Last week we gave you a full list of the happy times for each franchise when it comes to playoff baseball. October is an awesome month for the game, as its always a time to celebrate for somebody. But of course, every celebration means despair and defeat for someone else. Heck, its somethign that 9 of the 10 playoff teams experience every Fall.
But there are always those uber-dark playoff moments that haunt you forever. The lowest of lows. The ones that still sting 20 years later. Tha would-coulda-shoulda moments. Everyone has them, so here we go…down the alley of darkness into every MLB franchise’s lowest playoff moment.
Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim – Donnie Moore’s disaster – Game 5, 1986 ALCS
Rewind the clocks to a simpler time when the Angels were simply known as the California Angels. In 1986, the underdog Angels went up 3-1 on the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS, and in game five they entered the ninth inning up 5-2. Disaster was imminent. Pitcher Mike Witt, looking to go the distance, surrendered a two run homer with one out, and then hit a batter with two outs. Pitcher Donnie Moore was sent to the mound against Dave Henderson, looking to record the final out and send the Halos to their first ever World Series. The Angels were one strike away from advancing, but Moore couldn’t hold on. Moore lost command of his forkball, and Henderson connected for a two run go ahead homer to stun the crowd on hand. The Angels would tie it in the ninth, but lost in extras, and would go on to loes the next two games in Boston to complete a gutwrenching collapse. Three years later, Moore commited suicide in his home, capping off one of the saddest storylines in baseball history.
Dishonorable mentions: Big Papi crushes the Angels out of October – Game 3, 2004 ALDS
Houston Astros – Minute Maid Meltdown – Game 4, 2015 NLDS
One of the most surprising storylines of the 2015 season, the Houston Astros finally broke through to end their 10 year playoff drought by clinching the second AL wildcard. They would defeat the Yankees in the do or die game to take on the top seeded Royals in the ALDS, and it looked like the Astros would be able to continue their improbable storybook run to the ALCS when they led Kansas City 6-2 entering the eighth inning. Plot twist. The Royals erupted for five runs off Tony Sipp, and would tack on two more in the bottom of the ninth for seven unanswered runs and an improbable 9-6 game 4 victory. The Royals would go on to win game 5 back home and eventually the World Series, while the Astros went home stunned and missed the postseason the following year.
Dishonorable mentions: Swept out of the series – Game 4, 2005 World Series; Edmonds walks it off – Game 6, 2004 NLCS
Oakland Athletics – Collapse Complete – 2014 American League Wildcard Game
Talk about false hope. Talk about a microcosm of the season. The Oakland Athletics finished the first half the 2014 season atop the American League for the best record, and it only looked to be getting better with the addition of Jon Lester and Jeff Samardzija. But the A’s collapsed down the stretch, suffering an -18 game swing in the AL West standings and falling into the second wildcard spot behind the Kansas City Royals. Like the season’s narrative, the A’s looked to have it locked up with a 7-3 lead entering the 8th inning, but the Royals stormed back, scoring three in that inning before Oakland blew the save with a game tying sac-fly in the 9th. The A’s would regain the lead in the 12th inninig on a Alberto Callaspo single, but once again it would not hold. The Royals rallied in the bottom of the inning. With 1 out, Eric Hosmer tripled, and on the next at bat Chrisitan Colon tied it with an infield single. Then with two outs, Salvador Perez, 0-5 on the night, ripped a line drive fair past 3rd base, scoring Colon from second base to win the game as the A’s completed a historic collapse. Oakland would fail to post a winning record the next two seasons.
Dishonorable mentions: Eckersley serves up Gibson a walk-off – Game 1, 1988 World Series; Big Apple Collapse Complete – Game 5, 2001 ALDS; Magglio Ordonez walks it off – Game 4, 2006 ALCS
Toronto Blue Jays – The Drive of ’85 runs out of gas – Game 7, 1985 ALCS
In just their 9th season and first postseason ever, the Toronto Blue Jays looked destined to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1985 World Series after taking a 3-1 lead over the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS. The Jays got shutout 2-0 in KC in game five, but were still heading back home for at least two games with a 3-2 lead. Home field advantage was not a factor in the final two games though. The Jays never led in either contest, as Toronto completed the collapse and the Royals advanced to eventually beat St. Louis in a wild World Series.
