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Ranking Each MLB Team’s Best Walk-up Song

Let’s talk about walk up music in the Major Leagues. We’ve all had the discussion, possibly at the local watering hole, possibly while waxing poetic about how great your terrible bar-league softball team is going to be: “If you were in the big leagues, what would your walk-up music be?” My answer, for the record, is “Blockbuster Night Part 1” by Run The Jewels. Your walk-up song should not only serve to work up the hometown crowd, it’s also a reflection of yourself. Do you have the Heart of a Lion? Is there perhaps some Bad Blood between you and the opposing team? You’ve got about 13 seconds to let the crowd know. What follows is a scientific evaluation of the player on each team that currently uses the medium best.

For this study I obtained most of my information from MLB.com’s Ballpark Music site (http://mlb.mlb.com/fan_forum/ballpark_music.jsp?c_id=mlb), to identify each player’s walk up music. So if you have anecdotal evidence that one of these songs is no longer in use by a particular player, or if you feel there’s one I’ve unfairly excluded that isn’t listed on MLB.com’s site, you’ll have take it up with them. I did what fact checking I could, but short of visiting each team’s ballpark every night, there’s only so much I can do.

Each song was scored according to three highly scientific measures on a scale of 1-100: “Is It Good Song”; “Do A Lot Of Folks Know The Song”; and “The Dope Beats and Catchiness Index (DBCI)”, a proprietary statistic of my own devising that seeks to define the level to which a particular song can raise the spirits of 35,000 baseball fans. Those scores were then averaged, with a bonus score of -5 to 5 applied to some songs whenever I felt like it, to find each songs final score.

But First! The Bottom Five:

5) Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays: In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins 29.3

I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong about this, because Josh was not alone here; he was only the most well-known player to use this as his theme. Phil Collins is fine if you’re trying to set the mood with your guy or gal, folks. But to set the mood with 35,000 strangers? I’m just not too sure about that, Josh.

4) Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees: International Love by Pitbull and Chris Brown

What a great troll move from A-Rod, the most universally despised baseball player, to use a song from the two most universally despised rap artists as his walk-up music. A-Rod’s hilarious victory lap wouldn’t be the same without being soundtracked by this awful song. He really missed an opportunity to cement his legacy by failing to retire after hitting his 666th home run.

3) Jake McGee, Tampa Bay Rays: My Way by Limp Bizkit 19.0

I’ve got to be honest with you guys, I used to jam to this song too, folks. I think my friends and I probably requested it at our 8th grade dance.

2) A.J. Pierzinski, Atlanta Braves: Bullets by Creed 10.7

A.J. has to be the least surprising entry on this list, right?

1) Shaun Marcum, Cleveland Indians: Burn It To The Ground by Nickleback 9.0

Why, Shaun. Why? I will never forgive Marcum for losing the 2011 NLCS to the C***inals, so it greatly pleases me to rank him as having the single worst walk-up song in the Major Leagues.

Honorable Mention:

A few teams had so many great songs that these just have to be mentioned, although I wasn’t able to include them in the final rankings since the rule is one song per team. Know that most of these would be in the top ten if teams were allowed multiple entries.

Zack Grienke, Los Angeles Dodgers: Careless Whisper by George Michael

Zack Grienke was created in a lab in New Mexico by scientists charged with developing the most entertaining professional sports player of all time. George Michael? Never change, Zack.

Todd Frazier, Cincinatti Reds: Fly Me To The Moon by Frank Sinatra

This is a dope choice, not only because it’s a great song in and of itself, but because of the subtle baseball reference from the newly-crowned Home Run Derby champion who hits moonshots on the regular.

Jesse Hahn, Oakland Athletics: Hit ‘Em High (Monstar’s Theme) by B-Real feat. Method Mad, Coolio, LL Cool J and Busta Rhymes

“Travis, would it be a good idea to use a dope track from the undisputed greatest live-action/animated sports movie of all time as my walk-up song?” Yes, Jesse, “I Believe I Can Fly” by R-Kelly would be an excellent choi–ooooh. Well that works too I guess.

