How the Grinch stole SI‘s “Top 10 postseason walk-off home runs” joy

October 10, 2013

In this case I am the Grinch; I am the one who knocks…Ben Reiter’s list on, written after the Tampa Bay Rays’ Jose Lobaton beat the Boston Red Sox with a walk-off on Monday night.

I think you would agree that the most exciting situations are one where there’s no tomorrow, where everything is on the line, and other cliches. And what more emphatic way to win it than with a home run? So let’s look at each of Reiter’s selections, but using my new favorite toy I like to call “Pressure? What pressure?”

10. Robin Ventura, NY Mets, 1999 NLCS, Game 5

This was the “grand slam single,” where Ventura hit a bases-loaded home run but was mobbed by enthusiastic teammates which prevented him from circling the bases. No matter, the Mets beat the Braves, 4-3, in 14 innings.

BUT…The Mets were already trailing the Braves 3-0 in the series, so their elimination was pretty much a foregone conclusion by that point. No team, prior to the 2004 Boston Red Sox, had come back from such a deficit to win a postseason series. Plus the bases were loaded with only one out in a tie game. Even if Ventura had hit into an inning-ending double play, the game would have continued.

9. Ozzie Smith, St. Louis Cardinals, 1985 NCLS, Game 5

BUT…This was the first year of the best-of-seven format in the LCS and the Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers were tied at two games apiece (i.e., more games to play). Granted, Smith was perhaps the most unlikely guy to hit a home run, but, again, the game was tied with only one out.

8. David Freese, St. Louis Cardinals, 2011 World Series, Game 6

This was an elimination situation BUT…game was tied (thanks to Freese’s two-run triple in the ninth) with no outs.

7. Aaron Boone, NY Yankees, 2003 ALCS, Game 7

Another elimination situation BUT…game was tied with no outs.

6. Chris Chambliss, NY Yankees, 1976, Game 5

Another elimination situation BUT…game was tied with no outs.

5. Carlton Fisk, Boston Red Sox, 1975 World Series, Game 6

Another elimination situation BUT…game was tied with no outs.

4. Kirk Gibson, Los Angeles Dodgers, 1988 World Series, Game 1

Certainly a dramatic home run, given the facts of Gibson’s physical condition and that this was an actual come-from-behind win (i.e., no tie), BUT…it was just the first game of the Series and the Dodgers eventually beat the Oakland As four games to one.

3. Kirby Puckett, Minnesota Twins, 1991 World Series

Another elimination situation BUT…game was tied with no outs.

2. Joe Carter, Toronto Blue Jays, 1993 World Series, Game 6

Another highlight that is constantly shown, BUT…there was only one out and Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams, who gave up the iconic blast, was having a terrible Series, having lost the previous game by giving up three runs in 2/3 of an inning. He wound up with an earned run average of 20.25 in 2.2 innings over three appearances. Nevertheless, Carter probably deserves to be No. 1 in the list.

1. Bill Mazeroski, Pittsburgh Pirates, Game 7

Another elimination situation BUT…game was tied with no outs.

You’re welcome.

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