Top-10 Postseason Finishes of My Baseball Lifetime!

The natives are starting to get restless! And as I read about these Shelter-in-Place orders that our county and city are “enforcing” I’m realizing that I have no life. Nothing changes from my daily routine. Oh, so I can’t dine in at McDonald’s once a month on my lunch break, other than that it’s boring life as usual, minus the fact that we have to be intentional to not stand so, not stand so, not stand so close to people.

I was looking forward to a half-day where I got to eat Chinese food on the couch and watch the start of the 2020 baseball season. We know how that went.

Thursday was Opening Day, and to amp myself up for not having an Opening Day, I’ve been introducing my son to the best postseason finishes of my baseball lifetime!

All week long I’ve been writing about baseball, hoping it’d satisfy this emptiness in my heart. It only made it worse.

Earlier this week I wrote about the Five Best Baseball Movies to Watch with Kids, followed by the Five Best Songs About Baseball.

I’m now giving you the Top-10 Postseason Finishes of My Baseball Lifetime!

As mentioned above, my 15-year-old and I have been watching these off-and-on the last week or so.

We took the 15 we watched, ranked them individually, and then, using 1 as the best and 10 as the lowest, added them up, took our combined score and came up with this not-too-shabby list.

I’ll give you our score, my Padres Fan Observation, his soft-spoken modern-day observation, the hero, and the highlight.

Baseball Lifetime Explanation: I became a baseball fan on June 6, 1986 when I attended my first San Diego Padres game. Any postseason games prior to 1986 didn’t make the list as the ’86 World Series was the first one I watched.

Padres Fan Observation: As mentioned, I’ve been a Padres fan since ’86. Since then they’ve made the postseason four times. They’ve lost in the Divisional Series three of those times, going a combined 1-10 in those series. They went to the World Series (their second-ever) in 1998, but were swept by Scott Brosius and the New York Yankees. They haven’t tasted the postseason since 2006.

I moved to Seattle in ’92 and became a Mariners fan as well. They’ve never been to the World Series and were last seen in the postseason in 2001, the longest postseason drought in any of the four major sports leagues.

So Padres Fan Observation will be me talking about how nice it must be to be in the postseason.

Before you scroll down and get upset with me, you won’t find the 1995 American League West tiebreaker between the Seattle Mariners and California Angels, still the greatest sporting event I’ve ever attended, since it was technically a regular season game. You can read about that and my 10-best Mariner Moments here.

No. I-Really-Wanted-To-Put-This-In-But-Never-Actually-Witnessed-It
2011 World Series Game 6

St. Louis Cardinals 10, Texas Rangers 9
Score: 20 (Kevin 11, Lukas 9)
Hero: David Freese (2-for-5, three RBI, both hits and all RBI came in the CLUTCH!)
Unspoken Hero: Lance Berkman, scored tying run in the ninth, drove in tying run in the 10th.

DISCLAIMER:I remember where I was when this happened, at an American Cancer Society Relay For Life event. I remember walking by the hotel bar as people were going nuts. I remember the screams. I remember not paying attention.

Padres Fan Observation: My thoughts and prayers to those Rangers fans back in 2011. You see my team has never been remotely close to winning a World Series (1-8 in two trips). You broke a 4-4 tie to take a 7-4 lead in the 7th. You held a 7-5 lead in the ninth and were one strike away from your first World Series title. Freese tripled in two to tie it at 7. No worries, Josh Hamilton would give you those two runs back in the 10th to make it 9-5. Unfortunately, you gave up two runs in the bottom of that inning, and allowed Freese to become a St. Louis icon in the 11th.

No. 10 – 2003 ALCS Game 7
Boston Red Sox 6, New York Yankees 5 (11 inn.)
Score
: 20 (Kevin 9, Lukas 11)
Hero: Aaron Boone (1 plate appearance, 1 pitch, 1 HR, all with his older brother in the broadcast booth)

Padres Fan Observation: The Boone home run set the stage for the 2004 sequel. Must be nice to go to back-to-back championship games. The Padres went to back-to-back Divisional Series, went 1-6. Sure everyone hated Grady Little after keeping in Pedro for most of the eighth after three straight hits, but I’ve always sided with Little. Guess that’s why I have a pour record as a coach. But c’mon, it was peak Pedro, he wanted the ball, I had faith in him over any of the other relievers. It didn’t work out as the Yankees tied it off Pedro, setting up Boone’s heroics … and Little’s firing. Hindsight, the eighth inning was basically an indication of what was to come. Pedro’s remarkable seven-year streak came to and end in ’03 and he never full returned to his dominant self.

