The 2012 MLB playoffs' League Division Series are nearing their triumphant endings, so now is as good a time as any to take a look back at the greatest moments we've seen emerge from the next round of the playoffs, the League Championship Series.
Whittling the list down was no small task, and a strong case could be made to include a number of memorable moments that didn't make the cut.
There was only room for 25, so let's take a look at the most memorable of them all.
Boston's Pedro Martinez had his fair share of struggles against the New York Yankees, but in Game 3 of the 1999 ALCS, Pedro was in the pocket.
On the heels of an incredible regular season that saw him win the American League Cy Young Award with a 23-4 record and a 2.07 ERA, Pedro kept the Yankees at bay through seven innings of work, holding them to only four baserunners (two walks, two hits) and striking out 12 batters.
It would be the only game that Boston would win in the series, but it was a phenomenal performance by one of the most dominant pitchers the game has ever seen.
With the 1980 NLCS between the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies tied at two games apiece, Game 5 would determine who survived to play another day.
After each of the previous three games wound up in extra innings, it was only fitting that this game would as well.
It didn't look like it would, as the Astros held a 5-2 lead with Nolan Ryan on the mound in the eighth inning, but the Phillies scored five runs to turn a deficit into a 7-5 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth inning.
However, Phillies closer Tug McGraw couldn't hold the lead, allowing two runs, and the game was tied at seven heading into the top of the 10th inning.
Garry Maddox would hit a two-out double off Astros reliever Frank LaCorte, scoring Del Unser and giving the Phillies an 8-7 lead. Dick Ruthven, pitching his second inning of relief, would work a 1-2-3 bottom of the 10th to give the Phillies the series win.
With the California Angels holding a 3-1 series lead in the 1986 ALCS, the Boston Red Sox needed a win to stay alive in Game 5 but found themselves trailing 5-2 heading into the ninth inning.
The Red Sox led off the top of the ninth with a single by Bill Buckner, and one out later, Don Baylor pulled the team within one with a two-run home run.
With two outs, Angels reliever Gary Lucas came on and plunked Rich Gedman, bringing Dave Henderson to the plate with his team's season hanging in the balance.
The Angels turned to reliever Donnie Moore to face Henderson, and after working a 2-2 count, he connected for a two-run home run to give Boston a 6-5 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth.
The Angels would tie things back up in the bottom of the inning to force extra innings, but they had no answers for Henderson, who would hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the 11th inning to drive in the game-winning run.
I don't know if this is really a "great moment," but it certainly deserves mention.
In the eighth inning of Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, with the Cubs holding a 3-2 series lead over the Florida Marlins and sitting five outs away from their first World Series appearance since 1945, the Cubs sent ace Mark Prior back out to the mound with a 3-0 lead.
With one out, Marlins second baseman Luis Castillo hit a harmless fly ball into foul territory down the third-base line.
Steve Bartman was sitting in the front row along the left-field corner wall behind the on-field bullpen, and the ball was coming toward him—as was Cubs left fielder Moisés Alou.
Alou and Bartman both made a play for the ball, and Alou was blocked from making the catch.
Alou and Prior argued for fan interference, but the umpire said no, and the floodgates opened.
Florida would put up eight runs in the inning, deflating the Cubs and winning both Game 6 and the decisive Game 7 to advance to the World Series.
Bartman needed police protection following the incident, while in February of 2004, the ball was blown up in an attempt to end the Cubs' string of bad luck.
With the 1981 NLCS series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Montreal Expos tied at two games each, it was only fitting that Game 5 was tied heading into the ninth inning.
The Expos bought in their ace, Steve Rogers, to face the Dodgers in the top of the ninth inning with each team having only one run on the board. He only needed six pitches to record the first two outs of the inning, bringing Dodgers right fielder Rick Monday to the plate.
Monday took Rogers deep, giving the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. Fernando Valenzuela and Bob Welch would keep the Expos off the board in the bottom of the inning, and the Dodgers advanced to face the Yankees in the World Series.
With the New York Yankees trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning to the Baltimore Orioles, Derek Jeter hit a long fly ball to right field off Orioles reliever Armando Benitez.
It was obvious that it was going to be close when it left the bat, but Orioles right fielder Tony Tarasco positioned himself on the warning track to make the catch. As the ball was coming down toward his glove, it disappeared.
The ball had hit another glove—the one worn by 12-year-old Yanks fan Jeffrey Maier, who reached over the wall and brought the ball into the crowd. Somehow, the umpire—Richie Garcia—didn't see Maier reach over the wall, and Tarasco was irate.
