What's the most jaw-droppingly brutal way that a team has lost a Major League game?
The broader sports world rejoiced over the weekend when the New England Patriots lost to the Miami Dolphins on the final play of the game in ridiculous fashion:
It's humiliating for any team to allow a 69-yard touchdown pass with multiple laterals as time expires to lose a game. But for it to happen to the Patriots, of all teams -- a team that has had so much go right for it over the last two decades -- was especially satisfactory for the casual fan.
This wild ending got us thinking: What is the baseball equivalent to this dramatic conclusion? Are there examples from baseball history where one team's unlikely demise in a single game led to significant enjoyment for the average neutral observer?
The obvious first place to start would be with baseball's Evil Empire, the New York Yankees. When have the Yankees failed in unlikely and unusual fashion?
Babe Ruth is caught stealing, Yankees lose the 1926 World Series
Everybody knows about Babe Ruth's legendary dominance throughout the 1920s with the Bronx Bombers, but the Great Bambino was also at the center of arguably New York's most embarrassing loss of the decade as well. In Game 7 of the 1926 World Series, the Yankees were down 2-1 to the Cardinals when Ruth drew a walk with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, bringing the winning run up to the plate. Rather than let his cleanup hitter, Bob Meusel, to try and drive him in, Ruth took off for second and was thrown out stealing to end the World Series.
Ruth was never known for being particularly fleet of foot, but by 1926, he was already 31 years old and the relative athleticism of his youth had all but gone. During that regular season he had stolen 11 bases, but was also caught nine times. So going for the steal in that moment probably wasn't the brightest move.
Lucky for Ruth, we don't have any .GIFs to share of his epic baserunning blunder.
A-Rod slaps the ball, ending the Yankees' rally in the 2004 ALCS
The Yankees' epic collapse in the 2004 ALCS is well-documented, but it is hard to pinpoint one singular moment where things went off the rails for New York. However, if we are looking for one embarrassing and unusual moment that hurt the Yankees' chance at winning, it would have to be Alex Rodriguez slapping the ball out of
In the moment, it seemed like the Yankees had cut the lead on Arroyo's error when Derek Jeter came all the way around to score, making it a 4-3 game with just one out and a runner on first. Instead, Rodriguez was called out for interference and Jeter was put back on first base. Realistically, if Rodriguez hadn't slapped the ball, Jeter would have just been on second base with two outs. But the play will still be remembered as A-Rod trying to pull some sketchy stuff -- and it backfiring.
But OK, let's not restrict ourselves to the Yankees' tough luck. If we really want to highlight a series of unfortunate baseball events, we need not look further than the outrageous final day of the 2011 regular season -- when everything came crashing down for the Red Sox in a matter of hours:
It's difficult to match that wild turn of events in 2011, but those did require more than one game to supply all the drama. If we think of single-game stunners, what are some other epic ways to lose a game?
We all remember
Poor Rangers -- as if losing back-to-back World Series in 2010 and 2011 wasn't enough, they were also on the wrong side of one of the craziest innings in postseason history. And then a year later? There the Rangers were in Toronto again for the ALDS when they found another soul-crushing way to lose in the decisive Game 3:
Postseason moments will always boast the highest stakes when it comes to memorable moments in baseball history. But recent years have also brought us several shocking conclusions to games in the regular season.
Having your closer blow the save by allowing two home runs is no fun. Having one of those home runs be an inside-the-park home run? That's another level of unlucky:
How about losing on a walk-off swinging bunt?
Or a popup?
Losing is no fun. But losing in these unfathomable ways? Oof. Just, oof.