I normally try to avoid “whiny personal blog” entries like this. You know the type, reminiscing or ruminating out into space without any objectively interesting content for anyone besides perhaps the author’s mother. But I’m still floored by Roy Halladay’s no-hitter last night, and so forgive me this indulgence.
I don’t have the memory for these things that I’d like to have, but I think Roy Halladay’s no-hitter last night was the second-most exciting and meaningful sports moment I’ve ever witnessed or watched.
1. Mariners-Yankees Division Series, 1995, Game 5. Randy Johnson and Jack McDowell in from the bullpen to pitch in extra-innings. The Yankees going ahead in the top of the eleventh. And then Edgar’s double down the left-field line, scoring Joey Cora from third and Griffey all the way from first for a walk-off series win. I can still recite Dave Niehaus’s call, verbatim, including the pauses and the inflections, and if my mood is right, I can give myself goosebumps.
2. Roy Halladay’s no-hitter, 2010 Division Series. Less drama than the Mariners game, but more mind-bogglingly astounding. One of my favorite players, and one of the most impressive pitchers of the past ten years, in the playoff start he’s been aching for for more than a decade. And he throws a no-hitter. There weren’t even any great defensive plays to save it either. Complete domination of a very good hitting team. I keep trying to think of analogies and I keep failing.
3. Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal, Wimbledon Finals, 2008. Federer was this demigod, an untouchable genius of tennis for whom Wimbledon was his most sacred altar. I always rooted for him. But everyone had seen Nadal coming for a couple years, like a massive freight train you spot from a long way off. Both player’s storylines were perfectly complimentary, they collided in the best possible scenario, and then both men played tennis that lived up to the impossible hype. One of the best tennis matches, both in terms of play and of significance, ever.
4. Phillies winning the 2008 World Series. The World Series wasn’t particularly dramatic (in fact, thanks to the weather and Bud Selig, it was almost anticlimactic), but it’s here for me for two reasons. First, the first sports team I’ve cared about that’s won it all. Second, that weekday night’s walk to Broad Street. My housemates and I walked from West Philly to Broad Street, and the spontaneous public celebration of thousands of baseball fans was something I’d never experienced before. In a city I felt was dominated by a “get out of my way” street mentality, the public street happiness that night blew me away.
5. Seattle Mariners – Anaheim Angels one-game playoff, 1995. After Luis Sojo’s bases-clearing double the game wasn’t particularly close. But Cy Young-winning Randy Johnson pitching a dominating complete game (3 hits, 12 k’s) against the pitcher we traded to get him (Mark Langston) was only half of it. It was the first time the Mariners had ever made the playoffs, it was the season that kept baseball in Seattle, and, well, things are just more meaningful when you’re 12.
Also up there:
- 2005 Champions League final, AC Milan vs. Liverpool: watched it while on study abroad in my tiny London dorm kitchen. Best soccer match I’ve ever seen and the moment I “got it.”
- 2002 US Open Final, Pete Sampras vs. Andre Agassi. Last time they ever played each other.
- 1996 Summer Olympics Women’s Team Gymnastics Final: had an 11 year old’s crush on all the girls on that team.
- Michael Phelps, 2008 Summer Olympics (in particular the 4×100 meter freestyle relay where we beat France)