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.

World Series Preview: Two power teams face off in a marquee matchup

Associated Press
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The suits at MLB headquarters and Fox Sports have to be happy to see the Dodgers and Red Sox facing off in the World Series. Both are marquee teams from major markets, giving the Fall Classic its biggest potential national exposure in many, many years. That’s money in the bank, folks.

But let’s not be cynical here: we should be happy about this matchup too because it really does pit the AL’s best and the NL’s best against each other.

The Red Sox, as we’ve already discussed, were the best team in baseball all year and, Vegas lines notwithstanding, are not anyone’s underdogs. Meanwhile in the National League, yes, I know the Brewers had home field advantage and a better overall record than the Dodgers, but after getting over their horrible start, it’s fair to say Los Angeles was the class of the Senior Circuit for most of the year. They certainly were as measured by run differential and, of course, dispatched the Brewers, primarily due to their depth.

Stars taking on stars. History facing history. A whole lot of celebrities in the stands in both parks and — if we’re truly lucky — Red Sox/Dodgers star Manny Ramirez will throw out the first pitch.

Wait, that’s NEVER going to happen. But some good baseball is over the next week or so. Here’s how it all breaks down:

 

THE ROTATIONS

In the regular season, based on ERA anyway, the Dodgers rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Walker Buehler were better than the Sox’ rotation of Chris SaleDavid PriceNathan Eovaldi and Rick Porcello. In the postseason, though, the Dodgers’ starters have all mixed in some clunkers with their fine performances while Boston’s quartet has been pretty consistent, leading to each team’s starters doing about as well as the other’s. Of course Boston has faced far tougher offensive competition than L.A. has — they had to go through the Yankees and the Astros — so adjust your analysis accordingly.

David Price will probably be the difference maker here. If his excellent ALCS Game 5 performance, the product of going heavy with his changeup, was harbinger as opposed to fluke, it’s a huge boost to Boston. Same goes for Chris Sale’s durability. He didn’t pitch much late in the season and we don’t know if his ALCS illness is going to play a factor. If there are any issues with Price or Sale, I give the Dodgers’ rotation an edge. If not, well, the Dodgers are still going to have a tall order in facing the Sox’ relentless offense, so it’s not like the edge is massive. At he moment I’ll lean in their direction, but it’s not a heavy lean. ADVANTAGE: DODGERS

 

THE LINEUPS

The Dodgers are no offensive slouches — they led the National League in runs and homers this year — but top to bottom I don’t think they’re anywhere near as scary as the Red Sox’ balanced lineup is. Indeed, Boston led all of baseball in runs, average, on-base percentage, slugging, total bases and OPS+. Oh, and they also scored 29 runs in five games after an excellent Astros pitching staff. There are no weak links here.

Once you take pitchers batting stats out of it, the Dodgers actually look pretty darn similar to the Red Sox, statistically speaking, and their superior bench — see below — is a big plus, but it’s very hard to make a case that they have a better offense than the Red Sox. Indeed, it’s hard to make a case that any team has a better offense than the Red Sox in all of 2018. ADVANTAGE: RED SOX

 

THE BULLPENS

The bullpen was the part of the team Red Sox fans worried about most heading into the postseason, but Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier and Joe Kelly have allowed only two runs in 18 and two-thirds innings in October and Alex Cora’s use of starters Rick Porcello, Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi in relief has actually made it a strength. Indeed, Craig Kimbrel has been the shakiest part of the reliever corps so far, but perhaps that was because of tipping pitches? Hard to say as that is a go-to excuse for a lot of struggling pitchers, but it’s also hard to say that Red Sox bullpen is as serious a weakness as some feared a few weeks ago.

Heading into the NLCS all of the talk was about the Brewers’ bullpen, but Dodgers relievers were better, combining for a 1.45 ERA over 31 innings in those seven games. The signature game for them was, in hindsight, the series turning point: Game 4, with the Dodgers down two games to one and starter Rich Hill knocked out after five innings. Dave Roberts called on eight — eight! — relievers to shut Milwaukee out after that, and L.A. won it on a Cody Bellinger walkoff single. Can he do that every day? Nah, but it certainly was the case that Roberts has had confidence in every single member of his pitching staff this postseason and that confidence has been rewarded. That kind of depth will allow him to be aggressive in the World Series. ADVANTAGE: DODGERS

 

