MLB's 20 Most Memorable Moments of 2013
You know what happened in the 2013 Major League Baseball season?
A lot. A lot happened. Certainly too much to remember all of it, anyway.
But just some of it? Oh, let me tell you how we're going to remember just some of it.
There were moments here and there that we won't soon be forgetting. Some were the brand of weird that baseball specializes in. Others were the brand of amazing that baseball also specializes in. Others still were a little bit of both.
There were probably more than 20 of these moments throughout the year. But 20 moments are what I have, and I'd very much like you to join me in putting them up on the wall.
20. Clayton Kershaw's Opening Day Is Better Than Your Opening Day
We knew heading into 2013 that Clayton Kershaw was all kinds of awesome. But on Opening Day against the Giants, the Dodgers ace showed he still had some surprises in him.
Being who he is, it's appropriately awesome that Kershaw's first career home run was a solo shot that broke a scoreless tie in the eighth inning. Not a bad way to get your first, right?
Looking back now, it was probably the single most impressive day of Kershaw's season. Considering that he ended it with a 1.83 ERA, that's saying a lot.
19. The Brothers Upton Save the Day
When the Braves signed B.J. Upton and traded for Justin Upton, it was just a matter of time before they found a niche in the annals of brothers in baseball trivia.
They got that out of the way on April 6 in just Atlanta's sixth game of the season. With the Braves trailing the Cubs 5-4 in the ninth, B.J. tied the game with a homer off Carlos Marmol and Justin won it with a homer of his own a few moments later.
In doing so, the Elias Sports Bureau (via MLB.com's Mark Bowman) says the Brothers Upton became:
- The first brothers to homer in the same inning since Cal and Billy Ripken in 1996.
- The first brothers in MLB history to combine for a game-tying homer and a game-winning homer in the same inning.
Say it with me now: "Cool."
18. Jean Segura Divides by Zero, Runs Bases
In the eighth inning of an April 19 game against the Cubs, Brewers shortstop Jean Segura reached first base and then stole second.
Nothing out of the ordinary there, but then Segura got himself in a rundown between second and third with runners on first and second and somehow wound up back at first.
It shouldn't have been allowed. But for reasons unknown—collective umpire brain flatulence is my working theory—it was.
Then Segura got himself thrown out trying to steal second base for the second time in the inning. Because, you know, the situation just wasn't comical enough already.
17. Mike Trout at His Mike Troutiest
It felt overdue, but Mike Trout finally hit for the cycle in the 224th game of his career on May 21 against the Mariners. This, however, was no ordinary "Guy Hits for Cycle" affair.
Beyond the obvious fact that Trout singled, doubled, tripled and homered, he also stole a base and drove in five runs. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, that made Trout just the third player to have a game like that. And...wait for it...the first in 80 years to do so.
By the way, Trout was also the sixth-youngest player in MLB history to ever hit for the cycle. Oh, and the youngest player in American League history to do so.
So, yeah. Not a bad night for baseball's best player.
16. Miguel Cabrera's Most Miguel Cabrera Moment
Maybe you didn't like that last bit about Trout being baseball's best player. But if you don't, you'll agree that what Miguel Cabrera did on Aug. 9 at Yankee Stadium was way cooler than Trout's cycle.
The scene involved the Tigers being down 3-1 with Mariano Rivera on the mound, a man on second and two men out. What followed was a seven-pitch battle in which Miggy fouled not one, but two pitches off himself. After the second, he was hobbling.
Then he launched a game-tying, two-run homer to center field.
It didn't end up winning the Tigers the game, but it's a moment that encapsulates how—for five months out of six, anyway—there was no force on heaven, earth or the mound that could stop Cabrera in 2013.
15. The Dodgers and Diamondbacks Hate Each Other
With all respect to the Zack Greinke-Carlos Quentin rumble, the stuff that the Dodgers got into with the Diamondbacks this past season involved some real 1970s-era Yankees-Red Sox-style nastiness.
Most notably, the two clubs got into two benches-clearing incidents during a June game at Dodger Stadium, with the second being more of an all-out war than a mere "incident." Punches were thrown, and it took Kirk Gibson and Matt Williams to keep Mark McGwire from dismembering someone.
It was the Dodgers who got the last laugh in the end when they clinched the NL West at Arizona. They then went right for a "Man, screw these guys!" moment by partying in Chase Field's pool.
"We owe those guys," Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick told MLB.com's Steve Gilbert in November.
He's not going to forget what happened in 2013. And neither will we. It wasn't great sportsmanship, but I'll be damned if it wasn't great theater.
14. Jason Giambi Does Amazing Old-Guy Things
Stick around long enough in baseball, and you'll probably find yourself doing something that no old guy had ever done before.
Take what Jason Giambi did on the night of July 30 against the White Sox. With a solo blast to center field in the bottom of the ninth inning, he became the oldest player in MLB history to hit a walk-off homer.