Bryce Harper, Washinton Nationasl: The Best is Yet to Come by Frank Sinatra

If that’s true it is utterly terrifying. Got help us all.

And now, finally, on to the rankings. Please note that these are definitive and above reproach.

30

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P Jonathan Schoop

Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae) by Silento

50

Look, whatever. If it’s good enough for Queen Riley Curry, it’s good enough for all of us. Other players that use this song: Ryan Howard, Philladephia Phillies

29

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OF Torii Hunter

Heart of a Lion by Kid CuDi

59

Listen, there’s nothing wrong with this song. It’s a dope track, kind of a deep cut from Cudi’s first studio album that was never released as a single. It’s fine, but someone’s got to be down here in the bottom five, and Heart of a Lion really took a hit in the song popularity section.

28

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3B Garin Cecchini

Good Vibrations by Marky Mark

and the Funky Bunch

59

The Red Sox didn’t give me a lot to work with, so the ultimate vanilla party song came back as their top song. Everyone in the world knows this song, and all of those people think it’s okay. It’s the kind of song that you forgot you heard 12 seconds after it ends. Meh. Other players that use this song: Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals; Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs

26

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P Chad Billingsley

TNT by AC/DC

66.7

Whatever, this is fine. It’s just lazy, you know? This is the kind of walk up song choice that just says you didn’t invest any time in the decision at all. But the rest of the Phillies were horrid (Carlos Ruiz is one of the players that shares Phil Collins with Josh Donaldson), so they’re stuck with this.

26t

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SS Jed Lowrie

Tom Sawyer by Rush

66.7

I don’t know if the middle of a baseball game is the right time for it, but this is an objectively great song. TNT got here just by being a classic Jock Jam, Tom Sawyer lands here on the strength of being awesome.

25

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P Tom Koehler

X Gon Give It To Ya by DMX

67

24

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P R.A. Dickey

Game of Thrones (Theme) by Ramin Djawadi

67.3

I had to look up video of this to see if it was real/how cool it was. It is really cool. Other players that use this song: Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets

23

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P Wade Davis

Ackrite by Dr. Dre feat. Hittman

68.3

Dr. Dre is all over this list, because he’s a noted creator of sick beats and because his songs generally lend themselves to being stadium anthems. This is the lowest on my list, simply because it was never released as a single and isn’t as well known.

22

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OF Mark Canha

7/11 by Beyonce

68.7

This one’s for the ladies. Canha was the only instance I could find of a player using Queen Bey for his walk-up music. I am not overly familiar with this song, but my girlfriend assures me that it is a very good song and that I like it a lot.

21

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OF Jaun Lagares

Hot in Herre by Nelly

69

Nice

20

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OF Mike Trout

Started From the Bottom by Drake

71.7

Toronto’s favorite son, fresh off his annihilation of Meek Mill, makes his only appearance on our countdown with what I can only assume is an over-our-heads subversive joke from the American League MVP, who has been the best baseball player in the league since his debut in 2011.

19

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P Mike Foltynewicz

My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark by Fall Out Boy

72

Man, this name must have SUCKED in high school. Half of my teachers couldn’t pronounce my last name right, and mine sounds exactly like it’s spelled. One time, someone just threw an M in there for no reason. What is wrong with you lady? Anyway my point is, I’m sorry, Mike Fontywantynickles. This song is fine, great safe choice.

18

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P Cody Allen

God’s Gonna Cut You Down by Johnny Cash

72.1

Pretty good song, and feels like an especially good choice for a closer, which is a made-up position based on the baseball community’s fascination with a meaningless stat that was created in 1969. It’s so good for closers, in fact, that the Yankees’ Andrew Miller uses it as well. Other players that use this song, Miller, Nate Eovaldi, New York Yankees

17

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OF Ryan Braun

All Day by Kanye West

72.2

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just save your steroids jokes, they’re old enough to attend kindergarten now. Let them live their lives, you’re smothering them. Braun is basically the Kanye of MLB. Braun is probably MLB’s douchiest player, and Kanye is pop culture’s douchiest human. Have either they done anything really awful? Nah – one kinda cheated at a children’s game, and the other was mean to Taylor Swift once. But they’re annoying, and it’s only magnified by having to constantly acknowledge that they are indeed quite good.

