Royals Champions Say Goodbye (10/1/2017)
No Royals fan will ever forget the team's stunning charge to the 2014 World Series—where they fell just short of beating my Giants—or its triumph over the Mets in the 2015 Fall Classic. For a fanbase that had endured SO much lousy baseball since KC's last championship in 1985, the victory had to feel equal parts amazing and miraculous.
However, KC's status as champions did not suddenly transform them into a financial powerhouse in the class of the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, etc. Within two years, several key Royals stared free agency in the face with their odds of returning to Kansas City slim in some cases, impossible in others. Their devoted fans knew this.
With that in mind, in the 5th inning of their 2017 season finale against Arizona, Royals manager Ned Yost made a point of pulling four pending FA's from that title team off the field together—1B Eric Hosmer, 3B Mike Moustakas, SS Alcides Escobar and OF Lorenzo Cain. Each had spent exactly seven seasons in Kansas City.
It was quite a moment as the champion Royals quartet said their potential goodbyes to a very grateful—as the sign says—and spirited home crowd of 32K+.
Notes: That off-season, Hosmer signed with the Padres, while Cain re-joined the Brewers—the Royals could never have afforded either of their new contracts. Escobar and Moustakas both re-signed with KC for 2018, though Moustakas was traded to Milwaukee in July.
When the group of Royals was removed, Arizona led 6-2. They went on to a 14-2 demolition, not that it really mattered given the circumstances.
Kris Dunn Falls Off The Rim (1/17/2018)
We recently presented a video of Michael Jordan soaring through the air for a dunk. We now present another Chicago Bull doing the same...with a far different result.
When he was drafted in 2016, PG Kris Dunn was viewed by many to be the point guard of the Timberwolves' future. One year later, he was a Chicago Bull, sacrificed (along with SG Zach Levine and others) in a regrettable deal for superstar SG Jimmy Butler.
After missing the first week of his first Chicago season, Dunn started 31 of their next 40 games and was putting up decent numbers...until he faced my Warriors in mid-January.
I was watching live when, after recovering a bobbled dribble by Warriors G Klay Thompson late in the game—not seen here—Dunn broke away for a slam...and landed literally on his face instead of his feet. (In fact, I seemed to notice before the announcers did.)
Dunn suffered a concussion, chipped some teeth, and didn't play again until February 14...ouch.
Notes: That's G David Nwaba #11 who briefly checks on Dunn before racing back on defense. The Bulls pulled within five on Dunn's dunk, but ultimately lost 119-112. Dunn finished with 16 points in 30 minutes of action.
It was reported in the USA Today that Dunn's teeth literally left a mark in the United Center floor. If you want to see it, YOU search for it—I have enough troubling images in my head as it is.
Bryce Harper Beaned (4/28/2021)
Phillies OF Bryce Harper has his detractors, that can't be disputed. But even the most fervent Harper critic would never wish a 97-MPH fastball hurled at his head.
(Hip or ribs, maybe. But not head.)
Unfortunately, critics and fans of Harper alike were witness to just that early in the 2021 season. It was not deliberate; the heater from Cardinals lefty Genesis Cabrera got away from him. Harper was forced to leave the game, replaced by OF Matt Joyce.
Notes: Harper was leading off the 6th inning when he was hit. He finished 0-for-2.
Cabrera drilled the next hitter as well, SS Didi Gregorius, leading to Phillies MGR Joe Girardi's ejection (he was upset the umpires didn't eject Cabrera).
After the game, Cardinals MGR Mike Shildt said he would have removed Cabrera after Harper's beaning—but by rule, Cabrera had to face three batters minimum. He wound up hitting two and allowing a tiebreaking RBI single to OF Andrew McCutchen before finally getting the hook.
Despite losing their superstar, Philadelphia beat the Cardinals 5-3.
Phil Dawson's Double-Bounce Field Goal (11/18/2007)
Ever hear of "The Phil Dawson Rule", the one that allows kicks off goalposts to be reviewed by officials? This video shows why it exists.