Dishonorable mentions: David Price’s meltdown – Game 2, 2015 ALDS
Atlanta Braves – Twin walk-off heartbreakers – Games 6/7, 1991 World Series
The Braves got the low end of what many call “the greatest World Series of all time.” Atlanta led the series 3-2 going back to Minneapolis, only to lose both contests, including a do-or-die game seven, on walkoffs, the first being Kirby Puckett’s famous shot to left field in game six. If that Puckett homer wasn’t enough, Puckett also stole what could have been the series winning run earlier in game with his tremendous leaping grab against the plexiglass in left field. Bottom line, I don’t ever want to know what it feels like to lose the final two games of a World series on walkoffs after you were up 3-2. That’s a gut punch.
Dishonorable mentions: Brooks Conrad’s game 3 blunder – 2010 NLDS; Infield fly rule – 2012 NL Wildcard game; Juan Uribe’s 8th inning homer – Game 4, 2013 NLDS
Milwaukee Brewers – Crew Can’t Close – Game 7, 1982 World Series
The Milwaukee Brewers have never won a World Series, and they were oh so close in their first and only appearance in the Fall Classic back in 1982. Milwaukee, then in the American League, took a 3-2 series lead heading back to St. Louis, only to get blown out by a score of 13-1 in game six. Heading to game seven, Milwaukee looked like they we’re going to bounce back to win it all when they carried a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning at Busch Stadium. It was not to be, as the Cardinals scored three runs to take a 4-3 lead. They would pull the dagger on the Brewers with two more in the bottom of the eighth, and Cards won their 9th title in franchise history while the Brewers were left wondering what could have been. 34 years later, they have not returned to the World Series, most recently losing the 2011 NLCS to none other than the eventual World Champion Cardinals.
Dishonorable mentions: Upset by the Wild Card(dinals)- 2011 NLCS
St. Louis Cardinals – Wacha-off – Game 5, 2014 NLCS
The Cardinals made it to the NLCS for the 4th year in a row in 2014, but they faced the unfortunate reality of yet again facing an even year Giants squad. Plagued by a errant throw walk off loss and a early blown lead in games three and four, the Cards found themselves trailing in the series 3-1 entering game five. Carried by a dominant performance from Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals carried a 3-2 lead entering the bottom of the eighth inning, looking to take the series back to St. Louis for game six. But the bullpen faltered. Pat Neshek surrendered a lead-off pinch hit home run to Michael Morse to tie the game, and things didn’t get any better when Michael Wacha tried to keep the game tied in the bottom of the ninth. He put two runners on with one out, bringing up error-proned Travis Ishikawa to the pate. On a 2-0 count, Ishikawa launched Wacha’s fastball to right field, over the wall and into the arcade for a walk-off homer that sent the Giants to their third World Series in five seasons. It was the third time in 12 years that the Cardinals season ended with an NLCS loss at AT&T Park, and the second time on a walk-off hit in a game five.
Dishonorable mentions: Blue blows the call – Game 6, 1985 World Series; Kenny Lofton ends sends St. Louis home – Game 5, 2002 NLCS; A Giant collapse complete – Game 7, 2012 NLCS
Chicago Cubs – Bartman – Game 6, 2003 NLCS
The curse. The epitome of all dark postseason moments. The Bartman Ball.
