THE GREATEST NIGHT IN BASEBALL HISTORY

9/28/11. What will it be remembered for?

The day that a man was accused of plotting a terror attack on the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon, the day that The Supreme Court was asked to rule on health care, the day that Tom Brady (finally!) cut his hair?

What will 9/28/11 be remembered for?

Baseball.

Yes baseball.

Because last night was arguably the greatest night in baseball history.

Going in to the night, the Braves and Cardinals were tied for the NL Wild Card spot. Also, the Red Sox and

The Braves started off strong against the Phillies, the good feeling would not last long, though.

Rays were tied for the AL Wild Card spot.

The Braves were playing at home against the Phillies. The Cardinals were in Houston against the Astros.

The Rays were playing at home against the Yankees. The Red Sox were playing in Baltimore against the Orioles.

And the rest was up to fate, here’s what happened next:

7:10- The first pitches in Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Baltimore were thrown.

7:19- Ryan Howard hits a double to put the Phillies up, 1-0.

7:21- Yankees go up on Rays, 1-0 after Curtis Granderson scores on an error by Ben Zobrist.

7:27- Chipper Jones hits a sacrifice fly, which ties the Braves with Philly, 1-1.

The excitement after just 17 minutes was unbelievable.

7:49- Dustin Pedroia hits a single, to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead on the Orioles.

7:54- Mark Teixeira hits a grand slam to left field to give the Yankees a 5-0 lead on the Rays.

After that dagger, all hope seemed to be lost in Tampa.

8:03- Dan Uggla hits a 3-run home run to give the Braves a 3-1 lead over the Phillies.

After a grand slam which extended the Yankees lead to 5-0, things in Tampa weren't so joyous.

8:06- J.J. Hardy hits a 2-run homer to put the Orioles up on the Red Sox, 2-1.

8:06- The first pitch in Houston is thrown for the Cardinals-Astros game.

8:20- Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon balks, which sends Marco Scutaro home, which tied the game, 1-1.

8:24- Nick Punto singles for the Cardinals, which caps off a 5-run inning for St. Louis.

8:35- Mark Teixeria hits his second home run of the game to give the Yankees a 6-0 lead.

Then, all hope was certainly lost for the Rays.

8:36- A Dustin Pedroia homer gives the Red Sox a 3-2 lead.

Then, the Red Sox surely would win the AL Wild Card.

8:52- Andruw Jones hits a solo home run to give the Yankees a 7-0 lead.

9:07- A Jack Wilson error leads to a Phillies run, which cuts the Braves’ lead to 3-2.

9:07- At this point, the Cardinals are leading, 7-0.

In Atlanta, nerves were running high. Sweat was dripping down players’ and fans’ backs, and it was

The Red Sox looked sharp in the beginning against the Orioles. Like the Braves, though, this feeling would not last very long.

almost time to panic.

9:34- A rain delay in Baltimore pauses the game.

9:56- Chase Utley hits a sacrifice fly, scores Pete Orr, and now the game is tied.

Then, panic in Atlanta was at an all-time high.

10:11-  Atlanta’s Jack Wilson strikes out in the bottom of the 9th a man on third.

Blew a chance at a win. Once again.

10:17- A Bases-loaded walk puts the Rays on the scoreboard and the score is now 7-1 Yankees.

10:18- Allen Craig hits a home run to seal the deal as the Cardinals defeat the Astros, 8-0.

The Braves now needed to win to make it another day.

10:23- Evan Longoria hits a 3-run home run to bring the score to 7-6 Yankees.

The Cardinals dominated the Astros, 8-0, and then watched in the clubhouse as the Braves completed their collapse.

The Rays then had a new life.

10:33- Chipper Jones hits a deep fly ball in what looks like a game-winning hit, but Michael Martinez makes an

amazing catch to rob him. The score remains 3-3 in the 11th inning.

10:47- With a 2-2 count, 2 outs, down to their last pitch of the season, pinch hitter Dan Johnson hits a home run for the Rays to tie the game, 7-7.

The Rays then had a new(er) life.

10:58- The Red Sox- Orioles game resumes in the bottom of the 7th.

11:18- Boston’s Marco Scutaro is running home, barely gets tagged out at the plate, and the Red Sox lead remains 3-2.

11:28- Hunter Pence hits a blooper into right field to give the Phillies a 4-3 lead.

It is now complete: After the Braves lost, their season was over. This capped off the second-worst collapse in MLB history.

The Braves were now 3 outs away from completing one of the most epic collapses in MLB history.

11:40- The Braves’ Freddie Freeman grounds into a game-ending double play, the Braves lose, 4-3.

The Cardinals were now in the playoffs. Their comeback and Braves collapse was now complete.

The NL Wild Card race is now over.