The record stood until Giambi broke it again with his blast off Addison Reed on Sept. 24 (above). There was more than just trivia at stake with that one, however, as it came in the middle of a stretch in which the Indians basically had to win out to secure a playoff spot.
The .653 OPS Giambi compiled says he had a subpar season in 2013. But if we focus strictly on the narratives, he had himself one of the great old-guy seasons in MLB history.
13. Shelby Miller's (Sort Of) Perfect Game
Alas, nobody threw a perfect game in 2013. Yu Darvish and Yusmeiro Petit both came awfully close, but close, as they say, only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
The 2013 season did, however, see a starting pitcher set down 27 batters in a row.
That's what Shelby Miller did in a May start against the Rockies, setting down every batter he faced after allowing a leadoff single. Largely thanks to some excellent fastball command, he struck out 13 along the way.
In addition to his first career shutout, Miller walked away from the contest with a Game Score of 98. Per Baseball-Reference.com, that was the best anybody did in 2013.
12. Brian "Gandalf" McCann
There's apparently an unwritten rule that says that a man should stand his ground when home plate and, by extension, the integrity of baseball is at stake.
Either that, or Brian McCann is just a silly person. I side with the latter when it comes to explaining what happened when the Braves and Brewers hooked up on Sept. 25.
Carlos Gomez did watch his first-inning home run off Paul Maholm a bit too long, but McCann tried to make two wrongs into a right when he barred Gomez from home plate. In trying to make Gomez look like a jackwagon, McCann came off looking like a jackwagon in his own right.
Oh well. It was definitely an original viewing experience, and it makes for a good excuse to refer to McCann by the nickname that A's reliever Sean Doolittle thought up for him: Gandalf*.
*Those of you who don't get the reference should drop everything and watch Lord of the Rings. Or you could save yourself some time and watch this relevant YouTube clip.
11. The Ultimate Harvey Day
It all ended badly for Matt Harvey in 2013, as he was shut down in August and then went in for Tommy John in October. The baseball gods giveth and, alas, taketh away.
But before it all ended? Man oh man was Harvey amazing. Never more so than on the night of May 7 against the White Sox at Citi Field.
That was the night Harvey flirted with perfection into the seventh inning only to have his bid broken up by an infield single off the bat of Alex Rios. That ended up being the only baserunner he allowed in nine scoreless innings, and he racked up 12 punchouts along the way.
The result was a Game Score of 97, giving Harvey the second-best performance of the season. Though it was less dominant than Shelby Miller's gem by a point, it was, and perhaps shall forever be, the ultimate #HarveyDay.
10. Tim Lincecum No-Hits Padres on a Million(-ish) Pitches
Because he's built more like a chess champion than, say, Roger Clemens, Tim Lincecum doesn't look like a guy who should ever throw close to 150 pitches in an outing.
But on the night of July 13, there was Lincecum throwing 148 pitches against the Padres. The only thing that was going to get him off the mound was a hit, and San Diego hitters weren't able to muster one.
The result, according to Baseball-Reference.com, was a Game Score of 96 that ranks as the best of the season's three no-hitters. It helped that Lincecum struck out 13, tying him for the fifth-most ever in a no-hitter.
One imagines that Lincecum had to have his right arm removed and replaced by a bionic doodad. Which, for all we know, might actually be the truth.
9. Henderson Alvarez's All-Time Weird No-Hitter
Tim Lincecum's no-no may be the best (and most exhausting) we witnessed in 2013, but it wasn't the weirdest. That honor belongs to Henderson Alvarez's no-hitter.
Alvarez's no-no against the Tigers was odd, in part, because of the timing. It happened on the last day of the season, something that only happened three times before.
Even odder was how it ended. Alvarez didn't clinch the no-no until the Marlins won on a walk-off in the ninth inning, making him the first pitcher to pitch a walk-off no-no since Virgil Trucks in 1952.
Odder still was that the winning run scored on a wild pitch, a first in the history of no-hitters.
In other words: Baseball, yo.
8. Todd Helton Goes Out in Style
For Rockies fans, 2013 was all about bidding farewell to Todd Helton. His 17th season in a Colorado uniform was to be his last.
It all came down to a fitting end when the longtime first baseman played his final game at Coors Field in late September. There was a moving ceremony before the game. He hit the home run featured above during the game. And when the game was over, he took a victory lap around the field too.
If you follow that last link to the video on the other side, make sure you listen carefully. If you do, you'll notice that all anybody could say to Helton was, "Thank you."
An appropriate reaction GIF can be found here.
7. The Walk-Off Wait-What
Game 3 of the World Series didn't really "end," so to speak. It just sort of stopped. And when it stopped, it stopped by rule.