Riding a 95 year World Series drought, the Cubs were five outs away from advancing to the World Series for the first time in more than half a century as they led the Marlins 3-0 wit 1 out in the bottom of the eighth inning. Luis Castillo came up to the plate for Florida, and hit a fly ball tracking foul down the left field line. Cubs left fielder Moises Alou got underneath the ball right up against the wall in an attempt to record the 2nd out of the inning, but was unable to make the play after a fan in the first row by the name of Steve Bartman reached out and got a hand on the fly-ball, infuriating Alou. Then disaster struck. Castillo walked, Ivan Rodriguez singled in a run the following at bat, and then Alex Gonzalez misfielded what would have been an inning ending double play, loading the bases with one out. The Marlins would go onto score eight runs in the inning, winning game six and then prevailing in game seven to advance to the World Series. The 3-1 series collapse for Chicago was complete, Steve Bartman went down into Cubs infamy, and the lovable losers have now gone 108 years without a World Series title.
Dishonorable mentions: Steve Garvey’s walk-off – Game 4, 1984 NLCS
Arizona Diamondbacks – The comeback falls short – Game 5, 2011 NLDS
After taking home the NL West title for the firs time since 2007, the Arizona Diamondbacks stormed back in the 2011 NLDS to win games 3 and 4 after dropping games 1 and 2, setting up a do or die game 5 in Milwaukee. The D-backs looked like they were out of luck in the top of the ninth inning when they trailed by one run, but a rally knotted the contest at two. It would be the last time that Arizona would score in the postseason though, as the Nyjer Morgan hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning to send the Brewers onto the NLCS while Arizona’s season ended in heartbreak. The D-backs have not posted a winning record since.
Dishonorable mentions: Swept. By the Rockies. – Game 4, 2007 NLCS
Los Angeles Dodgers – The Dodgers lose the pennant – Game 3, 1951 NL tiebreaker series
The highest highs for your rival are usually your own lowest low, and that’s certainly the case for the Dodgers. After blowing a seemingly insurmountalbe 14 game lead to the Giants in the second half of the 1951, the two New York based teams ended up with identical records for the best in the NL, setting up a three game tie-breaker series to determine who would advance to the World Series. After splitting the first two games, the Dodgers entered the 9th inning of the pivotal game three with a 4-1 lead. But the Giants wouldn’t die. They rallied for a first run on a Whitey Lockman double, setting up two runners on with just one out and Bobby Thomson coming to the plate. On Ralph Branca’s second pitch, Thomson connected, sending the ball over the left field wall of a three run walk off homer. The Giants celebrated wildly, as the Dodgers were left what wondering what happened to a seemingly guaranteed trip to the Fall Classic.
Dishonorable mentions: The Kershaw 7th innings – Games 1, 4, 2014 NLDS; Go Crazy Folks – Game 5, 1985 NLCS
San Francisco Giants – Rally Monkey Business – Game 6, 2002 World Series
The 2002 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Anahiem Angels was the first Fall Classic to ever feature both wildcard teams in the playoffs. With a 3-2 series lead heading back to Anaheim for game six, it appeared as if the Giants had locked up their first championship in the San Francisco era when they led 5-0 entering the bottom of the 7th inning. But in a bold move, Giants manager Dusty Baker removed pitcher Russ Ortis from the game despite pitching a shutout, handing him the game ball and relying on the bullpen to get the job done. They could not. The Giants put two runners on in the top of the seventh, only for Scott Spiezio to hit a three run homer just over the right field wall, making it a three run game. In the top of the eight, now only trailing 5-3, Angels centerfielder Darin Erstad launched a lead-off homer to right field, cutting the lead to one. Tim Salmon and Garrett Anderson followed up with consecutive singles, and the collapse was complete with Troy Glaus hit a gapper to score Anderson And Salmon. The Angels won 6-5 in the what remains the largest comeback ever in a World Series elimnation game, and went on to win the World Series with a 4-1 game 7 victory.
Dishonorable mentions: McCovey hits it two feet too low – Game 7, 1962 World Series
Cleveland Indians – Seventh Hell – Game 7, 1997 World Series
Looking for their first championship in four decades, the Cleveland Indians were four strikes away from victory when they took a 2-1 lead over the Flordia Marlins into the bottom of the 9th inning in game seven of the 1997 World Series. Normally reliable closer Jose Mesa was sent to the mound to get the job done, but a lead-off and one out single allowed Craig Counsel to hit a game tying sac-fly to the warning track. The save was blown, and the teams headed to extras. Then the dagger came. With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th inning, Edgar Renteria lined a single up the middle of pitcher Charles Nagy, sending the Marlins to a World Series walk-off win. The Indians would suffer their second World Series loss in a three year span.