The home-run call would stand, and the Yanks would go on to win this game in 11 innings, with Maier helping the Yankees set the wheels in motion on baseball's last dynasty.
Holding a 3-2 series lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1985 NLCS, the Cardinals found themselves trailing 5-4 heading into the ninth inning.
With runners on second and third with two outs, the Dodgers' Tom Niedenfuer (who we will see again in this list) delivered his first pitch to Cardinals first baseman Jack Clark. Clark quickly deposited the ball into the left-field stands for a three-run home run, giving the Cardinals a 7-5 lead.
Ken Dayley would work a scoreless bottom of the ninth to send the Cardinals to the World Series.
Up two games to one over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2009 NLCS, the Philadelphia Phillies trailed 4-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning.
Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton took the hill, and with two runners on and two outs, Jimmy Rollins stepped to the plate for the Phillies.
Rollins would line Broxton's third pitch into the right-center field gap, scoring both runners and giving the Phillies the 5-4 win and a commanding 3-1 series lead.
The New York Yankees held a 2-1 series lead over the Seattle Mariners heading into Game 4 of the 2000 ALCS and sent Roger Clemens to the mound in Game 4.
Clemens would throw a complete-game shutout, holding the Mariners to only one hit—a seventh-inning double by Al Martin—while walking two and striking out an ALCS-record 15 batters.
With the San Diego Padres trailing the Chicago Cubs 2-1 in the 1984 NLCS, things weren't looking good when Cubs closer Lee Smith stepped on the mound for his second inning of work in the ninth inning of a tie game.
Padres first baseman Steve Garvey stepped to the plate to face Smith, one of the great closers in the history of the game.
Smith threw a fastball over the outer portion of the plate, and the Padres slugger went right with it, driving a game-winning home run over the right-field wall and giving the Padres new life in the series—a series they would eventually go on to win.
In a series full of memorable moments, Johnny Damon was the man who brought it all to an end.
After blowing a 3-0 series lead in the 2004 ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees were faced with becoming the first team in baseball history to blow a 3-0 lead and be eliminated, doing so in front of their home fans.
The Yankees had home-field advantage, but the Red Sox had momentum on their side.
Damon, who entered Game 7 just 3-for-29 in the series, stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the second inning to face Yankees starter Javier Vazquez. Damon hit a grand slam to right field that gave Boston a 6-0 lead, one it would not give back.
He'd hit a second home run later in the game, but it paled in comparison to the slam that sent the Red Sox to the World Series for the first time in 18 years.
After hitting the New York Yankees' Karim Garcia with a pitch, Boston Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez started jabbering with the Yankees dugout, pointing at his head.
Roger Clemens retaliated, coming high and tight to Manny Ramirez, and the benches cleared.
Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer, 72, made a beeline for Martinez, who proceeded to throw him to the ground, further fueling the fire that drove one of the great rivalries in sports.
The Philadelphia Phillies held a 2-1 series lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2008 NLCS, and as the game played on at Dodger Stadium, the game was tied at five in the eighth inning.
With two outs in the top of the eighth and a runner on first base, Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda replaced Cory Wade on the mound with Jonathan Broxton.
The Phillies countered by sending Matt Stairs to pinch-hit for pitcher Ryan Madson.
Stairs would work a 3-1 count before taking Broxton deep for a two-run blast that would stand as the game-winning hit.
While the Mets would go on to lose the game, Endy Chavez gave us one of the great catches in postseason history.
With the final game of the series tied at one in the sixth inning and a spot in the World Series on the line, Scott Rolen made contact with an Oliver Perez pitch and drove it deep to left field.
Chavez ran back to the wall, leaped and made a remarkable catch to rob Rolen of a home run. Chavez then fired the ball back into the infield so that the Mets could turn a double play.
One of the great heads-up plays in the history of the playoffs.
One strike from elimination in the 2005 NLCS against the Houston Astros, the St. Louis Cardinals' season rested on the broad shoulders of first baseman Albert Pujols.
With two runners on base and two outs, Pujols dug in against Astros closer Brad Lidge, who everyone knew was going to fire a slider to try to clinch the series for Houston.
Pujols didn't miss, blasting it over the train tracks in Minute Maid Park for a three-run home run and keeping the Cardinals' World Series hopes alive.
After the home run, Astros starter Andy Pettitte was caught sitting in amazement at what he had just witnessed, only able to utter two words: "Oh my."