16

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2B Tim Beckham

So Fresh, So Clean by Outkast

76.3

The early aughts were sort of a weird time for hip-hop. For instance, Chingy existed, Mike Jones made an entire album where he just recited his phone number (281-330-8004, hit Mike Jones up on the low, ‘cuz Mike Jones about to blow) and Lil’ Jon and the Ying Yang Twins made like 12 chart-toppers that were basically them just screaming the same 9 words all y’all were like, “….that’s dope as hell, bruh.” Offsetting this nonsense was the brilliance of Andre 3000 and Big Boi, and this track is one of their best.

14t

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SS Ian Desmond

Alright by Kendrick Lamar

77.7

To Pimp A Butterfly is such a good album, and for me right now, this is the best track on the album (this is subject to change at any time). “Alright” is a banger.

14t

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OF Adam Eaton

This Is How We Do It by Montell Jordan

77.7

So at this point, you’re starting to see how quickly the songs on this list get great. Listen, being in the bottom half of this list still puts you among the greats. It’s like being one of the worst players in the Hall of Fame. Literally, I would say, the honor of making this list is pretty much on par with being elected into Cooperstown.

13

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C Kyle Schwarber

No Diggity by Blackstreet feat. Dr. Dre

79.8

Fun fact: 39% of all song released from 1995-2001 ended with “feat. Dr. Dre”, the most notable of which was of course the timeless 1999 classic, “MmmBop (G-funk Remix)” by Hanson feat. Dr. Dre.

12

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OF Peter Bourjos

Still D.R.E. by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg

81.3

The only reason this song isn’t in the top ten is my own pure, unadulterated hatred for the Cardinals. I mean no disrespect to the good doctor and the D-O-double-G. Let me be very clear about this: this song is great, and the Cardinals are the worst.

11

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OF Andrew McCutchen

Bad Blood by Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar

81.7

This is the most entertaining combination of dope song-great player in my opinion, but this list ranks only how good the song is, not how well it lines up with the player. It’s difficult for me to admit that you can add Kendrick Lamar to something and make it slightly worse, but just like Star Wars and the National League, the original is better.

10

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P Josh Collmenter

Blank Space by Taylor Swift

83.0

I’m not sorry about this at all. Everyone that says they don’t like Taylor Swift is a liar. If you’re one of those people, let me tell you something, guy: It’s not that you don’t like Taylor, it’s that you don’t like the part of yourself that loves her. You’ve got to look inside of yourself and just come to terms with exactly who you are.

9

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1B Mark Teixera

It’s Tricky by Run DMC

83.3

Once upon a time, the Yankees signed Tex as a free agent, formerly of the Los Angeles Angels of Anahiem, a couple of weeks after signing C.C. Sabathia, most recently of the Milwaukee Brewers. Based on a completely-not-transparent ranking system, Elias ranked Teixera as a slightly better player than Sabathia, who almost won the dang NL Cy Young even though he didn’t join the league until mid-July (they were the top two ranked free agents that year). Based on those rankings, the Angels received the higher compensatory round pick from the Yankees in the 2012 MLB Draft. The Brewers, rumored to be interested in Mike Trout, watched the reigning MVP go to the Angels at No. 25. Scrambling to find a plan B, the Brewers ended up taking Indiana senior Eric Arnett, who was released in 2013 and finished his career with a 5.18 ERA while failing to ever progress past A ball. What does this have to do with Run D.M.C.? Not a damn thing. But it has haunted me for years, and I needed to get it off my chest.

8

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SS Brad Miller

Big Poppa by The Notorious B.I.G.

84.7

Obviously, I have a thing for dorky looking white dudes using gangsta rap as their walk-up songs. This is one of Biggie’s best and most famous bangers. Dope choice.

