Blog Entry

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

Posted on: October 29, 2011 6:47 pm
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The Yankees don't think it was such a great month. The Phillies are sure it wasn't a great month.

Oh, and the Red Sox? No, the last 31 days weren't exactly pleasant for them.

But it sure was great for the rest of us, the best month of baseball most of us have seen, or will see, in our lifetimes.

If it gets better than this, I won't complain. But I'm not planning on it.

We had the best single regular-season night ever, on the final night of the regular season, and maybe the best game ever, on the next-to-last night of the World Series.

We had so many great games that the best individual offensive performance in World Series history barely makes the list. So many that Chris Carpenter's three-hit 1-0 shutout in a winner-take-all Game 5 wasn't even his most important performance of the month.

This is the third year now that I've written a postseason recap, and it's the first time that the best game of the month wasn't the first game I saw. Nothing against Tigers-Twins (Game 163 in 2009) or Roy Halladay's no-hitter (Division Series 2010), but it's a better month when the drama builds.

This month, we saw Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera, Chris Carpenter, Nelson Cruz and David Freese. We saw squirrels. We saw Na-po-li. We saw history.

We saw Game 6.

What a month.

Here's a look back:

Best game: Some people are insisting that Game 6 of the World Series can't be called great, because there were physical errors early and possible managerial errors late. Sorry, but that's ridiculous. So it wasn't the best-played game ever. Fine. It had thrills, it had drama, it had plenty to second-guess, it had great performances and gritty performances. You go ahead and say it wasn't perfect. I'm going to say it was the best game I've ever seen.

Best moment: The flashbulbs going off when Albert Pujols batted in the seventh inning of Game 7 were great. Yes, it could have been his final Cardinals at-bat. But the best moment of the postseason -- Pujols' best moment -- was when he called time out to allow the Miller Park crowd to honor Prince Fielder, who very, very likely was stepping to the plate for his final Brewers at-bat.

Best chant: In the end, maybe this wasn't the Year of the Napoli, after all. But it sure was the month of the "Na!-Po!-Li!" at Rangers Ballpark. Mike Napoli became such an instant hero that I saw a Rangers fan who had altered his year-old Cliff Lee jersey, adding "Na-po" above the "Lee."

Best crowd: It was incredibly loud all month in Texas. It was louder than ever in St. Louis for the final outs of Game 7. But everyone who was at Miller Park this month came back raving about the atmosphere and the Brewers' fans (and everyone who was at Chase Field said there was barely any atmosphere for the Diamondbacks' two home games).

Best player: Tough call. Freese was a revelation, and not just in the World Series. Cabrera was outstanding. So was Ryan Braun. But Pujols was the guy I'll remember most, from his great defensive play against the Phillies to his historic three-homer game against the Rangers.

Best movie review: Moneyball took a beating every time Cardinals manager Tony La Russa took to the podium. La Russa went to see the movie the night Game 6 was rained out, and the next night he said that it "strains the credibility a little bit." La Russa, like others, complained about the portrayal of scouts, and about the lack of mentions of Miguel Tejada, Eric Chavez, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito and Tim Hudson. "That club was carried by those guys that were signed, developed the old-fashioned way," La Russa said. "That part wasn't enjoyable, because it's a nice story but it is not accurate enough."

Most disappointing team: The Red Sox. The Phillies didn't make it out of the first round. Neither did the Yankees, who then apologized to their fans for their "failure." But Boston's collapse was so bad that it led to the departure of the manager and general manager who broke the curse. The Red Sox will recover, but they'll never be the same.

Best prediction: It's well established by now that I can't pick winners. But when the postseason began, I jokingly wrote that every series would go the distance. Turned out I was almost right, as 38 of a possible 41 games were required. Three of the four Division Series went the distance (and none were sweeps). Both League Championship Series went six games. And the World Series went seven, for the first time in nine years. Oh, and I even picked the World Series winner, Cardinals in 7, even if I did it because Rangers officials demanded that I pick against them.

