Gibson homer

The most memorable home runs in each team’s history

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UPDATE:  I obviously missed a bunch, so here’s a post updating this list.

As I mentioned this morning, one of my Twitter correspondents asked me last night to name each franchise’s most memorable home run.  With the caveat that (a) this can be subjective; and (b) in some cases, there are many great choices and in others none too many, let’s give it a try.

Oh, and final caveat: I’m doing this on the fly and I’m sure I’ll miss some and whiff badly on others. So let’s make it collaborative. If I get one wrong, tell me in the comments and if you’re convincing, I’ll update accordingly.

Yankees

One could say Babe Ruth’s called shot, but that may not have even happened, depending on who you believe.  Others may say Bucky effing Dent’s dinger in 1978.  I’m guessing some of you younger people may say Aaron Boone, but that seems like way less of a thing to me. My personal choice would be Reggie Jackson’s homers (or pick the third one) in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, simply because for me and people around my age, that was what introduced the New York Yankees as a major force in the baseball world. We learned all of the other stuff later.

Red Sox

Carlton Fisk seems like the only serious candidate here. It was THE highlight of what MLB Network just voted as the best World Series game of all time, so there’s that too.

Orioles

For a franchise with as rich a history as the O’s, one doesn’t scream out at you, does it?  If I had to say right now — which I guess I do — I’d say Frank Robinson and Brooks Robinson’s back-to-back home runs in the first inning of Game 1 of the 1966 World Series off Don Drysdale which, in my view, announced the Orioles’ dynasty of the late 60s and early 70s with authority.  You could also go with Cal Ripken hitting a homer in the game in which he broke Gehrig’s consecutive games mark, but that wasn’t quite as significant for the team, of course.

Blue Jays

Joe Carter. What, you think I was gonna say Ernie Whitt?

Rays

Help. I looked at the 2008 Series and saw that the Rays hit no homers in the one game they won. How about the ALCS, when Willy Aybar hit an insurance home run in Game 7?

White Sox

Geoff Blum’s game-winner from the 14th inning of Game 3 of the 2005 World Series. Which seems wrong to me for a team with so much history, so help me out Chisox fans.

Tigers

Gibson’s 1984 World Series Game 5 home run off Goose Gossage — who had previously owned Gibson — springs to mind.  Hank Greenberg hit one to clinch the 1945 pennant, but I’ll take Gibby, if for no other reason than it makes him the only one to have two entries here.

Indians

Another one that I’m probably gonna get wrong, but I can’t think of a particularly memorable Indians’ homer in recent history. So, let’s go with Ken Keltner who, in a one-game playoff for the AL pennant against the Red Sox in 1948, hit a three-run shot in the 4th inning, giving Cleveland the pennant that led to their last World Series title.

Twins

“And we’ll see you tomorrow night!” Puckett. Mad props, even if it killed me at the time.

Royals

Has to be the pine tar homer, right? If you’d prefer less infamy, give it to Brett for his big blast in Game 3 of the 1980 ALCS.

Rangers

I’m blanking again.  Does Hank Blalock in the 2003 All-Star Game off the then-indestructible and PED-fueld Eric Gagne count?  Josh Hamilton’s homers in the Home Run Derby during the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium in 2009?

Angels

There may not be a less-regarded player on this list than Scott Spiezio, but his homer in Game 6 of the 2002 World Series helped launch the comeback from a 5-0 deficit and win the game, forcing a Game 7.

Athletics

Jimmy Foxx in the 1930 World Series?  I’m really struggling with memorable A’s homers.  Bert Campaneris in the 1973 World Series? Gene Tenace in the 1972 Series? He hit four, but I can’t say I’ve ever heard or read about any of them being significant for its own sake. This is another one where a fan of the team would do better than me.

Mariners

Most of the great moments in team history were either pitching-related or team-related (think 1995).  I’ll go with either (a) Ken Griffey Jr. and Ken Griffey Sr. going back-to-back in 1990, which was pretty spiffy; or (b) Edgar Martinez’s grand slam in the penultimate game of that LDS in ’95. Which would normally be the winner here, but it was really overshadowed by the heroics in the last game.

Braves

Has to be Hank Aaron’s 715th.

Phillies

People argued about this in the comments earlier, but no one said Dick Sisler’s pennant-clinching home run for the Whiz Kids in 1950.

