There's nothing more exciting than a walk-off win for both the fans in the stadium and the players on the field.
Although technically they can come in a variety of different ways, the greatest walk-off wins are always those moments when the entire season is on the line and the batter steps up in the ultimate clutch situation.
The title of this assignment was to find the most "ridiculous" walk-offs in MLB history. I may have took some liberty with the word "ridiculous," but each of these walk-offs certainly meets the definition in its own way.
In honor of the release of "Moneyball" this week in theaters, here's Scott Hatteberg's walk-off homer to give the A's their 20th straight win to set an American League record back in 2002.
After leading the game 11-0 at one point, the A's found themselves batting in the bottom of the ninth inning with the score now tied at 11-11, having given back the entire lead and leaving their win streak vulnerable.
Pinch hitting for Eric Byrnes, Hatteberg stepped to the plate and sent the A's home winners. He was mobbed at home plate by his team, and the entire country will have the chance to relive that moment this weekend when the movie is released everywhere.
As Mickey Mantle tells the story, the St. Louis Cardinals brought in relief pitcher Barney Schultz to pitch to him in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Mantle would tell the on-deck batter, Elston Howard, to go ahead and go back to the dugout because he was going to win the game right there.
True to his word, Mantle swung at the first pitch (Shultz apparently had a habit of trying to get the first pitch over for a strike) and sent it far out over Len Melio's head and into the stands to give the Yankees the win (although they lost the series in seven games).
The homer was Mantle's 16th World Series home run, breaking Babe Ruth's previous record of 15.
Scott Podsednik's walk-off homer in Game 2 of the 2005 World Series against Astros' closer Brad Lidge was one of the most improbable events imaginable.
Podsednik had played the entire regular season, 568 at-bats, without hitting a single homer.
The homer was actually Podsednik's second homer of the postseason; he had one against the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series as well.
Podsednik claims to have known that Lidge was going to challenge him with a fastball, and he just wanted to put a good swing on it. He accomplished that and hit one of the most improbable homers in World Series history.
Skip ahead to about the 9:45 mark of the video if you want to jump right to Dusty Rhode's walk-off homer.
Let's stick with the theme of improbable homers for a moment.
Dusty Rhodes, the New York Giants' utility player, followed up Willie Mays' spectacular defensive play (later named "The Catch," perhaps you've heard of that play?) in the bottom of the 10th inning with a first pitch three-run homer to right field.
Rhodes would have a big series, going 4-for-6 with another homer in Game 2 of the series.
Ozzie Smith earned the MVP for the role he played in the 1985 National League Championship Series between his St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In Game 5, with the series tied at two games a piece, Ozzie Smith stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning with one out. Batting from the left-side of the plate, Smith homered to right field; the first time he had ever homered in his professional career from the left-side of the plate.
The Cardinals won the series in six games to advance to the World Series against the Kansas City Royals.
Watch the video here
Carlton Fisk hit one of baseball's most famous homers to end Game 6 of the 1975 World Series in the twelfth inning and force a Game 7 against the Cincinnati Reds.
Batting against Pat Darcy, Fisk would hit the second pitch high down the line in left field. The home run has become iconic as Fisk jumped down the line willing the ball to stay fair.
It bounced high off the foul pole above the Green Monster and sent the Red Sox home the winner in Game 6. They would lose in seven games to the Reds, though.
Yankees-Red Sox, Game 7 of the American League Championship Series with the World Series on the line and the game is in extra innings. Does it get any more dramatic than this?
It did when Aaron Boone stepped to the plate to lead off the 11th inning and promptly launched the ball into the left-field bleachers to send the Yankees to the World Series and the Red Sox back home for the offseason.
With the Red Sox season on the line, David Ortiz gave them another game with this extra-inning blast in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series in 2004 against the New York Yankees.
Boston would come all the way back from their 3-0 series deficit to win the ALCS and go into the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Ortiz and the Red Sox swept the Cardinals to win their first World Series Championship in 86 years, and David Ortiz kept their dream alive in Game 4 with his walk-off HR (and also Game 5 with a 15th inning walk-off RBI).
Thought I was going to stick to all home runs? Had to throw you a quick curve, or perhaps a slider, just like the one that Edgar Renteria hit off Charles Nagy in the 11th inning of Game 7 to win the 1997 World Series.
It was the first World Series Championship for the three-year-old Florida Marlins franchise.
Renteria would wind up being a World Series hero again for the San Francisco Giants in the 2010 World Series with the game winning home run in Game 5.
Derek Jeter makes the list for providing some excitement and sports drama at a time when our country, and New York more specifically, needed a distraction from the ground-zero cleanup efforts after the September 11 attacks.
So in the bottom of the 10th inning, with the score tied at 3-3 and the count full, Derek Jeter hit an opposite field shot off the Arizona Diamondback's Byung-Hyun Kim to send Yankee Stadium into a state of pandemonium.
The home run earned Jeter the nickname "Mr. November" since he became the first Major League player to homer in the month of November, and as a bit of a tongue-in-cheek homage to his postseason heroics and a way of connecting Jeter to the franchise's storied past.
"Mr. October," after all, had already been earned by another clutch Yankee performer in the postseason, Reggie Jackson.
Luis Gonzalez would one-up Derek Jeter and win the first World Series Championship in franchise history for the Arizona Diamondbacks with this walk-off single over Jeter's head to bring in the winning run in Game 7.
The World Series victory came in one of the highest TV rated World Series in history, as America tuned in to forget about the tragedies that took place on September 11.
The victory also represented the first major championship for any professional sport for the state of Arizona and ended the Yankees bid for a fourth straight World Series Championship.
I definitely appreciate home runs that force additional games, as you've probably noticed by some of these selections.
This selection deserves to be on any list of great walk-offs or game finishes.
Kirby Puckett steps to the plate in the bottom of the 11th inning with the game tied at three apiece. As the story goes, Puckett told on-deck hitter Chili Davis that he planned to bunt to get on base. David objected and told Puckett to "hit it out and let's go home."
Puckett responded by stating he'd take a few pitches first (before hitting it out). He worked the count to 2-1 before launching an iconic blast into the left field bleachers.
The Twins would win Game 7 and the World Series.
Dave Stewart left Game 1 of the 1988 World Series with a 4-3 lead and handed over his would-be-win to future Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley.
Eckersley got the first two outs before issuing a walk to pinch-hitter Mike Davis. Kirk Gibson, hobbled by bad knees and an injured hamstring, then came to the plate to bat for the pitcher.
Gibson fouled off several pitches before working the count full, each swing illustrating just how much pain he was in. He then got ahold of a backdoor slider, sending it into the right field stands to win the game.
The footage of him rounding the bases on two bad knees and a bad hamstring, pumping his fists in celebration is one the most historic home runs in baseball history.
Growing up an A's fan with my first baseball memories being the 1988 season, I have still not forgiven Kirk Gibson for this moment. I have to recognize it as one of the greatest finishes to a game ever, though.
"The shot heard 'round the world" has been called the greatest walk-off home run in baseball history by some similar rankings and publications. There is definitely merit to that argument, although I have it ranked third on my list.
Bobby Thomson's famous shot off Ralph Branca of the Brooklyn Dodgers gave the New York Giants the National League Pennant by winning the playoff-pennant series 2-1.
The individual game was won 5-4 by the Giants.
Thomson jumped around the bases after the ball cleared the fence while his teammates gathered to mob him at home plate.
Rumors surfaced later about possible sign stealing, but it remains just speculation as Thomson has denied any sign-stealing took place.
Would it really diminish the moment anyway? Personally, not in my mind.
With the Toronto Blue Jays leading the World Series three games to two but losing Game 6 6-5 against the Philadelphia Phillies, Joe Carter came to bat with a pair of runners on base that would represent the tying and winning runs.
On a 2-2 pitch from Phillies' closer Mitch Williams, Carter hit a three-run homer to win the deciding game of the series 8-6.
Carter joined Bill Mazeroski as the only two players to hit a homer in the bottom of the ninth inning of the deciding game of the World Series with his shot.
Easily one of the greatest World Series and overall baseball moments in history.
Bill Mazeroski's home run to decide the 1960 World Series and send the New York Yankees home losers has been described by many people as the greatest home run in baseball history.
With the game tied 9-9, Mazeroski stepped to the plate to lead-off the inning against Yankee's pitcher Ralph Terry.
Terry began the at-bat with a ball before throwing the 1-0 pitch that Mazeroski sent flying over the left field wall for a long walk-off home run, the first in baseball history to win the deciding game of a World Series.
Of all the "ridiculous" ways to end a game, being the first in history to win a World Series with a walk-off homer has to rank at the top...