Against the host Baltimore Ravens, Dawson's Browns trailed 30-27 with three seconds left in the 4Q. Dawson attempted a 51-yard field goal that, initially, looked to have doinked off the upright and crossbar for a heartbreaking miss. The zebras eventually signaled no good, and Baltimore left the field believing it had won.
But upon a lengthy discussion among the officials (not shown), they determined the ball had actually hit the left upright, caromed through the very bottom of the uprights and THEN ricocheted off the stanchion (the perpendicular bar holding the goalpost up). The initial call of "no good" was reversed!
You could kick a football 3,283 times and not be able to intentionally do what Dawson did.
Notes: Dawson would go on to kick the game-winning FG in overtime—Browns 33, Ravens 30. Click here for Browns legend Joe Thomas's version of the events.
After the game, Baltimore was up in arms because they believed officials conferred with someone who'd seen a replay; such plays were not reviewable in 2007. The officials, however, insisted they were only confirming that the play was not reviewable and no replay was used in reversing their call. (That rule was changed in time for the '08 season.)
Apologies for not trimming the first 30 seconds of this video. I DID trim the five-minute officials' conference, though.
Shawon Dunston Unhappy With Bates (6/11/1995)
This one's pretty cut and dried: veteran Cubs SS Shawon Dunston took major offense with rookie Rockies IF Jason Bates's 6th-inning takeout slide on a steal attempt—not a double-play ball—and got physical with him. Benches from both sides emptied and there was your typical jawing and shoving, but nothing really happened.
Obviously, Dunston—who also exchanged strong words with Rockies manager Don Baylor—was sent to the showers. (It looks like Bates is ejected along with him, but as it turned out Bates was caught stealing on the play, which I couldn't tell at first.)
Notes: At one point in the video, as if slapping Bates and jawing with Baylor wasn't enough, it appears Dunston might try to fight his own teammate Brian McRae.
Later that season Dunston bloodied Giants P Sergio Valdez with a couple of punches after being thrown at. The lesson here: Dunston probably did not meditate much in the year 1995.
Jose Hernandez replaced the ejected Dunston at SS.
That's Howard Johnson—who started for Chicago in LF—who gets to Bates first. Rick Wilkins is the Cubs catcher, with Turk Wendell on the mound and Rockies P Mark Thompson attempting to bunt. Colorado went on to win 5-1.
Javier Baez Embarrasses Will Craig (5/27/2021)
I want to confirm to you the TSR visitor that this is NOT a staged play, NOT a scene from a movie, and those are NOT amateur ballplayers. What you are watching is, ostensibly, a matchup of two major league teams.
One of those major league teams, the Pittsburgh Pirates, did not always fit their billing as such in 2021—never more so than on the afternoon of May 27, 2021. That day, they hosted the Chicago Cubs, who at the time still employed IF Javier Baez, who's long been known to do some "interesting" things on the ballfield.
Not to rookie Pirates 1B Will Craig, evidently.
You'll see Baez ground to third for what should easily be the final out of the 3rd inning...until every Pirates infielder screws up in some way. None more than Craig, however.
Notes: Pittsburgh made no fewer than eight mistakes on this single play...
3B Erik Gonzalez throwing errantly to 1B
Craig failing to just tag 1B after receiving the throw
Craig failing to simply run Baez down and tag him despite Baez repeatedly slowing up
No Pirate infielder SCREAMING at Craig to just tag 1B, including SP Tyler Anderson
No Pirate infielder covering the vacated 1B, including Anderson
Craig, once Baez makes it all the way back home, failing to tag 1B
Craig throwing late to C Michael Perez to retire runner Willson Contreras
Perez throwing errantly to 2B Adam Frazier as he's running to cover 1B (late)
At the 25-second mark, then-Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo is seen doubled over in laughter alongside P Justin Steele.
Baez soon scored on a single by OF Ian Happ; those two runs proved to be the difference in a 5-3 Cubs win, Within a week Craig was off the Pirates roster, and within six weeks he was "starting over" in the Korean Baseball Organization.
Michael Jordan Dunks Missed Free Throw (12/4/1992)
I remember the play vividly, but somehow I got the timeframe of one of Michael Jordan's most famous plays completely jumbled.