Mets

Another team with a lot of great team moments, but not so many that are strictly home run related. I’d have to say it’s either (a) Al Weiss off Dave McNally in the 1969 World Series; (b) Dykstra’s homer against the Astros in the 1986 NLCS — which was an epic series; or (c) Robin Ventura’s “Grand Slam Single” in the 16th inning of Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS which, if the Braves hadn’t come back and won when the series shifted back to Atlanta, may have forever changed my impression of Ventura.

Marlins

Hurm. How about Alex Gonzalez’s homer in the bottom of the 12th in Game 4 of the 2003 World Series. Runner up: Devon White grand slam in the 1997 NLDS over the Giants?  I’m struggling here, because I didn’t even remember Gonzalez’s homer. Had to Google around for memorable Marlins’ moments that didn’t involve Edgar Renteria.

Nationals

Whether you include the Expos or just go with the Nats, I’m struggling to think of a single truly memorable home run by this franchise. I looked up every memorable moment in each team’s history and none of them involved home runs.  I think Jonah Keri is gonna have to help me out here.

Cardinals

Ozzie Smith’s homer in the 1985 NLCS.  “Go crazy, folks!”  By the way, I think I have Jack Buck as making the call on three of these. Maybe more, actually.

Reds

This is one where I feel like I’m totally gonna whiff, but I’ll take Tony Perez’s shot in Game 7 of the 1975 World Series that woke up the Big Red Machine and helped them clinch the title.

Brewers

Maybe I’m missing one in 1982, but how about Ryan Braun’s two-run shot in the eighth inning against the Cubs in the last game of the regular season to help Milwaukee clinch the wild card?

Pirates

It begins and ends with Mazeroski in the 1960 World Series, of course.

Astros

Not a game-winner — in fact, they lost the game — but Billy Hatcher hit a homer in the bottom of the 14th inning to tie the score 4-4 in Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS. They went on to lose in the 16th, but boy howdy that was somethin’.

Cubs

Gotta go back a ways, but The Homer in the Gloamin’ by Gabby Hartnett seems like the winner. Mostly because the Cubs haven’t had many other winners since then.

Dodgers

If anyone has a candidate other than Kirk Gibson’s 1988 World Series bomb, you may feel free to enter it into the competition for second place.

Giants

The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!  Please, like it would be anything else.

Padres

Kurt Bevacqua’s game-winning home run in Game two of the 1984 World Series?

Rockies

Matt Holliday’s three-run homer in Game 4 of the 2007 NLCS, which proved to be the game-winner.

Diamondbacks

Can Luis Gonzalez’ single in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series count as a homer? No? Well, then, crap. I’m stumped.

OK, that was both more fun and harder work than I thought.  Now have at me in the comments.

Willie Mays gets a cable car named after him

Major League Baseball hall of famer  Willie Mays, who spent the majority of his career as a center fielder with the New York and San Francisco Giants, smiles as President Barack Obama honors the 2012 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants baseball team, Monday, July 29, 2013, during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. The team beat the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series, their second championship since the franchise moved to San Francisco from New York in 1958. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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This is not exactly stunning news, but it’s Willie Mays’ 85th birthday today and any excuse to talk about Willie Mays is a good one. Happy Birthday, Willie!

The pretext is a story in the San Francisco Chronicle about how The Greatest Baseball Player of All Time (my view anyway) is getting an iconic cable car named after him. An icon named after an icon, I guess. The cable car is, appropriately, number 24.

Next month I’m taking my kids on vacation to California and we’re spending a few days in San Francisco. It’ll be a shame when I tell them we have to cancel half of a day’s plans while I make them wait for one particular cable car to come by so they can take my picture with it, but that’s just what they have to deal with given that I’m their dad.

Carlos Gomez calls out a hit piece-writing columnist

Houston Astros' Carlos Gomez (30) reacts after hitting a double in the second inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
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Yesterday I wrote about a column written by Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. It was about Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez, who has had a poor start to the year.

The column, as I noted, was a hatchet job, blaming Gomez for the Astros’ problems despite the fact that Gomez is by far from the biggest of the Astros’ problems. It was particularly bad in that it presented an unedited bit of broken English from Gomez which seemed calculated to cast Gomez in a bad light. Many journalists were critical of Smith in this regard, noting that he could’ve used a translator, could have paraphrased or could’ve done some mild correction via brackets, as is often done with quotes from non-native English speakers.

