These 10 moments from September (and October) reminded us why baseball is the greatest
Back in April, baseball seems like it will never end. But alas, we can't have the thrill of the postseason without saying goodbye to the regular season -- and after a Sunday marathon with every game starting at the same time, it's finally over. Another year in the books.
Before we jump into the fevered pitch of October baseball, though, let's look back at the 10 best moments from the month that was.
10. Big Sexy Night
The Twins surprised the baseball world en route to the second AL Wild Card spot. And perhaps nothing demonstrates the shrewd genius that got them there better than Big Sexy Night.
After signing Bartolo Colon in July, the team honored the husky hurler, the corpulent competitor, the ample athlete with his very own night in September. Even better, Bartolo happened to be starting that night, so it became an even more magical affair.
This is what true love looks like:
9. Mikie Mahtook's assist will live on in infamy
You're going to be seeing this one for a long time. Just as Jose Canseco's head-assisted homer has been on constant rotation in blooper reels and our dreams, Mahtook's NBA-like layup will surely get plenty of play, too. After all, this one has everything you need for a good blooper:
- Great form
- The crushing sadness of a mistake. Without the unintended assist, Jose Ramirez would have finished with "only" 28 homers.
8. The hero's farewell
It's never fun when the year is winding down and a star player is either entering free agency or contemplating retirement. Fortunately, the fans are always there to shower said star with love.
Before the Blue Jays' final home game of 2017, Jose Bautista's teammates let him take the field first. Rather than setting him up for a "Carrie"-esque prank, it allowed the Toronto faithful to give the bat-flipping right fielder a hearty round of applause.
Jayson Werth and his woodsman's beard were given a warm send-off by Nationals fans. Matt Cain received an amazing reception before his final start with the Giants. And Colon, who is still determined to return next year, received a standing ovation in Minnesota -- and hugged Omar Vizquel on his way out.
7. Another rookie stole our hearts with his tatertude
There were more home runs hit in 2017 than in any other Major League season in history. So, it only makes sense that there was an abundance of rookie sluggers that took part, as Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger and Rhys Hoskins all bashed out dinger after dinger.
Oakland's Matt Olson flew a little under the radar -- either because we had grown accustomed to rookies smashing bombs or because he had already been called up and sent down earlier this season. Whatever the reason, Olson finally got his due in September, crushing 13 homers in just 22 games. That included long balls in five straight contests:
No wonder Miggy was so impressed:
6. The Yankees are baseball's meme kings
The Yankees are no longer baseball's version of Team Iceland from "Mighty Ducks 2." They're now loaded with fun players -- from Didi Gregorius' custom emojis for his teammates to Ronald Torreyes' leaping high fives to players like Judge and Gary Sanchez who simply can't stop crushing glorious dingers.
New York doubled down on all that fun in September. When one Mets fan -- Gary Dunaier -- took umbrage with a Todd Frazier homer during the Yankees-Rays series at Citi Field, he started the greatest team-bonding hand signal in history. Thumbs down now means thumbs up (it's confusing, I know).
Even better, the Yankees decided to make the New York media market a little bigger. The dugout has turned into the No. 1 news source for all things Bombers -- though sadly, when the players go to watch the tapes, they'll learn that it was just a snack basket instead of a camera.
5. Just Dingers Martinez
When the D-backs acquired J.D. Martinez from the Tigers in July, it seemed like a good idea. It now measures up as one of the best midseason acquisitions ever: Martinez has been a homer-hitting revelation in Arizona, and his September was the best yet. He smashed 16 homers in the month, completely living up to his nickname of "Just Dingers."
And he saved his best for the division rival Dodgers. While Los Angeles kept trying to get Martinez out by throwing him pitches down and away, he just kept up hammering them out of the park for a record-tying four-tater game.
If these two teams end up facing each other in the postseason, I doubt L.A. will pitch him there again.
4. Justin Verlander's return to greatness
After returning to dominance last season en route to a second-place finish in AL Cy Young Award voting, Verlander was having a solid, if unspectacular 2017. Since being dealt to the Astros, though, the right-hander is pitching like a man hungry to return to the postseason.
After ditching the navy and orange for, uh, navy and orange, Verlander has allowed only four runs in 34 innings, while striking out a whopping 43 batters. If he can keep that up for another five starts, the Tigers legend may become an Astros legend, too.
3. Billy Hamilton's race around the bases
Hamilton has an almost preternatural ability to increase the previous season's stolen base total by a single steal each year, going from 56 in 2014 to 59 in 2017. He's also swiped the most bases in the Majors in that time frame -- topping Dee Gordon by 18 bags.
If you need a single event to highlight just how great those legs are, September gave it to you. When Hamilton was caught in a rundown between first and second -- an event that results in an out, like, 96.7 percent of the time (or so we're guessing) -- he managed to turn it into a run. The best part: He wasn't even going at full speed the whole time.
2. Andrew Romine plays all nine positions
It's a feat rarer than a no-hitter, perfect game or a four-homer barrage. It's also done simply for fun, something that baseball teams rarely do outside of Spring Training exhibitions. That's why it's so perfect: When the Tigers allowed Andrew Romine to become the first player since 2000 to play all nine positions in a single game on Saturday, it was for no reason better than ... man, how cool would this be?
Naturally, that meant the first out of the game was hit to Romine in left field. And the second. And though he didn't last long behind home plate, at least he had a good time.
1. The Indians finally lost a game
This may seem like a strange thing to dub the "best" part of the month, but, well, the Indians had won 22 straight games before that loss.
That's the most since the Giants pulled off a streak of 26 in a row over a century ago. Even after Cleveland lost, the team didn't go into some kind of depressive tailspin, either: They rattled off six more wins after that to become the first team since the 1884 Providence Grays to win 28 of 29
Though that winning streak -- and the fact that the team went a phenomenal 25-4 in September -- obviously has some luck involved, the team was also dominant in every way.
- Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco combined to pitch 80 innings in September, while allowing just 10 runs.
-Tyler Olson has pitched 20 innings this year and has yet to allow a run.
- Jose Ramirez hit nine home runs this month while only striking out five times.
The numbers could go on and on and on. Quite simply, this was one of the most startlingly dominant runs we may ever see.
As for how the team accomplished this, that's easy: The baseball dolls.
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