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.
4. Big Joe Blanton
Date: October 26, 2008
The World Series featured all four types of Phillies wins: Game one was a pitchers duel won through small ball; game three was a nailbiter with a crazy ending; game five was the wait and pull away win. But game four of the World Series was the bash opponent into submission game, the game that gave the Phillies 20-run wins during “Hittin’ Season,” big wins in September.
That game four against Tampa Bay had everything you’d want from the beat opponent into submission contest: Ryan Howard struck the ball mightily all night, hitting two home runs; Jimmy Rollins got on base and scored plenty; Jayson Werth hit a coffin-nailing home run. But this game also had the feat nobody thought could be possible — the pitcher swatting a homer.
That pitcher was Joe Blanton, the hulking, husky boy from the depths of Kentucky. He was expert in slinging fastballs that met the corners of home plate as if he was connecting dots. Sometimes guys would hit the heck out of him, but most times in 2008, he got the better of the situation. His 3-0 postseason record showed. But his biggest moment, clearly, was the blast heard ’round Philadelphia.
On the mound was Tampa Bay’s Edwin Jackson. Blanton had already heroically swung at some balls, whiffing into the cold air and garnering playful oohs and aahs. But Jackson was throwing up easy heaters; it was only a matter of time before Blanton would grab a hold and take ‘er for a ride.
And boy did he.
It was a gorgeous home run swing, really. A real lumberjack’s bash. Middle and inside, the ball left the yard and cleared the fairway, landing some few rows back and into a screaming throng of phaithful phans. As Blanton rounded the bases casually (like he did it before), the crowd couldn’t be hotter.
That was the moment. That was the moment a nailbiting World Series officially became incredibly close to finished. It was the moment Philadelphia realized this baby was all but sewn up, that nothing could take it away. Hell, if Joe Blanton’s hitting a home run, there’s no way the Phils could lose. And it was true — this team had gone too far, fought too hard, played too well for chance or luck or whatever to just steal their carpet from underneath the clouds.
Blanton got a big ovation, and then a big raise, and now will be a big star. His is the stuff of legends, of Paul Bunyon, Harmon Killebrew and Ken Holtzman. Who knew? The big Kentucky kid with the redneck sensibility did — that’s who.
A few days later, it would all be over.
The video: Boom goes the Blanton
From the comments:
SJ Mike: HOLY SHIT! Did Blanton just hit a homerun!
NJ: Now that’s how you become a Philly hero period
Matty: That was a hell of a pitch he knocked out