Last night Gomez took to Twitter to call out Smith himself:

It’s possible to write a column about how a player hasn’t lived up to expectations without being an insensitive jackass. It’s possible to do so even in the sharpest of ways. Smith didn’t do that, however, and didn’t make an effort to try, it seems. Gomez is right to take issue with it. And I suspect that Gomez’s teammates and organization take issue with it too. Which likely doesn’t bode well for Smith getting cooperation from others in the Astros family.

Reminder: athletes are not heroes

Zack Greinke
Associated Press
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This is something of a “greatest hits” piece and it’s topic I’ve talked about here before, but I’m reminded of it again because of Facebook’s memories thing which tells me I wrote about it seven years ago today back when I was still doing stuff at my old Shysterball blog at the Hardball Times.

The topic: ballplayers as heroes. The subject of the 2009 post on the matter was Zack Greinke, who was then beginning his breakout year with the Kansas City Royals. A columnist talked about how uplifting Greinke’s story was, what with him having overcome some struggles with anxiety disorder which had caused him to leave the game for a brief period. In early 2009 he was back, baby, and better than ever and many wanted to turn him into something larger than just a ballplayer excelling at his craft.

In the post I wrote about how, while such an impulse was understandable, it was a dangerous one as athletes have been made into heroes for years and years and, so often, they end up disappointing. Because we built them up so high, however, we don’t see such instances as the mere exhibition of human fallibility. We see them as some greater failure or even a betrayal, which is both ridiculous and unfair to these men and women, even if they have failed in certain ways. They have worked hard all of their lives to be good at a particular sport. They did not promise us glory or inspiration, yet we assume that they owe us those things. Their failures, however they are manifested, are matched by our failures at expectation management.

But it’s even more pernicious than that. Because, as I wrote at the time, when we create heroes, we necessarily create the need for villains and we will go out of our way to find those too, justified or otherwise:

“Hero” is too strong and baggage-laden a word anyway. As [Bill] James notes, it places a heavy burden on young men, and these guys are under such scrutiny day-in and day-out that they really don’t need it. What’s more, the term hero it necessarily assumes its opposite — villain — and demands that we search them out too. You know, to restore balance to the universe and everything. Often — as in the case of A-Rod and Gooden and Bonds and all of the others — they’re the same people, just older . . . Hero creation, worship, and subsequently, destruction has long been a part of baseball. But it’s not an essential part, and in my mind not a desirable part.

Seven years later we’re still doing this. As Bill James noted in his “Historical Baseball Abstract,” “When a young player comes to the major leagues and has success right away, writers will almost always write about what a fine young man he is as well as a supreme talent.” Many of them, like Zack Greinke, will prove to continue to be fine older men, just as they were fine young men. Some will not. Would it not be better if we didn’t get so invested in how fine a young man any one of them is? Or, short of that, if we didn’t act so betrayed and victimized if they turn out not to be such a fine young man?

I like to hear a good story about a baseball player who, by all outward appearances, seems like a good person. But I’m content to give such a story a smile and leave it at that. If we require heroism, there are people who do truly heroic things in the world beyond throw baseballs.

Andrew McCutchen apologies to an official scorer he said should be fired

Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) watches from the dugout during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Pittsburgh. Detroit won 7-3.(AP Photo/Don Wright)
Associated Press
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Andrew McCutchen made an error on Wednesday night. He thought he shouldn’t have been charged with one on the play, however, and afterward said “whoever scored that an error should be fired. That’s unbelievable. I did everything I could to catch it.”

It was a dumb comment for two reasons. First, a player “doing everything he can” on a play doesn’t make a misplay not a misplay. The “e” ain’t about effort, man. I realize scoring has gotten somewhat lax in recent years and players are routinely not given errors if it looks like they really, really tried, but there is not an intent element to the crime of making errors on the playing field. If you muff one, you muff one.

It was a dumb comment for another reason, and that’s that it was just not very nice. As we noted when David Ortiz or some others have made publicly disparaging comments about official scorers, it’s the ultimate punching down. These are people who have other jobs, aren’t public figures, don’t get paid a lot and really, really don’t have it in for anyone. Publicly criticizing them is bad enough, publicly demanding their jobs is pretty low.

Thankfully, with a day’s worth of reflection, McCutchen realized that this was the case and apologized. There aren’t public words from McCutchen available, but the club said that he reached out to the scorer and personally apologized. As he should’ve.