The Los Angeles Dodgers sure have been responsible for a lot of great playoff moments over the years. As they prepare to play another series, it's worth taking a look at the indelible memories and forgotten treasures from their last 25 years. Why 25? Uh, no reason specifically. Just seemed like a good round number. 25. That's a lot!
Honorable Mention: Matt Holliday, 2009 NLDS Game 2
It was tough to leave this one off the list, but in the end, Matt Holliday getting hit in the beans with a line drive, while hilarious, just wasn't appropriate enough for the main list. This list isn't about uproarious things happening to Cardinals. It's about the rich playoff tradition forged by the Dodgers since around 1990 or so. This, therefore, cannot be part of the main list.
On the other hand, Matt Holliday got hit in the scrotal area with a line drive, and that should be commemorated.
15. Javy Lopez, 1996 NLDS Game 1
After the disappointment of 1995, the Dodgers came back in 1996, hoping to advance in the playoffs. Game 1 of the division series was a pitchers' duel between John Smoltz and Ramon Martinez, with Smoltz going 9 innings and Martinez going 8, each giving up just one run. Antonio Osuna came on for the Dodgers in the 9th and got two outs, then came back out for the tenth, and decided it would be a fine idea to give up a leadoff homer to Javy Lopez. And he was right! I get a lot of pleasure out of watching that home run, so that was an excellent decision.
14. Raul Ibanez, 2009 NLCS Game 1
At the time, this was a big home run, giving the Phillies some insurance runs. After the bottom half of the inning, when the Dodgers scored twice, this was a huge home run, giving the Phillies the margin of victory. And, of course, it helped build the legend of George Sherrill, The Guy Who Probably Shouldn't Have Been Pitching Important Innings In Major League Playoff Games.
He had a catchy nickname.
13. Mark Lewis, 1995 NLDS Game 3
This would be Tommy Lasorda's final playoff game, you know. Was it a close, taut thriller? Did his Dodgers show a lot of character and hustle? Did they put in a good effort that just fell short because sometimes you lose in baseball? No. No, they didn't, and it was wonderful. The Reds won this game 10-1, and the big blow was this grand slam from Mark Lewis. It was the first pinch-hit grand slam in postseason history, and it's a beautiful thing.
You may remember Mark Lewis as the guy on the 1997 Giants who would spell Bill Mueller at third, and occasionally start at second. The Giants might well have traded for him because they wanted the guy who hit this homer on their team. If Brian Sabean made the trade just so every member of the coaching staff could shake Mark Lewis's hand, that seems like a smart deal to me.
12. Fred McGriff and Jermaine Dye, 1996 NLDS Game 2
I don't know which of these homers I'd have picked, but fortunately, they were in one Youtube video. That means I had to include them both, and also they count as one single moment. If you disagree, then you're wrong. That's okay! You're probably wrong about a lot of baseball-related things. I hope you don't take it too personally that I said that.
Greg Maddux started this game for the Braves, and pitched like vintage Greg Maddux. 1996 had been a very poor year for him, as he only finished 5th in Cy Young voting, but he was still at the point where even scoring two unearned runs off of him, as the Dodgers had done, was an accomplishment. And then, in the space of three batters, that accomplishment became meaningless. Sorry, guys!
11. Carlos Ruiz, 2009 NLCS Game 1
This is more here because of what it portended than what it meant, though what it meant in-game was awfully swell. Clayton Kershaw had barely pitched in the 2008 playoffs, and then he did well in the NLDS in 2009, so expectations were high for him. And then? Whoopsie!
SPOILER: this would not be the last time Clayton Kershaw gave up a home run in the postseason.
10. Albert Pujols, 2004 NLDS Game 4
I would have really enjoyed some video of this one, but it doesn't seem to be anywhere on the Internet, which is some kind of Stonecutter conspiracy. In an elimination game that was tied 2-2 in the top of the 4th, Albert Pujols hit a 3-run homer against Wilson Alvarez, seen above trudging off the field. Looks like a good trudge. Very morose. Wish I could see a video of it.
9. Carlos Beltran, 2013 NLCS Game 1
Just be aware that all positive Cardinals highlights will be slightly downgraded due to excessive Cardinal happiness. Also be aware that these highlights will obviously stay on the list because MORE LIKE LOLS ANGELOLS LOLGERS.
8. Chase Utley, 2008 NLCS Game 1
A game-tying sixth-inning homer in game 1 of the NLCS? Oh Chase, I know you chose to go to the Dodgers this year, but I can't stay mad at you.
Also, if you're still talking about how Joe Buck sounds bored when he does baseball, you're probably watching this clip on a loop, which is understandable, but trust me: some real good baseball things have happened since 2008.
7. Pat Burrell, 2008 NLCS Game 1
Oh, hey, it's two batters later, and the Phillies took the lead! While I would perhaps not describe Pat Burrell as "good people," he's been responsible for lots of good baseball moments, and this is certainly one of them. I especially like the part where the Dodgers suddenly had fewer runs than the Phillies.
6. Clayton Kershaw, 2013 NLCS Game 6
The Clayton Kershaw, Playoff Choker mythos is born! It's not tremendously fair, but on the other hand, I don't care because it's funny and also because the Dodgers get eliminated from the playoffs. These are both excellent things.
5. Clayton Kershaw, 2014 NLDS Game 1
Oh, the cruelty of all that hope just torn away from the Dodgers. Isn't it gorgeous? Don't you want to cradle that feeling in your arms and never let it go, protecting it against a cruel world? The Dodgers were up 6-2 with the best pitcher in the world on the mound. It was unthinkable that they'd lose that game. And yet, here are all these Cardinals hitters, hitting. Here are all these Dodgers, failing to do anything about it. Here are all these Giants fans, smiling, even though it's the dang Cardinals.
4. Paul Lo Duca, 2006 NLDS Game 3
Oh, maybe this one should be higher. Am I making a mistake? Am I shortchanging one of the all-time great schadenfreude moments in postseason history? I mean, two Dodgers got thrown out at home on the same play. TWO DODGERS GOT THROWN OUT AT HOME ON THE SAME PLAY. Like Morgan Freeman once said Ernest Hemingway once said, the world is a fine place and worth fighting for.
3. Matt Adams, 2014 NLDS Game 4
They should have sent a poet. They should have sent a poet.
2. Jimmy Rollins, 2009 NLCS Game 4
Walk-off wins are fun. Walk-off wins against the Dodgers are really fun. Walk-off wins against the Dodgers in the postseason are just about the most fun things that have ever happened. The Dodgers thought they had this one. There were two outs in the bottom of the ninth, they had their dominant closer in, they were about to even up the series, and they felt good. Then, suddenly, they felt awful. It's everything you could want from a playoff game not involving the Giants.
1. Matt Stairs, 2008 NLCS Game 4
Shane Victorino had hit a game-tying home run three batters earlier, but for some reason, that one didn't make the list. Weird! But this did. This was Matt Stairs's only plate appearance of the NLCS, and his only hit in the playoffs. But, hey, if you're only going to hit one, you might as well make it a transcendent experience whose monumental impact will redefine what it is to crush the hopes and dreams of Angelenos. This gets the top spot. Of course this gets the top spot. Nothing could deserve it more.