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The 2008 Phandom 25: The Home Run

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, January 23, 2009 08:00 PM | Comments: 22
2008 Phandom 25, Posts

Last year I wrote a series of posts chronicling 2007’s 20 greatest moments in Phillies Phandom. Each game had a special “wow” factor, whether it was an insane comeback, an awesome feat or a trademark moment. And each game was a Phillies win, of course.

For this year, clearly, you know the top moment. But ranking the rest was very difficult. Do I rank the NLCS second just because? Is the NL East clinching victory as important as other postseason moments? I used some heavy discretion, but I believe I came up with a pretty solid list.

Each moment has an attached video link, if you’d like to go back and reminisce.

Like the 100 Greatest Phillies countdown, I’ll be posting one per day. I swear, you won’t get any more countdowns this offseason.

***

2. Matt Stairs!
Date: October 13, 2008

With one mighty swing, everything changed.

Forty years old. Endless experience in major league baseball. Good teams that didn’t go far enough: The Expos of 1992 and ’93, the Athletics of the late 1990s. Bad teams that did nothing: The Royals of the 2000s. Never a moment that approached the pinch hit he’d be handed against the Dodgers in game four of the National League Championship Series.

The Phillies and Dodgers were tied. While the Phillies creeped out to an early lead, Los Angeles responded late. They got a few runs off Joe Blanton, then Casey Blake popped a mammoth shot that put the Dodgers ahead 4-3. A sacrifice added a run. The Phils were down two, close to a series tie, needing something to wake them up.

The Dodgers bullpen did their job until the eighth, with Hong-Chih Kuo in his second inning to pitch against lefties. Ryan Howard led off, and in a big spot, singled to center field. That brought in righty Corey Wade, but it wouldn’t matter. Pat Burrell popped out, but Shane Victorino found the groove, lasering a ball into the right field corner. It looked like a double, felt like a double, but somehow, kept going, and cleared the fence for a tie game. That woke ‘em up.

Though Pedro Feliz lined out, Carlos Ruiz — a playoff MVP if there ever was — kept the inning alive with a single. That proved absolutely key. It turned the Phillies lineup and gave Charlie Manuel a chance to look into his bench, ready to make a giant contribution. Would it be Greg Dobbs? Sure, he was the best pinch hitter in baseball, but he had to be saved. Eric Bruntlett? Well now at a tie, it may be better to hold onto Bruntlett for a potential defensive replacement. Chris Coste? Can’t use the backup catcher. Maybe Geoff Jenkins? Or maybe Matt Stairs?

The decision came down to those two, and as Joe Torre elected hard- and high-throwing Jonathan Broxton as his next pitcher, Manuel knew what he had to do — point to the hard- and high-hitting Stairs.

He took a pitch. Then another. Then a strike. Then a close ball. Then, down three and one with Jimmy Rollins on deck, Broxton thought he could get Stairs with a fastball inside.

Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad move.

Stairs bit his lip, flinched, then locked in on the pitch. He began his swing, quick as the night, and connected with the ball at the most perfect spot — the absolute most perfect home run swing you have ever seen. The ball flew in majestic fashion, reaching its highest point on par with the “76″ sign above the scoreboard. It landed in the back rows of the Dodger Stadium grandstand, some 420 feet away from home plate. It was Stairs’ first postseason homer, his 255th of his career, and the biggest one he’d ever hit.

The mighty swing gave the Phillies a 7-5 lead, and they wouldn’t let it go. JC Romero started the eighth and Brad Lidge finished it, then worked a scoreless ninth for one of the most tense wins in Phillies history. For Stairs, nothing would top it. Nothing would top getting his ass hammered that way. No, for that moment, Matt Stairs wrote his name into Phillies history. And we’ll never forget him for that.

The video: Stairs kills it

From the comments:

Jeffrey: Base hit! Baby steps, boys. Baby steps.

Dave: And now Vic will perform the GIDP….

Matty: Can Victorino put one in the right field bleachers? Please?

CT: VVVVVVVVVIIIIIIIIIIIIICCCCCCCCCCCCC!!!!!!!!!

Manny: I like Stairs right now… let’s see

Matty: Broxton in a non-save situation? This is too good…..

Dave: MOONSHOT!!!!!!!

Lou: the phillies have just won this series.

Avatar of Tim Malcolm

About Tim Malcolm

Tim Malcolm has written 1947 articles on Phillies Nation.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 therookie300

    Besides the final out of the World Series, this is the moment that I remember most about this past season. I remember leaving pool league just after that Blake HR and was disappointed. I got home just in time, with a six pack I picked up along the way(thought I might need it), to see the Vic HR. And then came the blast…….. I think I might have woke every neighbor in the apartment complex I live in. That was quite a moment.

     
  • Posts: 0 Chapps

    This was a great game all around, I remember the Utley double play and thought that was going to be the big momentum changer. But I never expected Stairs to be the hero. What an amazing job f managing by Manuel. But by far Stairs’ interview was the greatest moment in sports.

     
  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    My absolute favorite moment of the postseason. As soon as Stairs swung, we were in the World Series. That game made up for Black Friday.