THE BENCHES

If each team follows form, they will utilize platoons, so expect to see Rafael Devers and Mitch Moreland to come off the bench later in games with lefty starters. Same for Joc Pederson and Max Muncy when the Sox go with their southpaws. The Red Sox lineup is superior, but the Dodgers have more depth and flexibility, utilizing every player on its roster during the postseason in ways no team has come close to matching. Indeed, they basically used 12 everyday players despite having only eight positions in which to put them and got the most out of everyone. It’s a nice luxury for Dave Roberts to have. ADVANTAGE: DODGERS

 

THE MANAGERS

The “Alex Cora played for Los Angeles and Dave Roberts played for Boston” thing is going to be the “Jerome Bettis is from Detroit” storyline of this World Series, I imagine. And I suppose that’s fine, as storylines like that have never killed anyone. Still, there are more fun ones:

  • How about “Dave Roberts: drought-ender?” As you may have heard, he was a hero for the Red Sox in 2004, helping to end an 86-year title drought for Boston. While the Dodgers’ drought has been nowhere near that long — 30 years — it has been long for that historically successful franchise.
  • How about “Terry Francona managerial tree” as both Roberts and Cora played for Tito in Boston, with Cora arriving the year Roberts left in 2005? If you go with that one, forgot momentarily that they both played much longer for Jim Tracy in Los Angeles, where they were teammates. The “Jim Tracy managerial tree” is nowhere near as fun a storyline.
  • How about “For the first in in baseball history, two minority managers will face off in the Fall Classic.” Take that, baseball’s hopefully-dead-and-buried history of not giving minorities a fair shot at such jobs due to the racist belief that they couldn’t handle it. Famously advanced, unfortunately, by a Dodgers figure once upon a time

In the end, though, storylines won’t matter. Both Cora and Roberts have proven themselves to be outstanding managers and neither of them has ever stood accused of screwing things up which, given the nature of managerial evaluation, is often the first thing anyone notices.

Each will have their challenges here, as the Red Sox’ superior lineup will make Roberts’ decisions about who to call on from the pen and when far more difficult than those he faced in Milwaukee. Cora, like most AL managers, has to decide what to do in the three games in the NL park when he does not have a DH. It’s a much bigger problem for Cora than a lot of teams, however, as his DH — J.D. Martinez — will have to displace the likely AL MVP in Mookie Betts on defense. As we’ve discussed, that will likely send Betts to second base, which takes away a big advantage the Sox have in terms of outfield defense. A tough call, the alternative for which is strategically using Martinez to pinch hit. Better that Cora have to make it than any of us.

A manager’s specific call could very well decide this World Series, but heading into it, there is little reason to doubt the ability of either skipper to make the right call when necessary. I suppose one could give Roberts a nod here simply because he’s more experienced, but that ignores the fact that Cora has already been to the Series as a bench coach and that managing one year in Boston is probably like managing four years anyplace else thanks to the scrutiny and stress. He’s not gonna be a deer in the headlights, folks.  ADVANTAGE: PUSH

 

PREDICTION

As my friend Joe Sheehan likes to say in his previews, the last three words of any preview — “[Team] in [Number of Games]” are the least important of them all. That’s thanks to randomness and the overall difficulty in predicting baseball outcomes of an insufficiently large sample size of games and all of that. Still, y’all expect a prediction and I, obviously, have never been afraid of looking wrong or dumb, so I’ll offer one in a second. First, I’ll talk my way through it.

The Dodgers have more areas of advantage as broken down above, but in most areas those advantages are slight. I think Boston’s offense, meanwhile, is significantly better and will prove to be far more exhausting for the Dodgers pitchers to face than anything they’ve seen so far.

This series is no mismatch, though, and one can easily imagine a scenario in which Clayton Kershaw reminds everyone why he was the best pitcher in baseball for several years running, L.A’s big playmakers Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig and come up big and the L.A. bullpen continues doing what it did in the N.L. playoffs and neutralizes the big Boston bats.

Ultimately, however, the Sox need less to go right than the Dodgers do. They simply need their lineup to continue doing what it has done, Chris Sale to be Chris Sale and David Price to simply not be a liability, which he was not the last time we saw him. Simply from an imagination standpoint, it’s easier to imagine the Sox running through the Dodgers than vice-versa. So I’ll call it this way:

BOSTON IN SEVEN