Thursday, December 25, 2008

All-time top-10 baseball moments

I've had a lot of requests on this topic, but I'm going to go ahead and write on it anyway. I've decided to do several posts on this topic with a couple top moments each. I had no trouble coming up with moments, but a lot of difficulty ranking them. So they are not necessarily in any order. Maybe at the end, I'll have all (both?) of my readers vote on the order. Here we go:

1. Missionary: Emotionally, probably my all-time great moment even though I was only watching on T.V. Game 6 of the NLCS, Cards vs. Dodgers in L.A. Top of the 9th, 2 on, 2 out, Cards down 5-4. Tommy Lasorda (of Fletch fame) decided to let Tom Niedenfuer pitch to Jack Clark even though he was the Cards' only legitimate threat to go deep. The sight of Pedro Guerrero (Dodger leftfielder) not even turning around but instead throwing his glove to the ground was priceless. The subsequent celebration where we were watching is stuff of legends. My single happiest moment as a baseball fan.

2. Joe Raaaaannndaa, I looooooove you (think Kool and the Gang's "Joanna"): Speaking of home runs, we were there for Joe Randa's walk-off home run on opening day in 2005. It was a typical opening day, meaning it was crazy. The Reds were hosting the Pedro Martinez led Mets. Down 1-0 already in the first, Dunn hit a titanic 3-run blast to give the Reds the early lead. Of course, being the Reds, they then struck out 12 times in the next 14 at bats. Everyone was thinking, "good thing we got to Pedro early." Down 6-3 (thanks in part to the "newly acquired" Stormy Weathers) going into the 9th, the Reds needed a miracle. Kearn led off with a single and Dunn hit another blast to tie it as the crowd went crazy. Dunn's two homers went a combined 858 feet. (Remind me again why we don't like Dunn.) That set the stage for Joe Randa, who took Mets' closer Braden Looper deep for an opening day walk-off homerun. The hit was later immortalized personally by John Erardi in my copy of his book on Opening Day in Cincy. (John spoke at our fantasy baseball banquet this year and brought and signed a copy of his book for everyone.) Later, we saw Sean Casey in the lobby of the Westin and high-fived him. (Jill still doesn't buy it.) We then paid some random guy at Tina's to drive us to Newport where, unfortunately, we missed Ryan Freel.

3. Honeymoon in .... Cincinnati?: That's right, Rachel and I had our honeymoon in Cincinnati. In our defense, we did not live here at the time; we lived in Lexington. Rachel was in her first week of law school, so we only had the long, Labor Day weekend. Rather than travel we decided on a quick weekend getaway. Adam and Thad got us a suite at the Cincinnatian. We had not planned on a Reds game, but took in a Sunday afternoon double header anyway. We scalped two tickets, right behind the visitor's dugout (think our current GAP seats if you've been there -- if you haven't, we'll go this year) for $40 total. They were $17 face, so we "overpaid" by $6. As it turns out they were retiring Johnny Bench's number and Fred Hutchinson's number, so that was cool. Anyway, I don't remember who won (I wasn't a huge Reds fan at the time) but I did walk away with a Reds visor with the ice cream stripes. Nick can tell you what I think of visors. And a nice story...

... later that fall, I was reading a Sports Illustrated article on ticket scalping. I figured they would get a lot of negative reaction ("I paid $20,000.00 for Super Bowl tickets and went I got to Arby's to meet the guy for the seats, he didn't show up!") so I wrote in with the honeymoon story. Well, they published it. Look through your stacks for a late-in-the year 1996 SI with Karl Malone on the cover.

They're calling me to open gifts, so I have to go. I will finish this later.


Marti Reeser said...

After Clark hit that HR, the St Louis Sewage Department set an all-time record for peak volume(honest, it was in the paper) because everyone had to hold it so long because of the intensity of that game. You forgot the Vin Scully line where he is reading Lasorda's lips in the dug-out about whether or not he should pitch to Clark or that 'blankety-blank' Van Slyke on deck. I still have the VHS of the game if you want to re-live Pedro slamming the glove to the ground. Poor Niedenfuer, fresh off the Ozzie Smith HR (first left-handed home run in something like 7000 AB) in game 5, he serves up another gopher ball the next game in LA. Go crazy folks, go crazy. Don't forget the Tom Lawless HR from the 87 NLCS against the Giants where McCarver's only reaction is 'are you kidding me' as Lawless flips his bat in the air while trotting to 1st Base.

Dave Zahniser said...

Thanks for the comment. "Go Crazy folks" didn't make the cut because I didn't see it. One of the all-time great radio calls, certainly. Right up there with "Unbelievable. I don't believe what I just saw" ('88 Gibson homer) and "Brummer's stealing home...SAFE!" (Mike Shannon in '82).

Regarding Lawless, game 7 of the '87 series is going to be on my list of worse moments. The Lawless homerun was certainly dumbfounding. Lawless was the only guy ever traded for Pete Rose by the way.

Rachel still mentions the J.D. Drew first career home run, one night after McGuire broke the record. Don't forget that I got a batting practice ball from Ray Lankford that night (not my first ball -- wich will be on the top 10 list).

Jade said...

Have I missed the rest of this countdown or is it yet to be completed? Regardless, you live in Cincinnati, Dave. I am extremely disappointed that a Pete Rose moment has not been included...

Johnny Lawrence said...

Did you say you had a fantasy baseball banquet? I don't know how to react to this information.