Holding a 2-0 lead in the series, the Kansas City Royals fell behind 2-1 heading into the seventh inning of Game 3, seemingly putting their World Series aspirations on hold.
Yankees starter Tommy John got the first two outs of the inning before surrendering a double to Willie Wilson. John's day was over, and the Yankees turned to their closer, Rich "Goose" Gossage.
A single by U.L. Washington bought George Brett to the plate with runners on first and third and two out.
Brett, who finished the regular season hitting .390, crushed the first pitch he saw from Gossage into the third deck of Yankee Stadium for a three-run home run, giving the Royals a 4-2 lead with what would prove to be the game-winning and series-clinching hit.
With the Atlanta Braves holding a 3-1 series lead in the 1999 NLCS over the New York Mets, the game was tied heading into the top of the 15th inning.
Atlanta's Keith Lockhart would hit a two-out RBI triple off Mets closer Octavio Dotel, putting the Braves three outs away from the World Series.
With the season on the line, the Mets would load the bases against Braves reliever Kevin McGlinchy. Todd Pratt drew a walk and scored the tying run, bringing Robin Ventura to the plate with a chance to win the game with a fly ball to the outfield.
Ventura crushed the ball, sending it over the outfield wall for a game-winning grand slam.
However, Ventura would never cross home plate, as he was mobbed by his teammates when rounding first base. This has resulted in the only grand slam single in the history of the game.
After a Game 1 performance that lasted only three innings and ended with him allowing six runs, nobody was sure whether Curt Schilling would pitch again during the 2004 ALCS.
With the Boston Red Sox facing elimination, Schilling took the ball in Game 6, but not before undergoing a procedure shortly before the game—one where a tendon in his right ankle was sutured in order to prevent it from moving around.
He'd throw seven innings of one-run baseball, scattering four hits and walking none while striking out four. A blood stain on his right sock grew as the game wore on.
His only mistake was a seventh-inning pitch to Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams that wound up in the stands. Boston held on for the win, 4-2, and wound up becoming the first team in MLB history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit and advance to the World Series.
Six outs away from the World Series, the New York Yankees took a 6-3 lead against the Kansas City Royals into the top of the eighth inning.
Back-to-back singles by Al Cowens and Jim Wohlford set the stage for George Brett, who would hit a game-tying three-run home run off Yankees reliever Grant Jackson, who took over for Ed Figueroa after Cowens got on base.
Yankees first baseman Chris Chambliss was the first batter in the bottom of the ninth inning, facing the Royals' Mark Littell. He would hit the first pitch he saw over the right-center-field wall, clinching the American League pennant for the Yankees.
Reaching home plate would prove to be a challenge for Chambliss, however, as Yankee Stadium's lower bowl poured onto the field, forcing Chambliss to dodge fans—and break what would have passed for a solid open-field tackle in the NFL—as he circled the bases.
The Houston Astros took a 3-0 lead into the top of the ninth inning at home against the New York Mets, a team they trailed 3-2 in the 1986 NLCS. The Astros needed a win to stay alive and threw Cy Young Award winner Mike Scott in Game 6.
But the Mets had other ideas, putting up three runs in the top of the ninth to tie the game, and the 3-3 score would hold until the 14th inning, when Wally Backman's one-out single gave the Mets a 4-3 lead.
The lead would be short-lived, however, as the Astros answered in the bottom half of the inning when Billy Hatcher hit a deep home run to left field off Mets reliever Jesse Orosco, who had entered the game to start the inning.
With the game tied at four, the Mets put up three runs in the top half of the 16th inning, but everyone knew that the lead probably wouldn't hold, based on how the game had played out so far.
They were right, as the Astros put two runs on the board against Orosco, now working his third inning of the game.
With two outs, Orosco buckled down, striking out Kevin Bass and sending the Mets to the World Series.
Holding a 3-0 advantage in the series and having outscored the Oakland A's by a combined score of 16-6, the Detroit Tigers found themselves in a battle in Game 4 of the 2006 ALCS.
The game was tied at three heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, and with only one out and the bases loaded, A's skipper Ken Macha brought in his closer, Huston Street, to get out of the jam. Street wouldn't disappoint, inducing a double play to end the inning and keep the score tied.
Back on the mound for his third inning of work in the bottom of the ninth inning, Street recorded two quick outs before giving up back-to-back singles to Craig Monroe and Placido Polanco.
Tigers right fielder Magglio Ordonez stepped to the plate with a base open.