Here's the tale as told in a stream-of-consciousness style:
Tie game in the ninth inning, Cardinals at the bat, ducks on the pond at second and third. A swing, a dive, a throw to home! HE'S OUT! A throw to third! IT'S DOWN THE LINE! The runner gets up! He trips! The umpire signals something! Here's the throw from left field, and HE'S OUT! What?! NO! THEY CALLED HIM SAFE! That's the worst call in the hist...Huh? Obstruction? Oh. I mean...I guess...OK, then.
It was a World Series moment defined not by greatness, but by absurdity and confusion. And because it was the first time an obstruction call had ever concluded a World Series game, it's a moment that could remain one of a kind forever.
6. Big Papi to the Rescue
Early on in the ALCS, the Tigers had the Red Sox dead to rights.
The Red Sox didn't get a hit in Game 1 until the ninth inning. In Game 2, they were no-hit through five and two-thirds. By the eighth inning, they had three hits and one run in the series. The 5-1 deficit they were facing felt like 500-1.
But suddenly, the bases were loaded and David Ortiz was striding to the plate. Then the ball went "Zip!" to right field and into the Boston bullpen. The bullpen cop raised his arms, and the crowd at Fenway Park went bonkers. And when Big Papi touched home plate, the game was tied.
Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Ortiz's blast was the latest game-tying grand slam in postseason history. It turned the game around. It turned the series around. And looking back now, it might be the signature October moment in a career filled with signature October moments.
5. Meet Yasiel Puig
After all that transpired in his rookie season, we now look at Yasiel Puig as a lightning rod. That's generally the case when one is both A) really good and B) really controversial.
But we're going to look back to an earlier time when we didn't know so much about the latter side of Puig. When he first burst onto the scene, he had our jaws in a perpetual state of droppage.
Puig's first game saw him complete a game-ending 9-3 double play with an absurd throw from right field. In his second game, he hit two home runs. In his fourth game, he hit a grand slam. In his fifth game, he hit another home run.
In those first five games, Puig was no lightning rod. He was a superhero.
4. Playoff Baseball Returns to Pittsburgh
There's a generation of 20-somethings who grew up thinking that the very notion of a "great" Pirates team was some sort of myth. I should know. I'm part of that generation.
Then 2013 happened. The Pirates won 94 games and earned the right to host the National League Wild Card Game at PNC Park. In doing so, they set the stage for some of the most tremendous images and sounds to come out of the season: that of postseason baseball back in Pittsburgh.
The video of the final out of the game being recorded is admittedly just a taste. Pirates fans were operating at full volume from start to finish, and at one point they got on Reds starter Johnny Cueto's nerves bad enough to cause him to drop the ball and then serve up a home run moments later.
If this is what postseason baseball in Pittsburgh is like, all us 20-somethings had been missing out, man.
3. Red Sox Party Like It's 1918 at Fenway Park
We would be living in Bizarro World even if the Red Sox had clinched the 2013 World Series in St. Louis. That still would have made it three World Series titles in the new millennium. Considering what things were like before, that's just bonkers.
But yes, that the Red Sox clinched the World Series at home in Fenway Park made their most recent championship that much cooler. The last time they had done that, after all, was in 1918.
That alone would have been enough reason for Boston fans to throw a massive party. But for them, an even bigger celebration was in order. The months following the bombing of the Boston Marathon in April had been tough, but the Red Sox had done much to help everyone get through it.
The city deserved a party. The team deserved a party. Methinks the party that happened will have a place in Boston lore for a long, long time.
2. This Is Our (Bleeping) City
When the Red Sox were set to play their first game back at Fenway Park following the marathon bombings on April 20, somebody had to say something to mark the occasion.
Enter David Ortiz, who grabbed a mic, stood up in front of over 35,000 fans and said, "This is our (bleeping) city, and nobody's gonna dictate our freedom. Stay strong."
Even the FCC agreed: Big Papi nailed it.
A few hours after Ortiz provided the words, Daniel Nava provided the exclamation mark with a go-ahead three-run homer that gave the Red Sox a 4-3 victory over the Royals.
Like that, the Red Sox's role in the healing process began the only way it could have: with a comeback.
1. There Goes the Greatest Closer Who Ever Lived
"I'm coming back," said Mariano Rivera after he tore his ACL in May of 2012. "Put it down. Write it down in big letters. I ain't going down like this."
Instead, he exited the game in 2013 as only Mariano Rivera could have: In the wake of one last great season, and as one of the most beloved players in baseball history.
Rivera's farewell tour was characterized by him making efforts to make sure it wasn't all about him. And by the excellent tokens of appreciation he received wherever he went. And by the speech he gave at the All-Star Game, and then the emotional final appearance.
Then there was the farewell celebration the Yankees threw for him at Yankee Stadium. And then, finally, Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte emerging from the dugout to usher him off the mound one last time.
It was the final farewell in a 2013 season full of farewells. But it says a lot about Rivera, I think, that it never felt like too much.