11:59- With a man on second, Baltimore’s Nolan Reimold hits a double to tie the game, 3-3 in the bottom of the

9th,

12:02- Only 3 minutes later, Robert Andino hits a single to left field to bring Reimold home. The Orioles had now won, 4-3.

The Red Sox walked off the field, heads hung low, the entire city of

It's over: The Red Sox season abruptly ended after blowing a 3-2 lead in Baltimore. 3 minutes later, the Rays won to put the cap on the AL Wild Card race to end the biggest collapse in MLB history.

Boston scowling at them fiercely. After building a stellar all-star lineup during the offseason, they had let the entire city of Boston down.

12:05- Only 3 minutes after the Red Sox walked into the clubhouse, they watched as Evan Longoria hit a walk-off home run to seal the deal. The Rays had defeated the Yankees, 8-7 in a miracle comeback.

The Rays were down 9 games in the Wild Card, they were down 7-0 in this game, heck, they were down to their last strike, but they just wanted it so badly.

After what many are calling the greatest night in MLB history, the Red Sox and Braves have completed the 1st and 2nd biggest collapses in MLB history.

On the other side, the Rays and Cardinals have come back from down 9 games (Rays) and down 8.5 games

Go crazy: Just like that, the Rays were in the playoffs after an Evan Longoria walk-off home run.

(Cardinals), to pull of miracle comebacks.

On September 1st, the Rays had a 1 in 278 million chance of making the playoffs.

In the words of the legendary Al Michaels,

“Do you believe in miracles?”

By Sam Brief

THE BEST OF TIMES, THE WORST OF TIMES

This week is my favorite week of the entire 2011 MLB regular season. And it was for 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, and every year since I started watching baseball.

Why?

Wild-card races.

Simply, these races are so exciting, so exhilarating, so mind-boggling, and so…good that I just can’t

Collapse: The Red Sox are playing terribly in September, and are on the verge of blowing their 9 game wild card lead. As of now, the Red Sox would not make the playoffs.

stop talking about them.

As of today, the Braves lead the Cardinals by 1 game in the NL wild card race, and the Red Sox and Rays are tied in the AL wild card race.

There is a reason why I mentioned the NL race before the AL one. Over the past week, all of the talk has been about the Red Sox collapse, how they were winning their division on September 1st, and now are in danger of missing the playoffs. How, on September 2nd, they held a 9 game wild-card lead that is now a tie. How they are 6-19 in September, how the Rays are breathing down their backs with a strong September (15-10). If the season ended tonight, the Rays would win the AL wild card, and make the playoffs. Even though it is a tie, because of head-to-head play, the Rays have the advantage.

This gets all of the attention.

Disappointment in Atlanta: The Braves are on the verge of blowing an 8.5 game wild-card lead, and it

On the other side, on September 1st, the Braves lead the Cardinals by 8.5 games for the NL wild card. The Braves then went 9-16 in September, and the Cardinals went 16-8 in September to cut the Braves’ lead to 1 game.

I do understand that the Red Sox collapse is probably greater than the Braves collapse but still, how come no one at all talks about the Braves-Cardinals race?

My guess is that it is because there is more interest in the Red Sox, who are often more scrutinized, than the Braves. This is why ESPN talks about the AL Wild Card race for 5 minutes, and the NL race for 30 seconds.

Recently, there has been unnecessary amounts of chatter regarding MLB playoff realignment. The proposal is that instead of there being 1 wild card spot for each league, there be 2 wild card spots for each league.

Right now the Rays are tied with the Red Sox, and the Cardinals are 1 game back of the Braves. Everyone is talking about these tight races, and there are tons of excitement around the nation

Pumping up the crowd: B.J. Upton the Rays are electrifying the MLB with a strong September. The Rays are now tied with the Red Sox in the AL Wild Card race.

regarding this situation. I don’t know if there has been anytime all season than what is unfolding currently as I write.

If this proposed playoff realignment goes through, then the current situation would look like this:

All of the divisions would be clinched, and Red Sox and Rays would both have clinched a Wild Card spot, so the AL race would be non-existent. The Braves and Cardinals would have clinched their Wild Card spots and, because all of the NL divisions have been clinched, the games would be flat, and have no meaning. No one would be talking about the MLB playoffs because all of the divisions are clinched, and if the Wild Card race isn’t gripping, there is nothing to talk about. The last few weeks of the 2011 MLB season would just be boring, dull, and tedious.

Sleeping on the job: Do you want MLB games to look like this at the end of the year? So, don

So, then why would the MLB discard the amazing thrill and unbelievable races that having only 1 wild card spot provides?

The last week of the MLB season would go from the most action-packed week of the season to the least.

In other words, the last week of the MLB season would go from the best of times to the worst of times.

By Sam Brief