    Stairs=legend

     
  • Posts: 0 Dave S

    My favorite moment too. Not only did I believe we had the Dodgers, I firmly believed we had the best the AL could offer as well. It wasn’t just that it gave us the game and thus the series, it was how he hit it. HE JUST MURDERED THAT PITCH. I cannot understate that. That ball was mashed!

     
  • Posts: 0 nate

    was at wogies in NY, and there surprisingly weren’t a lot of people there. game was looking pretty dire for a while, and some people emptied out. the amazing double play and then the two home runs hit and i’m jumping up and down, hugging people i don’t know. awesome night.

     
  • Posts: 0 Stuart

    It was one of the most beautiful swings i have ever seen. the crack of the bat. everything was perfect. i still watch that video today over and over. i just wish it couldve been at home. imagine how loud the bank wouldve been.

     
  • Posts: 0 Joe O'Phillie

    He is an all time Phils legend after 17 regular season and 2 postseason at bats. One of the best things about baseball is that anyone can win a game. This is the equivelent of an 11th man on a basketball team or a backup center in football winning a game at the last second. The seldom used reserve hitting arguably the biggest home run in Phillies history.

     
  • Posts: 0 MP

    This was a total gamechanger for the postseaon. The little doubt inside of me was gone the rest of the postseason. I’m gettin goosebumps just reading about it.

     
  • Posts: 0 Wilson

    nothing will ever be on the same level as Lidge striking out Hinske….that withstanding this may be one of the most memorable moments of my life. The image of that ball flying into the night is forever burned into my memory and Matt Stairs’ legend will grow ever bigger as the years pass by!

     
  • Posts: 0 justin

    i love the phillies, and i know this is a phillies site but i had to post this everywhere possible.

    http://sixers4guidos.wordpress.com/2009/01/23/sixers-back-to-old-logo-and-uniforms/

     
  • Posts: 0 Mazinman

    I have to be honest and say that this moment stands out more for me that even the Lidge strick out of Hinske. When Stairs went deep, well waaaaaay deep, I went nuts. I could not control my arms anymore. They waved around on their own while I screamed until my throat could just not do it anymore. While I certainly celebrated like crazy and shed plenty of tears when the Phillies won it wasn’t the same, nothing else in my life has been. It didn’t have the same level of emotion to it.

    I guess that I had complete confidence in Brad Lidge and this team in general by the time the bottom of the 9th in game 5 of the World Series came up. Even when they got a runner at second I do not recalled feeling nervous. I was completely relaxed, like it was just a small bump on the Lidge Express. In game 4 against LA I was very much worried that the Phillies might be seeing their grasp of the series slip away. I guess since I was more worried the emotions that home run generated where stronger.

     
  • Posts: 0 fred

    I love Matt Stairs

     
  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    I agree Mazinman, the Stairs home run came minutes after Victorino tied it up. We had no business being in that game and all of a sudden, in a matter of minutes, we were winning. What an emotional roller coaster!

     
  • Posts: 0 Jason B.

    The one thing lost in Matt Stairs Home Run is =,if you watch the video clip that Tim posted, you see that Again, Howard’s poor poor defense almost cost the Phillies that game, when he chucked the ball into right field on a bunt attempt. LA took the lead on that play and if not for Vic and Stairs, that series would’ve been tied at 2 and then who knows. I point this out in light of the 18 mil that he is asking and I just want to prove the point that Howard isn’t worth it.

     
  • Posts: 0 Georgie

    I loved the post-game interview with Stairs, when he said he ALWAYS tries to hit it out of the park, even in batting practice, he just tries to hit the ball as far and hard as he can, you have to admire him for his honesty. And for that blast, he will be forever beloved by this town.

     
  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    ESPN is reporting that the Phillies are “cautiously optimistic” that Chase Utley will be ready on Opening Day.

     
  • Posts: 0 Georgie

    Amaro said on DNL this week that Utley was just starting to do some running in the therapy pool, which is a good sign that he’s coming along. When he did that press conf weeks ago, I watched him walk down the steps and out the hallway, and I didn’t notice him favoring it at all, so things look positive for him returning in April, I think.

     
  • Posts: 0 Manny

    We should all start a bet on the date of Utley’s return. I’m going with April 18 vs the Padres… my first Phillies game for the 2009 season!

     
  • Posts: 0 Richie Allen

    I remember when Stairs came back to the dugout amid many high fives,he looked like he was in shock.That was one of the best moments from last year.so many great things happened.I cant wait till spring training!

     
  • Posts: 0 Joe

    I recall Joe Buck describing the 4-run 8th inning as “devastating.” And he sounded devastated.

     
  • Posts: 0 Harper

    Just finished watching it again on the DVD set (it never gets old). Epic, truly epic.

     
  • Posts: 0 fortyb

    by far the most majestic non-theatrical home run of all time… Possibly the top non- WS game 5 (part 2) moment of the post season. Agreed about him being a Phillies legend after less than 20 at bats…

    this series overall made Victorino a Phils legend as well… the Dykstra of a new era! An igniter whose size would indicate slap hitter with speed, who has all of the ability to hit the ball out of the ball park. Plays with such energy all the time!

     
 
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