Dishonorable mentions: Boston Blowup – Game 5, 1999 ALCS; Red Sox Deja Vu – Game 7, 2007 ALCS
Seattle Mariners – 116 for nothing – Game 5, 2001 ALCS
The Seattle Mariners posted the best record in baseball history during the 2001 season, winning a whopping 116 games. With the world expecting the Mariners to win it all, they took care of the Cleveland Indians in round one, but for the second consecutive season, the Yankees spelled doom for Seattle in the ALCS. The Bronx Bombers would win the series easily, 4-1, leaving the Mariners with a hoard of “what ifs” in a season that we may never see matched again in our lives.
Dishonorable mentions: Indians win by 15 – 2001 ALDS, game 3; One hit – Game 4, 2000 ALCS
Miami Marlins – Uhhhhhh, well…I mean….oh wait….dangit.
So, the Marlins have only been to the playoffs twice in their 23 year history. And guess what!?! They’ve won the World Series both times!!! Congratulations Miami on outsmarting this article. You got us real good on that one.
New York Mets – World Series? Yadier mind – Game 7, 2006 NLCS
The New York Mets were down 3-2 in the 2006 NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, but battled back to force game seven by taking game 6 at home 4-2. It would be a tight one, as the two teams entered the 9th innign tied 1-1 with a trip to the Fall Classic on the line. But it would be broken that inning, as St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina hit a two run homer to left field, putting the Cardinals up 3-1. The lead would hold, and the Cardinals would go on to win their 10th World Series in frachise history while the Mets yet again couldn’t find any miracles.
Dishonorable mentions: Subway to defeat – Game 5, 2000 World Series; A Familia situation – Game 5, 2015 World Series; Even Year’d – 2016 NL Wildcard Game
Washington Nationals – Not how you Drew it up – Game 5, 2012 NLDS
After qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in the D.C. era, the Washington Nationals looked to be heading to face the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS when they had an early 6-0 lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. But the red-birds would claw their way back, to make it a 6-5 ballgame in the eighth inning, but the Nats tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the inning to make it a 7-5 game entering the ninth. Davey Johnson sent closer Drew Storen to the mound to seal the deal. After allowing a leadoff double to Carlos Beltran, Storen got two outs on a ground out and strikeout to put the Nats one out way from advancing, but he would throw consecutive walks to Yadier Molina and David Freese, loading up the bases. Then disaster- Daniel Descalso hit a two run single to tie the game, the second consecutive playoff series in which the Cardinals had a two run game-tying hit down to their last out. Pete Kozma then pulled the dagger with a bloop single that scored two more runs to put the Cards ahead. Jason Motte would come close the game in the bottom of the ninth, sending the Nationals home in stunning fashion.
Dishonorable mentions: Storen strikes again – Game 2, 2014 NLDS
Baltimore Orioles – Jeffrey Friggin Maier – Game 1, 1996 ALCS
In game one of the 1996 ALCS, the Orioles led the New York Yankees in game one in the Bronx, looking to steal home field advantage at the very least heading back to Camden Yards two games later. That inning, a rookie by the name of Derek Jeter came to the plate, facing the great faux-closer Armando Benitez. Jeter hit a deep fly ball to the right field wall, but just short enough for rightfielder Tony Tarasco to get under it. The ball would find a glove, but not Tarasco’s. A 12 year-old fan in the first row of the stands by the name of Jeffrey Maier reached out over the wall and caught the ball, and it was ruled a home run by umpire Rich Garcia. A furious Tarasco and manager Davey Johnson argued the botched call, but to no avail. The Yankees would go on to win the game with a Berine Williams walk-off homer in extra innings, altering the course of the series as the New York defeated Baltimore four games to one.