Five who helped themselves: 1. Pujols. I'm not saying it makes a difference in his final free-agent price, but a great postseason reminded all of us how good he really is.

2. John Mozeliak. You think Cardinals fans will finally admit that it was a good idea to trade Colby Rasmus to help this team win now?

3. Mike Napoli. The Angels traded this guy for Vernon Wells. The Blue Jays then traded this guy for Frank Francisco. The Rangers will not be trading him.

4. Ryan Braun. MVP voting includes only the regular season, and not the postseason. But anyone who chose Braun over Matt Kemp in the National League race had to be happy to see him hit .405 with a 1.182 OPS in October.

5. David Freese. He was the best story of the month, the hometown kid who quit baseball after high school, and came back to become the World Series MVP. Now everyone knows him.

Five who hurt themselves: 1. C.J. Wilson. He's still going to get overpaid on the free-agent market, but imagine how much he might have gotten if he'd had a good October, instead of a lousy one.

2. CC Sabathia. He's still going to get a great new contract, too, but imagine how much he might have gotten if his postseason ERA was 1.23, instead of 6.23 (and if his waist size didn't expand just as fast).

3. Cliff Lee. The team he left went to the World Series without him. And the team he couldn't beat in Game 2, after his teammates gave him a 4-0 lead, went on to win the World Series.

4. Alex Rodriguez. Two years ago, he had a nice October and shed the label of postseason choker. This year, he went 2-for-18 against the Tigers and appeared on the back page of the New York Post as one of the Three Stooges (along with Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira).

5. Tony La Russa (for about 48 hours). I'm guessing Cardinals fans will now totally forgive him for the phone/noise/bullpen mess from Game 5. He's now the guy who has won two World Series in St. Louis, to go with the one he won in Oakland. Still one of the very best managers in the game -- in the history of the game, that is.


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Comments

Since: Nov 1, 2011
Posted on: November 1, 2011 12:53 pm
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

Since when is rallying from a 3-0 deficit after five innings and scoring the winning run in the ninth inning DESTROYING a team?   I'm guessing that's why everyone "forgets to mention that little nugget."    You have now lost all credibility on anything you post.

"After an exciting Game 6, there was no worry about Game 7 being anti-climactic. Reds starter started having control problems in the third inning. After giving up an RBI single to , Gullett walked to load the bases. He then walked and to force in two more runs. However, that would be it for the Sox scoring."

shut out the Reds through five innings, but, in the sixth with a man on, he tried to throw a slow lob pitch (his famous "Space ball" or "Leephus pitch", an ) to . Pérez hung back, waited for it perfectly, and blasted it for a two-run homer, his third in three Series games. Now, the score was 3–2."

"The Reds tied it in the seventh when walked, stole second, and scored on a two-out single by ."

"In the ninth, Griffey led off with a walk, was sacrificed to second by , and went to third on a groundout. Sox pitcher then walked Rose to set up a forceout, but then gave up a bloop single to to score Griffey with the go-ahead run. retired the Sox in the ninth, closing out an unbelievable World Series."





Since: Jul 22, 2010
Posted on: October 31, 2011 7:48 pm
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

Well... let's see.... there was Carbo's pinch-hit homer in the 8th off of Eastwick.   Great catches by Evans and Foster.  "El Tiante" getting torched and manager Darrell Johnson leaving him like it was a getaway afternoon game in May (it was a different era as far as how starting pitchers were handled, but it wasn't 1933 either.)

36 years from now a lot of the ups and downs of this year's game six will be forgotten as well.  It glued a lot of people who didn't care about this series, or baseball that much anymore, to their seats.



Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: October 31, 2011 12:37 pm
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

This is one of those great arguments that will never go away and we will hopefully be talking about for years, like who was better, Mays or Mantle, are the '72 Dolphins really the best team of all time just b/c they went undefeated, etc.  Moreover, it is difficult to compare some of the  games because most of us have not seen all the great ones.  USA Today noted a couple of them in a recent article:  Game 7 of the 1960 Series, which was Mazeroski's walk off to give Pittsburgh a 10-9 win over the Yankees in a series where the Yankees outscored the Pirates 55-27; Jack Morris in 1991; and game 7 of the 2001 Series, when Randy Johnson came out of the pen after throwing 104 pitches the night before and got 4 outs before Rivera blew the save and Ariz. came back on Luis Gonzalez' hit.  I am sure that there are others, but those are just a couple for starters (along w/the others that have been mentioned by other posters).

Game 6, despite some of the sloppiness, deserves to be mentioned in that category.  It had all the qualities of must-see sporting events.  Was it the bes ever?  Maybe not, but its certaonly up there.



Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: October 31, 2011 3:53 am
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

1986 NLCS Astros-Mets, Doc vs Nolan, a game 6 for the ages (went 16 innings), numerous one-run games, numerous extra inning games, numerous stories including Mike Scott being untouchable (and waiting in game 7).

Greatest playoff series ever, in my opinion.



Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: October 31, 2011 3:50 am
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

It was a great playoffs overall, and I suppose if you include the comebacks capped off the last day of the regular season make this year worthy of argument as the best of all time, but I still say the 1986 playoffs as a whole was the best ever.



Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: October 31, 2011 3:48 am
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

You can't possibly seriously think the MLB would take the Dodgers out of LA.



Since: Jan 4, 2011
Posted on: October 30, 2011 11:55 pm
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

Except for the incredible shrinking strike zone when the Cardinals were at bat. Why would MLB want the Cardinals to win instead of Texas? Well, now the Cardinals replace the Dodgers as the flagship franschise of the National League, and you can pull the Dodgers out of Los Angeles without stirring up so much of an s*** storm. You may see the Dodgers back in the New York area within five years. Having the Giants win last year helped the situation along.



Since: Jun 23, 2007
Posted on: October 30, 2011 7:33 pm
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

There were numerous tremendous plays in the 1975 game - if you don't remember them, you were probably too young.  Evans catching a sure triple in right field in extra innings (if Cruz made 1/4th of the play that Evans made, the game and Series would have ended) to save a couple of runs; Foter throwing out the potential winning run at home in extra innings.  The 1975 6th game of the World Series was a great game, start to finish.  The 6th game of this Series was a bunch of softball players - dropping balls, loping around the bases, jogging outfielders.  It was exciting, but not great baseball by any means.  



Since: Jul 4, 2011
Posted on: October 30, 2011 3:05 pm
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

It's nice to know the 162 game regular season is pretty much meaningless.  And with plan to expand the playoffs 162, will mean even less.  Atleast the Yankees didn't win.



Since: Jun 28, 2009
Posted on: October 30, 2011 1:46 pm
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

I'm in agreement with EJetson ... I'm not ready to call Game 6 as the best over as you can never do that when a game is so fresh in the mind and history is what decides a game is great or not, but I also saw the Carlton Fisk game and the only thing that sticks out about that game is the HR itself.  I couldn't tell you who were the starting pitchers or what anyone else did in that Fisk game ... so how can it be the greatest game ever if a big baseball history fan like me can't recall much of the game otherwise?  I remember much more of Game 7 of that Series than I do of Game 6 besides Fisk's HR, so does that mean Game 7 of that Series was actually better/more memorable?

Contrast this to this year's Game 6 -- people will remember David Freese's two at bats, they will remember that the Cards were down to their final strike TWICE in two separate innings (people still remember that Mookie Wilson was down to his final strike before Buckner blew the grounder, for example) and they will remember Washington's decision to throw an ancient Rhodes out there to save a game which he hasn't done in decades (or so it seems).  This whole World Series will go down as one of the most memorable series of them all - five close, taut games; Phonegate in game 5, Pujols historic outburst in game 3, David Freese, Allen Craig, how Nelson Cruz should have been deeper in the OF with two outs in the ninth inning, etc.
Baseball fans everywhere were the biggest winners of the World Series this year.



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