7

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P Ian Kennedy

I Knew You Were Trouble by Taylor Swift

87.7

In 2011, Kennedy, then with the Diamondbacks, led the league with 21 wins, tallied a 2.88 ERA with 198 strikeouts, and finished 4th in Cy Young voting. It was the only year that he posted a sub-3.60 ERA, and he’s basically been pretty pedestrian otherwise. He’s struggled with surrendering home runs his entire career, allowing an average of 25 per 162 games (source: Baseball Reference). So, he’s certainly trouble when he walks in, but more so for the hometown fans than opposing batters. Yes, it was a long walk to that one. Thanks for sticking around. Reading this column was a voluntary act.

6

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OF Hunter Pence

Circle of Life by Sir Elton John

88.0

This is the most Hunter Pence walk up song of all time. If you don’t love Hunter Pence then I don’t love you. It is my belief that all Hunter Pence Signs are made out of love and respect. Sort of like when you’re pallin’ around with your mates, just funnin’ with them. More players should be using Disney songs as their walk up jams.

5

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OF Charlie Blackmon

Your Love by The Outfield

89.6

VH1 really donked this one up when they ranked what was easily a top three one-hit wonder of the 80s FIFTY NINTH on their highly suspect rankings. “Mickey” at #9? MICKEY!? That song is wet garbage. “Your Love”, on the other hand, is a masterpiece, and has the benefit of a tangential baseball reference. Other players that use this song: Gordon Beckham, Chicago White Sox; Grant Green, Los Angeles Angels

4

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3B Nick Castellanos

Ignition (Remix) by R. Kelly

89.7

Oh man, oh man, oh man. This song is FOURTH?! The top of this list is basically just a collection of the world’s greatest bangers then. The only reason you would hear this song come on at the club and not immediately start dancing would be if you literally had died.

3

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OF Jay Bruce

Shake It Off by Taylor Swift

90.0

Not only is this one of Tay’s greatest and catchiest songs, it is universally recognized, and everyone who isn’t a liar loves it. I wonder if Jay chose this song so his manager would stop saying “Shake it off” to him after his at-bats, since he’s never had a season in which he didn’t have more strikeouts than hits. The only issue here is Jay breaking my number one rule: never trust a man with two first names. Other players that use this song: A.J. Ellis, Los Angeles Dodgers

2

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P Kenley Jansen

California Love by TuPac

90.5

While doing research for this piece, I noted early on, because of how the alphabet works, that Baltimore Orioles outfield Adam Jones was using this banger, one of hip hop’s greatest collaborations. Answering my silent prayers, Jansen allowed me to give this song to a player from the correct state, which added five bonus points to the score and nearly lifted the Dodgers’ closer to the top spot. Other players that use this song: Jones

1

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3B Joey Gallo

Pony by Ginuwine

91.3

Look, I know he was optioned down to Triple-A Round Rock a couple of weeks ago and I do not care. He represents the Rangers and tops this list anyway because A) This is a top-five all time song and B) the rest of the Rangers have truly awful taste in music (basically have the league is vibing dang Fetty Wap right now, including Rangers rookie Delino DeShields Jr.). I couldn’t leave Ginuwine off the list and I apologize for nothing. Hurry back, Joey.

Top 5 best and worst Wisconsin sports moments of the last 25 years

de8a9-download5Following the US Men’s National Team’s thrilling victory over Ghana on Monday, I’m in the mood to rank the five best and worst sports moments I’ve experienced in my life. These are all going to be single moments, rather than entire games or seasons that were amazing, which is why you won’t find the either of the Packers’ Super Bowl wins, the Badgers’ Final Four runs/Rose Bowl championships, etc. here. Also, this suffers from an inevitable recency effect, as the memory of huge moments fades over time. Deal with it. We’ll start with the bad, to send you out on a high note.

