"Friendship is one mind in two bodies.'" -- Mencius, Chinese author
The Playmaker's Final Play (10/10/1999)
On and off the field, Cowboys WR Michael Irvin was larger than life. You never knew what he might say or do. Sometimes what he said and did was regrettable.
But booooy, did "The Playmaker" ever live up to his nickname about a thousand times over during the 1990's.
Then, as can happen in pro sports, a seemingly innocuous play in Philadelphia brought Irvin's career to a skidding...and as it turned out, permanent...halt.
Notes: the 33-year-old Irvin was tackled by Eagles CB Bobby Taylor (#21) and S Tim Hauck (#45). Following the injury, a near 20-minute delay ensued. Though his teammates were not happy at all, Irvin has never criticized the Eagles fans for their less-than-appropriate cheering, at least not publicly.
#21 Deion Sanders is briefly shown leading the Cowboys in prayer. He is not shown pacing near Irvin, triggering more reaction from the crowd.
Irvin was later revealed to have been playing his entire career with a narrow spinal cord, and he retired in July 2000. His final catch was #750 of his career.
The Cowboys lost the game 13-10.
Six Bills For Jim Thome (8/15/2011)
For most of Jim Thome's first 12 seasons, all with Cleveland, he was not the best player on his own team. Though pitchers certainly feared him and he put up some gaudy numbers, guys like Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, etc. put the big fella basically in a supporting role.
Eventually, those other guys drifted away, and Thome was the focal point in Cleveland's lineup...for a while, as he eventually changed addresses (a few times). But he continued to bash, eventually reaching 300, 400 and even 500 home runs! By 2009, homer #600 was within realistic reach for the 39-year-old.
Finally, in an August 2011 road clash with Detroit, Thome—now a Minnesota Twin—blasted two balls out of Comerica Park to join the previously seven-member club (Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa; Albert Pujols has since become Member #9).
Notes: #599 was a 6th-inning shot off Tigers SP Rick Porcello; reliever Daniel Schlereth served up #600 in the 7th. Behind Thome's five RBI, the Twins went on to win 9-6.
You gotta respect the Tigers fans giving love to a guy who'd been a worthy division rival for most of his career (Indians, White Sox, Twins). Thome was just that likable and popular.
Ten days after walloping #600, Thome was traded back to the Indians. He spent 2012 with the Phillies and Orioles, finishing his 22-year career with 612 home runs (8th all-time).
Isaiah Rider Wins The Lottery (12/22/1994)
Sadly, the off-court behavior of former UNLV standout and onetime Timberwolves building block Isaiah "J.R." Rider usually received more headlines than anything he did on the court. But for one glorious moment just before Christmas 1994, it was all about Rider's play for once.
Well, one specific play.
Against the host Kings with several supporters in attendance, Minnesota's Rider made a desperate attempt to save a wayward pass from teammate Winston Garland. It turned into the 1995 ESPY's Play Of The Year.
Notes: Rider's 1Q heave made it 17-13 Kings, but it wasn't enough to prevent an eventual 109-89 blowout.
That's Kings G Mitch Richmond getting a tap from longtime friend Rider at the :12 mark. Rider finished up with 27 points in 38 minutes. It's not clear if Garland got an assist on the wild 3.
A Tantrum In Toronto (5/15/2012)
Off the bat, let's put aside how bad the 3-1 pitch called a strike to Toronto IF Brett Lawrie was. It excuses nothing.
The scene: the B9th of a Rays/Jays clash in Toronto with TB up 4-3. After receiving a more-than-generous strike two call from home plate umpire Bill Miller, Rays CL Fernando Rodney K's Lawrie looking, and Lawrie completely loses his mind.
Blue Jays manager John Farrell doesn't react much better and gets ejected from what's left of the game. Then an idiot fan, likely with a high BAC, decides to get involved.
You can only hope the young children who witnessed such poor behavior aren't very impressionable.
Notes: Lawrie was obviously ejected and eventually suspended by the league for four games. He did at least apologize, insisting he never meant to actually hit Miller with the helmet.
If I get annoyed by players calling their own ball four, I'm sure the men in blue hate it. Miller can obviously never admit it, but he might have called that second strike to teach young Lawrie a lesson.
That's CF Colby Rasmus following Lawrie's K with a game-ending groundout.
As for the moron who fired his drink at Miller, I could not confirm that he faced legal consequences, but I'm guessing he HAD to.
Harrison's No-Touch Touchdown (1/4/2004)
Of Marvin Harrison's 130 touchdowns (regular season and playoffs) during his 13-year career with the Indianapolis Colts, this one has to be the least probable.
It certainly was the most deflating to the defense.
The setup: late 1Q of the AFC Wild Card Game, with visiting Denver trailing Indianapolis 7-3. Colts QB Peyton Manning stepped up and fired to Harrison over the middle for what should have been a 17-yard gain.
The Denver defenders around Harrison weren't pleased about allowing the first-down catch. Little did they know how much worse it was about to get.
Notes: Harrison scampered 29 more yards for the score, which put Indy up 14-3 en route to a 41-10 demolition of the Broncos. Colt WR's Reggie Wayne (#87) Brandon Stokley (#83) and Troy Walters (#86) join Harrison in celebrating.
Surrounding Harrison on the ground: Denver DB's Kenoy Kennedy (#28) and Kelly Herndon (#31) plus LB Al Wilson (#56).
Harrison finished the game with seven catches, 133 yards, and the only two postseason TD's of his Hall-of-Fame career.
2013 ALCS: Ortiz SLAMS Detroit (10/13/2013)
During his 14 years with the Red Sox, David Ortiz delivered when it mattered SO many times that it's pretty much impossible to nail down even a Top 5 list. But if we were to try, this homer from the 2013 ALCS versus Detroit would rank very, very high on said list.
Boston trailed Detroit 5-1 in the 8th inning of Game 2, but quickly loaded the bases against a trio of Tiger relievers. Detroit skipper Jim Leyland turned to his fourth pitcher of the inning, CL Joaquin Benoit, to face Ortiz. It didn't end well, and SP Max Scherzer's brilliant outing went to waste.
Notes: Ortiz's slam tied the game at 5, and the Red Sox won in the 9th on two singles and a wild pitch from Rick Porcello.
Perhaps the most talked-about element of this highlight was Tigers RF Torii Hunter going heels-over-head and shaking himself up in fruitless pursuit of the homer. Even the jubilant Fenway Park security guard gained a few minutes of fame.
Runners Dustin Pedroia (#15) Will Middlebrooks (#16) and Jacoby Ellsbury (#2) await Ortiz at the plate.
Boston eliminated Detroit in six games, then defeated St. Louis in the 2013 World Series.
Lindor Vs. The Bat (5/31/2016)
Francisco Lindor is a dangerous offensive player capable of beating opponents with the longball, the bunt, the steal and everything in between.
Defensively, he's been described as artistic, acrobatic, dynamic and graceful among other things.
Off the field, Lindor is known for a contagious personality and effective leadership.
So WHY did the baseball gods choose such a respected figure when they needed somebody to trip over their bat and faceplant in the dirt???
Notes: On the mound for the Rangers is SP Colby Lewis, who matched up against Lindor for the first and only time in their careers in this game. Texas 2B Jurickson Profar completes the suddenly easier play to 1B Mitch Moreland.
The Rangers, up 2-0 at the time of Lindor's 4th-inning folly, would go on to win 7-3. Lindor finished 0-for-3 with a BB.