Best 2008 Memory #2: The Shot Heard Round Caracas

Continuing on in our look at our best memories from 2008, which kicked off this afternoon.

First off, here’s the graph for moment #2.

Mariners-Mets 6/23

Not that exciting. No big spikes, no late game comebacks. Not much drama at all, really. Except, there was one play that made this game a lot of fun, especially for those of us who had the misfortune of following the Mariners all season long.

Johan, Meet Felix

The two most important parts are to the left – J Santana pitching and F Hernandez hitting. These two are otherwise known as Johan Santana and Felix Hernandez, two of the best pitchers in baseball. Oh, and they both happen to be Venezuelan.

This was a match-up of the best pitcher in the country’s history against the best arm that Venezuela had ever produced. Johan, the Cy Young ace, matching up against Felix, the ace in the making. They’d pitched against each other before, but this time, in a National League park, they’d have to actually face each other.

Of course, being a couple of guys who spent their entire careers up through 2007 in the AL, neither one was exactly an experienced hitter. Johan was 8 for 31 with Minnesota, while Felix was 1 for 8. A couple of bad hitters facing all-star pitchers made the mano a mano matchup a little less likely that we’d get some real drama, but great memories are made from unlikely scenarios, and this one was no different.

In a season of misery, it’s hard to describe how much fun it was watching Felix hit a grand slam home run off of Johan Santana. These are the kinds of things that you laugh at when they happen in movies, but there he was, wearing a huge grin as he rounded the bases. He’d just made the Mariners 30 percent more likely to win the game, and he wasn’t even pitching at the time. The youngster upstaged the ace on his home turf in the grandest way possible.

Of course, since this was the 2008 Mariners’ season, a few innings later Carlos Beltran would slide into Felix’s ankle in a play at the plate, shoving him from the game and putting him on the disabled list. Even our joyous moments only lasted about an hour.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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Eric Walkingshaw

This is up there with Edgar’s double and Cammy’s four home run night in my list of all-time favorite baseball memories, and probably surpasses them as it’s the only one of the three I saw in person.

My wife and I were visiting her sister in Philadelphia. I insisted that we make a pilgrimage to the two New York stadiums in their last year, since none of us had ever been. By chance, the M’s were in town, and then even luckier, Felix was pitching.

I remember thinking when he stepped up to the plate with the bases juiced, man, what it Felix hit a grand slam off Johan Santana? Mere seconds after I had brushed that pipe dream aside he did it, and I nearly tumbled out of the Shea’s upper deck as I jumped around hooting and hollering with joy.

To their credit, the Mets fans were great. No jeers spoiled my ecstasy, and when Felix went down a couple innings later I got plenty of consolation. Thanks, guys.