15 "Oh What Just Happened" Moments From MLB Playoff History
The leaves are changing, a cool crisp is in the air, Grinch Night is right around the corner—it must be baseball playoff time! For a game where everyone mostly stands around, few things are more exciting than baseball playoffs. The stakes are (almost) never higher, and every ballplayer knows that this is the time legends are made. The end result can often be baffling, like “are we really sure that just happened?” Oh, but these did. They sure happened:
Bill Mazeroski's Walk-Off Home Run
This isn't necessarily a “best of” or “most amazing” list, just general “whoa!” moments. But we cannot omit the only World Series Game 7 walk-off home run. That's the stuff you dream about as a kid. Bottom of the 9th, Game 7—what's cooler than homering in that situation? And against the Yankees, no less!
Babe Ruth's Called Shot
The OG taunt. More confident than Michael Jordan shooting free throws with his eyes closed. As decisive as a Tyson knockout. It's already difficult to hit a baseball—the best among us do it three out every 10 times—and Ruth called where he was going to hit it. In the World Series.
Joe Carter's Walk-Off
If we're talking about cool home runs in America's past time, we gotta throw Canada a bone. Bonus points because we're pretty sure if we asked an A.I. to create a baseball player who played post-dead-ball but pre-steroid era, the A.I. would name that player Joe Carter. The funniest part is announcer Tom Cheek saying “touch ‘em all, Joe,” as if everyone watching at home also needed a reminder that runs don’t count if you don't touch bases.
Cursebreaker, Part One: Red Sox Come Back From 0-3 Against the Yankees
There was something unbelievable about that final out. Reality had been opened up, scrambled around, and strained through a sieve. Here were the Yankees—on the heels of winning roughly every World Series—blowing a 3-0 lead over the historically hapless Boston Red Sox. It doesn't matter they were up seven runs in the 9th. Up until that last out, you expected anything bad that could happen would happen to the Red Sox. Not that game, though.
Cursebreaker, Part Two: Cubs Foreshadow A Strange 2016
2016 was a rough year for sure things. The Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals to give the city of Cleveland its first championship in 62 years. The Cubs won the World Series for the first time since 1908. Something happened in U.S. politics shortly afterwards, but honestly? Cubs fans probably still had enough Malört on hand to only remember the World Series anyway. Here's Game 7 in its entirety, you owe it to yourself to spend the next five hours with this.
Cursebreaker, Part Three: White Sox Beat the Century Mark
Any unbiased, objective observer would agree that it's more impressive to go 88 years between World Series wins instead of 108. Any reasonable Chicagoan will say they're happy to see both teams win the big one. Here's Paul Konerko's Game 2 Grand Slam.
Eddie Cicotte's 1st and 4th Innings Seals Black Sox Scandal
The team that got caught throwing the World Series tipped their hand when pitcher Eddie Cicotte threw a called first strike to start the game, then beaned the batter in the back with the next pitch. Some bizarre fielding in the 4th raised suspicions, and from there, we could only talk about the White Sox with Nelson Algren's writing and Ray Liotta's dreamy eyes.
Mariano Rivera's Blown Save
Genuinely shocking to see a blown save ever show up on Rivera's record, but in the World Series? A Game 7? After 9/11??!
The Disbelief of the Steve Bartman Game
We've touched on it before (still coulda won Game 7, Cubbies), but it's still just nuts that a Major League Baseball playoff game could have that happen. Even poor Moises Alou seemed like he was yelling because he was in shock. You'd think there'd be some sort of do-over rule for these situations, but nope.
Dodgers Briefly Forget Baserunning in the NLCS
A recent one that is mostly from the WTF realm. Baserunning is an increasingly lost art in the age of the three true outcomes, and this little brain fart in the top of the 9th gave the Braves Game 1 of the NLCS. The little things add up in baseball, folks.
Curt Schilling's Bloody Sock
He may be aggressively, repulsively fascist now, but Curt Schilling could pitch, man. Watching this game was surreal. The blood on his sock just kept growing, like some Lovecraftian demon (who we bet Schilling loves) slow-spreading through our primordial realm. Schilling just kept on pitching, like everyone else was being weird for noticing. Seven innings, four hits, and one run is an incredible outing when it's not a do-or-die ALCS game and your tendon is sutured to your ankle.
2011 World Series Game 6 Defines Baseball Drama
Bottom of the 9th. Rangers up 7-5, 3-2 in the series. First batter strikeout, looks like the trophy's going to Texas. Then an Albert Pujolos double. Then a walk. Then David Freese's improbable triple thanks to bad fielding. Rangers belt a two-run shot in the 10th (extra) innings, only to have the Cards return fire. Finally, a scoreless top of the 11th for George Bush's old team. Then Freese again for the walk-off home run. You think the Cardinals aren't winning Game 7 after that? What an incredible three innings. (Note to everyone bringing up Carlton Fisk's 1975 Game 6: congrats on tolerating your grandkids long enough for them to show you how to surf the internet. We're including this one instead because we watched it).
Reggie Jackson Earns Mr. October
Old school baseball writers gave out nicknames like they had literally learned English the day before. “Guy hit 12 home runs? Jumpin' Jehosephat, might as well call him Home Run Baker!” But in the case of “Mr. October” Reggie Jackson, that nickname was earned. Reggie hit three home runs on three pitches in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series. You gotta figure by that third pitch, the reliever was like “surely not this time, right?” Wrong, buddy. It was Mr. October time.
Bill Buckner's Error
Sorry, Red Sox fans, you knew this was coming. We won't put up a picture. But yeah, poor Bill Buckner's gotta make the list. An all-timer for a “WTF just happened” moment. No Boston jokes here, just beer solemnly poured out in the name of Teddy Williams.
Jackie Robinson Steals Home
For as important as breaking the color barrier was, it's sometimes lost in the discourse that Jackie Robinson was really goddamn good as a ballplayer. Stealing home is hard—like, the base is where the pitch goes—and our hero did it in the World Series. Sure, 1955 was a good many years after 1947, but we're willing to bet a bunch of baseball fans said, “golly gee willikers, Jackie Robinson just stole home!” in exactly the clean, wholesome language we associate with people using in the 1950s. God, Jackie Robinson was good.
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