Dishonorable mentions: Britton warms the bench – 2016 AL Wildcard game; Voldermort strikes twice – Game 3, 2012 ALDS
Philadelphia Phillies – Wrong side of history – Game 6, 1993 World Series
Only twice has a team hit a walk-off home run to win the World Series. The 1993 Philadelphia Phillies were one of the two teams to end up on the wrong side of that monumental moment. Heading back to Toronto and down 3-2 in the series to the Blue Jays, the Phillies battled back after facing a 5-1 deficit to score five runs in the eighth inning and take a 6-1 lead into the ninth. Paul Molitor was sent to the mound to close the deal and force game seven. Instead, he put two runners on before serving a walk-off homer to Joe Carter for the World Series win. The Phillies would not return to the Fall-Classic for another 15 years.
Dishonorable mentions: A Giant upset – Game 6, 2010 NLCS; Killed by the Wild Cards – Game 5, 2011 NLDS
Pittsburgh Pirates – Bonds throws it too late – Game 7, 1992 NLCS
The Pirates looked to be headed to their first World Series in 13 years when they carried a 2-0 lead over the Atlant Braves into the bottom of then ninth in game seven of the 1992 NLCS. But a single, an error and a walk loaded the bases up with nobody out. A sac-fly would cut the lead in half, but a infield pop-up shortly after brought the Pirates just one out away from winning the pennant. That moment would never come, as the typical-bench warmer Francisco Cabrera lined a single to left field. David Justice scored easily from third, and Sid Bream followed behind him to slide into home plate safe, barely beating out Bonds’ throw from left. Many have dubbed it the greatest ninth inning comeback/collapse in NLCS history.
Dishonorable mentions: Crawford’s grand-slam – 2014 NL Wildcard Game, 98 wins for nothing – 2015 NL Wildcard Game
Texas Rangers – One Strike Away – Game 6, 2011 World Series
After losing the 2010 World Series, the Rangers looked as if they would get redemption a year later when they held a 7-5 lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the bottom of the ninth in game six. Closer Neftali Feliz would put two runners on, but the Rangers managed to work 1-2 count against David Freese with two outs, one strike away from winning it all. On the next pitch, Freese hit a deep fly ball in play to right field, but Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz misplayed the ball, allowing both runners to score as Freese recorded the game tying triple. In the 10th inning, Josh Hamilton appeared to save the day with a two run homer to deep right center, but the Cardinals would answer the bell once again on a two out two strike count, this time with Lance Berkman lacing a single up the middle to tie the game at nine. The Rangers wouldn’t muster any offense in the 11th, and when David Freese came back up to lead off the eleventh, he connected on Mark Lowe’s pitch to send the ball over the center field wall for a walk-off home run, forcing a game 7. The Cardinals went on to win the do-or-die contest with ease, as the Rangers lost back-to-back world series, marking the beginnig of a brutal five year span of playoff woes.
Dishonorable mentions: Renteria breaks the tie – Game 5, 2010 World Series, The Bat flip – Game 5, 2015 ALDS; Season Rougned – Game 3, 2016 ALDS
Tampa Bay Rays – Dirty Water – Game 5, 2008 ALCS
Up three games to one on the Boston Red Sox in the 2008 ALCS, the Rays appeared to be headed to their first World Series ever when they held a 7-0 lead in the 7th inning of game five. Any comeback from Boston in the ballgame would be unprecedented. Then in the bottom of the inning, things went haywire. The Red Sox scored four runs on two outs, first a Dustin Pedroia single, followed by a three run David Ortiz homer. Boston would then stun Tampa by tying the game in the eighth courtesy of a two run J.D. Drew homer and a Coco Crisp single. The game appeared to be heading into extras when the Rays got two immediate outs in the bottom of the ninth, but on a ground ball from Kevin Youklis that should have ended the inning, Evan Longoria’s throw to first bounced past first base and into the stands. Two batters later after a Jason Bay walk, Drew singled in Youklis form second to win the game. The game stands as the largest comeback ever in a elimination game in playoff history to this day. Boston would battle back to force a game seven, but Tampa held on to win the pennant.