Top Five Sports Heart-breakers

Shameful mention: Shaun Marcum announced as Game 6 starter in 2011 NLCS, Kirk Cousin’s hail mary beats No. 6 Wisconsin, Ray Allen misses the tip-in to win in Philly in the game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals

5) 4th and 26

Date: January 11, 2004

Location: My parent’s living room

This play was so painful it has its own Wikipedia page. After their thrilling overtime victory over Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks a week earlier, the Packers were one play away from a berth in the NFC Championship. Two incompletions, a penalty and a sack left the Eagles facing, well, you know what, with 1:18 left and no timeouts remaining on their own 25 yard line, trailing 17-14. The probability of a loss for the Packers was just slightly higher than the likelihood of Lance Armstrong winning another Sportsman of the Year award. Instead, Nick Barnett blew his coverage, Darren Sharper blew his coverage, Bhawoh Jue blew his coverage, and the Eagles were able to tie. Moments later, a Brett Favre overtime interception (stay tuned for more!) set up David Akers for the game winner.

4) The Catch II

Date: January 3, 1999

Location: Hannah Spear’s birthday party

This would have been heartbreaking in it’s own right: On 3rd and 3 from the Packers’ 25 with eight seconds left and the Packers leading 27-23, Steve Young fired a strike to Terrell Owens to give the 49ers a miracle win after Favre had lead the team on what seemed to be the game-winning drive moments earlier as the Packers sought their third straight Super Bowl appearance (*huff huff huff* how about THAT sentence?). What made it even more painful was that replays clearly showed that Jerry Rice had fumbled four plays earlier in a play that the referees missed (replay review would come to the NFL the following season). Adding to the heartache, this would be Reggie White’s final game as a Packer, as he retired following the season (and then came back to play for the Panthers). I cried in my parents’ room for an hour after this game.

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Can you not

3) Aaron Harrison’s trey ends the Badgers’ title hopes

Date: April 5, 2014

Location: Replay Sports Bar

I’m still not over this. The building was absolutely rocking with about 300 of my closest friends living and dying on every shot. The collective “oof” when Harrison’s shot went in with 5.7 seconds to give Kentucky an improbable victory was palpable and awful. Even with all that time left on the clock, it just felt like the Badgers’ luck had finally run out, and indeed it had as Traevon Jackson’s prayer clanged off the rim as time expired. This game felt like a battle for the NCAA’s soul, with Bo Ryan and his scrappy team of four-year, team-oriented grinders fighting on the side of good against Calipari’s definitely-not-paid-yet, five-star McDonald’s All-American one-and-dones. As with Butler facing Duke in the championship game just a couple years earlier, it seemed like everyone in the country outside of Lexington was a Badger fan that day. And once again, the evil empire won the day.

2) Favre’s final pass as a Packer intercepted in the NFC Championship

Date: January 20, 2008

Location: E. Harmony Apartment in Whitewater

Playing in their first NFC championship game since 1998, the Packers seemed to be charmed and destined for a Super Bowl appearance in what was widely speculated to be Brett Favre’s last year (lol), After a wild, see-saw game, the teams headed to overtime after Lawrence Tynes missed the potential game winner from 36 yards out with four seconds to play, his second miss of the game. At this point, I’m already an absolute train wreck. When Favre threw the second pass of the overtime period right into Corey Webster’s chest near the home team’s sideline, I had to leave the living room and could only listen, lying face down on my extra-long twin size bed furnished by DLK Enterprises (UW-Whitewater s/o), as the game once again hung on the wildly inaccurate leg of Tynes. Shortly after he connected from 47 yards to put the Giants in the Super Bowl, my roommate and best friend Derek watched me pour the first alcoholic beverage I ever imbibed, the first of three I took before 21st birthday. It was a shot of UV Pink, and it tasted like heartbreak.

644e9-hailmar21) The Fail Mary

Date: September 24, 2012

Location: Mad Dog’s Sports Bar and Grill

Bugger that and bugger you, Seattle.