For YEARS I fully believed that MJ's amazing putback dunk of Scottie Pippen's missed free throw against Portland happened around 1996 during the Bulls second three-peat. Turned out it happened in 1992 during the Bulls first three-peat!
It is the worst I've ever screwed up the date of a famous play. But I suppose the important thing is remembering the play, which in my book goes down as one of Jordan's 10 best ever. Which is saying something.
Notes: Everything had to break right for Jordan to succeed here: the timing of his departure from the arc, the timing of his entering the key—too soon and a violation would have been called—and the ball caroming into Jordan's space. I can't recall anyone else pulling off such a play QUITE like this in many, many hours absorbing NBA basketball.
That is late Blazers C Kevin Duckworth completely blindsided by Jordan under the hoop...but truthfully, that could have happened to literally any big man in the league.
The Bulls went on to win 111-99, behind Jordan's 38 points and 28 more from Pippen.
Joe Borchard's 504-Foot Homer (8/30/2004)
Overall, outfielder Joe Borchard's MLB career may have fallen short of what was expected for a #12 overall pick, but he did have his moments. Such as that glorious day in August 2004 when, as a member of the White Sox, he got absolutely all of a fastball delivered by Phillies SP Brett Myers.
Kids, though MLB Network would have you believe differently, they DID measure home runs before StatCast came along in 2015. Borchard's blast was estimated at 504 feet at what's now known as Guaranteed Rate Field. To date, it is the longest homer ever hit at the 31-season-old ballpark!
Notes: This was a two-run homer served up in the B2nd. Chicago ultimately won this wild back-and-forth affair 9-8, with Borchard finishing 1-for-4.
The park is sparsely populated because this game was a makeup from a 6/10/2004 rainout. The official attendance was under 5,800.
Bobby Abreu, bless his heart, is the Philly RF who actually pursues this ball for a few steps.
"He Did WHAT?!" (11/6/2000)
Condemn NFL officials from here to the year 3000 for the calls they screw up. But while you're doing that, send about 3,000 props their way for not blowing what had to be one of the most difficult calls ever.
It was Vikings at Packers, overtime, on Monday Night Football midway through the 2000 season. Green Bay QB Brett Favre—as he tended to do—lofted a dangerous pass toward WR Antonio Freeman that could have and probably should have been intercepted by CB Cris Dishman.
Instead, Dishman deflected the ball, allowing Freeman to perform some true wide-receiving wizardry while tumbling on the ground.
Notes: upon review, Freeman's ridiculous catch stood as the game-winner.
Though most people pick Al Michaels' "Do you believe in miracles" call from way back as his best ever, "He did WHAT?" at :16 ranks at the top of my list. It was a genuine reaction, and stunning the unflappable Michaels was/is NOT a common occurrence.
For the game, Freeman finished with five catches for 118 yards and the score.
Robin Yount Joins 3,000-Hit Club (9/9/1992)
Robin Yount, for the first few years of his career, was a good player—not a great one, and certainly not one destined for the Hall of Fame. After all, he debuted in 1974 as a 18-year-old! The youngster had some developing to do.
A switch was flipped inside the still-young Brewers SS in 1980, and he became one of the game's best players for the rest of that decade. He led Milwaukee to the 1982 World Series and pocketed a pair of MVP awards—one as a SS, and one after switching to CF in 1985.
As the 1990's rolled in, Yount slowed a bit but was still within reasonable reach of the 3,000-hit club. He finally earned his membership card with a solid oppo single against Cleveland's Jose Mesa in late 1992.
Notes: I like that longtime teammate and fellow Hall-of-Famer-to-be Paul Molitor (#4) is the first to greet Yount after the first base coach. And that's only because the coach was five feet away.
I also like Yount perched on his teammate's shoulders in celebration and went out of my way to find a clip that included it. Which was harder than it should have been.
Yount finished the game 1-for-5 and Milwaukee lost to Cleveland 5-4, but most Brewers fans/personnel didn't really care. Yount finished his career with 3,142 hits, good for 20th all-time and 14th when he retired.