Dishonorable mentions: Ranger Danger – Game 4, 2011 ALDS; Not so sunny in Philadelphia – Game 5, 2008 World Series
Cincinnati Reds – Pocket full of Posey going yard – Game 5, 2012 NLDS
In a year where scheduling conflicts resulted in a 2-3 format with the higher seeded team having three straight home games to end the NLDS, the Cincinnati Reds jumped out to an early 2-0 over the San Francisco Giants by taking both games at AT&T Park. The Reds, who had not won a playoff game at home since 1995, now just needed to win one of potentially three to advance to the NLCS. But Cincinnati sports torture settled in, as the Giants stormed right back to take games three and four, forcing a do-or-die game five. Once again the Giants went on top first with two runs off Matt Latos to begin the fifth inning. Then two batters later, with the basese loaded and one out, Giants catcher Buster Posey came to the plate. On a 2-2 count, Latos hung a curveball too high, and Posey punished the mistake with a grand slam to the upper deck. The Giants led 6-0, and though the Reds battled back, it was not enough as San Francisco won the game and the series 6-4. The Reds’ home losing streak continued as they joined the infamous club of teams to lose a five game series after leading 2-0.
Dishonorable mentions: Tiebreak heartbreak – 1999 NL Wildcard Tiebreaker game.
Boston Red Sox – Buckner – Game 6, 1986 World Series
The Curse of the Bambino in its purest form. In the 1986 World Series, looking to end their 68 year world series drough, the Boston Red Sox were one strike away from wining it all as they held a 5-3 lead over the Mets in the 10th inning of game six. Then it all unraveled. On a 2-2 count, Boston pitcher Colin Schilradi surrendered a single to Ray Knight to make it a 5-4 game. Bob Stanley came in to close the deal for Boston, and down the final strike yet again on the next at bat, Stanley threw a wild pitch to the back stop, allowing Mets outfielder Kevin Mitchell to score from third. The game was now tied, bringing Mookie Wilson to the plate. On the tenth pitch of the at-bat, Stanley got Wilson to hit a slow roller to first base that would have ended the inning, but the grounder went right threw the legs of normally-reliable first baseman Bill Buckner and into the outfield. Knight scored easily and the Mets won the game. They would go onto win game seven as Boston would not win it all for another 18 years.
Dishonorable mentions: The machine is too much – Game 7, 1975 World Series; Aaron F@!&*%g Boone – Game 7, 2003 ALCS
Colorado Rockies – Swept by the Sox – Game 4, 2007 World Series
The Rockies went on a magical run in 2007 by going undefeated in the postseason en route to their first pennant in franchise history, but their luck would run out when they encountered the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. The Rockies went down quietly, gettin outscored 29-10 in the series as the Sox completed the four game sweep. It was an anticlimatic end to what could have been one of the better storylines in baseball history.
Dishonorable mentions: Ninth inning nigthmare – Game 4, 2009 NLDS
Kansas City Royals – Gordon gets held – Game 7, 2014 World Series
In game seven of the 2014 World Series, the Royals found themsevles down to their last out down 3-2 to the San Francisco Giants. With ace Madison Bumgarner on the mound, Royals left fielder Alex Gordon laced what would have been a single to Giants centerfielder Gregor Blanco, but Blanco missed the ball on a hop, giving Gordon extra bases. As Gordon headed for third, left fielder Juan Perez booted the ball in the outfield, giving Gordon even more time to run, but he was held at third base rather than trying to go for the inside the park homer to the tie the game up. Catcher Salvador Perez, who already homered off Bumgarner earlier in the series, came to the plate with the tying run just 90 feet away, but he fouled out to Pablo Sandoval to end the series. The Royals would redeem themselves with a 2015 World Series title, but questions remain what would have happened if Gordon was sent home.
