really the first to bring up Bucky Dent?

    The other day SportsCenter had college baseball playoff highlights and showed Dent's son. They decided to reply Dent's 1978 HR. The ESPN announcer said - I kid you not - "Bucky Dent had a great playoff game in 1978, with three RBI including a home run."

  13. sorry - that was replay, not reply in the last post

  14. Awesome post.

    I give the nod to the Pujols blast for memorability. That's got to be the one that we talk about the most.

    But given the lack of a specific iconic homerun, what if we go outside the box: I nominate the Endy Chavez catch. Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. The Mets still lost, but that play is recalled by more people than any specific homerun of the decade.