Major League Baseball 2011 – Looking Back

Counting down the top 7 MLB moments from 2011.

Josh Helmuthby Josh Helmuth

Happy February everyone! Finally, the month when baseball awakens, I start to study my annual fantasy baseball rankings, and reflect on the previous season. That’s right, in determining what will happen in 2012, you can’t help but look back at 2011. In doing so, I decided to point out my favorite baseball moments from 2011 and how that might translate to this new season.

My Grandma always told me that the number seven was one of ‘God’s numbers,’ so it looks like a well-rounded number to me. So without further ado, here my top seven MLB moments from 2011.  Let the countdown begin!

 

#7 Ryan Braun Be Trippin’ – August 31st in Milwaukee

Considered the ‘Oddity of the Year’ by MLB’s Gibby’s, Braun tripped over himself not once, but twice, rounding third on an attempt for an inside-the-park home run.

His teammates declared that it looked like someone took him out with a dart gun. Some said it was clumsiness. Either way, it was hilarious seeing a professional ball player trip over his own feet in klutz-tastic fashion. Evidently, so did everyone else. The next day at Miller Park, someone had taped the outline of where his body landed amongst the base paths, making it look like a crime scene.

How this will translate in 2012: After serving his 50 game suspension, Braun will finally lay off of the ‘juice’ and complete an ‘inside the park’er.’

 

#6 Bronx Bombers Smack Three Grand Slams – August 25th vs. Oakland

The Yankees became the first team in Major League history to bomb three grand-salamis in one game. Robinson Cano, Russell Martin and Curtis Granderson all went yard with bases juiced. The Yankees, once down 1-7, won this game 22-9.

How this will translate in 2012: The Yankees will continue to bomb home runs all season,  leading the AL in home runs. But New York will still struggle with the back of their rotation, meaning they will fall short of the ‘fall’ classic once again.

 

#5 Jeter’s Hall of Fame Day – July 9th vs. Tampa

We all know Jeter is a Hall of Famer. But in a down year for the stud shortstop, it was shocking to see him put up such magnificent numbers on the day he got his 3,000th hit. In fact, not only did Jeter go a perfect 5-for-5 on the day, but he nailed his 3,000th hit on a home run to left field. Jeter became just the 28th player ever to reach 3,000 hits, and he is astoundingly the first Yankee to do so.

How this will translate in 2012: In anticipation of Jeter’s career winding down, every home run ball hit by him will be caught by a fan and sold on eBay for thousands of dollars. Or at least be traded in for a free t-shirt or bobblehead.

 

#4 Rally Squirrel! – NLDS Game 4 @ St. Louis against Philly

I know this might get some impervious feedback. But hey, what true baseball fan is ever going to forget this moment? In all the years of watching baseball, the only thing that has ever come close to being as bizarre was when Randy Johnson took out that dove with a 100 mph fastball. And that wasn’t a playoff game. And it most certainly wasn’t considered a good luck charm that inspired a bunch of goof balls to make a World Series run.

The Cardinals Skip Schumaker was at the plate receiving a pitch from Roy Oswalt, when just after the ball zipped into the catcher’s mitt , a squirrel dashed around Schumaker’s feet, crossing home plate. While the umpire had a grin on his face, Oswalt argued, wanting an interference call or a strike.

The squirrel ran up into the stands causing a streamline of commotion among the fans in the seats. It was like watching a mini ‘wave.’

This squirrel sighting happened again just before Game 5 of the NLDS in Philadelphia and inspired t-shirts and signs galore, prompting that it must be a good luck charm for the Cardinals.

Cardinals pitcher Octovio Dotel even wore a stuffed version of the little guy on his hat during the World Series celebration and parade in St. Louis.

If you haven’t seen video of this cute scampering critter, I suggest Youtubing it. It’s hilariously classic.

How this will translate in 2012: Escaping from their arms in the first row at Dodger Stadium, some Hollywood A-lister will accidently let their four pound Chihuahua onto the field during a game. Thinking it’s a rat at first glance, this will cause first baseman James Loney to scamper and hop around like a little girl. The Dodgers will still win the game, thus a good luck charm and a new nickname for Loney will be born: El Rally Rat.

 

#3 Pujols’ Three HR’s In World Series – World Series Game 3 @ Texas

Because this was in a World Series game, this was a big deal. Fat Albert joined elite company here: Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson. That’s it. ‘Pooey’ also had five hits in this game and probably was a big reason for his stock rising towards the $250 million range.

How this will translate in 2012: If you’re the Angels, you know what you’re hoping for.

 

#2 Longoria’s Dramatic HR Lifts Rays Into Playoffs – September 28th vs. NYY

There is seriously nothing better in baseball than a walk-off home run. Add to it the drama of it being the last night of the season, with everything on the line. You win, you move into the post season. You lose, you go home.

This 12th inning bomb also knocked out Boston, with the Red Sox losing dramatically that same evening.  The Cardinals also won the Wild Card that night, knocking out the Braves. Some consider this night to be the best baseball has ever seen as a whole.

How this will translate in 2012: Still running on the high of the night of Sept. 28, commissioner Bud Selig will initiate the one-game playoff system that will make two Wild Card teams from each league fight for their chance to make the playoffs. Fair? Maybe not. Exciting as all get-out? Heck yes.

 

#1 David Freese World Series Walk Off HR! – World Series Game 6 vs. Texas

How do you top being the NLCS MVP and World Series MVP for your childhood hometown team? You knock in a clutch triple that extends Game 6 into extra innings, and then you seal off that same game with an 11th inning walk-off home run to force a Game 7; a game St. Louis would win.

This was by far the most exciting, drama filled, riveting baseball game I have ever seen. If my roommates were taping my reaction, the video would have gone viral.

Fun fact: these are the only players to have ever knocked a walk-off home run in a World Series Game 6 or 7. – David Freese, Joe Carter, Kirby Puckett, Carlton Fisk, Bill Mazeroski. Now that’s elite company.

How this will translate in 2012: Freese will have a breakout season, and will make the All-Star team headed by his former manager Tony LaRussa. Becoming a star, Freese will sign some endorsement deals, the largest one for an ant-freeze product that will have a catchy theme song and possibly a rally squirrel.

 

Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS