40 Most Devastating Postseason Moments In Baseball History

Jeffrey BeckmannCorrespondent IOctober 3, 2011

40 Most Devastating Postseason Moments In Baseball History

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    The 2011 Boston Red Sox know a little something about devastation, but it's been a frequent occurrence throughout Major League Baseball's storied history.

    The Tampa Bay Rays enjoyed one of the greatest moments baseball has ever witnessed at the expense of the Red Sox, which, more times than not, is how it works. For one team to have a devastating moment, it usually means that the other team enjoyed a storybook moment. 

    You will recognize many of the moments on this list for their greatness, yet you have to remember that most of them were devastating to the opposing team. Those are the eyes I looked through while compiling this list.

    Here are the "40 Most Devastating Postseason Moments in Baseball History."

40. 1994 World Series Cancelled

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    This may be a bit more indirect than the rest of the occurrences on this list, but the 1994 strike was devastating to fans and the sport alike, as acting commissioner Bud Selig decided on Sept. 14th that he would cancel the World Series.

    Having no postseason was a devastating moment for the postseason. This marked the first time there was no World Series in 90 years.

    Way to go, Bud.

39. Braves Blow 2-0 Series Lead, 1996 World Series

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    The 1996 Atlanta Braves were arguably their most talented squad during their 15-year run of AL East dominance.

    John Smoltz won the NL Cy Young as neither he, Glavine or Maddux had an ERA above 2.98. Chipper Jones and Ryan Klesko each put up 30-plus home runs, while Fred McGriff, Javy Lopez and Marquis Grissom each put up more than 20.

    The Braves came back from a 3-2 series deficit in the NLCS to clinch a berth in the World Series against the Yankees, as they tried to repeat as champions.

    They took a 2-0 series lead after outscoring the Yanks 16-1 during the two games, but then they scored only 10 runs while losing the next four.

38. Athletics Blow Chance at Three-Peat, 1931 World Series, Game 7

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    The 1931 Philadelphia Athletics are the best team in Major League Baseball history not to win the World Series. They were coming off back-to-back World Series titles.

    Lefty Grove enjoyed the finest season of his career, going 31-4 with a 2.06 ERA while easily winning the Triple Crown of pitching along with the AL MVP.

    They left Ruth's Yankees in the dust, winning the AL pennant by 13.5 games to set a date in the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals—where they were shockingly upset in seven games.

37. Giambi Forgets to Slide, 2001 ALDS, Game 3

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    This picture shows the precise turning point of the 2001 ALDS. Trailing 1-0 late in Game 3, the Athletics held a 2-0 series lead over the Yankees.

    A Terrance Long hit appeared to drive in the game-tying run, but Jeremy Giambi forgot to slide into home plate. It was a great turnaround play from Derek Jeter to make it close, but no way is Giambi out if he slides.

    The Athletics would choke as the Yanks won the next three games to win the series 3-2.

36. Fan Rescues Yanks, Kills Orioles, 1996 ALCS, Game 1

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    With the Orioles leading 4-3 through seven innings, Baltimore needed only six outs to steal Game 1 in New York and set the tone for the series.

    In the bottom of the eighth, rookie Derek Jeter smacked a long fly ball to right field that appeared to be playable for Tony Tarasco. That is, until 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier reached over the fence and caught the ball before Tarasco could do so himself.

    The umps controversially called it a home run, with the game now tied 4-4. The Yanks' Bernie Williams would hit an extra-innings home run to win the game.

35. Mike Scioscia Leads Comeback, 1988 NLCS, Game 4

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    With the Mets clinging to a 2-1 series lead entering Game 4, the Dodgers somehow needed to pull out a victory at Shea Stadium to avoid falling in a 3-1 hole.

    The Dodgers scored two quick runs off of Dwight Gooden in the first inning to take the lead, but by the sixth inning, the Mets were up 4-2 and Gooden had settled down.

    With Gooden still on the mound in the ninth, the Dodgers got a leadoff walk before catcher Mike Scioscia sent a bomb into the Mets bullpen to tie the game.

    The Dodgers won the game 5-4 and took the series in seven games.

34. Willie McCovey Lines Out, 1962 World Series, Game 7

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    The 1962 San Francisco Giants were the greatest team that Willie Mays ever played for. Mays slugged a typical 49-HR that season to go with superb defense in center field.

    The Giants and Dodgers tied for the NL pennant to force a three-game playoff. The Giants ultimately won to earn the right to face the Yankees in the World Series.

    After forcing a seventh game in the World Series, the Giants lost 1-0 thanks to a gem pitched by Ralph Terry and the Yanks. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Willie McCovey hit what he would later claim was the hardest ball he ever struck, but it was caught by Bobby Richardson for the final out.

33. Chris Burke Sinks Braves in 18th Inning, 2005 NLDS, Game 4

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    Game 4 of the 2005 NLDS between the Astros and Braves was one to remember. The Astros held a 2-1 series lead, needing a victory to advance to the NLCS.

    The Braves held a 6-1 lead in the eighth inning before Lance Berkman connected on a grand slam to pull the Astros within one run. Then, in the bottom of the ninth, Brad Ausmus connected on a solo shot to tie the game at 6-6 to force extra innings.

    From that point on, there would be no scoring for three more hours and nine more innings.

    In the bottom of the 18th inning, Chris Burke finally ended the game with a walk-off homer to win the series and send the Braves home empty-handed.

32. Chris Chambliss Is a Royal Pain, 1976 ALCS, Game 5

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    The 1976 ALCS between the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals was fought tooth and nail to the very end.

    With the series tied 2-2, Game 5 would decide the AL champion. It was another hard-fought contest, as the Yankees gave up a three-run lead in the eighth inning before entering the bottom of the ninth, stuck in a 6-6 tie.

    Chris Chambliss stepped up to the plate to face the Royals' Mark Littell, where he took the first pitch and drove it deep over the right-center field wall to send the Yankees to the World Series while ending the Royals' season prematurely.

31. Royals Get Payback, 1980 ALCS, Game 3

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    The two foes met again in the ALCS four years later, where George Brett and the Royals quickly jumped out to a 2-0 series lead.

    Up 2-1 in the seventh, the Yankees had hoped Goose Gossage would be able to preserve the lead to keep them alive in the playoffs.

    With two on and two out, Brett took a 98-mph fastball and launched it way up to the third deck of Yankee Stadium.

    The Royals would win the game 4-2 to get sufficient payback for their 1976 loss.

30. Chicago Black Sox, 1919 World Series

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    The 1919 Chicago White Sox could have gone down as one of the best teams in MLB history. Instead, they devastated the city of Chicago, the organization and Major League Baseball after it was discovered that some of the players intentionally threw the World Series.

    The 1919 team—who scored the most runs in MLB—became known as the "Black Sox" from that point on, and the eight players involved were banned from playing in MLB ever again.

29. Shot Heard 'Round the World, 1951 One-Game Playoff

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    The 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers were a team to be reckoned with, led by NL MVP Roy Campanella and Pitcher of the Year Preacher Roe. The team stormed out to a 13-game lead before the season's final month.

    By the end of September, the Dodgers' 13-game lead had evaporated and they were forced into a three-game playoff with the New York Giants, with the winner advancing to the World Series.

    This set the stage for one of the most dramatic moments in MLB history, as Bobby Thomson hit the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" in Game 3 to give the Giants the NL pennant. 

28. Babe Ruth Caught Stealing, 1926 World Series, Game 7

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    There's not much a person can knock Babe Ruth for, but his decision to attempt stealing second base ended the the Yankees' chances to win the 1926 World Series.

    Ruth wasn't known for being swift on his feet, as he stole bases at a 50-percent clip throughout his career.

    With the Cards leading the Yanks 3-2 in Game 7, Ruth took a walk with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to bring Bob Meusel to the plate. Ruth took off as Meusel swung and missed, while Rogers Hornsby made the tag to end the World Series.

27. Fred Snodgrass Drops Fly Ball, 1912 World Series, Game 8

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    Heading into Game 8 of the 1912 World Series, the New York Giants and Boston Red Sox sat tied 3-3 in the series (with one tie). The winner would be crowned champions.

    The Giants took a 2-1 lead in the top of the 10th inning, with legendary pitcher Christy Mathewson coming back out to the mound to finish what he started.

    As Clyde Engle hit a lazy fly ball to center field, Fred Snodgrass stood under it to make the catch—only he dropped it.

    Two hits and a walk later, the Red Sox became World Series champions.

26. Mitch Williams Gets Walked-Off, 1993 World Series, Game 6

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    Leading 6-5 and trying to extend the World Series to a seventh game, the Philadelphia Phillies sent Mitch Williams and his mullet to the mound in an attempt to close out the Toronto Blue Jays to secure the championship.

    Joe Carter was growing impatient, though, and wanted to end it in six.

    With Paul Molitor and Rickey Henderson on base, Carter hit a lining homer to left field to give the Blue Jays their second consecutive World Series title.

25. Mickey Owens Dropped Third Strike, 1941 World Series, Game 4

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    During the 1941 season, Mickey Owen set a Major League Baseball record for most errorless fielding chances by a catcher with 508 perfect attempts.

    With his Brooklyn Dodgers facing the Yankees in the World Series that season, New York jumped out to a 2-1 series lead before a pivotal Game 4.

    The Dodgers held a 4-3 lead with two out in the ninth inning as the Yanks Tommy Henrich stood at the plate in a 3-2 count. He swung and missed for what appeared to be the final out of the game, except Owen let the ball get by him and Henrich beat the throw to first.

    The Yankees would score four runs to win the game 7-4, and the next day they became World Series champs.

24. Yanks Lose on Maz' Walk-Off, 1960 World Series, Game 7

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    Bill Mazeroski's towering walk-off home in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series is arguably the greatest home run of all time, but that doesn't mean it wasn't equally devastating to the Yankees.

    The Yanks led 7-4 heading into the eighth inning before allowing the Pirates to put up a five-spot in the bottom half of the frame.

    The Yanks would come back to tie the game 9-9 in the ninth, but it was all for naught, as Maz hit the first and only walk-off home run to end a Game 7 of the World Series.

23. The Slide, 1992 NLCS, Game 7

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    The Pittsburgh Pirates fought back from a 3-1 deficit in the 1992 NLCS to tie the series 3-3 and force a Game 7 against the Atlanta Braves.

    The Pirates took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth, but a sacrifice fly soon cut their lead to 2-1. Pinch-hitter Francisco Cabrera then hit a one-out single to score David Justice and Sid Bream, in a play that has infamously been dubbed "The Slide."

    That was the end of an era in Pittsburgh and the last time the team has had a winning record.

22. Mad Dash Sinks Red Sox, 1946 World Series, Game 7

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    The "Curse of the Bambino" almost became a thing of the past 65 years ago when Ted Williams led the Red Sox to the AL pennant by a 12-game margin.

    It was Williams' first season back with the Red Sox after a serving as a pilot in World War II, and he made it count by winning his first AL MVP award along with the only pennant of his career.

    Up against an equally daunting opponent in the St. Louis Cardinals, the two teams traded victories until they were tied 3-3 in the series and headed for a Game 7.

    Tied 3-3 in the eighth inning, the Cardinals' Enos Slaughter made his famous "Mad Dash" to score what proved to be the winning run, once again sending the Red Sox home as losers.

21. The Wizard Walks Off, 1985 NLCS, Game 5

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    The Dodgers jumped out to a lofty 2-0 series lead during the 1985 NLCS and appeared ready for a shot at the World Series championship.

    The Dodgers let the Cardinals claw back to tie the series 2-2, with the two teams deadlocked in the all-deciding Game 5 when Ozzie Smith walked up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning.

    Smith golfed a low fastball over the right field fence to win the game. It was his first-ever home run while batting left-handed.

20. Cards Lose Vince Coleman, 1985 NLCS, Game 4

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    During his rookie season in 1985, Vince Coleman and the St. Louis Cardinals were in the midst of what would be a historic run in the NLCS.

    Unfortunately, a rain delay ended Coleman's season prematurely.

    As Coleman and the Cards were doing routine stretching exercises during the Game 4 delay, the automatic tarpaulin rolled up around Coleman's leg—forcing him to miss the rest of the NLCS and the entire World Series.

19. Red Sox Choke, 1975 World Series, Game 7

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    The Boston Red Sox were on a magical run during the 1975 season, outlasting the Baltimore Orioles to win the AL East before sweeping the powerful Oakland Athletics in the ALCS.

    Carl Yastrzemski was the true veteran on a team full of youthful talent, with their outfield trio of Jim Rice, Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans all 23 years old or younger.

    They would face the Cincinnati Reds in one of the greatest World Series in baseball history, where in Game 6 Carlton Fisk hit a walk-off home run to force a Game 7. The Sox would lose Game 7 by the score of 4-3 on a bloop single in the ninth inning.

18. Ruth Goes Down, so Do Yankees, 1921 World Series, Game 4

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    The 1921 New York Yankees did something no Yankees team had ever done before—they won the AL Pennant after finally dethroning the Cleveland Indians.

    Babe Ruth slugged 59 home runs to break the record for the third-consecutive season, but he would get injured after the Yankees took a 3-1 World Series lead against the New York Giants.

    The injury proved costly, as Ruth made only one pinch-hitting appearance during the remainder of the series while the Yankees lost the next four games.

17. Angels Collapse, 1982 ALCS, Game 5

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    Reggie Jackson and Fred Lynn helped the California Angels jump out to a 2-0 series lead during the best-of-five 1982 ALCS. It wouldn't be tough to win one of the next three games, would it?

    After the Milwaukee Brewers fought back to even the series, forcing a fifth and deciding game, the Angels held a 3-2 lead heading into the bottom half of the seventh inning.

    After the Brewers loaded the bases on two singles and a walk, slugging first baseman Cecil Cooper lined a two-run single to give the Brewers a 4-3 lead and, ultimately, a trip to the World Series.

16. Twin Killing, 1991 World Series, Game 6

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    The 1991 World Series is widely considered the greatest of all time, with each game going down to the wire.

    The Atlanta Braves led 3-2 in the series and managed to fight back from a couple deficits during Game 6 to force extra innings.

    In the bottom of the 11th inning, Twins legend Kirby Puckett took a 2-1 pitch over the fence to win the game. The Twins would go on to win Game 7 1-0 to complete the comeback and capture the World Series title.

15. Giants Blow Big Lead, 2002 World Series, Game 6

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    Up 3-2 in the series heading into Game 6, the Giants jumped out to a commanding 5-0 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh.

    With two runners aboard, the Angels' Scott Spiezio hit a three-run shot to right field that narrowly cleared the wall and cut the deficit to 5-3.

    The Angels would score three more runs in the eighth to secure a victory and would also take Game 7 to win the World Series.

    Overcoming a five-run deficit in an elimination game was the largest in World Series history.

14. Amoros Robs Yogi, 1955 World Series, Game 7

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    The 1955 World Series pitted the Brooklyn Dodgers against the New York Yankees. After a back-and-forth series, the two teams found themselves in a winner-take-all Game 7.

    The Dodgers jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the Yanks came to bat in the sixth inning. With runners at first and second base with only one out, Yogi Berra struck a liner down the left-field line that at first appeared would tie the game.

    Sandy Amoros made a dramatic, game-saving catch of the deep fly ball and was able to get it back to Pee Wee Reese at second to notch the double play, ending the inning.

    The Dodgers would hold on to win 2-0.

13. Angels Fall Apart, 1986 ALCS, Game 5

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    Before Bill Buckner had a chance to blow the World Series, the Red Sox had to stage a monumental comeback against the California Angels in the 1986 ALCS.

    The Angels led 3-1 in the series and were up 5-2 in the ninth inning of Game 5, playing in front of their home crowd.

    Boston's Don Baylor hit a huge two-run homer to cut the deficit to 5-4. Henderson, who earlier had entered the game as an injury replacement for Tony Armas, came to the plate with two outs and a man on first base.

    On a 2-2 count with the Angels one strike away from the World Series, Henderson drove the ball deep into the left field seats to give the Red Sox a 6-5 lead. The Angels would complete their ALCS collapse.

12. Moose Goes Wild, 1972 NLCS, Game 5

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    With the series tied 2-2, Game 5 would decide whether the Reds or Pirates were heading to the World Series.

    The Pirates led throughout the entire game and took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth.

    Reds catcher Johnny Bench capitalized on a changeup that Pirates closer Dave Giusti left hanging in the zone, sending it out of the park and tying the game at 3-3.

    Then, with a couple of runners on and nobody out, the Pirates brought Bob Moose to the mound to save their season. Moose quickly got two batters to fly out, but a runner had advanced to third base.

    With Hal McRae at the plate, Moose threw a wild pitch to allow the winning run to score and end the Pirates' season.

11. The Meltdown, One-Game Playoff in 2009

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    The 2009 Detroit Tigers were so close to an AL Central title and a trip to the playoffs. There was almost no way they would blow a three-game lead with only four games to play.

    Yet, after spending 146 days in first place, the Tigers proved the world wrong.

    On the final day of the season, the Tigers and Minnesota Twins stood tied atop the AL Central to force a one-game playoff. The Twins finished the job—beating the Tigers 6-5 in extra innings to secure a playoff berth.

    The Tigers were the first team in MLB history to squander a three-game lead with only four left to play.

10. Red Sox Blow It, 2003 ALCS, Game 7

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    I understand that Pedro Martinez was arguably the best pitcher in the game during the 2003 season, so at first it made sense for Grady Little to keep his ace in the game after an eighth-inning mound visit during Game 7 of the ALCS.

    The Red Sox were up 5-2 heading into the eighth when Pedro gave up back-to-back one-out hits to narrow their lead to 5-3. At this point Little came to the mound, although he elected to keep him in the game.

    A couple more run-scoring doubles would tie the game before the Yanks' Aaron Boone ended it on a 10th-inning walk-off home run.

9. Earthquake Series, 1989

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    The 1989 World Series wasn't all that dramatic in itself, as the Oakland Athletics swept the San Francisco Giants in four games while outscoring them 32-14.

    The devastation came 31 minutes before the scheduled start of Game 3, when the Loma Prieta earthquake struck the Bay Area and was broadcast on live television.

    The World Series was delayed 10 days so the cities could regroup after the tragic event.

8. Red Sox Get Bucky'd, 1978 One-Game Playoff

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    The Boston Red Sox had an unbelievable lineup during the 1978 season, at one point holding a 14-game lead over their rival Yankees.

    Then came the "Boston Massacre"—infamous for when the Yankees swept a four-game series at Fenway late in the season—and soon the two teams sat tied atop the AL East.

    Light-hitting Yankees shortstop Bucky Dent would hit an iconic home run in the one-game playoff to send Red Sox Nation back into disbelief.

7. Jose Mesa Blows Save, 1997 World Series, Game 7

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    After fighting back to knot the 1997 World Series at three apiece, the Cleveland Indians found themselves two outs away from their first championship since 1948.

    With a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth and Jose Mesa on the mound to close out the game, Craig Counsell hit a one-out sacrifice fly to send the game to extra innings.

    The Marlins would score the winning run off Charles Nagy in the 11th inning to win their first World Series title.

6. Blue Monday, 1981 NLCS, Game 5

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    Rick Monday single-handedly ruined the only chance the Montreal Expos ever had at a World Series.

    During the deciding Game 5 of the 1981 NLCS, Monday launched a ninth-inning home run to propel his Dodgers to victory.

    Ever since, Expos fans have referred to that moment as "Blue Monday."

5. Mariano Rivera Blows Save, 2001 World Series, Game 7

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    Mariano Rivera scarcely blows saves, especially in the postseason. That's what made the Yankees' Game 7 loss in the 2001 World Series all the more devastating.

    Holding a 2-1 lead in the game, Rivera took the mound to close it out and secure another World Series championship for New York.

    It all fell apart after Rivera fielded a bunt and threw the ball into center field. A one-out double tied the game at two apiece before Luis Gonzalez hit a bloop single to plate the winning run.

4. Bartman, 2003 NLCS, Game 6

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    We all know what happened with Steve Bartman during the 2003 NLCS, so there's sense in beating a dead horse here.

    He was one of 20 fans reaching for the ball at the time. Can you imagine how happy the other 19 were that they missed?

    Anyway, Bartman has taken his fair share of the blame, so let's give it to the person who's actually deserving of it...

3. Alex Gonzalez's Error, 2003 NLCS, Game 6

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    It's about time the blame goes to Alex Gonzalez for botching what should have been a routine double-play from shortstop. If he even gets one out there, the Marlins don't put up eight runs in the inning.

    The entire game proved devastating, as Bartman and Gonzalez "combined" to help the Cubs squander a lead which could have sent them to their first World Series since 1945, with a chance to win their first title since 1908.

2. Bill Buckner's E-3, 1986 World Series, Game 6

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    Bill Buckner's miscue during Game 6 of the 1986 World Series is one of the most famous errors in baseball history.

    Leading the series 3-2, Buckner's Red Sox squandered a two-run lead in the 10th inning of Game 6. With the winning run on second, Buckner misplayed a ground ball to first base to allow the runner to score.

    The Mets also took Game 7 to win the World Series.

1. Yanks Complete Collapse, 2004 ALCS, Game 7

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    We all know the story here.

    The Yankees won the AL East by a three-game margin over the Red Sox, who of course ended up as the AL Wild Card.

    The two teams would meet in the ALCS, where the Yankees quickly took a commanding 3-0 series lead after a 19-8 Game 3 victory.

    Red Sox slugger David Ortiz had walk-off hits the next two games, and the Yankees later became the first team in MLB history to lose a playoff series after winning the first three games.

    Jeffrey Beckmann is a MLB Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow Jeffrey on his new Twitter account for all of his latest work. You can also hear him each week on B/R Baseball Roundtable.


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