Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Top 20

I told you in my last post about WFAN's Top 20 moments of the past 20 years, and they have been revealed. Mike and the Mad Dog did the countdown during their show on Thursday, with many guests, though not one for each moment. Anyway, let's go through them here...and get ready for some fireworks.

#20) WFAN goes on the air (1987)
This one seemed very sketchy to me. This "sneaking" in at number 20 stinks of a little "home cooking" to pat themselves on the back. Check for some hanging chads.

#19) David Cone's perfect game (1999)
There have been two perfect games in New York since 1987 - Cone and David Wells. What made one better than the other?

#18) Buster Douglas beats Mike Tyson (1990)
This was a major story at the time, but I find it hard to believe that this was more important than the many other stories that impacted New York during the last 20 years. At least a Knicks'll understand why eventually.

#17) Mark Messier traded to the Rangers
I get it - it changed the face of the franchise, and even I thought it was huge, but I'm not big on promoting things like this as major moments. Still, he's The Messiah, and you could feel the change in the Rangers the minute this trade was made.

#16) Endy Chavez catch vs Cardinals - Game 7, 2007 NLCS
And here we Mets fans might want to not read on. I know it was a wonderful catch - one of the best you'll ever see. But Willie Mays made a legendary catch in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series that is still remembered because the Giants won A) that game and B) the Series. The Mets did neither.

#15) Cal Ripken breaks Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games played (1995)
I love when Chris Russo waxes poetic about this saving baseball. Puh-leeze. This is still tainted in my mind because of the strike, and the fact that the Orioles wouldn't field a team of replacements because it could impact Cal's streak. The game is the thing. The Mariners racing out of nowhere to win the AL West in '95 - that's a "game-saving" moment, not the somewhat selfish efforts of one player.

#14) Roger Clemens vs. Mike Piazza - Game 2, 2000 World Series
I've long been critical of Piazza over this. I never felt he handled himself well over this whole thing (despite Russo's verbal fellatio). Yet today I heard Piazza finally concede that the whole thing was the heat of the battle; that Clemens didn't intend to throw the bat at him. It got laughed about and finally, I felt at peace with Piazza. That's the guy I always wanted to like and respect.

#13) Robin Ventura's Grand Slam Single - Game 5, 1999 NLCS
Cool moment for sure, in the midst of a fun series. How did Kenny Rogers walking in the NLCS winning run in the same series get left off this list?

#12) Mets win 2000 NLCS
This is a funny one. So by this rationale, shouldn't we include every league championship win? That would mean the Giants beating the Niners before Suepr Bowl XXV, the Knicks two Eastern Conference wins, the Devils...a number of times, and the Yankees in '96, '98, '99, '00, '01, and '03.

Oh, I forgot. The other teams worry about winning championships. The Mets celebrate little things - like painting "Wild Card Champions" on the grass at Shea, or campaigning for Paul LoDuca to be elected to the All-Star Game.

#11) Mets sign Pedro Martinez (following 2004 season)
This is where I literally vomited in my mouth, then considered smashing the radio. Exactly what has Mr. Head Hunter done since being in New York? Other than the fact that I'm still "his daddy."

#10) Mike Piazza gets traded to the Mets (1998)
Sheez, this is exhausting. Let's see, exactly how many rings did Mike get while in New York? At least one, right? No? Then I don't get it.

#9) Derek Jeter Flip Play - Game 4, 2001 ALDS
Now before you say "the Yankees didn't win", just stop, 'cause you'll be wrong. The Yankees A) won that game and B) won that series. Then they won the next series. Then they were three lousy fooking outs from winning...oh, never mind. It's an iconic play.

#8) Yanks win 2000 World Series
The least joyous five games of my life. The Yankees seemed like they didn't have much fun either until it was over. This was the first series I had ever seen where the winning team really couldn't win.

#7) Aaron Boone HR - Game 7, 2003 ALCS
Only one thing tempers the legend of this one: they didn't win the World Series. The end to a crazy night in the Bronx.

#6) Stephane Matteau goal - Game 7, 1994 Eastern Conf Final
Legendary. Talk about crazy nights? This one was nuts. The Rangers were ready to move on, but the Devils scored right before the end of regulation. Then overtime came. This is what hockey desperately needs again - a crazy nail-biting series that gets some press for the NHL, and gets people talking and watching.

#5) Mike Piazza HR after 9/11 (2001)
By this rationale, we should then see the Tino Martinez, Derek Jeter, and Scott Brosius home runs from the World Series are numbers four, three, and two - right?

No doubt that Piazza hitting the home run off Steve Karsay was huge due to the return of baseball to New York and the heat of the pennant race, but are you going to try to tell me that this REGULAR SEASON home run was more important than home runs on back to back nights in games four and five of the WORLD SERIES with two outs in the bottom of the ninth?

But...the Yankees lost the series in seven, so I keep these moments in perspective. I suggest everyone do the same.

#4) Red Sox lift The Curse (2004)
An important moment in sports history but I find it hard to believe that New Yorkers put this fourth. Who exactly voted for this? I didn't, that's for sure.

#3) Yankees win the World Series in 1996
After 18 long years, order was restored to the world. Frank Torre had his new heart. The Bombers (who didn't bomb much that year) rebounded from an 0-2 World Series drubbing. Joe Torre finally gets to the big dance after some 40 years in baseball. It was a magic carpet ride. The toughest of the four Torre-era rings to earn.

#2) Giants win Super Bowl XXV (1991)
Finally a little love for Big Blue. As we're at the number two moment, you notice that the Knicks, Jets, Islanders, and Devils have all been woefully missing. Somewhere within these moments should have been a Knick moment - the LJ four-point play, Starks, Ewing...something. No respect for these franchises which shows me that New York is a baseball town and that WFAN is a baseball (and Mets) station.

Anyway, I disagree with Russo when he calls this the greatest Super Bowl ever. I still like Super Bowl XIII (Steelers-Cowboys), XXXII (Broncos-Packers...sorry Zach Fisher), or the nail-biters with the Pats and Rams and the Rams and Titans. I actually nodded off at one point during Super Bowl XXV, but I'll grant you that I was working overnight at the time. Still it was a great game with unique circumstances. We were a nation at war and patriotism was high. So was security. But the game was the star. OJ Anderson running like a horse. Jeff Hostetler running a perfect ball-control offense. Bill Parcells heading up an awesome coaching staff (Belichick, and on and on). Jim Kelly and the "K Gun" offense getting slowed to a crawl. Thurman Thomas getting ready to win the MVP...if only the kick went through the uprights.

After years of fairly dreadful Super Bowls, there was a great one, and a win for some of sports best fans.

#1) Rangers win the Cup (1994)
Only Rangers fans can possibly be more passionate than Giants fans. New York was perhaps never more intoxicated about a run than this one. People who weren't even hockey fans jumped on the bandwagon, which I'm never a fan of, but since hockey needs every fan it can find, it wasn't a bad thing. For those of us who enjoyed it, we know what Boston went through when their turn came in 2004 (I'm still in denial). The entire series was hockey at its best, with a penalty shot and back and forth play, and one team (the Rangers) unable to lock up the Cup until the fateful Game 7. And when it was over, nothing fell from the rafters except the echoes of pure joy; one collective cry of insanity. It was sports as it should be, most personified by the sign that was seen in the Garden that night:

"Now I Can Die In Peace"

Oh, listen closely today to "Fatso and Fruit Loops" because as I alluded to yesterday, the I-man will join the boys.

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