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Walking Off into History

The walk-off hit is the equivalent of going to see your favorite band, and they play their most popular song as their last number in the second encore. A thunderous barrage of drum fills and guitar riffs culminating with the lead singer shouting to an arena filled with amped up fans, "Thank you, (insert city)! Good night!!"

There have been so many electrifying walk-off hits throughout baseball's grand history, but the ones that we carry with us most always seem to happen in the crisp evening air of the Postseason.

So, which is the greatest of all-time? There will be no clear-cut answer to this question as each one means something different to each of us, but let's play around with it anyway shall we? What's the harm; we're just talking baseball, which is never a bad thing. Here are my top five in descending order.

4. Joe Carter, 1993 World Series: I can still remember sitting at a friend's place in Boston and seeing Toronto's Joe Carter take a Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams fastball to "Take off, eh!" Sorry, I'm always up for a "Strange Brew" line...I really didn't have a dog in that fight back in 1993, but I had developed a soft spot in my heart for that colorful club of Phightin' Phillies. They were unkempt, tough looking bruisers, and I was more than ready to see Nails, Dutch, Kruker and company send Blue Jays fans back to watching Maple Leafs games. Unfortunately, that wasn't Philly's year, and Big Joe put a hell of an exclamation point on a great series. Those early 90's Jays teams were something else.

3. Aaron Boone, 2003 ALCS: It's no secret that I'm a Yankee fan, so when you say dramatic, all-time walk-off, I say Aaron Boone…my Boston pals say something else. Talk about a 12-round heavyweight fight ending in a haymaker. I have always said that true Yankee fans have respect for the Red Sox Nation and Sox fans the same for the Yankees. We talk about the the rivalry the way a "connected guy" speaks about "This thing of ours." We are part of something amazing. We don't like one another much, but what we have together is passion, pride and history. In 2003, those things were all on display. Boone's shot has to be in the running for greatest of all-time, and it's not just because I'm a Yankee fan. It's because it was everything that makes a walk-off great. I think when it's all said and done, and we allow ourselves to be just baseball fans and leave our bias out, we can agree that that was an all-time epic moment in the game's history…but I still think there are a few that give it a run for the money.

2. Luis Gonzalez, 2001 World Series Game 7: I have a baseball that reads, "To Mike, it was a lucky hit, sorry. - Luis Gonzalez." It is one of the most bittersweet items in my collection. It wasn't a lucky hit. It was a classic walk-off poke that stopped my beloved Bronx Bombers from taking the 2001 World Series. It was hit off arguably the greatest closer in baseball at the height of his dominance. It was the end of an amazing series that not only gave a young franchise its first world title, but also allowed a nation to start to heal. I look back at Gonzo's flare and wish his hit had landed safely in Jeter's mitt…but it didn't. Instead it landed safely in the history books as one of the greatest walk-offs of all-time.

1. Kirk Gibson, 1988 World Series: One of my favorite walk-offs happened in 1988. It happened out West where movies are made, and that seems fitting considering this particular hit seemed as if it was scripted by Hollywood's best writers. The Dodgers played host to the favored A's at Chavez Ravine in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. In the ninth, the NL Champs found themselves down 4 to 3 to the powerhouse club from the Bay Area. Manager Tommy Lasorda called on an injured Kirk Gibson to pinch hit with a runner on. On two bad legs and facing the great Dennis Eckersley, Gibson hobbled to the plate in front of a packed house on the edge of their seats. The count went full, and the Oakland closer came in hard with a backdoor slider. And with a seemingly casual, almost check swing, Gibson sent the ball deep to the bleachers in right field allowing the Dodger Blue Faithful to erupt. It was the closest thing to "The Mighty Casey" that we would ever see…only, to quote Don Drysdale, "Mighty Casey did NOT strike out!"

Again, these are just a few of the greatest walk-offs in modern history, but they all can hold their own in the argument for greatest all-time. I know that earlier generations may say it was that ball crushed by Bill Maseroski, or call attention to another amazing moment that I may not have been around to see. But the amazing thing about this discussion is, we are all right. Every walk-off in the postseason is sort of magical. They are moments that level some and raise others to hero status. They are the times we remember and pass on to friends and family throughout our lives. The postseason walk-off keeps us coming back and hoping we get to see another historic moment from the game we all love.

What do you think is the greatest walk-off moment in Postseason history? Tweet me @mikeyoh21.

The walk-off hit is the equivalent of going to see your favorite band, and they play their most popular song as their last number in the second encore. A thunderous barrage of drum fills and guitar riffs culminating with the lead singer shouting to an arena filled with amped up fans, "Thank you, (insert city)! Good night!!"

There have been so many electrifying walk-off hits throughout baseball's grand history, but the ones that we carry with us most always seem to happen in the crisp evening air of the Postseason.

So, which is the greatest of all-time? There will be no clear-cut answer to this question as each one means something different to each of us, but let's play around with it anyway shall we? What's the harm; we're just talking baseball, which is never a bad thing. Here are my top five in descending order.

4. Joe Carter, 1993 World Series: I can still remember sitting at a friend's place in Boston and seeing Toronto's Joe Carter take a Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams fastball to "Take off, eh!" Sorry, I'm always up for a "Strange Brew" line...I really didn't have a dog in that fight back in 1993, but I had developed a soft spot in my heart for that colorful club of Phightin' Phillies. They were unkempt, tough looking bruisers, and I was more than ready to see Nails, Dutch, Kruker and company send Blue Jays fans back to watching Maple Leafs games. Unfortunately, that wasn't Philly's year, and Big Joe put a hell of an exclamation point on a great series. Those early 90's Jays teams were something else.

3. Aaron Boone, 2003 ALCS: It's no secret that I'm a Yankee fan, so when you say dramatic, all-time walk-off, I say Aaron Boone…my Boston pals say something else. Talk about a 12-round heavyweight fight ending in a haymaker. I have always said that true Yankee fans have respect for the Red Sox Nation and Sox fans the same for the Yankees. We talk about the the rivalry the way a "connected guy" speaks about "This thing of ours." We are part of something amazing. We don't like one another much, but what we have together is passion, pride and history. In 2003, those things were all on display. Boone's shot has to be in the running for greatest of all-time, and it's not just because I'm a Yankee fan. It's because it was everything that makes a walk-off great. I think when it's all said and done, and we allow ourselves to be just baseball fans and leave our bias out, we can agree that that was an all-time epic moment in the game's history…but I still think there are a few that give it a run for the money.

2. Luis Gonzalez, 2001 World Series Game 7: I have a baseball that reads, "To Mike, it was a lucky hit, sorry. - Luis Gonzalez." It is one of the most bittersweet items in my collection. It wasn't a lucky hit. It was a classic walk-off poke that stopped my beloved Bronx Bombers from taking the 2001 World Series. It was hit off arguably the greatest closer in baseball at the height of his dominance. It was the end of an amazing series that not only gave a young franchise its first world title, but also allowed a nation to start to heal. I look back at Gonzo's flare and wish his hit had landed safely in Jeter's mitt…but it didn't. Instead it landed safely in the history books as one of the greatest walk-offs of all-time.

1. Kirk Gibson, 1988 World Series: One of my favorite walk-offs happened in 1988. It happened out West where movies are made, and that seems fitting considering this particular hit seemed as if it was scripted by Hollywood's best writers. The Dodgers played host to the favored A's at Chavez Ravine in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. In the ninth, the NL Champs found themselves down 4 to 3 to the powerhouse club from the Bay Area. Manager Tommy Lasorda called on an injured Kirk Gibson to pinch hit with a runner on. On two bad legs and facing the great Dennis Eckersley, Gibson hobbled to the plate in front of a packed house on the edge of their seats. The count went full, and the Oakland closer came in hard with a backdoor slider. And with a seemingly casual, almost check swing, Gibson sent the ball deep to the bleachers in right field allowing the Dodger Blue Faithful to erupt. It was the closest thing to "The Mighty Casey" that we would ever see…only, to quote Don Drysdale, "Mighty Casey did NOT strike out!"

Again, these are just a few of the greatest walk-offs in modern history, but they all can hold their own in the argument for greatest all-time. I know that earlier generations may say it was that ball crushed by Bill Maseroski, or call attention to another amazing moment that I may not have been around to see. But the amazing thing about this discussion is, we are all right. Every walk-off in the postseason is sort of magical. They are moments that level some and raise others to hero status. They are the times we remember and pass on to friends and family throughout our lives. The postseason walk-off keeps us coming back and hoping we get to see another historic moment from the game we all love.

What do you think is the greatest walk-off moment in Postseason history? Tweet me @mikeyoh21.