For the first time since 1994, Major League Baseball entered a lockout, and the baseball world skidded to a halt. There is no noteworthy news emanating from the league. Therefore it’s time to change course. Instead of poring over old ground, we will look at some of the best moments since baseball’s last lockout.
Due to baseball’s 162-game schedule, there are plenty of moments to choose from; narrowing it to 27 was incredibly tough. Baseball is America’s pastime, and it creates moments that stand the test of time. The world has changed unrecognizably in the last 27 years, yet through it all, the world’s most enduring, curious game traverses time to make us all pause and take a moment. It’s time to see what moments made our list.
Part two of our series features controversy, drama, and big hitters. Numbers 20 – 14 are on the clock!
Miss the previous articles? Check out a recap of them here:
Moment 20 – The Southsiders Go Slam Happy
2005 was a vintage year for the Southside of Chicago. The White Sox emerged as a relentless run-scoring powerhouse as they rode into the playoffs. Meanwhile, the “ChiSox” faithful had waited 88 years for a World Series title; their last win came in 1917, two years before the Black Sox scandal. It seemed like the baseball gods had sent the Sox to hell as penance for the fixing scandal that shook America.
All of that pent-up emotion bled into a cold October night in Chicago. Clubhouse leader Paul Konerko stood at the plate with the bases loaded, and one-half of Chicago was ready to explode. The Astros held a 4-2 lead at this point of the seventh inning. Konerko clubbed the bat’s head on a high changeup away, the ball sailed into the seats, and Chicago erupted. The Sox took a 2-0 nothing lead before they swept the Astros to win their first championship in 88 years.
Moment 19 – It Is ShoTime!
Two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani might be the most talented player in baseball history. Ohtani arrived in late 2017 to little fanfare. There were glimpses before 2021, but Tommy John surgery and a COVID-shortened season impacted his availability. 2021 was going to be a prove-it year for Ohtani, and boy did he deliver.
On opening weekend, ESPN televised the Angels’ game against the White Sox as the year’s first Sunday Night Baseball game. Ohtani started as a pitcher and a batter, and it took him one inning to dazzle onlookers. Blazing speed on the mound saw Ohtani work a three-up, three-down inning before he crushed an elevated 97mph fastball. Watching a player dominate as a pitcher and then with the bat stunned and shocked everyone. Ohtani used it as the launching point to maybe the most remarkable season in MLB history. He won the AL MVP award as he shone as a pitcher, slugger, and base-runner.
Moment 18 – Lindor With A Swing and A Drive!
The 2017 Cleveland Indians were the best team in all of baseball. After narrowly losing out in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, Cleveland came back with a vengeance in 2017. A 22-game win streak turbocharged them to the best record in the American League. Cleveland matched the Yankees in the ALDS, and many fans expected them to breeze past the Yanks.
New York made it difficult in Game 2, and they raced out into an 8-3 lead. Progressive Field fell flat before the Tribe rallied to load the bases. The Yankees had reliever Chad Green on the mound to close the innings with two outs already on the ledger. Homegrown star Francisco Lindor stepped up to bat, and one crack of the bat later, he sent Cleveland into ecstasy. And Matt Vasgersian!
Moment 17 – The Captain Goes Deep
David Wright is one of the greatest New York Mets players. The ‘Captain’ was the face of the franchise for over a decade. Sadly, the All-Star appearances, Gold Glove awards, and numerous platitudes were moot as the Mets never tasted success during Wright’s prime. That changed in 2015 when the Mets made the World Series. By this point, injuries had impacted Wright’s availability.
The grizzled veteran missed two-thirds of the regular season as the Mets enjoyed a superb campaign without their leader. New York dropped the opening two games of the series in Kansas City. They returned to Queens needing a win. After surrendering a run in the opening stanza, Wright stepped up into the box, and the tension was palpable. Wright got a fastball high in the zone and barreled it, demonstrating that he still had enough left for big moments. The Captain christened the first World Series game at Citi Field with a screaming home run that shook New York.
Moment 16 – Jeter Walk’s Off Into Retirement
Derek Jeter is a unicorn; he’s one of few Yankees players respected and liked across all fanbases. His farewell season in 2014 was a whistle-stop tour of goodbyes, and the great shortstop saved one brilliant moment for his final at-bat at Yankee Stadium. Jeter was the gutsiest, toughest hitter in a Yankee lineup that enjoyed significant success. He fought hard at the plate in typical Jeter fashion and manufactured a clutch base-hit to seal a Yankee win. Jeter ended his fairytale story with the perfect last chapter.
Moment 15 – David Bote Pinch Hit Walk Off Slam
Baseball is a fickle game. A team can dominate for 90% of the game and still lose. Such an occasion happened on a summer night in Wrigleyville. Nationals starter Max Scherzer dominated as the Cubs couldn’t scratch a run across. His batters spotted him a 3-0 lead, and it was up to the bullpen to finish the job. Scherzer hurled over 100 pitches, but Ryan Madson threw 21 and ruined everything. A walk and two stray pitches that hit batters loaded the bases for pinch-hitting infielder David Bote. One sweet strike later, Bote had won the game for Chicago and ruined Washington’s night.
Moment 14 – Fernando Anounces Himself
Fernando Tatis, Jr. is the coolest athlete in all of America. The transcendent Padres shortstop is an electrifying, magnetizing talent whose carefree attitude, raw talent, and disdain for the staid old baseball rules make him an icon for new fans. Tatis had already got himself in trouble during the 2020 season after he celebrated a grand slam against the Rangers in a blow-out.
The baseball stiffs didn’t like it, and they admonished the youngster. Tatis didn’t care, and he took it up a notch during a playoff game against the St. Louis Cardinals. The game was close as the Cards rallied to pressurize the Padres. Tatis then announced himself as the new face of baseball by tattooing a ball into the opposite field, staring down the dugout, and flipping his bat with swagger. This moment was so significant, it’s plastered all over the latest MLB video game. Baseball has found its latest star in Tatis.