No. 9 – 1991 World Series Game 6
Minnesota Twins 4, St. Louis Cardinals 3
Score: 17 (Kevin 5, Lukas 12)
Hero: Kirby Puckett (3-for-4, two runs scored, 3 RBI, an extra bases-robbing catch, and one heckuva HR)

Padres Fan Observation: Still the best World Series I have ever watched. Two teams that went worst-to-World Series. Five games decided by one run. Three games went to extras. An epic Game 7 pitching dual between Jack Morris and John Smoltz. Epic hits by the likes of Mark Lemke and Gene Larkin, an epic decoy leading to a baserunning blunder, and Kirby. If I were to rewatch any World Series from start-to-finish it’d be this one.

No. 8 – 1988 World Series Game 1
Los Angeles Dodgers 5, Oakland A’s 4
Score: 14 (Kevin 8, Lukas 6)
Hero: Kirk Gibson (1 at-bat in the entire series, a memorable HR)

Padres Fan Observation: As a Padres fan you don’t root for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I recently bought a Jackie Robinson jersey, only cause it’s Jackie Robinson, but to do this I needed it to say Brooklyn, not Dodgers, so yah, I was rooting for the A’s. The Bash Brothers were fun, the team was stacked, they won 104 games, swept the Red Sox in the ALCS, it was a no-brainer. Up 4-3 in Game 1 with the future Hall of Fame closer, Dennis Eckersley, on the mound it felt like business as usual. Except with two outs Eckersley walks Mike Davis (WHO?!) allowing Dodgers’ manager Tommy Lasorda to request the soon-to-be-named NL MVP, Gibson pinch-hit for the pitcher. Gibson basically could do all of maybe three things in that at-bat – walk, single, or hit a home run. What he did became history and helped move Gibson up on one 11-year-old’s list of Most Disliked Players.

No. 7 – 2001 World Series Game 7
Arizona Diamondbacks 3, New York Yankees 2
Score: 13 (Kevin 10, Lukas 3)
Hero: Randy Johnson (1.1 innings pitch in relief, no hits, no runs)

Padres Fan Observation: This was the one time I rooted for the New York Yankees. It was November 2001. We were almost two months removed from the tragic events of September 11. It just felt right – destiny – for the Yankees to win after what their city had gone through 54 days earlier. Instead the unbeatable Mariano Rivera, allowed a single, committed a throwing error, allowed a game-tying double, hit a batter and then with the bases-loaded and the infield drawn in, gave up a bloop series-ending single to Luis Gonzalez.

Teen Son Observation: “Rivera is trash.”

No. 6 – 1986 World Series Game 6
New York Mets 6, Boston Red Sox 5 (10 innings)
Score: 13 (Kevin 6, Lukas 7)
Not-the-Hero: Calvin Schiraldi (three earned runs in 2-2/3 innings, not to mention surrendering three more runs, and “earning” the loss in Game 7)

Padres Fan Observation: The Buckner game. The first World Series I ever watchedWe’re quick to blame Bill Buckner because it was a slow roller that went through his legs and allowed the winning run to score. Do you know how that winning run was allowed to be at second base though?!

In the bottom of the 8th Schiraldi allows a Gary Carter sacrifice fly to tie the game at 3-3. Despite 18 pitches that inning, Red Sox manager John McNamara brings him out for the ninth. He adds 21 more pitches, running his total to 39 – for a relief pitcher (I know, I know different time back then). The Red Sox take a 5-3 lead in the top of the 10th, so bring in closer Bob Stanley right?! Nah, Schiraldi’s on fire! And he starts the 10th that way with two quick flyball outs. But then, Carter singles, Kevin Mitchell singles, Ray Knight singles scoring Carter, cutting the lead to 5-4.

Schiraldi is finally replaced by Stanley, but Stanley tosses a wild pitch to the backstop scoring Knight and tying the score at 5-5 before Mookie Wilson’s dribbler goes through the legs of Buckner.

Is Buckner to blame?! Not close! Even if he gets the ball does he get the speedy Wilson?! Even if he gets the out it’s still a tie game! Blame Schiraldi, McNamara and Stanley before you blame Buckner!

Teen Son Observation: “Those guys [Schiraldi and Stanley] don’t look like baseball players. They’re fat.”