Dishonorable mentions: Chambliss walks it off – Game 5, 1976 ALCS
Detroit Tigers – Grand Slammed out of October – 2013 ALCS
The Tigers have had their fair share of false hope in October since 2006, and the 2013 ALCS may have summped it all up. Facing the top seeded Boston Red Sox, the Tigers stormed into bean-town to take game 1, taking a combined-no hitter into the ninth inning. It looked like they would be taking a 2-0 lead back home when they led 5-1 in the eighth inning of game two, but David Ortiz had other plans, hitting a grand slam to tie the game as Torii Hunter tumbled over the bullpen wall and the bearded cop cheered. Boston would win the game on a walkoff hit, 6-5. Four games later in game six down 3-2 in the series, it was the same narrative all over again. The Tigers led late, up 2-1 in the seventh inning and clinging on for dear life, but Shane Victorino took advantage of a bases loaded situation that inning with a go ahead grand slam over the Green Monster. Boston won the game and the series.
Dishonorable mentions: Aces get swept – Game 4, 2012 World Series; Cruz’s walk off slam – Game 2, 2011 ALCS
Minnesota Twins – Just Unfair – Game 2, 2009 ALDS
After falling to the New York Yankees in game 1 of the 2009 ALDS, the Twins looked to tie the series back up in game two before heading back to Minneapolis for game 3. The second contest went to extra innings tied at 3 after a two run homer by Alex Rodriguez in the 9th, but come the eleventh inning, bad officiating in the Bronx altered a playoff series once again. Catcher Joe Mauer hit what should have been a ground rule double down the left field line, but umpire Phil Cuzzi ruled the ball foul, though clearly fair by at least a foot. Mauer would single, but two subsequent Minnesota hits cost the Twins the go ahead run had Mauer been at second instead of third. New York got out of the jam, and Mark Texiera would go on to hit a walk-off homer to lead off the bottom of the inning and win the game for the Yankees. The Bronx Bombers would ultimately complete the sweep in game three en route to their 27th World Series.
Dishonorable mention: Angels of death – Game 5, 2002 ALCS
Chicago White Sox – Baseball loses – 1919 World Series
A dark cloud hung over the game of baseball the day it was discovered that the 1919 Chicago White Sox intentionally threw the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds after six players had illegally gambled on the Fall Classic. All were banned from the game for life for their actions, and the infamous “Curse of the Black Sox was born” as the South Side would not win another title until 2005. The Sox’s only playoff appearances between those two trips to the series came in 1959 and 2000.
Dishonorable mentions: The curse lives on with an upset sweep – 2000 ALDS
New York Yankees – Code Red Sox – 2004 ALCS
Entering the 2004 ALCS, no team had ever lost a best-of-seven playoff series after taking a 3-0 series lead on their opponent. A year after stunning their hated rival Red Sox with Aaron Boone’s game 7 walk-off in the 2003 ALCS, the Bronx Bombers looked like they would continue Boston’s misery after going 3-0 in the series, punctuated by a 19-8 massacre at Frenway Park in game three. In game four, the Yankees were just three outs away from completing the sweep as the unhittable Mariano Rivera came to the mound to preserve a 4-3 lead. But he walked lead-off batter Kevin Millar, and pinch runner Dave Roberts would steal second to put a man on in scoring position with nobody out. The rare Rivera blown save would come to fruition one batter later, as Bill Mueller singled in Roberts to tie the game. Boston would win the game on a David Ortiz walk-off homer in the 12th inning, and the collapse was on. The Red Sox won game five the next night in 14 innings. Curt Schilling then dazzled with a bloody sock in game six to force a game seven rematch. And in the do or die contest, Boston blew out New York 10-3 as they impossible became reality. The Yankees became the first and only team to blow a 3-0 series lead, and the Red Sox would go on to break the 86 year curse of the Bambino with eight straight wins in a row.
Dishonorable mentions: 5-peat falls short – Game 7, 2001 World Series; Griffey takes out the Yanks – Game 5, 1995 ALDS
***Photo courtesy of Vice***