Ordonez, who had hit a solo shot off A's starter Dan Haren in the sixth inning that tied the game at three, was no match for an overworked Street, launching a three-run bomb that sent the Tigers to the Fall Classic—22 years to the day of the team's last World Series triumph.
After squandering a 3-1 series lead, the Atlanta Braves were faced with a must-win Game 7 with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1992 NLCS.
With Pittsburgh holding a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, Pirates manager Jim Leyland sent his ace, Doug Drabek, out to the mound to finish what he started.
Drabek would eventually load the bases by walking Sid Bream on four pitches, forcing Leyland to turn to his bullpen.
Pirates reliever Stan Belinda came on for the Pirates to try to get the final three outs. Ron Gant's sacrifice fly to deep left field cut the Pirates' lead in half and left runners on first and second with one out.
Belinda would walk Damon Berryhill to reload the bases but got pinch-hitter Brian Hunter to pop out to second base, leaving one out between the Pirates and the World Series.
Francisco Cabrera—who had taken only 10 regular-season at-bats in 12 games with the Braves—came to the plate, pinch-hitting in the pitcher's spot with the Braves' season hanging in the balance.
He hit a line drive through the left side of the infield that dropped in front of Barry Bonds, and former Pirate Sid Bream slid in just ahead of the tag at home plate to send the Braves to the World Series.
Trailing 5-2 with six outs left, the New York Yankees got set to face their nemesis, Boston's Pedro Martinez, who, despite a high pitch count, took the mound for his eighth inning of work.
Derek Jeter would hit a one-out double and be driven in by Bernie Williams' single, cutting the lead to two and prompting Red Sox manager Grady Little to pay Pedro a visit, presumably to remove him from the game.
But Little inexplicably left Martinez in, and Pedro allowed back-to-back doubles to Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada, with Posada clearing the bases and tying the game at five.
Pedro would be replaced with Alan Embree and then Mike Timlin, and the pair would go on to throw 1.2 innings of scoreless relief for Boston.
Tim Wakefield would take over in the 10th inning and need only 14 pitches to dispatch of Matsui, Posada and Jason Giambi.
Mariano Rivera would throw three scoreless innings himself for the Yankees, sending the Yankees into the bottom of the 11th inning with Aaron Boone, who had pinch-run for Ruben Sierra in the bottom of the eighth inning, stepping to the plate for the first time in the series-deciding game.
As Boone was warming up in the on-deck circle, he thought about taking a pitch but then talked himself out of it (h/t MLB.com).
It's either the best—or worst—decision he ever made, depending on which side of the rivalry you fall on.
With the series tied at two games apiece heading into Game 5, it was only fitting that the game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals was tied at two as they headed into the bottom of the ninth.
After watching his southpaw ace, Fernando Valenzuela, scatter four hits over eight innings of work—but also walk a playoff-record eight batters—Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda turned to right-handed reliever Tom Niedenfuer to take on the top of the Cardinals lineup.
After Niedenfuer got leadoff hitter Willie McGee to pop out to third baseman Bill Madlock, Ozzie Smith stepped into the batter's box, hitting from the left side of the plate. While he had done this 3,009 times before, he never ended one of those at-bats with a home run.
With a 1-2 count, Smith drove Niedenfuer's fourth pitch of the at-bat deep to right field, hitting a concrete pillar behind the right-field wall to give the Cardinals the Game 5 victory and the series lead, inspiring legendary Cardinals announcer Jack Buck to give us one of his classic calls:
Another playoff series between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, another letdown for Red Sox nation.
At least that's how it looked heading into the ninth inning of Game 4, with the Red Sox trailing, 4-3, in the game and 3-0 in the series, with the legendary Mariano Rivera entering the game for the Bronx Bombers.
Rivera would finish the inning, but not before the Red Sox tied the game on Bill Mueller's RBI single that drove home Dave Roberts from second base. Roberts, sent in to pinch-run for Kevin Millar, stole his way into scoring position.
Tom Gordon would throw two innings of scoreless relief for the Yankees and be replaced by Paul Quantrill to start the 12th inning. After Manny Ramirez reached on a line-drive single to start the inning, David Ortiz stepped to the plate and deposited Quantrill's fourth pitch deep into the right-field seats.
Not only did Big Papi's blast win the game and spark one of the most remarkable comebacks in sports history, but he sparked a run that would eventually put an end to 86 years of frustration, as the Red Sox would go on to win the World Series for the first time since 1918.