No. 5 – 1997 World Series Game 7
Florida Marlins 3, Cleveland Indians 2 (11 innings)
Score: 12 (Kevin 7, Lukas 5)
Not-the-Hero: Jose Mesa (Mesa gave up 10 hits and three runs in the series, including the game-tying hit)

Padres Fan Observation: Became a Marlins fan the second the expansion franchise signed my all-time favorite Benito Santiago in 1992. Looking back you really feel for the Indians and their fans. They haven’t won a title since 1948, yet the Marlins win one in their first five years, and would add another in 2003. Guess being a Padres fan is not as bad.

Teen Son Observation: “What is up with those jerseys? Are they sleeveless?!”

No. 4 – 1992 NLCS Game 7
Atlanta Braves 3, Pittsburgh Pirates 2
Score: 11 (Kevin 3, Lukas 8)
Hero: Francisco Cabrera (1 at-bat the entire series and it was a two-out, two RBI single, not shabby)

Padres Fan Observation: Oh we loved us some early ’90 Atlanta Braves. They were on TBS so you could watch them, even if you lived in Hawaii – which we did. They had the Tomahawk Chop. Ron Gant was stacked. David Justice was handsome and had a sweet swing. Smoltz, Steve Avery, Tom Glavine. They were fun to watch! But it was a slow first baseman with bad knees and a 25-year-old backup catch that provided one of the the greatest moments in team history. On the other end, Doug Drabek 129 pitches?!

Teen Son Observation: “Wait?! That’s Barry Bonds?! I thought he was bigger than that.”

No. 3 – 2004 ALCS Game 4
Boston Red Sox 6, New York Yankees 4 (12 innings)
Score: 6 (Kevin 4, Lukas 2)
Hero: David Ortiz (4 RBI and the game-winning HR at the wee hours of the night)

Padres Fan Observation: Excuse our bias, the Red Sox comeback started on October 17, 2004 hours after Lukas was born. I told him he’ll never have to pay for a beer in Boston if he just tells them he was born the day Dave Roberts stole second. Down 0-3 in the series, the Red Sox made Rivera look bad for the second time on this list (see Lukas’ comment below). Up 4-3 in the ninth, Rivera walks Kevin Millar, lets Dave Roberts distract him and then take second on a steal before Bill Mueller singles in Roberts tying the score.

David Ortiz would end it on a two-run homer in the 12th, beginning an improbably series comeback, and igniting the Red Sox to eight straight wins and their first World Series since 1918. They’ve won four since. I hate them.

Teen Son Observation: “Told you Rivera is trash!”

No. 2 – 1993 World Series Game 6
Toronto Blue Jays 8, Philadelphia Phillies 6
Score
: 5 (Kevin 1, Lukas 4)
Hero: Joe Carter (I mean … 8 RBI in the series and the first World Series-ending home run since 1960)

Padres Fan Observation: Paul Molitor was amazing (12-for-24, 10 runs scored), but the ex-Padre, Joe Carter, hit the greatest home run I’ve ever seen. I remember jumping up and down in the living room so excited to have witnessed such a moment. As someone that dreamed of playing first base for the Padres, I dreamed a few times of ending a Series on a home run. Down one with one out and two on, Carter would end the Series and become the stuff kids dream about.

Teen Son Observation: “What the heck are they playing on? What kind of field is that?”

No. 1 – 1995 ALCS Game 5
Seattle Mariners 6, New York Yankees 5 (11 innings)

Score: 3 (Kevin 2, Lukas 1)
Hero: Edgar Martinez (three hits, two HUGE RBI)

Padres Fan Observation: Did I mention we’re Mariners fans? I already said the 1995 tiebreaker was the best game I ever went to. This one was the best I ever watched. The ’95 season was amazing! Refuse to Lose! The threat of losing the Mariners to Florida. The clutch hits night after night after night (I see you Tino! I see you Blowers!). Randy Johnson walking in from the bullpen – again. Griffey’s sweet-swinging home run in the 8th inning (he had five in the five-game series), and the single in the 11th setting up Edgar. Edgar … oh Edgar, who the night before put this team on his back driving in seven runs with two home runs. Watching them fall behind 0-2 in the series and then coming back. Watching them fall behind in the 11th and thinking, “It can’t end here! It just can’t!” Watching little Joey Cora cross the plate and then Griffey sprint from first to beat the throw from left. It all still gives me goosebumps. Before ’95 I had never experienced postseason baseball. And now to experience it live … it was the most amazing time to be a baseball fan.

Teen Son Observation: “Yah, that’s my team. Your team is the Padres.”

Did your favorite make the cut? Let me know your favorite postseason finish in the comments below!

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