Top Five Best Sports Moments:

Honorable Mention: Ben Brust’s miracle trey sends the Badgers to OT vs. Michigan (right), Desmond Howard’s kickoff return in Super Bowl XXXI, Ron Dayne breaks the NCAA career rushing record

5) Ryan Braun’s extra innings grand slam beats the Pirates

Date: September 25, 2008

Location: Miller Park Terrace Level

Locked in a tie with the Mets for the Wild Card lead with three games to play, the Brewers were tied at one with the Pirates, a team they’d beaten 12 out of 13 times in 2008, heading into extra frames. Tensions in the stands were high with the left field scoreboard already flashing the NYM 7, CHC 6 final. With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the tenth, Ryan Braun drilled the 2-2 pitch into the Brewers bullpen, keeping the Brewers abreast of New York and sending 43,000 fans into delirium. This of course came two days after Prince Fielder’s own walk-off two-run shot against Pittsburgh, and three days before, well, stay tuned.

4 Graham Zusi and John Brooks shock Ghana

Date: June 16, 2014

Location: Jack’s American Pub

You’ve just seen it, so I won’t bore you with a recap. If you’re not aware, you don’t care anyway. The beautiful corner from one substitute to the second-touch header of the other to finally exorcise the Ghana demons just minutes after Ghana had equalized was one of the greatest moments in recent USMNT history. The bar was jam packed wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling, and the the jubilation that occurred after the goal was amazing to be a part of. How much it will mean in the grand scheme of the tournament remains to be seen, but Brooks’ reaction says it all: “OH MY GOD!!!!! Oh my God….oh…my god…I need to lie down.”

3) Rodgers to Cobb puts the Packers in the playoffs

Date: December 29, 2013

Location: Shorewood Apartment

After suffering though two months of bad quarterbacks for the first time in my life, Aaron Rodgers made his triumphant return against the team that knocked him out in a winner-take-all NFC North championship game against the Bears. The lead changed hands four times, and with the Packers trailing by one with 6:24 remaining, the quarterback led the Packers on a game-winning drive that included two fourth down conversions, none bigger than the 48-yard strike to Randall Cobb, who himself had missed the previous 11 games, on 4th and 8 with 38 seconds to play. I watched this at home with some of my best friends, which is really how I should watch all important sporting events, because I don’t do losing in public all that well.

2) Wes Helms and Ryan Braun put the Brewers in the playoffs for the first time in 26 years

Date: September 28, 2008

Location: My cousin Jessica’s birthday party in Racine

The Brewers’ first potential playoff appearance since losing the 1982 World Series to the hateful Cardinals hung in the balance on the season’s final day, with the Brewers, hosting the Cubs, tied for the wild card lead with the Mets, hosting the Marlins. Both games started at approximately the same due to an hour long rain delay at Shea (lol rain delays), and both entered the eighth inning tied. Completely isolated in the corner watching this game on the tiny TV I was allowed to use while the rest of the family watched the Packers lose to Tampa Bay (probably Aaron Rodgers worst game of his career, incidentally), I was an absolute nervous wreck. In the bottom of the eighth, Ryan Braun drilled the first pitch he saw into the left field bleachers, giving the Brewers a 3-1 lead they would not relinquish. Moments later, FSN North cut away to Shea as former Brewer and confirmed terrible third baseman Wes Helms became a Milwaukee hero when he ripped a pinch hit home run, the first of a back-to-back pair with Dan Uggla, to give the Marlins a 4-2 lead in the eighth that also became the final. The Brewers ended their regular season with a nifty double play, the Mets completed their second consecutive September collapse, and playoff baseball returned to Milwaukee for the first time since the Reagan administration.

1) Tony Plush’s extra innings walk-off sends the Brewers to the NLCS

Date: (2011)

Location: Miller Park Terrace Level

After both teams held serve at home, the Brewers and Diamondbacks returned to The Keg for a decisive game five. The D-Backs struck first, scoring in the third, but the Brewers tallied in the 4th and 6th to carry a 1-run lead into the ninth, when John Axford served up three straight hits, including a Willie Bloomquist bunt single that tied the game. With the jam-packed stadium holding it’s breath on every pitch, Carlos Gomez laced a one out single to left, stole second on the 1-1 pitch to Nyjer Morgan, who then just tickled it into the outfield, scoring Gomez and sending 44,000 screaming fans into a sustained fit of delirium that lasted for well over a half-hour before we started to clear the seating bowl. In season full of Plushdamental moments, this one topped them all.